Owls Created Jobs

Don Staples dstaples at livingston.net
Sat Mar 20 22:41:20 EST 1999


From:  The Consultant, Winter 1999, By Loren Larson

Feds Don't Create Jobs for
Consulting Foresters - Owls Do

In the December issue of the Journal of Forestry, Marvin Brown, Missouri
State forester
and President of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF),
decided it was
imperative to take issue with a letter to the editor written by ACF
member Gerald
Grossman of Michigan.  In September, Mr. Grossman expressed his views
about federal
spending programs for private forest landowners, and how they could be
executed with
greater efficiency if the programs were directed through the private
sector rather than
passed through state forestry agencies.  In addition, Mr. Grossman
correctly argued that
when state agencies directly compete with the private sector in
providing services to
landowners, it discourages and even deters the development of private
forestry businesses.

This is especially true when state agencies charge fees for their
services.  By charging, state
forestry agencies effectively set the rate at which the private sector
may charge its clients.
If the state is providing these services at a heavily subsidized rate,
as is often the case, then
it is difficult - if not impossible for the private sector to compete.

In Mr. Brown's rebuttal to Mr. Grossman, however, he failed to address
the issues raised.
Instead, Mr. Brown decided to claim that because of federal spending
programs, like the
Forest Stewardship Program, more consulting foresters are in business
today than eight
years ago.  Not only is this assertion absurd, it completely ignores the
true forces
responsible for private sector growth.  According to Mr. Brown, since
the establishment of
the Forest Stewardship Program in 1991, there has been a 250% increase
in the number of
consulting foresters in business today in the northeast - proof that
federal spending
programs have a significant role in creating jobs.

In typical fashion for government bureaucrats, Mr. Brown is either
unaware of, or
completely ignorant of, the role free markets play in creating jobs.
Mr. Brown basically
said that because of the Forest Stewardship Program, landowners all over
the northeast
suddenly decided that they had to have a management plan, and where
better to get them
than from a consulting forester.

Now let us take a moment to examine history. It was by 1991 that the
USDA Forest Service
had all but quit harvesting timber off its lands in the Pacific
Northwest because of the
spotted owl.  Meanwhile, U.S. consumers maintained, if not increased,
their appetite for
wood products.  As a  result the nation had to find a new source of
timber.

At the time, forest industries were already operating at peak efficiency
and were not able to
increase their output from company owned lands.  Thus, it was up to the
non industrial
private landowners to come to the rescue and feed the public's
insatiable demand for wood,
guaranteeing the need for foresters to assist private landowners in
selling timber and
managing their forests.

This is not to say that the Forest Stewardship Program did not help some
consulting
foresters.  It did - but not to the extent claimed by Mr. Brown.  To do
so is pure folly.  It is
not difficult, however, to recognize that cutbacks in the federal timber
harvesting program
increased the demand for private sector timber, subsequently improving
opportunities for
foresters to enter into private practice, especially when they were just
let go by the Forest
Service because of a spotted owl.


LOREN LARSON was executive director Of the Association of Consulting
Foresters of
America, Inc., in Alexandria, Virginia.

--
Don Staples
UIN 4653335

Web Offerings:  http://www.livingston.net/dstaples/

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