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Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
March 19, 2001
Clean Water Act Hearing
Witnesses call for states to
establish their own priorities.

By Chris West & Chuck Burley
American Forest Resource Council

     CLOVIS -- Last month, the House Transportation, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on how Congress can help states improve water quality. The subcommittee heard testimony from representatives of the National Governors' Association and state water officials who called on Congress to review and revise several Clean Water Act regulations adopted and approved by the Clinton Administration.
     Testifying were Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR), Governor John Hoeven (R-ND), Chris Tulou, Environmental Council of the States and Jon Craig, Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators.
     The witnesses all called for a collaborative watershed based approach and asked for more flexibility to allow states to establish their own priorities.
     They also identified specific EPA rules that failed to embrace this recommended approach -- specifically, EPA's final regulations revising the TMDL program.
    Concern About Eco-terrorism On March 14, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) wrote Attorney General John Ashcroft to bring "attention to the troubling rise of so-called eco-terrorism incidents in the Northwest and around the nation."
     Smith went on to say, "Under your leadership, I hope the Department of Justice - including the Federal Bureau of Investigation - will make successful prosecution of violent acts of domestic terrorism a top priority."
     The senator also asked that the Attorney General ensure that investigation efforts are coordinated with the impacted federal land management agencies. To emphasize the importance of this problem, Smith highlighted the arson attacks on three of AFRC's member companies in Oregon that occurred during the holiday season the last three years.
    Last week, the Forest Service released its Forest Management Program Annual Report for Fiscal Year 1998. This report is based on the agency's Timber Sale Program Information Reporting System (TSPIRS).
     Nationally, the agency lost $126 million for that fiscal year. This continues a declining trend. The last fiscal year the agency was in the black was 1994 where it made $122 million. Since then, the losses have been $16 million in FY95, $96 million in FY96, $116 million in FY97, and $126 million in FY98.  
     The report gives several reasons for this trend --There's been a significant decline in the timber sale program over the last decade. During this period, the program has gone from about 12 billion board feet (bbf) to less than 4 bbf. During this time, revenues have declined while unit costs have increased.-- There's also been a significant shift in program objectives.  Between FY93 and 98, the percent offered for commodity production has dropped from 71 to 51 percent. During the same period, the percent of stewardship-related volume has increased from 24 to 43 percent.  This has contributed significantly to the decline in revenues and increase in unit costs but the report states that these stewardship projects present the "least net cost" way to achieve resource objectives. -- Following these same lines, the percent of sawtimber offered between FY89 to 98 dropped from 79 to 60 percent. In addition, there has been a shift from the green sale program to salvage. During the same period, the percent of salvage volume of the total increased from 17 to 37 percent.
     The FY98 report is late due to changes in the agency's accounting system and specifically how it accounts for road prism costs.
     This last item, accounting for road prism costs, has changed twice in as many years. Prior to FY97, this cost was capitalized into the value of the underlying land. In FY97, this cost was annually expensed.
     Now, in the FY98 report, based on a Government Accounting Office study, this costs is depreciated over an anticipated useful life of 50 years. Another significant change from previous years is the showcasing of stewardship projects. An entire chapter has been devoted to this. The stated purpose for this is to highlight the critical role harvesting plays in forest management.
     [Editor's Note: Chris West is Vice President of the American Forest Resource Council an can be reached by telephone at 503-222-9505 or 503-222-3255. West's e-mail address is - cwest@afrc.ws - The Oregon Forest Resource Institute has just published a book that explores the conditions in Northwest forests when the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited them about 200 years ago. The book is titled Lewis and Clark Meet Oregon's Forests: Lessons from Dynamic Nature and was written by Gail Wells and Dawn Anzinger. The book tells a fascinating story, drawn from the Lewis and Clark journals, Native American records and other sources, about what the Northwest forests were like in the early 1880's and how nature and people shaped these forests. One of Indtitut's goals in commissioning this book was to examine a better understanding of how forest history can be helpful in future forest management decisions. For more information about the book, contact the Institute at 503-229-6718. ]

Letter to the Editor

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