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


The Setting for American Forestry

America needs productive forests. The evidence is on every hand. Wood shortages, which plagued this country in wartime, have hampered efforts to build the millions of new homes so badly needed, and constitute one of the dangers that may throw our economy out of gear.

In World War II, as never before, lavish use of all resources was the key to survival. The war profoundly affected American forestry. It taught how essential forests are to self-preservation, to national strength. It focused the spotlight on the inadequacy of timber supplies, long foreseen though masked by lagging consumption in the depression thirties, and put a premium on accessibility and quality. The war also stimulated more efficient and diversified use of wood. Yet it further mortgaged our future by impairing timber growing stock, and by piling up a huge volume of unsatisfied consumer needs to be levied against our forests in the coming years.

Our people have always been prodigal users of wood. The United States consumes more wood than any other country—probably as much as all others combined. Wood is, indeed, a highly useful and adaptable material. It has literally thousands of commonplace uses which permeate and leaven our whole economy. Moreover, through the alchemy of science wood in a variety of amazing new forms—plastics, textiles, chemicals—is contributing increasingly to our way of life.

Timber, like steel and coal, is a basic raw material, and the Nation needs a huge amount of it for industrial use. The timber-products industries are themselves an important segment of America's great industrial strength. Each year they pour into trade channels several billions of dollars' worth of lumber and other commodities. The timber business as a whole—including harvesting, manufacture, transportation, and use of wood products—is a source of livelihood for millions of people. In 1946 it afforded work equivalent to 3.3 million full-time jobs and wages totaling 6.3 billion dollars.

Rural America has perhaps the most direct stake in productive forests. Countless small towns and communities are supported wholly or in large part by forest-based enterprises. Millions of rural people, including farmers, look to the forests for regular or part-time work and for simple products essential to their mode of living. To them, and to many people everywhere, well-managed forests mean steady jobs and permanent communities.

Productive forests are needed for much besides their timber. Today, more than ever, the Nation needs to protect its priceless soils and watersheds—to guard against floods, erosion, and damage to water supplies. It needs the livestock products from forest range, and it needs to utilize fully the great recreational and wildlife values of forest lands.

Yet our forests, for the most part, are not in good shape to meet these varied and compelling demands. Years of poor and destructive cutting, of fires, and lack of management have steadily reduced timber capital and impaired other products and services. Years of exploitation and a long concurrent history of rising prices to consumers spell timber scarcity, not abundance, today.

The need for better forestry is heightened by economic circumstances and new concepts growing out of the war and the reconversion. Wartime experience in production has given the Nation new and higher aims for peace. Foremost among these is the emphasis on achieving a stable, high-level economy and full employment as a matter of vital national policy. Maintenance of high national income, with jobs for all, is of the utmost importance if we are to avoid recurring cycles of "boom and bust."

A prosperous well-integrated economy implies, for one thing, productive forests capable of supplying a greater timber cut than heretofore visualized—and on a sustained basis. Indeed, it means full use of all basic resources, and concerted policies and action to conserve and keep them in good supply. America, in its bid for strength and prosperity, should face this issue squarely. Already we are a "have-not" nation with respect to certain minerals and are forced to compete increasingly for critical materials in the world market. We are using up our soils. We have made heavy inroads on the timber. Yet forests, which lie all around us and occupy one-third of our land area, are a renewable resource. Though depleted, they can be built up to supply fully the needs of a strong, growing nation.

Beyond the domestic situation, this country needs productive forests to meet new international obligations and to help establish the peace. A smaller world requires a closer harmonizing of world supplies and needs of basic materials. The world is short of softwood timber and the forests of North America are of key importance in world supply. It is in the national interest to build up America's forests so as to contribute in the long run to world timber trade just as it is to supply food and other necessities for rehabilitation now.

One fact stands out clearly: this country needs to produce and to use in full measure the products and services of its forests as a part of the larger obligation to gain a stable, prosperous economy and hence a better hope for world security. This, in brief, is the broad economic and social setting in which American forestry finds itself today.

Highlights of the Forest Situation

1. The Nation has plenty of forest land. Excluding Alaska, there is 624 million acres—one-third of the total land and about two-thirds of the original forest area. About 461 million acres is commercial, suitable and available for growing merchantable timber. The potential productivity of this vast domain is great—enough eventually to fill domestic needs generously, provide for national emergencies, and export to a world undersupplied with timber, as it is with food.

2. The supply of all-important saw timber is steadily shrinking. Originally there must have been 8,000 billion board feet or more. In 1945 there was about 1,601 billion. The difference plus what additional wood has grown in the meantime was used up or destroyed. The quantity of saw timber is still declining. In the 15 timber States for which comparable Forest Survey data are available, containing 60 percent of the Nation's saw timber and accounting for almost three-fourths of the annual drain, the saw-timber stand declined 156 billion board feet (14 percent) in a period averaging 11 years prior to 1945.

