Segment 1 Of 3 Next Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 FOREST ECOSYSTEM HEALTH IN THE
UNITED STATES (Final)
THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 1997
House of Representatives,
Committee on Agriculture,
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:05 a.m., in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Robert F. (Bob) Smith (chairman of the committee), presiding.
Present: Representatives Combest, Goodlatte, Pombo, Canady, Smith of Michigan, Everett, Lucas, Chenoweth, Bryant, Chambliss, Thune, Jenkins, Stenholm, Brown, Peterson, Minge, Holden, McIntyre, Stabenow, and Boswell.
Staff present: Pete Thomson, David Tenny, Sharla Moffett, Monique Brown, Callista Bisek, assistant clerk; Wanda Worsham, clerk; and Danelle Farmer.
The CHAIRMAN. Good morning. The committee will come to order.
Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing here today again. I have an opening statement, and I know Mr. Stenholm does, maybe Mr. Brown and Mr. Combest.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT F. (BOB) SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
The CHAIRMAN. This is the third in a series of hearings on the management of our Nation's forest. Consistent with our prior hearings, our primary objective today to lay the foundation for science-based forest policy that provides a full range of environmental and social benefits to the citizens of our country.
To begin, I would like to review the chronology of our hearings to this point. The committee began in January of this year in Sunriver, OR, where in an impressive display of cooperation the Chief of the Forest Service, the Governor of Oregon, local elected officials, forest products industry representatives all got together and agreed on at least an outline of an idea to improve forest management in the State.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The committee then expanded its inquiry beyond Oregon and considered whether what we learned in Sun River might apply on a national scale. In April, the Committee on Agriculture held a joint hearing with the Committee on Resources to receive a National Forest health report prepared by your group and Dr. Oliver and others.
From the Oliver report, we learned, consistent with our findings in Sunriver, that the concept of forest ecosystem health necessarily encompasses a broad spectrum of values ranging from species habitat to recreation to high-quality timber to reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions.
Even more importantly, however, we learned that forest management decisions and policies at the local and regional levels can have far-reaching national and international impacts. For instance, forest practices and policies in Oregon can profoundly affect exotic pest management and timber production in eastern forests as well as our Nation's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain a positive balance of trade in wood and paper products.
It is my judgment we are in the listening and learning phase of this program. And that is the purpose of today's hearing, to listen and to learn from a group of accomplished scientists who have reviewed the Oliver report and are in a position to further educate us on the science of forest management.
I look forward to learning from these scientists what the strengths of the Oliver report are. And, recognizing that science is an ongoing, open-ended process, I look forward with equal interest to receiving additional information from them that will make the Oliver report even more complete and more useful.
Following today's meeting, the committee will hold additional information-gathering hearings which will feature forest management experts from all regions of the country. Again we will listen and learn from them and others how we might apply the most current forest management science practically and responsibly on the ground.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I further anticipate that at the conclusion of this process the committee will be in a much stronger position to formulate policy and craft legislation that will help maintain our forests as healthy, productive national resources for this and future generations.
At this point I'd like to yield to the ranking member, Mr. Stenholm of Texas.
Mr. STENHOLM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no opening statement this morning. I look forward to listening and to learn with you and other members of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Combest.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement for the record. I ask unanimous consent to insert it.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Combest follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY COMBEST
I wish to thank Chairman Smith for holding this hearing today. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation and Research, I have spent a considerable amount of time during the 105th Congress learning about forest management. Considering that I represent a congressional district that actually includes the small town of No Trees, TX, this has been a considerable personal accomplishment.
To begin, I wish to compliment the chairman for, once again, calling on some of our country's best forest scientists to educate the committee on the science of forest management. After hearing some of the unscientific, position-based rhetoric of the interest groups who advocate ending all commercial forestry on public lands, it is refreshing to, once again, consult the scientists and learn from them how best to manage our forests.
I firmly believe that it is incumbent upon us as responsible policymakers to move beyond the emotional rhetoric that surrounds the issue of forest management and listen closely to what the science is saying. Our inquiry should be based in fact, not emotion. It should feature thoughtful scientific inquiry rather than over-simplified soundbites that create division and controversy. It should be based on the philosophy of ''Listen, Learn, and Lead'' rather than the big-Government ideology of command, control and punish.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 During my recent trip to northern California, I saw first hand the challenges faced by forest managers, and the impact of inaction on our natural forest environments and the surrounding communities. Our forests and forest communities are in desperate need of common sense, science-based policy that meets a balanced range of environmental and social objectives. That is precisely what this hearing and others planned in this committee for the near future will provide. I look forward to hearing what our scientists have to say today and, along with Chairman Smith, welcome them today.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement. And, if you will allow me, I will just read the conclusion and ask that the remainder be put in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, so ordered.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE E. BROWN, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. BROWN. I believe that any decisions to increase the use of logging in our National Forests as a method of improving forest health should be based on a scientific consensus that it has been effective in controlling fire and that it is of benefit to the forest ecosystem. These conclusions have not yet been reached, I don't believe.
