The Forest Service drastically overestimated the number of trees it could cut from Northwest forests, according to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO found that the Forest Service exaggerated allowable sale quantities for three of the most productive forests in the region - the Deschutes, Gifford Pinchot and Mount Hood. In the Deschutes forest, for example, the proposed annual harvest was 97.8 million board-feet of timber in 1993. Yet only 2.7 million board-feet was available for logging. The Forest Service had failed to consider all the factors that have an impact on the harvest, such as set-asides for sensitive plant and animal species. The Forest Service also based some projections on aerial photographs and sample tracts that were not representative of the timber available, the GAO found. Protection of the northern spotted owl in 1990 created further inaccuracies, since several areas once slated for logging became off-limits. The result: The GAO advised Congress that it cannot expect Northwest forests to reach predicted yields.


Factors Affecting Timber Sales in Five National Forests (GAO/RCED-95-12) is available from the GAO, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015 (202/512-6000).