3. Our forests are operating in the red. More timber is cut or destroyed each year than is replaced by growth. Saw timber is growing at an annual rate of about 35 billion board feet. But the 54-billion-board-foot annual drain by cutting and by natural losses in 1944—though well below the 60 billion board feet of the peak war years, 1941-43, and below that of 1946 and 1947—exceeded saw-timber growth by about 50 percent:

bd. ft.)
bd. ft.)
     United States35.353.9153
1For boundaries of sections referred to, see fig. 2, p. 14.

True, for all timber including that less than saw-timber size, there was a near balance between drain (13.7 billion cubic feet) and growth (13.4 billion). But there is little satisfaction in this because 80 percent of the drain is in saw timber, particularly the better softwoods, whereas much of the growth is in small low-grade trees and inferior hardwoods.

Because of the backlog of virgin timber, the over-cut is not dangerous in the West, but continuation of the present rate and character of cutting in the East would sacrifice future productivity. Actually it is unlikely that the present drain in the East will continue, for obtaining suitable stumpage is increasingly difficult. But projecting 1944 drain 20 years ahead in all regions [1] (assuming no change in cutting practices) indicates a 27-percent reduction in our saw-timber stand by 1965. For the two leading timber-products regions—the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest—the decline would be 60 and 39 percent, respectively.

4. Forest industries are feeling the pinch of timber shortages and declining quality. Even in the West local timber shortages are already making themselves felt; in western Washington less than half the primary forest industries have enough private timber in sight to keep going more than a few years. In the South a horde of little sawmills are subsisting mainly on small timber; in many instances sawlogs being cut average only one-third to one-half as large as formerly, and the average is getting smaller. Plants using high-grade hardwood logs for veneer and other specialty products are especially hard hit. The expanding fir-plywood industry of the Northwest faces major readjustment before it has really hit its stride. Pulp and paper companies, though they can use small material, often meet stiff competition for softwood timber, particularly in the South, and in the North some face actual shortage.

Although much progress in achieving balance between plant and woods operations is being made, particularly by some pulp and lumber companies, the forest industries as a whole are not well geared to a sustained timber supply. They own little more than one-tenth of the commercial forest. Their operations generally are not adapted to complete, integrated use of the available timber. Plant capacity greater than tributary forests can sustain is still a threat to the growing stock in many localities.

5. A flexible long-range goal for timber growth is proposed. Careful study—looking beyond current limitations to long-range possibilities because forestry, like the Nation's growth, is a long-time affair—suggests a growth goal of 18 to 20 billion cubic feet annually, including 65 to 72 billion board feet of saw timber. This visualizes potential domestic requirements—the estimated quantity a fully employed, prosperous people might use if the timber were readily available at reasonable prices—of 61 billion board feet, which is more than the annual saw-timber cut of 55 billion in the prosperous years 1925-29, or that in the peak war years. The goal also includes a margin for irreducible losses, in effective growth, new uses, and exports, and a backlog for national security. Setting the goal slightly higher or lower would make little difference in the program required to reach it. But to aim for much less than 72 billion board feet of saw timber annually would not be sound public policy or consistent with the responsibilities and needs of a large, growing nation.

6. Attaining this goal means stepping up annual growth of all timber by one-half and doubling saw-timber growth. This is a big order. For the Nation as a whole, forest growing stock is below par in quantity, quality, and distribution. About 35 percent (164 million acres) of the commercial forest area is deforested or has less than 40 percent of full stocking. Nearly half the commercial forest land of the South is in this category. With more than three-fourths of the commercial forest land, the East has little more than half the saw-timber growing stock needed to sustain its reasonable share of the growth goal.

Nationally, a 469-billion-board-foot deficit in the growing stock of the East is partially offset by the virgin timber of the West where two-fifths of the stands are as yet untouched. However, about one-fourth of the commercial forest area of the West has been reduced to seedling or sapling growth or is denuded, and the active growing stock of young timber is only about a third of that needed to reach the West's share of the goal.

7. Clearly, the goals cannot be achieved for several decades. It would be unrealistic to assume that good cutting practices will be generally applied within a few years, that adequate protection can be promptly achieved, that planting will be undertaken on a large enough scale to bring the bulk of the idle lands into production within a generation, that the construction of access roads into new areas will keep sufficiently ahead of the demand to relieve the pressure for overcutting elsewhere, or that cutting operations will be so located as to assure continuous high-level output locality by locality. But even if all these things could be accomplished, it is estimated that saw-timber growth would not reach 64 billion board feet (the level of potential domestic requirements and losses) in less than 45 years. Moreover, if there were to be a good margin for national security, export, and the like, growing stock would have to be further built up for another 25 or 30 years. These calculations—in no sense forecasts—assume that for perhaps 30 years annual drain would be less than 50 billion board feet—some 4 billion below 1944, although output of major products since 1945 has actually been higher than in 1944.