I don't think that we should allow the NEPA and public appeal processes, which are there to help protect against mismanagement and abuse of our National Forests, to be bypassed. It took years of poor management to create the unhealthy conditions in some of our forests. And it will take years of sound, ecosystem management to restore those areas to health. Quick fix, emergency approaches have not worked in the past and are not appropriate now.
And I request that the remainder of the statement be put in the record.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it is so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Brown follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE E. BROWN, JR.
Mr. Chairman, while I haven't had the opportunity to fully review the Taylor Forest Health report, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about the issue of ''forest health.''
Our forests are indeed beset by problems. But I am troubled by claims that the solution to these problems is through continued over-logging, such as what we saw last year under the ''salvage rider.'' To declare that ''salvage sales'' will be a panacea for the problems facing our national forests is both foolish and shortsighted. In so doing, we are prescribing the wrong treatment for a real problem.
Most of the attention in this forest health issue is being paid to fire, disease and insect damage rather than to some of the more serious problems such as soil erosion and habitat destruction. Perhaps it's because fire, insects and disease are commodity-damaging processes and don't allow for a maximization of timber production. However, these processes are also naturally occurring and are necessary and beneficial to a healthy ecosystem. The others, which are results of poor management, most certainly are not.
The concept of Forest Health must incorporate a system perspective. This includes, not only health of individual trees or tree populations, but also the health of other forest dwelling flora and fauna, as well as the health of soil, water and air. Defining Forest Health solely in terms of tree health is inconsistent with Ecosystem Management.
There is a forest health problem in the West but its solution is long term protection and recovery of healthy water, soil and air. Emergency salvage sales and other ''quick fixes'' have little hope of achieving the objectives of forest health.
In 1987 and 1988 we saw intense fire seasons across the West. And yet this period was at the height of clearcutting, logging, road-building, and all of the management practices endorsed by the timber industry. Wildfires over the past few years have burned no more lands overall than during many other times in the past century. But now, fire, disease and insect damage, all natural and important functions of forest health, are being spoken of as symptoms of forest health problems.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The ''salvage rider'' that was attached to the FY95 Rescissions Act had an unhealthy effect on our national forests, and further eroded the public's confidence in the ability of the Forest Service to manage our public lands. That rider called for the suspension of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) procedures to quickly deal with this ''crisis''. The mentality being that we must cut the trees immediately in order to save them.
The solution of bypassing ESA and NEPA procedures and giving the managing agencies carte blanch to salvage dead and dying trees is not an appropriate one. The abuse of authority demonstrated by actions taken in California and the Pacific Northwest under the Rescissions Act is proof of that. In these areas, the logging rider was used to permit sales of healthy, old-growth forests, that would not have withstood a legal challenge.
Decades of fire suppression has indeed allowed some sections of the National Forests to grow thicker and more flammable than would have otherwise occurred. However, dense stands combined with brush and logging slash that have been unable to burn naturally pose a fire hazard that logging will not solve. Wildfires will still burn every year when heat, winds and fires combine. Some of the West's largest fires burned intensively through large areas that already had roads and that had been logged.
Since salvage sales are ''sales'' they generally focus on removing commercially valuable timber. Large trees are selected for removal, while smaller trees along with debris, and logging slash are most often left on site. The larger removed trees are the least flammable fuels, while the smaller ones and especially the logging slash are the most flammable. The removal of large, live trees, snags and logs deprive the area of important shade and moisture reservoirs, making these sites hotter and drier. Add to that the dense stocks of even-aged firs that are often replanted for timber production and the sites are actually filled with a greater concentration of fuel.
Fire hazards and fuel loading are usually defined by ''tons per acre'' of dead material. This is a very misleading and inaccurate way to determine the fire hazard of a forest. For example, if an area has about 20 tons per acre of dead and down material, it is usually classified as a fire hazard. However, if this 20 tons per acre is in the form of just one huge dead tree per acre, either standing or down, there is very little fire danger. If that same 20 tons per acre was in the form of slash and debris scattered all over the forest floor then there is a fire hazard. Fire could easily ignite, spread, and build enough heat to ignite the living trees; but logging isn't going to solve the problem.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Logging actually makes the fire danger worse. Taking an upright tree, even a dead tree with its branches high above the ground, and felling it, branching it, hauling out the main trunk and leaving the top and all the branches on the ground makes a much more flammable situation than before logging.
Even though selective cutting in some areas is desirable, it is not always economical. The Congressional Research Service estimated that ''thinning'' just 10 percent of western national forests would cost $3.5 billion. Any true remedy for dangerous fire potential would have to include: logging and/or burning out openings in many of the hundreds of thousands of acres of ''tree farms'' which, if left in place, could ignite and spread fire very fast; removing or control-burning the lower elevation chaparral which acts like kindling; hand piling of natural and post-logging slash; and removal of noncommercial sized crowded thickets such as small white fir. All of these measures are expensive.
