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Salvage Logging Background

  Distributed to TAP-RESOURCES, a free Internet Distribution List
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  March 20, 1996
  	Recently, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation and 
  offered as an amendment language that would first repeal the "logging 
  without laws" salvage logging rider and then replace it with a new 
  salvage program. Unfortunately, Sen. Murray's salvage language, like its 
  predecessor, is not in the public's interest. 
  	Many environmentalists have felt a need to support the Murray 
  language because it is an improvement over the Hatfield salvage 
  language, which the Murray amendment attempted to strike, as well as an 
  improvement over the Emergency Timber Salvage program now in place. But 
  like the lesser of any two (or three) evils, it is still an evil. The 
  bill's restrictive appeals process and the continuation and expediting of 
  the federal salvage logging program puts the interests of timber 
  companies above those of citizens.
  	The quick fix approach to "improving" the federal salvage timber 
  program cannot adequately adress all the problems with the salvage 
  program. Congress must repeal the "Logging without Laws" rider and only 
  then should Congress attempt, through the proper authorizing process, to 
  reform the wasteful salvage logging program. 
  	The following report provides a brief background on federal
  salvage logging program and where it and the interest of taxpayers
  						Ned Daly
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                         SALVAGE TIMBER SALES
                       Taxpayer Assets Project
                            February 1996
       The Forest Service assigns timber sales to one of three
  categories: (1) the timber commodity component, which includes
  sales that primarily help meet the needs of U.S. citizens for wood
  products, (2) the stewardship component (salvage), which includes
  sales that ostensively help achieve desired ecological conditions
  and non-timber objectives outlined in forest plans, and (3) the
  personal use component, which includes sales of forest products
  such as firewood and Christmas trees to individuals for personal
  use.  Only one of the 121 Forest Service forests generated positive
  net revenues in all three components during fiscal year 1994, the
  most recent year for which public data are available, and more than
  half reported net losses on salvage sales alone.
       The objective of timber salvage sales (the stewardship
  component) is "to provide the timely recovery of trees which are
  dead; insect or disease infested; windthrown; or imminently
  susceptible to insect attack because of drought stress, and to
  remove associated trees for ecosystem improvement or rehabilitation
  necessary to maintain a healthy and viable ecosystem," according to
  the Forest Service's fiscal year 1996 budget request.
       Revenue from salvage sales need not cover the cost of
  reforestation of the site logged or even the costs incurred to
  arrange the sale and is not remitted to the federal treasury.  Not
  surprisingly then, a December 17, 1992 Forest Service manager's
  memo, which the Associated Press obtained, stated, "We were told
  [at a meeting] that virtually every sale should include `salvage'
  in the name....  Even if a sale is totally green [non-salvage], as
  long as one board comes off that would qualify as salvage on the
  Salvage Sale Fund Plan, it should be called salvage."
       Consistent with the memo, the Forest Service's 1993 Timber
  Sale Program Annual Report declared that "in the future, the
  proportion of timber commodity harvest is expected to decline while
  the forest stewardship [salvage] proportion increases."  Salvage
  sales accounted for 26 percent of the timber harvest in 1994,
  compared to 24 percent in 1993.  The green volume associated with
  salvage sales was 23 percent in 1995 and is expected to increase to
  27 percent in 1996.
       In fiscal year 1994, 63 (52 percent) of the 121 Forest Service
  forests generated negative net revenues in the stewardship
  (salvage) component; the negative net revenues reported by these
  forests totalled $19,306,000, an increase from losses of
  $18,385,000 in 1993.  The two years' negative revenues excluded the
  stewardship component's allocation of Washington and regional
  office costs, which totalled $24,303,000 in 1994.  
       When Washington and regional costs are allocated to forests
  based on harvest volume, losses from salvage sales in negative net
  revenue forests jump to $28,687,000 in 1994. (See attached table.) 
  States with federal forests reporting at least $1 million in net
  losses from salvage sales include Oregon, California, New Mexico,
  Montana, Washington, Michigan, Virginia and South Carolina. 
       These losses understate the total dollar amount of below-cost sales
  because net revenues combine both profitable and below-cost sales.  For
  example, in one forest a sale that generates a profit of $80 is added to a
  sale that incurs a loss of $100, resulting in reported negative net
  revenue of $20 [$80 - $100].  However, below-cost sales total $100.  The
  losses also exclude below-cost sales in positive net revenue forests
  because profitable and losing sales there also are netted.  For example,
  in another forest a sale that generates a profit of $140 is added to a
  sale that incurs a loss of $90, resulting in net revenue of $50 [$140 -
  $90]; below-cost sales, though, total $90.  Combining the examples, the
  Forest Service would report overall profits for the two forests of $30
  [-$20 + $50], but fail to disclose that losses of $190 [$100 + 90] could
  have been avoided if the below-cost sales had not occurred. 
       According to March 22, 1995 testimony provided by Jack Ward Thomas,
  Chief of the Forest Service, in budget hearings before the House
  Subcommittee on the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies,
  revenues from salvage sales are divided according to the following
  formula: 25 percent of the revenue is distributed to the States and
  benefits public schools and public roads in counties within the national
  forests, 25 percent goes to the Knutson-Vandenberg (K-V) Reforestation
  Fund and the remaining 50 percent is added to the Salvage Sales Fund. 