8. Meanwhile, the Nation cannot rely on increased imports. There is a world shortage of timber, especially of softwoods for construction. Europe, largely self-sufficient in timber before the war, will need to import for years to come. The forests of Soviet Asia, the East Indies, and the Philippines are remote and mostly undeveloped; in the main they will go to supply the Orient. Central and South America and Africa can supply some hardwoods though little construction timber. Canada doubtless will continue to be our chief source of imports and possibly can furnish somewhat more pulp and paper, especially newsprint, although her own supply of operable timber is diminishing. For 30 years or more the United States has imported more wood and wood products than it has exported. It can no longer rely as much on imports as in the past. The Nation must look mainly to its own forests.

9. The forest situation, therefore, poses a dilemma. The intrinsic needs of this country for saw-timber products are considerably greater than the present cut. Yet saw-timber drain already exceeds annual growth. To increase current output implies accelerating timber depletion and so hastening the day when drastic reduction in the use of timber products would be inescapable. To curtail output now so as to facilitate building up growing stock and annual growth would leave urgent needs (such as that for more housing) unfilled and might weaken the foundation for a high level national economy. There is no wholly satisfactory way out.

The Nation should adopt a broader and more positive forest conservation program than has existed in the past. We need to stop forest destruction and deterioration, to put idle forest land to work, and to obtain widespread adoption of sustained-yield forest management in order to assure ample supplies of timber products for future generations. But to meet the pressing demands of the years just ahead, we should strive to keep national output of timber products from falling much below present levels, if possible.

10. More efficient use of wood can help bridge the gap though it cannot decisively relieve the pressure on growing stock. Wood waste—material from the forest which is not used for marketable products other than fuel—was estimated at 109 million tons for 1944, or over half of all timber cut. This waste can be reduced through more efficient logging and manufacturing; and by improved chemical recovery such as the processes for making alcohol from sawmill and pulping wastes. However, economic use cannot be made of all or even most of the wood now wasted. Opportunities are principally in the South and Pacific Northwest, where there are large primary plants and large usable concentrations of wood waste. Even though the use of wood waste will not greatly affect forest drain or alter requirements as visualized in the long-range growth goal, it can help meet current needs for wood and is important for other reasons. It strengthens the incentive for better and more diversified forestry. New uses for wood waste also serve to expand employment and industrialization, and hence should help cushion the effects of forest depletion on dependent communities.

11. Increasing the cut of virgin timber in the West would relieve the pressure on the growing stocks of the East. Clearly, eastern forests are not in condition to go on bearing over 60 percent of the country's saw-timber drain. Some reduction of output appears inevitable. Good forest practices can hold this reduction to perhaps 15 or 20 percent, but even so, the growing stock would need to be built up for 20 or 30 years before output could be safely restored.

To help maintain national output, the cut of virgin timber in the West could be increased for a number of years. But, this should not be at the expense of good forest practice. Operations should be properly located and cutting practices adapted to maintain forest productivity in each locality. Because of such considerations an increase of western output hinges largely on rapid construction of access roads into undeveloped country, particularly in the national forests.

12. More than 30 percent of the Nation's saw timber is in the national forests. Because private lands have been generally more accessible, a large part of the virgin timber still awaiting development is in the western national forests. It is largely to these forests that the Nation must look to minimize a prospective decline elsewhere in the output of timber products. To bring the output of all the national forests up to their sustained-yield capacity calls for more intensive management as well as a large road-building program. Timber sales need to be speeded up; more of the output should be from thinnings and other improvement measures in growing forests. Denuded areas should be planted. Better protection and more adequate administrative facilities should be provided. But output, working circle by working circle, should not be allowed to exceed sustained-yield capacity.

We can also turn to the national forests of Alaska, whose resources are as yet untapped on a large scale. Alaska's timber will be chiefly valuable to supplement our pulpwood supply. When the pulp and paper industry becomes established in Alaska it should be able to supply about 7 percent of the Nation's potential pulp and paper requirements—representing a cut of about 1-1/2 million cords of pulpwood annually. We should make the most of this opportunity.

13. But this country's forest problem centers mainly on the private land. Three-fourths of the commercial forest land—345 million acres of it—is privately owned. This includes by and large the best growing sites and the most accessible locations. Privately owned forests furnish some 90 percent of the timber cut. They will continue to be the main source of timber although the contribution of public forests should increase.

14. Private forests need much better protection. Fire continues to take a heavy toll despite the great progress in cooperative fire control begun in 1911. Organized protection was provided for 319 million acres in 1946, but much of this did not meet desirable standards. About one-fourth of the private land in need of organized protection, chiefly in the South and the Central region, is still without it.

Moreover, comparatively little has been done to curb insect pests and diseases, which take an even heavier toll of timber. As in fire control, it will take organized, collective action on a much more ample scale as contemplated in the Forest Pest Control Act of June 25, 1947, to cope adequately with these hazards.