For years I have advocated that we spend more Forest Service resources on aggressive vegetation management and fuels reduction. I have joined my California colleagues in requesting more funds for Natural Fuels Treatment, which is an important tool in reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improving conditions on our forests.
Natural Fuels Treatment includes management activities like prescribed burning, forest thinning, brush clearing and other hands-on treatments and is a cost-effective method when compared to funds spent on fire suppression. Unfortunately, the funding requests from the Administration for this program continue to be far below what is needed on our national forests. Only $6 million was requested for California, region 5, even though the Forest Service has said that $25 million is needed for adequate treatment.
Another important element that needs to be considered in this debate is the significant role that fire plays in forest health. We should not view a burned forest solely as waste or destruction. Fire initiates an array of vital nutrient cycling processes, chemical and biological soil changes, and plant successions that logging does not provide. Some trees, such as the Giant Sequoia, depend upon recurring fires for their own regeneration.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Fire-killed trees are very important to the regeneration of a burned forest and are a vital part of watershed and stream recovery. The dead trees, both standing and down, also provide critical habitat for many forest animals, plants, and other organisms. When large snags and logs are removed, the area is exposed to greater sunlight. This affects the whole underground ecosystem of flora and fauna that are critical for making nutrients available to tree roots.
Yellowstone National Park, which the Park Service ''let burn'' in the 1988 fire, has today, according to scientific opinion, fully recovered. As an ecosystem it is even healthier and more diverse than before the fire. There was very little human intervention in the aftermath of the fire. The Park Service allowed time and nature to heal the forest.
In conclusion, I believe that any decisions to increase the use of logging in our National Forests as a method of improving forest health should be based on a scientific consensus that it has been effective in controlling fire and that it is of benefit to the forest ecosystem.
I do not believe that we should allow the NEPA and public appeal processes, which are there to help protect against mismanagement and abuse of our National Forests, to be bypassed. It took years of poor management to create the unhealthy conditions in some of our forests. It will take years of sound, ecosystem management to restore those areas to health. Quick fix, emergency approaches have not worked in the past and are not appropriate now.
The CHAIRMAN. Any other statements from any members I certainly welcome, and we'd like to place them in the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Thune follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN R. THUNE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA
Thank you Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Stenholm. Today's hearing is indeed an important one. I am pleased to have the opportunity to hear from our distinguished panel of witnesses.
The Black Hills National Forest, located in western South Dakota, is considered by many to be the ''crown jewel''of multiple use management. In fact, the very first timber sale in the Nation took place in the Black Hills, near Nemo, SD in 1899. That same area has been harvested twice since then. Today, a new generation of ponderosa Pine stands tall and strong--a testament to the proper stewardship of the Black Hills National Forest. The Forest is famous for its enormous stands of ponderosa pine and is an essential part of South Dakota's economy. It is an outstanding example of how recreation and commodity programs can coexist, providing a win-win situation for residents, tourists and the local economies.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The Black Hills forest products industry includes 18 sawmills and 12 secondary manufacturers producing a full spectrum of lumber products, from housing-quality lumber to particle board and wood pellets. The industry sustains nearly 2,000 jobs. Preserving these South Dakota jobs and the future health of the forest requires careful management--both by the Forest Service and by the timber industry. Good management of the forest by the Forest Service helps sustain a good cut for the timber industry. If we groom the forest well and keep it healthy, then we will have a healthy economy.
Today's hearing is going to focus, in part, on prescribed burns. Recently, in my State of South Dakota, the U.S. Forest Service released a forest plan to manage the Black Hills National Forest. This plan calls for a lower harvest level which we believe will significantly damage the health of not only our forest industry, but also our National Forest. The new plan calls for an increase in prescribed burns. One of the worst fires in South Dakota history was a prescribed burn which got out of control. We would rather manage our forest through proper harvesting of dead and dying timber, with a limited amount of prescribed burns.
Having said that, I look forward to hearing today's testimony and will work with my colleagues on this very important issue.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Mr. Chairman? If I may, just very briefly?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Smith.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. NICK SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. We are importing more building substitutes for wood, such as steel and brick and concrete. The result is greater danger to the environment than if we were able to better utilize our wood products in this country. And the United States is becoming a net-importer of wood products. So I commend the effort in this report and hope it will lead us to better utilization of our renewable natural timber resources in this country.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
This hearing is designed to promote an open exchange of ideas among our panel of scientists and the members of this committee. Two of the scientists present today, Drs. Chadwick Oliver and James Bowyer, participated in drafting the Oliver report. The other four gentlemen, Dr. Garcia, Drs. Helms, Wood, and McComb, have reviewed the Oliver report and are prepared to comment on its findings and provide additional information that will make the report even more useful.
