CLOVIS -- Last month, the House
Transportation, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing
on how Congress can help states improve water quality. The subcommittee heard
testimony from representatives of the National Governors' Association and
state water officials who called on Congress to review and revise several Clean
Water Act regulations adopted and approved by the Clinton Administration.
Testifying were Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR), Governor
John Hoeven (R-ND), Chris Tulou, Environmental Council of the States and
Jon Craig, Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators.
The witnesses all called for a collaborative watershed
based approach and asked for more flexibility to allow states to establish their
They also identified specific EPA rules that failed to
embrace this recommended approach -- specifically, EPA's final regulations revising
the TMDL program.
Concern About Eco-terrorism On March 14, Senator Gordon
Smith (R-OR) wrote Attorney General John Ashcroft to bring "attention to the troubling
rise of so-called eco-terrorism incidents in the Northwest and around the nation."
Smith went on to say, "Under your leadership, I hope
the Department of Justice - including the Federal Bureau of Investigation - will
make successful prosecution of violent acts of domestic terrorism a top priority."
The senator also asked that the Attorney General ensure
that investigation efforts are coordinated with the impacted federal land management
agencies. To emphasize the importance of this problem, Smith highlighted the arson
attacks on three of AFRC's member companies in Oregon that occurred during the
holiday season the last three years.
Last week, the Forest Service released its Forest Management
Program Annual Report for Fiscal Year 1998. This report is based on the agency's
Timber Sale Program Information Reporting System (TSPIRS).
Nationally, the agency lost $126 million for that fiscal
year. This continues a declining trend. The last fiscal year the agency was in
the black was 1994 where it made $122 million. Since then, the losses have been
$16 million in FY95, $96 million in FY96, $116 million in FY97, and $126 million
The report gives several reasons for this trend --There's
been a significant decline in the timber sale program over the last decade. During
this period, the program has gone from about 12 billion board feet (bbf) to less
than 4 bbf. During this time, revenues have declined while unit costs have increased.--
There's also been a significant shift in program objectives. Between FY93
and 98, the percent offered for commodity production has dropped from 71 to 51
percent. During the same period, the percent of stewardship-related volume has
increased from 24 to 43 percent. This has contributed significantly to the
decline in revenues and increase in unit costs but the report states that these
stewardship projects present the "least net cost" way to achieve resource objectives.
-- Following these same lines, the percent of sawtimber offered between FY89 to
98 dropped from 79 to 60 percent. In addition, there has been a shift from the
green sale program to salvage. During the same period, the percent of salvage
volume of the total increased from 17 to 37 percent.
The FY98 report is late due to changes in the agency's
accounting system and specifically how it accounts for road prism costs.
This last item, accounting for road prism costs, has
changed twice in as many years. Prior to FY97, this cost was capitalized into
the value of the underlying land. In FY97, this cost was annually expensed.
Now, in the FY98 report, based on a Government Accounting
Office study, this costs is depreciated over an anticipated useful life of
50 years. Another significant change from previous years is the showcasing of
stewardship projects. An entire chapter has been devoted to this. The stated purpose
for this is to highlight the critical role harvesting plays in forest management.
Note: Chris West is Vice President of the American Forest Resource Council an
can be reached by telephone at 503-222-9505 or 503-222-3255. West's e-mail address
is - email@example.com - The Oregon Forest Resource Institute has just published
a book that explores the conditions in Northwest forests when the Lewis and
Clark Expedition visited them about 200 years ago. The book is titled Lewis
and Clark Meet Oregon's Forests: Lessons from Dynamic Nature and was written
by Gail Wells and Dawn Anzinger. The book tells a fascinating story, drawn from
the Lewis and Clark journals, Native American records and other sources, about
what the Northwest forests were like in the early 1880's and how nature and people
shaped these forests. One of Indtitut's goals in commissioning this book was to
examine a better understanding of how forest history can be helpful in future
forest management decisions. For more information about the book, contact the
Institute at 503-229-6718. ]