15. Timber-cutting practices on private lands, with some notable exceptions, are far from satisfactory. Encouraging progress has been made in recent years, especially in the South, but about two-thirds of the cutting on private lands is still poor or destructive, and only 8 percent is up to really good forestry standards. The 51 million acres in some 400 properties of more than 50,000 acres each, chiefly lumber- and pulp-company holdings, receives the best treatment. About 39 percent of the cutting on these lands is on a sustained yield basis, and 29 percent is good or high order. But these large holdings comprise only 15 percent of the commercial forest land in private ownership. Three-fourths of it, about 261 million acres, is held by more than 4 million small owners in properties averaging only 62 acres each. About 71 percent of the cutting on this land, more than half of which is farm woodland, is poor or destructive.

16. The small private holding is the toughest problem. Many of the obstacles to better forestry stem from the huge number of these small properties; their small, often uneconomic, size; the diversity of aims and lack of skill with which they are handled; the instability of their ownership and management; the lack of capital and the pressure for current income. Yet the small holdings include much of the most accessible and potentially the most productive forest land. Practical means must be found to bring this large and important segment of private forests under good management. Herein is one of the knottiest problems in American forestry.

17. Public action is needed to get good forestry on private forest lands. Although private owners have the main responsibility for putting their lands under good management, the public, too, has a big stake in this. The public role should be to help minimize the handicaps, to encourage and assist, and to apply appropriate restraints to stop unnecessary forest destruction. Where handicaps are too great—particularly where forests are run down and returns are small or long-deferred—or where benefits and services accrue mainly to the public at large, permanent public ownership and management is generally the answer. A large acreage now privately owned is in this category. But private forestry can succeed on the greater part of the land; there are examples now, in every region and among many classes of owners.

18. American forestry has made great strides but there is still a big job to do. We have the world's greatest public forest system—the national forests—with a large backlog of timber and other important values under stable and sound management. Other Federal forest lands have also been placed under management. State forestry activities have been steadily expanded and strengthened. Much progress has been made in protecting forests from fire. Research, on which the techniques and "know-how" of forestry depend, has made great headway, especially in recent years. We have the beginnings of an effective program of aids to small owners. A substantial acreage of private forests—mostly in the larger holdings—is under management and a growing number of owners are practicing good forestry. Many are buying more land for timber growing. And, among the hopeful factors, there are today's good markets and favorable economic climate which, if maintained and taken advantage of, can do much to advance the forestry movement. All these things augur well for the future.

Nevertheless, little more than a beginning has been made toward achieving a sound, permanent forest economy in this country. Clearly much remains to be done to strengthen and equip public forests for a greater output and to get good forestry on the great bulk of the private lands. A piece-meal attack, as at present, will not suffice. The Nation needs a comprehensive, unified forest policy and concerted action going far beyond anything accomplished in the past.

Action Needed

A reappraisal of this kind logically includes consideration of what action is needed. As the preceding pages have made apparent, the forest situation is extremely complex. It involves a great variety of physical and economic considerations. There is no panacea by which satisfactory forest conservation can be attained in this country.

For considering what is needed, a point of departure is afforded by the comprehensive program recommended by the Department of Agriculture in 1940 to the Joint Congressional Committee on Forestry, which had been commissioned by the President to investigate and report on the Nation's forest situation. Those recommendations and other proposals have been carefully reexamined in the light of the reappraisal findings, progress in the intervening years, and the current economic outlook. For example, after careful study it was concluded that incentive payments for good forestry practices do not form a sound major approach to forest conservation. As another example, the status of State forest-regulatory measures and other relevant circumstances were carefully reconsidered, and as a result the Forest Service continues its recommendation of a Federal-State plan of regulating cutting and other forest practices on forest land.

In presenting its program of action now, the Forest Service reaffirms the philosophy that forest conservation requires Federal, State, and local governments, and private owners and agencies to act in effective cooperation. It takes into account the need for Federal leadership in many segments of the work. It further recognizes that although there is need for considerably more public ownership—Federal, State; and local—much the larger part of the forest land, and particularly of the productive capacity, will remain in private ownership.

The recommendations that follow refer especially to the Federal aspects of a long-range program, though cooperative action is often involved. Admittedly, they do not fully compass all unsatisfactory features of the present situation; for example, the 75 million acres of forest land which is wholly deforested or has so little restocking as to justify the description "idle." Nor do they adequately reach the additional millions of acres of run-down forests in small properties that need considerable capital expenditure with long deferment of income. To spell out the Federal phases of a long-range program does not minimize the opportunity and need for private or State action. In fact, strengthening of State forestry agencies is an important corollary of the Federal program. Much of this program aims to help private owners take care of their own lands; but private owners cannot reasonably be expected to do alone a job for which they are as yet unprepared and unequipped.

This program is aimed primarily at meeting American requirements for timber supply; but it should go far toward preventing soil erosion and safeguarding range forage, watershed, recreational, and other values which in some regions surpass that of the timber. If fully effective, it would provide a framework within which the short-range and many necessary detailed and supplemental measures could be worked out. It may be divided into three broad categories:

FIRST, a series of public aids to private forest landowners, especially the small owners. Some of these require new legislation. Others are already in effect but need strengthening.

SECOND, public control of cutting and other forest practices on private land sufficient to stop forest destruction and keep the land reasonably productive.

