Timber takes a hit

  Timber targets on Northwestern national forests fell again in the latest attempt to fine-tune the Northwest Forest Plan (HCN, 11/23/98).


"Now we have four years' experience in implementing the Forest Plan," says Forest Service spokeswoman Patty Burel. "We're finding some things need adjusting."


The reductions, announced in December, drop the timber targets on eight national forests by 11 percent, to 848 million board-feet a year.


The 1993 Northwest Forest Plan slashed timber harvests in the region by 80 percent and revamped federal forest management in the Northwest to protect the endangered spotted owl and other forest species. Clinton administration officials originally expected the 24 million acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management forests in the region to produce 1.1 billion board-feet of timber under the plan. However, the Forest Service has repeatedly failed to meet its timber targets.


The agency's strategy doesn't add up for timber industry representatives. "When you've got 24 million acres of the most productive forests in the world, that are growing 8 to 9 billion board-feet of timber a year, and you're talking about getting only 800 million board-feet a year, something's wrong," says Chris West of the Portland-based Northwest Forestry Association.


While environmentalists applaud this new reduction in timber targets, they're proceeding with a lawsuit anyway, charging that the agency is not implementing other elements of the plan designed to protect endangered old growth forest species.


"We view any reduction in harvest as a good thing," says Doug Heiken of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, but, "we think they're still overcutting."


* Chris Carrel


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