As in other hearings, the committee will operate under the 5- minute rule and ask witnesses to summarize their oral testimony as quickly as possible or convenient. Of course, each witness' statement will be in the record in its entirety.
This is a little different organizational structure than most hearings are designed and organized about. So I'd ask members to participate in an exchange with not only Dr. Oliver and the report but the other scientists so that we can have an exchange of ideas within the structure of the witnesses as well as with the members and with the witnesses.
So at this time I would like to introducer our witnesses. Dr. Chadwick Oliver is professor of silviculture and ecology, College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. Dr. James Bowyer is director of the Forest Products Management Development Institute at the University of Minnesota. Dr. John Perez-Garcia is a professor with the Center of International Trade in Forest Products at the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. Dr. Helms is professor emeritus of silviculture in the College of Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Gene Wood is professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University. Dr. McComb is head of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at the University of Massachusetts. We welcome you gentlemen all this morning and look forward to sharing your thoughts about forest management in America.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I'd like at this point to call on Dr. Oliver. And then as we go down the witness list, if you each have a statement, we'd like to hear from you. Dr. Oliver.
Mr. OLIVER. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF CHADWICK OLIVER, PROFESSOR OF SILVICULTURE AND ECOLOGY, COLLEGE OF FOREST RESOURCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Mr. OLIVER. I very much look forward to the comments on the report and the interaction today. The more that we can improve our present knowledge and communicate this to you, the better off we all will be.
I'd like to put the report a little bit in perspective. In the report, we scientists looked at all the different values we could determine that people wanted from the forest. And keep in mind that when we listed these, we ended up with 35 values.
We didn't put any judgment on the importance, the weight, or the significance of these. That's a position for the policymakers to take. We simply listed these as things that people are concerned about.
We then described the condition of the forests in the Nation as a whole and in each region relative to these values. And then we suggested different approaches that could be used in managing the forests and what values would be achieved by the different approaches.
The three approaches we suggested were: managing the timber for the financial efficiency, managing forests with no commodity extraction, or an integrated approach whereby you managed forests for a variety of values, such as habitats and timber production as well.
In this, we've tried to point out the values provided and not provided, and to what extent by each of these approaches. If you're going to do something like the integrated approach on private lands, you would be looking at it in terms of incentives, rather than a regulatory approach.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We looked at all regions of the United States because what is done on one ownership type in one region dramatically affects other ownership types in other regions. As you can see from this chart, two-thirds of the U.S. forests are in the eastern United States. And most of that is owned by small, private, nonindustrial owners. Any effect you're going to have on the eastern United States will be impacting those owners.
In the West, it's largely National Forests. And that's the ownership you'll largely effect there. However, affecting forest in one region, for example, a National Forest in the West, does have significant impacts on the forests in the East.
We then suggested eight options which would be combinations of these three different approaches on the different land ownerships. And we also welcomed other options if people could come up with even more creative approaches that would provide the most values.
Now, in preparing the report, we used a management science approach. Very much of what we're working with in the values is biological and involves biological sciences; but integrating them relies on the management sciences, which looks at the tradeoffs and the integration of various values.
The committee was composed of people who understood this management science approach. But as you can look in the biographies in appendix E of the report, you will see that we had a variety of backgrounds from being very strong in ecology, to being very strong in economics.
Once we have established this framework of looking at the tradeoffs in values with various integrated approaches, the next thing to do is to have more people comment on it to try to get the best science.
We have sent the report out and requested written reviews of it. I understand; in fact, I know, the Forest Service is doing a review of it. And you're holding this panel here today to get further reviews of it. The more we can provide you with a robust understanding of our forest conditions, the better we are.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We hope also this approach will set a precedent in the use of science in policymaking regarding natural resources. Science is and should be considered open-ended. We're seeking the best knowledge and the most creative options to provide the most values. When we realize that there are tradeoffs, then it's you policymakers who must decide which tradeoffs are worth making.
We need to balance the scientists between, on the one hand, nitpicking and, on the other hand, overgeneralizing. And we need to provide information in a timely, efficient way, recognizing that it can always be improved. Sometimes waiting or saying that we need a lot more research to do something is a de facto decision; whereas, we need to provide the present conditions of our knowledge.
We also need to get away from the perspective of dueling scientists, where we have scientists try to provide just different perspectives on the same issue. An important thing is: scientists love to argue. We scientists need to recognize that there's a lot that we can agree on, and we need to convey this to you.
Now, the next thing is that there are a lot of tradeoffs, as we discussed in this report. And we need to look at the tradeoffs. The last thing to recognize is that, even if we decided on an approach, there are still many laws that then would need to be changed.
Even if all of the laws were in place and we started tomorrow on a management approach, it would be a long time before we achieved all of the values that we hoped to achieve over a broad area.
It took a long time for our forests to get in their present condition. It will take a long time for them to be changed. Just by the nature of forestry, even if we started tomorrow, some of our stands wouldn't be entered for quite a few decades.