THIRD, expansion and intensified management of national, State, and community forests.

The principal measures embraced by the foregoing three categories follow.

I. Public Aids and Services to Private Owners

1. Technical assistance to private owners in establishing and tending forests, and in harvesting and marketing forest products, should be made available on a broader and much larger scale than at present. Corresponding assistance should also be made available to operators of processing plants. The emphasis here is on owners of small properties and plants.

The value of on-the-ground technical assistance and guidance to individual private owners of small properties has been impressively demonstrated by the present small program of the Forest Service in cooperation with State forestry agencies under the Norris-Doxey Act. Embracing some 650 counties in 40 States in the fiscal year 1948, 173 farm woodland management projects, each with a resident forester, were reaching only a small part of the farm-forest owners who desire such aid, even within the counties served. The Federal contribution to these projects was $439,341 and the States spent about 1 million dollars on this type of work. Similar assistance, on a still smaller scale, is given by Soil Conservation Service foresters in cooperation with soil conservation districts and by other public foresters.

The Norris-Doxey Act, authorizing aid in the growing, harvesting, and marketing of forest products, is restricted to farms. The million small nonfarm owners, who own almost as much forest land as the farmers, are in equal need of such technical aid, but are reached only in small measure under general authorization; and corresponding service is not available to processors. For example, the waste and inefficiency commonly associated with small mills, of which there are over 40,000, could be greatly reduced through technical assistance in selection of equipment, mill lay-out and arrangement, procurement of raw material, and operating and marketing methods. Technical advice would also lead to greater efficiency in the use of wood in building construction and in countless other types of use.

Such public aid to small owners and operators is essential. They are seldom able to pay full commercial rates for needed services. Moreover, there are not enough private consultants to cover the field. Public aid, by demonstrating the values of technical advice, has been found to benefit rather than interfere with private consulting services.

An adequate program of this kind would involve woodland management projects embracing some 2,000 counties, with a resident forester in charge of each project and, in addition, a corps of 200 to 300 utilization and other specialists. Generally speaking, this would be a cooperative program administered by the States with Federal expenditure in any State matched by State expenditure for the same purpose.

In addition to broadening to include processing, the present scattered authority for this action program would be greatly strengthened and clarified by new legislation focusing directly on it.

2. Educational and demonstrational work in forestry should be strengthened.

As an essential complement to the preceding action or service type of work, Federal, State, and private agencies should carry out an aggressive campaign of education and demonstration through group meetings, pamphlets, radio and news releases, feature articles, motion pictures, and other appropriate means to develop interest and appreciation by forest landowners and mill men as to the opportunities and advantages of sound forestry and processing methods. Forest extension is needed also to give the public, including farm youth, an understanding of the place of forest conservation in the economy of the Nation.

The Federal and State agricultural extension services have a key position in this educational work. At present these agencies in 45 States and 2 territories employ only 65 extension foresters. The Federal appropriation for fiscal year 1948 of $106,343 for this work was more than matched by the States. Other agencies of the Department of Agriculture also participate in some aspects of such work. Much good work is being done by private agencies. There is strong need for stepping up such activity by all agencies concerned.

3. Forest planting on private forest land should be greatly accelerated.

This measure is directed mainly to the problem of the 62 million acres of private forest land either denuded or so poorly stocked as to be practically idle, and to the additional millions of acres that should be converted to forest use. With adequate protection some will stock naturally, but a very large proportion should be planted.

Prior to 1947 only about 2-1/2 million acres of private land had been successfully planted. In 1947 about 114,000 acres were planted.

Forest planting—the procurement of planting stock and its actual planting—is expensive. Except for some large owners and a few cooperative ventures, private forest planting has been almost wholly contingent upon getting planting stock from the States at a nominal price. Making stock available at, say, half of the actual cost to produce has proved a powerful stimulant, particularly as many small owners use their own labor in planting. The demand for planting stock under such terms far exceeds the supply.

The Federal Government participates in a small way financially insofar as the program applies to farmer landowners under the authority of Section 4 of the Clarke-McNary Act and the Norris-Doxey Act. This program is supplemented by other public and private agencies and particularly by the Soil Conservation Service in erosion control and in shelter-belt planting in the Prairie-Plains States. The work of all agencies needs to be greatly accelerated.

Forest planting can be especially stimulated by broadening the terms of Section 4 of the Clarke-McNary Act to include nonfarm owners, who account for more than half of the private acreage, and by accelerating the Federal aid.

4. A federally sponsored forest credit system should be established to make long-term loans on terms and conditions suitable for forestry purposes. Such credit should be adapted to the needs of private forest operators and made contingent upon sound forest practices.

Forestry is the only major form of land use for which suitable credit facilities are not available. Although currently the demand for forest credit seems rather limited, the Forest Service believes that in the long run a system of forest credit adapted to the long-term nature of forestry would be an important aid to forest conservation. Such forest credit is needed, for example, to enable owners to consolidate holdings for more efficient management and protection; to facilitate stand improvement; to provide forest administrative, protection, and utilization facilities under sustained-yield management; to enable owners of young timber to pay carrying costs and thus prevent sacrifice of immature or economically unripe timber; and to refund unduly burdensome loans.

