Flawed forest policy

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2003

Given its history, the Forest Service's willingness to pander to the needs of the timber industry should come as no surprise.

The Forest Service clearly has a problem understanding basic principles of supply and demand. Despite timber industry claims to the contrary, the Forest Service has inundated the market with more timber sales than the industry could possibly use.

Consider this: Between 1999 and 2001, the Forest Service failed to find a buyer for 30 percent of the timber sales it offered.

Or how about this: In the same period, more than 56 percent of timber sales had only one bidder. Without competition for these sales, the Forest Service could hardly help but undersell them.

Business practices of this type do not favor the government or Alaskans, who lose money, job opportunities, and valuable forest land on these deals.

Despite the glutted state of the timber market, the Forest Service continues to plan more sales. Mark Rey, U.S. undersecretary of Agriculture, recently announced he would lift important restrictions on logging and associated road building in up to 2.5 million acres of the Tongass, putting places like Port Houghton and East Kuiu back on the chopping block.

Is this plan to push unneeded timber sales in some of the Tongass' last unroaded areas good business? I don't think so.

Sarah Lemagie


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