It may be an appropriate approach to begin managing in the areas that we know quite a bit about and know we have quite a bit of concerns about their future; and then as we begin managing there, expanding to other areas. There are such areas in each region of the country where we could begin a very concerted effort of management.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I hope this is helpful. And thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Oliver appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Doctor.
We're interested now in hearing from Dr. Bowyer. He is the director of the Forest Products Management Development Institute at the University of Minnesota. Welcome.
Mr. BOWYER. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity of providing comments this morning.
STATEMENT OF JAMES L. BOWYER, DIRECTOR, FOREST PRODUCTS MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Mr. BOWYER. I'd like to make seven points this morning regarding the health of U.S. forests and the context within which I believe proposed actions to address forest health must be judged.
First, I think it's important to recognize that U.S. forests are basically healthy. We can take a crude snapshot and look at things like forest area compared to historical and growth/harvest ratios. We have slightly more forest area today than we did in 1920. We've had a positive net growth to harvest ratio for about 60 consecutive years, which means that standing volume has been increasing each year.
Nonetheless, there are current and evolving conditions in each region, in specific regions, that provide cause for concern. And that's the reason for our meeting, this series of meetings.
The second point I'd like to make is that we need to be very careful in evaluating proposed courses of action for addressing forest health issues to make sure that unintended and environmentally undesirable consequences don't negate or overwhelm the benefits that we're seeking to achieve.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 And I would just comment that the spotted owl recovery plan of several years back provides what I believe is the perfect example of substantial negative environmental impacts arising from a plan that was designed to address a different environmental problem. And I think we can do better, and I think we really must do better.
The third point I'd like to make is that forests are dynamic and prone to considerable and often dramatic change, even in the absence of management. Processes of natural succession and aging and the dynamics of biological processes and the dynamics of weather combine to make significant change the norm, rather than the exception. And it's also important to realize that such change also influences substantially the nature of animal and plant life in and near the forest.
A fourth point I'd just like to touch on is that natural or hands-off management is not necessarily better from an environmental point of view than more aggressive, active management.
Now, it's true that nature sooner or later is going to solve the fuel-loading problem that characterizes large areas of the western forests, but nature's solution will often take the form of catastrophic, stand-replacing events, releasing thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and destroying wood resources that then must come from someplace other than that particular land area.
And if the stand-replacing events that are inevitable occur later, rather than sooner, then ceaseless processes of succession may endanger entire communities of pioneer species, such as thousands of years old aspen clones in the intermountain West.
One additional consideration regarding natural management is that any decision to place a significant land area under noncommodity management automatically means that the raw materials that would otherwise come from that land area have to come from someplace else and, of course, transfer environmental impacts to that other area, wherever it may be.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The fifth point I'd like to make is that we now recognize, I think it is widely recognized, that control of wildfire over the last 60 years or so has been too successful, although it might be hard to convince those who experienced the loss of entire towns to forest fire in the early years of this century of that point.
But reintroduction of fire to many areas of the United States is not going to be easy nor inexpensive. And I would suggest that timber harvesting as a management tool represents an imperfect but reasonable substitute for fire in many geographic areas.
The sixth point that I would like to make is that, realizing that rational decisions cannot be made in isolation without unintended consequences arising, we must keep in mind that the United States annually consumes vast quantities of natural resources, which ultimately must come from someplace.
The final point that I would make this morning is that, despite a recent report of the World Resources Institute, the United States is a net importer of industrial raw materials on a massive scale. I've included a copy of figures out of the Department of Interior in my written testimony.
And because we've a massive importer of raw materials on a massive scale effectively means that every decision to reduce or restrict domestic production of raw materials translates directly to an export of environmental impacts of raw materials gathering and processing.
We're in the business of doing that on a rather large basis. And from an ethical point of view, I think we must think very carefully before reducing raw materials production capacity, especially if parallel actions are not taken to reduce consumption.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bowyer is on file with the committee.]
The CHAIRMAN. I thank you very much, Doctor.
Now we're going to hear from Dr. Perez-Garcia, who is a professor with the Center of International Trade in Forest Products, the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington. Welcome, Doctor.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF JOHN M. PEREZ-GARCIA, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN FOREST PRODUCTS, COLLEGE OF FOREST RESOURCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. I want to thank you for allowing me to come here and present my comments on the report on forest health in the United States. Let me start off by stating that when I reviewed this report, I found it to be an excellent first step in the right direction of where forestry analyses should be taken. So I have a very positive viewpoint of this report.
I'd like to focus my comments on three areas. The first one is recognizing that tradeoffs in forest values are associated with forest products trade. If you take a region and reduce its timber harvest, as Dr. Bowyer was just referring to, other regions are going to increase their harvest to try and offset the reduction. By the fact that trade activity links these two regions, we also have other tradeoffs in forest values in the two regions.