Most loans from private sources have been for fairly short terms and predicated on the liquidation of timber without regard to forestry considerations. By contrast, the capital required for the forestry purposes outlined above should be made available at relatively low cost and for sufficient periods to enable repayment in part from deferred timber yields. Only by Federal action can a forest credit system be established that will meet these requirements.

Such a system of forest credit should be established within the farm credit system through a forest credit bank or other arrangement to assure needed autonomy and responsibility for this field of credit. New legislation is needed to facilitate this measure.

Further study should be given to the practicability of a system of more liberal credit in connection with the rehabilitation of small, badly run-down properties which require considerable capital expenditure with long deferment of income.

5. Provision should be made for a federally sponsored insurance system to reduce the risks inherent in forestry enterprises. Insurance agreements should require that insured property be managed under good forestry principles.

Losses from fire and other destructive agents accelerate timber liquidation and discourage the flow of capital into permanent forestry enterprises. To minimize the risks of such losses, low-cost forest insurance is needed. It is also needed in conjunction with the proposed system of forest credit because the hazard of loss, particularly by fire, is one of the most important factors which may prevent borrowers from meeting loan commitments.

Forest fire insurance at practicable rates is not available through the commercial insurance companies. Studies by the Forest Service have indicated the feasibility of commercial insurance, but after several years private companies have not developed the business. The need for very broad coverage, the nature of the risks, and uncertainty regarding suitable rates are doubtless partly accountable. It seems clear that Federal sponsorship of forest insurance is needed if it is to be made available within a reasonable time. Final determination of the best Federal arrangement for providing forest insurance needs further study.

6. Forest-cooperative associations should be encouraged as a means of strengthening forest enterprise and achieving good forest management, particularly on small holdings.

The value of cooperative associations for marketing and processing farm products has been amply demonstrated. This economic device should also be of benefit to farmers and other small owners in their forestry activities. In many situations collective action may not need to go beyond the marketing of the timber, and the large farm purchasing cooperatives might logically extend their activities into this field. But under certain conditions the opportunity for good forestry could be enhanced if the cooperatives also owned and operated processing plants.

Until forest cooperatives become more widely established, Federal leadership, with State cooperation, will be needed to make organization studies and demonstrations; to provide technical advice in business management, manufacture, and marketing; to promote sound forest management; and to furnish loans on favorable terms.

More attention might well be given through the existing facilities to the development of the most promising types of forest cooperatives. In addition, the Secretary of Agriculture might well be authorized to stimulate and assist through their formative years a limited number of experimental associations of the processing type by new legislation which would provide: (a) Liberal low-cost loans to processing cooperatives with power to compromise and adjust the terms as circumstances may require, and (b) under special conditions, as where a new process is involved, the erection or installation of processing facilities and the leasing of these to the cooperatives.

7. Advisory service should be made available to State and local governments to aid in the improvement of forest tax laws and their administration.

Although the adverse effects of the property tax, as well as other taxes upon forestry, are often exaggerated, there is still a strong need for improvement in the forest tax situation through: (a) Reduction in the property tax where this does not curtail essential services; (b) improved tax administration; and (c) special adjustment of the property tax to deferred-yield forestry.

Forest taxation as a feature of the property tax is under the jurisdiction of the State and local governments, and the responsibility for improvement is theirs. Although more than half of the States have authorized some special form of tax treatment for certain classes of land, less than 5 percent of the private commercial forest land is covered by these special provisions. Further efforts are needed to improve forest tax laws, and to improve property tax assessment and administration on all lands.

The Forest Service has in past years made significant studies of forest taxation and has proposed needed improvements therein. It is important that the Forest Service continue to investigate problems of forest taxation and upon request to make available advice and assistance to State and local governments as a means of aiding in the development of improved tax measures and tax administration.

Also needed are certain investigations in the field of Federal taxation relating to forestry, such as the effects of an amendment to the Revenue Act of 1943 providing for the taxation as a capital gain of income from stumpage sold under certain conditions, and the bearing of State taxes on forest ownership and management.

8. Cooperative fire protection on private and State-owned forest lands should be extended and intensified.

Organized fire protection, a major public responsibility, is basic to successful long-range forest management. On private and State-owned forest lands it is administered under the well-established cooperative pattern of the Clarke-McNary Act, where by the State Forester administers the activity with Federal financial aid up to 50 percent of the total cost. The program is deficient in two important respects:

(a) Protection had not been established (in 1946) on 120 million acres. [2] It was in effect on 319 million acres. During that calendar year approximately 15 percent of the unprotected area burned as compared with less than 1 percent of the area under protection. Seventy percent of the unprotected area was in the South, one of our most important forest regions.

(b) With the exception of a few States, and portions of others, the protection needs to be intensified where it is already established.