       Money is deposited into the K-V Fund by timber purchasers and
  is used primarily to reforest areas cut due to timber sales and to
  improve the future productivity of timber stands.  According to the
  Forest Service, reforestation activities include site preparation,
  planting, fertilizing, precommercial thinning, release from
  competing vegetation and pruning.  However, only about 78 percent
  of the total reforestation work is expected to be financed from the
  K-V Fund during fiscal year 1996.
       Receipts from timber salvage sales are deposited into the
  Salvage Sales Fund and used to cover the costs to prepare and
  administer future salvage sales on any national forest and for the
  design, engineering and supervision of associated roads.  The Fund
  appropriation increased 670 percent in nine years, from $17 million
  in 1987 to $131 million in 1995.  The 1996 budget proposes a $2.5
  million increase from the 1996 base of $136.8 million.    
       When asked, during budget hearings before the House
  Subcommittee on the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies
  on March 22, 1995, whether any revenues (from salvage sales) would
  go toward reducing the federal deficit, Gray Reynolds, Deputy Chief
  of the National Forest System, answered, "It would reforest those
  lands and get them back in a productive state, which in the long
  term has a positive effect on the budget."  In response to a
  follow-up question about how long that would take, Mr. Reynolds
  replied, "Well, it depends on where we're harvesting.  In the
  South, it may be 20 years.  In the West, it may be 80 years."    
       The Forest Service sets three priorities for conducting
  salvage sales, according to testimony provided by the Forest
  Service in budget hearings before the House Subcommittee on the
  Department of the Interior and Related Agencies on March 22, 1995. 
  The first two place more weight on generating salvage sales, even
  though the costs of these sales often exceed revenues, than on the
  negative environmental impact of salvage sales.  First, the Forest
  Service looks at those areas where there is a high risk of losing
  substantial volumes of available and merchantable volume and where
  there is high risk to life, property or ecosystem health if some of
  the dead or dying trees are not removed.  Second, the Forest
  Service gives high priority to removing economically valuable
  material before the material deteriorates and to providing material
  needed to meet local mill requirements.  Finally, the Forest
  Service looks at areas which may not yet be high risk but where
  treatment is needed to promote reforestation and ecosystem
  restoration, to prevent deterioration of forest health and to
  accomplish other objectives established in the Forest Service's
  land management plans. [Emphasis added.] 
       Legal exemptions also may encourage environmental abuse. 
  Salvage sales that are less than one million board feet in size
  have been excluded from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  review, can be exempted from administrative appeal, and are
  exempted from the anti-clearcutting policy.  In a 1993 case
  [Foundation for Global Sustainability v. McConnell (24 ELR 20340
  (W.D.N.C. 6-2-93)], the Foundation for Global Sustainability
  accused the Forest Service of segmenting a timber salvage project
  to avoid filing an Environmental Impact Statement.  However, Judge
  Richard L. Voorhees ruled that the Foundation had failed to prove
  intent, i.e., failed to prove that the agency had acted in an
  arbitrary, capricious or unlawful manner and abused its discretion.
       The Emergency Salvage Timber Sale Program, established in July
  1995 by Congress, provides expedited procedures for salvage timber
  sales by suspending applicable environmental laws.  The program
  allows the removal of trees that are only "associated" with salvage
  timber, permits the use of previously-prepared (v. new)
  environmental documents, whose scope and contents are solely the
  discretion of the appropriate Secretary, and does not preclude
  sales even though Forest Service costs may exceed the revenue
  generated.  According to Charles Gauvin, President of Trout
  Unlimited, "What Congress passed and the President signed is
  probably the worst environmental law of the century."
       Even the Forest Service admits that salvaging timber may not enhance
  forest health.  According to responses by the Forest Service to written
  questions from Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), "Salvage and forest
  health are not the same."  In his budget testimony, Jack Ward Thomas
  agreed that dead trees are necessary for the health of habitat, that
  animals and plants benefit from the presence of dead trees and that
  cleaning a site out may harm the habitat in those areas.  He further
  contended that the removal of material makes the site hotter in the sense
  that there is less shading.  The Forest Service also reported that if
  salvage sales were increased, road construction in currently inventoried
  roadless areas would be required a costly and destructive undertaking. 
       Expanding salvage sales on federal lands will generate more
  taxpayer costs than revenues, thus frustrating efforts to balance
  the budget.  At the same time, increased salvage operations are
  likely to harm not enhance forest health.
       Proposed bills to repeal the July 1995 lawless logging
  provisions would reverse the potential economic and environmental
  ills created by the Emergency Salvage Timber Program.  
  Taxpayer Assets Project
  P.O. Box 19367
  Washington, DC  20036
            Losses from Negative Net Revenue Forests: 1994
  STATE		Losses from Negative Net
  		Revenue Forests
  Alabama		$222,000
  Alaska		68,000
  Arizona		505,000
  Arkansas	10,000
  California	3,187,000
  Colorado	589,000
  Florida		13,000
  Georgia		284,000
  Idaho		733,000
  Illinois	411,000
  Indiana		91,000
  Kentucky	407,000
  Michigan	1,495,000
  Minnesota	811,000
  Missouri	1,000
  Montana		2,683,000
  Nevada		25,000
  New Hampshire	589,000
  New Mexico	2,958,000
  North Carolina	720,000
  Ohio		146,000
  Oregon		5,669,000
  Puerto Rico	80,000
  South Carolina	1,096,000
  Tennessee	530,000
  Utah		251,000
  Vermont		253,000
  Virginia	1,277,000
  Washington	2,492,000
  Wisconsin	753,000
  Wyoming		338,000
  TOTAL		$28,687,000.00
                   Source: U.S. Forest Service data
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