Now, there are three types of tradeoffs that you need to consider. And I think the panel has done a very good job in considering these. One type is related to location. For example, let's say, if harvested area decreased in the Pacific Northwest because of conservation efforts, harvested areas in another region will increase. That's a locational difference associated with a tradeoff.
The second type of tradeoff that occurs is among different values. Often the number of studies that are conducted only look at one value. One of the strong points of this study I think is that it has taken a look at 35 values and how they're interrelated. So, for example, if harvest area decreases in the Pacific Northwest and increases in other regions, other forest values are also impacted. The panel has made a quite worthy attempt in trying to get those values in the report.
The third type of tradeoff that exists is time-dependent. Let me try and explain this concept with another example of a program that has been proposed for carbon sequestration: tree-planting programs to sequester carbon.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 What happens when you introduce more forests through planting of marginal croplands? Well, one of the things that you'll get is you'll sequester more carbon. That's the objective of the program. And we'll see that.
But the tradeoff is that you're starting to use less productive land. So average productivity of forest land actually declines. And over time, maybe a long period, 50 years down the road, the actual carbon sequestration capabilities of forests actually decline from baseline levels. That's an example of a time-dependent tradeoff. So there are three types of tradeoffs that exist. And, again, I think the panel has made a worthy effort in trying to characterize those types of tradeoffs.
The second point I would like to make concerns trade patterns. We have heard a little bit about trade and, again, to report touches on imports and imports dependence. I'd like to mention that Canada is a major importer of our wood imports. It has captured over 35 percent of the solid wood lumber markets in the last couple of years. The Pacific Northwest region is a major export of forest products to the Pacific Rim market. The point to remember here is that the stronger the trade ties between two regions, the stronger the tradeoffs in forest values are going to be.
I've looked at several of these sorts of tradeoffs in studies conducted at the Center for International Trade in Forest Products using an economic model of forest sectors. And so some of these things are well-documented. Some of these behaviors that we see in other regions have already been documented.
The third comment that I would like to make is really focused on the process that the panel has used. The main output that I think this panel has come up with is basically the capability to do assessments. And the capability here exists in that what they have done is taken a set of values and evaluated them under different options. And that's what scientists should do.
I commend the panel in representing results in a very concise format. They synthesized a lot of information. And what you really need to do is understand the matrix that is in the report, where it has all the values in one column and all the options under the other columns. The values in that matrix are really what the panel has come up with. They've developed the capability to do that. And it's their job to fill in that table, and it's your job to evaluate which options are worth more or worth less.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 With that, I hope that my comments have been useful. And I thank you again for the time for letting me present them.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Perez-Garcia appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. Perez-Garcia.
We're delighted now to hear Dr. John Helms, professor emeritus of silviculture in the College of Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California at Berkeley. Welcome, Dr. Helms.
Mr. HELMS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. HELMS, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF SILVICULTURE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND MANAGEMENT
Mr. HELMS. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to make some remarks for you. I find the report to be really a remarkable collection of information on U.S. forestry. And it identifies numerous principles and many important issues, perhaps to the point that it almost contains an almost overwhelming amount of information. But the fine attribute is that this information, I think for the first time, has been put into one compilation for your review.
So my point is that I find the report to be containing a lot of useful information and to be a very good point of departure for debate. In the conventional sense, I find the report to be not so much a report on forest health as it is a much more complex compendium of the status of U.S. forests by region relative to their potential and in the context of alternative management and policy scenarios.
And in my written testimony, I've listed 10 points that I'd like to make. But given the time constraints, I'm going to limit my remarks to four or five of these which address the questions that you have requested comments.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The first of these is the issue of alternative management objectives. For comparative purposes, the report identifies three extremely diverse goals. And in evaluating these alternatives, I think it's important to recognize that within each region, there's enormous value to managing forests for many different objectives. And so it's important to appreciate that the three management approaches suggested in the report actually constitute a continuum of a very large number of possibilities.
Here I'd like to draw an important distinction between what the report calls timber management for financial efficiency with the management for sustained yield of forest products, which is the goal of many forest industries. Thus, the issue is not so much one of choosing among the three alternatives but through public policy debate make decisions on the desired proportion of resources that are allocated to particular uses or particular values that meet societal needs. It's the classic problem of determining how much of any one value is needed or how much is really enough.
Second, the panel's use of the 35 values. And I find these to be extremely useful because they identify the extreme breadth of forest attributes. But I want to emphasize that it should not be expected that all acres on all forests on all ownerships should necessarily contribute or be capable of contributing to all these values.
Third, the report's assessment of forest potential. And, using the panel's very broad categories, I believe the assessment is really quite accurate. The issues and controversies, however, that I see are more at the level of individual stands, individual forests, individual ownerships. And I think a particularly difficult policy issue that will have to be addressed is how to equitably attain those societal values that extent across property or jurisdictional boundaries.
Fourth, the concept of integrated forest management. I agree strongly with the panel that--this is probably the most desirable model, especially on public lands, but there are three important issues I'd like to recognize.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 First, a distinction must be made between the integration of values and uses on every acre of forest land versus integration within a forest, or within a watershed, or within a region.