The present annual Federal authorization of 9 million dollars is based on the estimate of 18-3/4 million dollars as the 1938 cost of adequate protection. For 1948 the corresponding cost would be more than double. This increase is due to the decreased purchasing power of the dollar, the higher cost of personal service attributable to other factors, an increase in the acreage in need of protection, and higher standards of adequate protection.

9. Cooperative protection against forest insects and diseases should be strengthened by providing for more prompt and adequate action to discover and suppress incipient epidemics and control those which "escape."

Chestnut, one of the most valuable hardwoods, was wiped out by blight. Blister rust, a foreign invader, threatens the valuable white and sugar pines. During the 20-year period ending in 1940, the western pine beetle destroyed, in California, Oregon, and Washington, approximately 25 billion board feet of ponderosa pine, having a stumpage value of approximately $100,000,000. The 1943-47 outbreak of the spruce bark beetle in Colorado killed more than 4 billion board feet of spruce, with a stumpage value of possibly $12,000,000. Many other illustrations could also be given which indicate that in the aggregate timber losses from forest pests exceed those from fire.

The Forest Service carries out control measures within the national forests and against losses threatening them. Other Federal agencies carry out control work with respect to land under their jurisdiction, largely on the basis of technical information assembled by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. Direct cooperative action without respect to ownership has been taken by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine under special authorization by Congress against three introduced pests.

Sound silvicultural practice is of itself a means of control. However, as in the case of fire, there is a need and public responsibility for organized detection and for control. The Forest Pest Control Act affords a legislative foundation for the needed development of such protection. This act declares the Federal responsibility in the control of forest insects and diseases on a Nation-wide basis and on lands in all classes of ownership; it gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority, as a condition of Federal cooperation in forest pest control, to require cooperation from the States of other public or private agency as he deems appropriate; and to authorize the establishment of adequate services and facilities for the detection of incipient outbreaks and their prompt suppression.

10. All phases of forest research should be strengthened and expanded as a basic means of aiding forestry and improving wood utilization.

Fundamental to the practice of forestry and to rapid progress in forest conservation is adequate knowledge of the techniques of forestry, and a thorough understanding of the benefits from proper use of timber, range, wildlife, recreation, and watershed resources. Because forest conditions and their economic relations to society are highly varied and complex, well-organized comprehensive research is essential to attain quickly and economically the goal of good forest management and use.

The Federal Government, through the Department of Agriculture, has appropriately taken the lead in such research. The work, under authority of the McSweeney-McNary Act, is conducted mainly through the Forest Products Laboratory—a national institution—and 12 regional Forest and Range Experiment Stations, with a larger number of decentralized and strategically located experimental forests and ranges.

In expanding forest research programs of the Department of Agriculture and of other public and private agencies, special, but not exclusive, attention should be given to:

(a) Research in wood utilization to find means of reducing the enormous current waste of timber in the woods and mills, to find ways of utilizing the low-grade trees that now occupy valuable forest growing space, to improve the use of wood, and to develop new wood products and markets, including pilot plants to encourage the commercial application of new processes.

(b) Development of profitable methods for growing, protecting, and harvesting forest crops so as to build up the Nation's forest capital, increase yields of the more valuable tree species, and enable farmers and other owners to realize potential incomes from timber crops.

(c) Rapid completion and maintenance of the Forest Survey on standards that will provide basic resource data for sound public policies and private forest plans. Other economic studies are needed to remove some of the financial obstacles to improved forest management and utilization, to determine potential timber requirements, supplies, and markets, and to enable the United States to keep abreast of forest problems in other parts of the world which may affect the timber supply and forest-products industries of this country.

(d) Critical problems of range depletion and inadequate forage production on millions of acres of western ranges. Their solution requires research to find feasible methods for improving range management and for correlating range, wildlife, and watershed uses.

(e) Problems of water supply, erosion, and flood damage which require development of effective upstream flood control measures and efficient methods of managing watershed forests and other vegetation.

II. Public Control of Cutting and Other Forest Practices on Private Forest Lands

1. A system of public regulation of cutting and other forest practices should be established that will stop forest destruction and keep forest lands reasonably productive. The States should continue to have opportunity to enact and administer adequate regulatory laws. However, in order to assure a consistent pattern—Nation-wide and in a reasonable time—a basic Federal law is needed.

This basic legislation should establish standards as a guide for local forest practices and authorize Federal financial assistance to States which enact and administer regulatory laws consistent with the Federal requirements. It should also provide for Federal administration in States which request it or which, after a reasonable period, fail to put such regulation into effect.

The measures of public aid to private owners outlined in the preceding section are comprehensive and far-reaching. They will require substantial Federal expenditure and are justified by the great public interest in successful forest conservation. It would be sound policy to safeguard these large Government investments by public regulation. But more fundamental are the benefits to society that will flow from keeping forest land productive.

The Forest Service and cooperating agencies, public and private, have been emphasizing educational measures for more than a generation. Educational efforts, as previously stated, should be continued and strengthened. But the time has come for more decisive complementary measures. The need for regulation has been widely discussed for more than a decade. Yet today only some 14 States have enacted legislation looking toward forest regulation and none fully meet the requirements visualized in this proposal.

