Though the Forest Service is selling burned timber in the West at bargain-basement prices, the timber industry doesn't seem interested. Industry buyers haven't even shown up at many recent sales auctions in Idaho and Washington. On the Boise National Forest in Idaho, five recent sales drew no takers, prompting federal officials to drop their prices. "The industry is holding the American public hostage, boycotting timber auctions and holding out until the Forest Service lowers the prices and practically gives the timber away," says Timothy Coleman of the Washington-based Kettle Range Conservation Group.


Environmentalists say the lack of interest shows that a recently signed law calling for a dramatic increase in salvage offerings on national forests is misguided (HCN, 8/7/95). Some industry officials say the problem isn't lack of demand, but lack of quality timber. On the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington, no one bid on 130 million board-feet of burned timber because it was already rotten, says Wenatchee timber consultant Arnie Arneson.


* Shea Andersen