Forests and National Prosperity
A Reappraisal of the Forest Situation in the United States


1For boundaries of regions referred to, see fig. 2, p. 14.

2In 1947 this was reduced to 111 million acres.

3Only measures relating to national forests are presented here. Similar action is believed to be appropriate with respect to State and Community forests.

4This estimate was derived from the 1935 census. The 1945 census was not available when reappraisal data were compiled. Estimates of farm woodland may vary widely depending upon how "farm" is defined.

5The last-named, some 2 million acres of high-quality timberlands in western Oregon, are of more importance than their relatively small acreage would imply.

6Viewing commercial requirements in the broadest sense, trees 5 inches in diameter breast high or larger may be considered merchantable. Even for fuel wood, distillation wood, and other bulk products, it is not profitable to cut trees smaller than that. But for lumber the trees must be larger.

7Saw timber refers to trees large enough for sawlogs in accordance with practice of the region, regardless of actual use. Throughout the East softwood saw timber does not commonly include trees under 9 inches in diameter breast high. For hardwoods the minimum size varies by species and regions but is usually greater than for softwoods. In the pine types of the West trees must be 11 inches in diameter to be called saw timber; in the Douglas-fir types 15 inches is the corresponding limit; in redwood, 23 inches.

8Additional details on species are given in: U. S. Forest Service. GAGING THE TIMBER RESOURCE OF THE UNITED STATES. (Reappraisal report 1.) Washington. 1946.

9The decline since 1909 has probably been greater than indicated. The 1909 estimate did not fully recognize the smaller properties, and many species which are now merchantable were disregarded. Furthermore, in contrast to the practice 35 or 40 years ago, lumbermen and foresters now count trees of much smaller size as saw timber, particularly in the East.

10The 1938 estimates were weak in regions which have not been adequately surveyed. For example, more saw timber is now reported for the North than in 1938. The difference is primarily in the Middle Atlantic and Central States where hardwoods are reported at almost double the 1938 estimate, such differences are much greater than could have resulted from growth even if there had been no cutting. They are partly due to an increase in the estimate of commercial forest acreage. In California also, where the progress of depletion is common knowledge, better estimates in 1945 resulted in a larger figure than in 1938. On the other hand, the 1945 estimates for the two Rocky Mountain regions are lower than in 1938 because a more realistic appraisal of operating prospects led to a reduction of almost 16 million acres in the commercial forest area.

11For acreage by regions, see table 17 of reference given in footnote 8, p. 19.

12Trees up to 4 inches in diameter breast high.

13Timber drain measures the total volume removed from the forest by cutting (including waste and breakage in logging) and by losses from fire, wind, ice, epidemics of insects or disease, and other destructive agents. Endemic losses from insects and disease are accounted for in growth computations.

14See footnote 7, p. 17, for definition.

15See footnote 10, p. 19.

16These figures are based on the South as defined in the 1938 appraisal. Kentucky and West Virginia are included in addition to the three regions comprising the South in this report. Even here estimates are not fully comparable. Four States (Va., W. Va., Tenn., and Ky.) were not covered by the Forest Survey in 1938, and in 1945. Survey data were available for only one of these (Va.).

17In order to focus this analysis, primary estimates of potential requirements are based on the period 1950-55 with an assumed gross national product (in 1944 dollars) of $200 billion. Since the assumption of ample supply to keep prices of forest products (now badly out of balance) at reasonable levels could not be attained by 1955, the estimates have also been projected several decades ahead. Fuller discussion is given in Reappraisal Report 2, Potential Requirements for Timber Products in the United States. U. S. Dept. Agr., Forest Service. 1946.

18The Bureau of Labor Statistics index of wholesale lumber prices for December 1947 was 303 compared with 191 for all building materials, including lumber.


20Results of this survey are more fully covered in Reappraisal Report 3. The Management Status of Forest Lands in the United States. U. S. Forest Service. 1946.

21National forests contain but 5.6 percent of the commercial forest in the North, and 5.5 percent in the South.

22See fig. 15, p. 48.

23See fig. 15, p. 48.