This measure would not require sustained-yield management. So long as cutting practices attain the required standards, it would not regulate when, or how much, any owner might cut. But it should stop further forest destruction and deterioration and so help maintain a reasonable growing stock as the basis for future production.

III. Expansion and Intensified Management of the National Forests [3]

1. The national forests should be substantially expanded by the addition of considerable acreages of badly depleted lands that are unlikely to be restored to productive condition by private owners, some private forest lands within established forests, and key areas for watershed protection and for other purposes.

Public ownership is the only feasible way to assure stable and satisfactory management for a large acreage that is not suited to permanent private forestry. It has been estimated that roughly two-thirds of the needed expansion of public ownership should be in national forests and one-third in State and community forests. Of high priority is the acquisition of some 35 million acres within the exterior boundaries of existing national-forest and purchase units. An estimated one and a quarter million acres acquired and no longer needed for military purposes, but suitable for national forests, should also be given that status.

The national forests, not counting those in Alaska and Puerto Rico, now comprise some 159 million acres, of which 73.5 million is commercial forest land. Commercial forest land in other Federal ownership amounts to 15.4 million acres and State and local governments have 27.1 million acres.

Acquisition commenced in 1911 under the authority of the Weeks Law. About 18 million acres have been purchased—more than half during the emergency unemployment program between 1934 and 1937—and about 4 million acres have been acquired through exchange. Except for an appropriation of $3,000,000 for the fiscal year 1947, acquisition has been practically at a standstill since the outbreak of World War II.

Related to acquisition is the need for legislation that will remove inequities that exist in certain localities under the present system of financial contributions to local government on account of national forests, and also make these contributions more stable. The Forest Service favors a plan that will provide for an annual payment of an equitable percentage of the fair value of the forest property, probably three-fourths of 1 percent.

2. Development and intensified management of the national forests should be vigorously pushed.

These forests can contribute increasingly to our immediate and long-run needs for timber and other services. The following aspects are of high priority.

The first is more intensive timber management, to help meet the Nation's need for lumber and other forest products and to sustain local industries and communities. The rate of cutting has more than doubled since 1940 and is now about 4 billion feet annually. This can be increased considerably more. Many miles of new access-road construction are required. There is need, through sales and otherwise, to step up thinnings and other timber-stand-improvement cutting. Some 3-1/4 million acres of partly or wholly denuded national-forest land should be planted within the next 15 years. Vigorous efforts to establish a pulp and paper industry in Alaska, based on national-forest timber, should be continued.

Second, certain unsatisfactory range situations should be cleared up. National-forest range, of vital importance in watershed protection, never fully recovered from its severe exploitation during World War I despite sizable reductions in livestock numbers and other remedial measures. This calls for further downward adjustments in stocking on some allotments, along with improved management, the construction of range facilities, a large amount of range reseeding, and in some localities, a reduction of big-game population.

A third aspect is safeguarding and improving watershed values. Closer attention to this in all phases of management, a vigorous amplification of upstream flood and erosion control measures, and acceleration of watershed surveys authorized in the 1944 Flood Control Act, will go far toward attaining this objective.

Fourth is national-forest recreation. Recreational use of the national forests has greatly increased, and this upward trend is likely to continue indefinitely. Facilities are inadequate. Needed is a large amount of too-long-delayed maintenance, together with expansion of existing improvements.

Fifth is a considerably stepped-up program of wildlife management. The aim, on the one hand, should be to increase and stabilize the yield of the wildlife resources in recognition of the great public demand for good hunting and fishing; on the other, to avoid overstocking. Especially important in the long run are measures to maintain and improve wildlife habitat.

Sixth is intensified fire protection mainly through more effective fire prevention, establishment of a well-trained standby force, greater mechanization of fire fighting, and more use of aircraft. Similarly, protection against forest insects and diseases should be strengthened by better provision for detecting impending epidemics and for prompt control.

The expansion of forest research covered earlier in this section would be of large benefit in the development and intensified management of the national forests.

National-forest development and management are based on organic legislation which, generally speaking, is adequate. However, experience has revealed a number of points on which new legislation is needed to facilitate good administration. These were embodied in H. R. 2028 (80th Cong.).

The needed action outlined in the preceding pages is directed toward making the timber resources of the United States contribute their full potential to a prosperous national economy. Commensurate with this country's growing responsibility in world affairs, the Forest Service also recognizes the need to encourage international cooperation in forestry. For example, it aims to give all possible assistance in the forestry work of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It also will continue to work with the Pan American Union on inter-American forestry matters, and to supply information and advice to other countries seeking to improve their forests.

The time is already late. If the action outlined, and the efforts of all public and private forest land owners and agencies, were immediately effective in full, it would still require many years to achieve the proposed goals. The farther depletion and deterioration extend, the more difficult and costly the job of adequate forest restoration. The situation calls for broad-gage and farsighted action.

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Last Updated: 17-Mar-2010