And, second, the definition of integrated forest management must necessarily vary from incorporating relatively few values to many depending upon forest type, forest site quality, location, and ownership.
Third, although the general concept of integrated management may be the most desirable, the Nation will undoubtedly benefit from a proportion of forest lands, probably predominantly privately owned, being managed efficiently and sustainably for specialized uses or values.
Mr. Chairman, I will conclude my remarks here and be very pleased to participate in discussion. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Helms appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. Helms. We'll look forward to that exchange.
Dr. Gene Wood is professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University. Welcome, Dr. Wood. I might add, Doctor, because of your name, you might have prejudice here, especially from Mr. Brown. And so I would caution you to be careful about your comments.
Mr. WOOD. Thank you, sir. I'll be careful.
STATEMENT OF GENE W. WOOD, PROFESSOR, FOREST WILDLIFE ECOLOGY, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
Mr. WOOD. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee.
In my view, the panel undertook an extraordinarily large and complicated task to evaluate the health of the American forest. The approach was sophisticated and identified the primary considerations that must be made to evaluate present conditions and potential future conditions.
On the whole, the report was very good, although as it is used in the future, there are some things that could be done to improve its usability and robustness as a document for guidance in thinking about management of the American forest for a wide array of values.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 As panel chairman Dr. Chad Oliver said in his presentation of the report to the committee, this should not be considered as a completed document. The document can be expanded and improved upon as efforts are made to apply it in the future.
I suggest one effort that could be made in the near future is to make the document more user-friendly for the general citizenry and their policymakers. The narrative could be expanded with the objective of educating Americans about their forest and their true ecological relationship with it.
In my view, in the future, the aspects of the report that dealt with wildlife resources should undergo considerable expansion. As evidenced by the extraordinarily sweeping power of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the people of the Nation place a high value on native flora and fauna.
Listed species conservation, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem management are inseparable topics and top-of-the-mind natural resource issues for Americans. In the future, the report could be expanded to better educate the citizens and their policymakers on these issues in the context of forest management that must produce a wide array of resources critical to the Nation's well-being.
I believe that ultimately the report poses the question: ''Simultaneously considering the availability of forest resources and the array of values for those resources, what do citizens want their relationship with the American forest to be?''
The health of the American forest will be shaped by the nature of how humans function in these forests. That is, fundamentally, what is really the health of our relationship with our forest?
Humans are ecosystem components, and human activity is an ecological process. That process can be guided by the art of natural resource managers who reference a body of ecological science. It cannot be legislated.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Scientists can inform the citizens and their policymakers on ecosystem capacities. The citizens and the policymakers must decide what their values for these capacities will be.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Wood appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. And I thank you, Dr. Wood.
Mr. William McComb is head of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at the University of Massachusetts. Dr. McComb.
Mr. MCCOMB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. McCOMB, DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. MCCOMB. I have seven points that I would like to make. The first one that this document is a step in the right direction. I think that the authors are sincerely trying to find a middle ground in what is currently the very polarized debate over forest management in the United States today.
With that said, I think it's also important to realize that this is a strategic document and is not a tactical document. It's a step in the right direction, it's finding a middle ground, but it's very generalized in nature.
The devil is in the details, and that is taking something that is strategic and creating a tactical plan from it. So some of my comments will move from the strategy of this document to the implementation of it and how we need to consider.
If the ideas in this document are adopted, I think that the approach to implementing it must be flexible enough to accept new information as it becomes available. I commend the panel for their efforts to make this an open-ended process.
As new information becomes available from research, from monitoring, from other experts that they seek, it should be included in the document. The authors are doing a good job of that.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I think that the 34 values they've identified in the report as a way of helping to define what forest health is by asking ''What do we want our forest to be?'' is an excellent approach. We need to consider what we want our forest to be now. We need to consider what we want our forest to be 50 years from now, 100 years from now. We need to be looking into the future several generations so that when several generations of our offspring are sitting here in this room discussing this issue they have the flexibility to make some decisions that are going to be wise ones and not feel like they've had their options taken away from them.
We need to consider the impact of projecting some of these ideas forward in time and truly assessing how these ideas are going to play out into the future.
I agree with Dr. Wood. I think there needs to be a more complete assessment of the fisheries and wildlife resources in terms of the current and potential conditions within the United States. I think more careful consideration should be given to how fisheries and wildlife resources might be affected by adoption of any one of the proposed options.
The information is available from past assessments. And, again, this is stepping from the strategic to the tactical side because if any of these ideas are implemented, then I think it's incumbent upon whoever adopts this and begins to implement it to take a closer look at the potential effects in fish and wildlife resources.
Members should consider development of regional centers for natural resources information so that when agencies and private landowners asked to adopt some of these ideas, they will have a place that they can go to get the most current information.