24More specifically, waste refers to wood from the forest which does not appear in marketable products other than fuel. It does not include bark or byproducts like lath, shingles, pulpwood, wood flour, or baled shavings, or the volume of trees cut primarily for fuel; but it does include byproduct fuel-wood in woods and mill from trees cut for other products. Also included are losses of fiber, lignin, and other chemical substances in pulp processing. This discussion deals with waste in logging, manufacture of primary timber products, and remanufacture of lumber, but not with waste in other remanufacture or in use of products. Additional discussion and data are given in Reappraisal Report 4, Wood Waste in the United States. U. S. Dept. Agr., Forest Service. 1947.

25See p. 15.

26Sheep other than those being fed for market.

27Charted data based on visitor's expressed reasons for visiting national forests; these data are not comparable with those in figure 21, which shows actual use of recreational areas.

28Private facilities, which supplement and increase national-forest recreational use, include some 500 resorts, 300 organization camps, and about 13,000 summer homes constructed under special-use permit. Capacity of the resorts will perhaps have to be increased about two-thirds in the next 10 years to meet the demand.

29Forest Service estimates based, in some particulars, on reported statistics of the total take of meat and furs.

30Of great economic importance, though not included in the forest insect and disease losses mentioned, is the decay in wood products to which both insects and disease contribute. Financially, such losses doubtless far exceed those in standing timber.

31This includes intermingled or adjacent lands in other ownership which receive protection.

32The actual burn on forest lands may have been somewhat less in view of the greater fire hazard and lower standards of protection on the nonforest lands.

33This subject is more fully treated in Reappraisal Report 5, Protection Against Forest Insects and Diseases in the United States. U. S. Dept. Agr., Forest Service. 1947.

34The distinction is not always sharp. The difference is often one of severity rather than of the pest or its mode of attack. Thus, a low level of pest incidence, which usually characterizes the endemic state, may build up, where conditions are favorable, to epidemic proportions. On the other hand, pests which commonly figure in destructive epidemics may remain in an endemic status for many years, causing little damage. Examples of endemic losses and lists of major epidemics, both by regions, are given in Reappraisal Report 5.

35Epidemic losses are usually included as an item of forest drain, whereas allowance is made for endemic losses in growth calculations.

36Research expenditures, 1936-45, totaled only 3.8 million dollars—mostly Federal.

37Forest Service estimates in 1946 indicate that capital-improvement work on national forests would afford the equivalent of 90,000 full-time jobs for 6 years.

38No appropriations were made in 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921.

39Act approved August 28, 1937 (50 Stat. 874).

40A Forest Service study in 1937 suggested as a flexible future goal that an additional 140 to 150 million acres of forest land should be publicly owned—about two-thirds Federal. A more up-to-date review doubtless would modify this estimate, but there is evident need for extensive acquisition.

41See p. 94.

42For the year ending June 30, 1947, the contribution to some 653 counties totaled more than 4.5 million dollars.

43For the year ending June 30, 1947, the road fund amounted to 1.8 million dollars.

44Act approved March 29, 1944 (58 Stat. 132).

45See section How Timberlands Are Being Managed, pp. 46-51.

46Fuller discussion is given in Reappraisal Report 6, Forest Cooperatives in the United States. U. S. Dept. Agr., Forest Service. 1947.

47In the 26 States east of the Mississippi River, where nearly three-fourths of all farm woodland is concentrated, 36 percent of the farms are operated by tenants.

48SHEPARD, H. B. FOREST FIRE INSURANCE IN THE PACIFIC COAST STATES. U. S. Dept. Agri. Tech. Bul. 551, 168 pp., illus. 1937.

______. FOREST FIRE INSURANCE IN THE NORTHEASTERN STATES. U. S. Dept. Agr. Tech. Bul. 651, 46 pp., illus. 1939.

49Provides for exclusion of immature timber from the property-tax base or for substitution of a severance tax; optional in the sense that the taxpayer takes the initiative in enrolling his timber under provisions of the law, but is not required to do so.

50In differential taxation, a flat percentage reduction is applied to the assessed value or tax rate of forest lands. In deferred taxation, the tax bill is postponed (and usually accumulates at interest).

51HALL, R. C. THE FOREST-TAX PROBLEM AND ITS SOLUTION SUMMARIZED. U. S. Dept. Agr. Cir. 358, 17 pp. 1935. Pp. 14-17.

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Last Updated: 17-Mar-2010