Another point is that we need to learn from what we do. If we adopt these options, need to consider the development of a monitoring plan. And that's going to be a difficult thing to do because some people will want to measure all of these values in great detail. We will have to prioritize what values will be measured and then what things within those values will be measured. But we really need to take a step in that direction and begin to learn from our actions and develop a monitoring strategy. And those strategies need to include, at least to some degree, all of the values that are represented here.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I commend the authors on their integrated approaches. It is indeed a step in the right direction toward finding a middle ground, but those integrated approaches can take any number of different forms. Each one of them could be a hypothesis if you think about this in the scientific way.
We don't know for sure how these resources are going to respond to these management techniques. If we implement them, then we need to test those and see how they respond. And if we're going to really learn as much as we can possibly learn, then we have to have a strategy for deciding where to begin.
And, as Dr. Oliver indicated, there are places in this country where if we located those strategically, we could have the biggest impact and learn the most from selecting those specific areas across the country.
A good example might be eastern Oregon and Washington, where there has been considerable effort at documenting the potential effects of fire exclusion over the last 50 years.
I think the final thing that I would like to close with here is that if this approach is adopted and if there is a bit more consideration given to fish and wildlife resources and if there's a monitoring strategy that's developed, I really think that this approach that the authors have taken will allow us to learn how to effectively manage our forests for both biological diversity, where I think we could stand to illustrate some rather significant steps toward restoration of habitats for some species, while still recognizing economic gain.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McComb appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. McComb. And I thank all of you very much for those interesting remarks.
To proceed, I would hope that we could have an opportunity for interchange of thoughts and ideas without being so structured that we ignore input and opportunities to hear from each of you.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 And then, with that in mind, I would ask members to address questions to Dr. Oliver and Dr. Bowyer if they have direct questions about the report. And then I would ask for comments from the other gentlemen with respect to their answers to the questions and vice versa. So if you have questions of others of the panel, we'll have an interchange should they choose from Dr. Bowyer and Dr. Oliver. A little bit different situation, but we'll see if it doesn't work.
Let me start with a question of Dr. Oliver. If I oppose your report, I would challenge it on the basis of it has not been peer reviewed. So let me say to you that I challenge your report and I want to know what efforts you've made for peer review and if none, why not?
Mr. OLIVER. Well, thank you for the challenge. We have made efforts toward peer review in that we submitted the report in its present condition for peer review, as we stated when we submitted it to Congressman Taylor on April 4, at that time it wasn't peer-reviewed; but we made a list of scientists that we have then sent copies of the report to and requested that it be peer-reviewed. So that's one source of peer review.
The second source is we knew that this panel would be making presentations on it. That's a second source.
A third source is we know that the Forest Service is doing a review of it. And we know all three of these will be made public. And, as we mention in the report, we invite other people to comment on it.
We definitely don't want it to end up being a report that assumes that it's a final word on anything. Science just isn't that way.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. When will those peer reviews appear? Do we have a time line?
Mr. OLIVER. I believe that they are due at the end of this month. With all due respect to academicians and knowing how they operate, it may be the middle of next month before we get them all compiled.
The CHAIRMAN. Following this structure, I invite any of you to comment on Dr. Oliver's defense of peer review.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. If I may?
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Perez-Garcia.
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. If I may add some comments to that? I think, again, you need to recognize here that we have a process and not an item, a finished item, and that the whole process of peer review should be ongoing.
There are a lot of ways to do that. One of the ways to do it is precisely in this format. And another way to do it is through the traditional academic standards of asking for fellow scientists to provide that peer review.
I think there is some importance in doing it in this format because the actual users of this information are going to be you people, rather than the scientists. And I think there is some credit to providing the peer review through this format here.
The CHAIRMAN. I appreciate that, and I just want to mention that part of today's activity is indeed peer review by all of you. And you have all made statements with that in mind.
I know specifically Dr. Wood and Dr. McComb agree that the fisheries and wildlife portion needs to be expanded in this report, as I understood both of you to say.
Are there further expansions that you know of or that you wish to mention? Dr. Wood? Dr. McComb?
Mr. WOOD. I think the value of this report is tremendous and can be made more so into the future. One place that I would like to see expansion begin is the history of the American forest. I think that is critical to an understanding of how we got to where we are. The policymakers and the general citizenry need to be using this as a reference document, as Dr. Perez-Garcia has pointed out.
This is not a finished product. This is not a scientific publication as we normally consider such in terms of a refereed journal. This has to do with strategies and how to think about strategies. And how to think about strategies assumes that you have a background of information.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The history of the American forest is an important aspect of the foundation of that information from which to move ahead.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Would the gentleman yield?
The CHAIRMAN. We'll all have time.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. I was just going to followup on this question.
The CHAIRMAN. I just need to keep some control of the time, and I'll be happy to yield to you in a moment.
Mr. MCCOMB. Just a brief comment. I believe that the call for a more detailed assessment of the fish and wildlife resources could be expanded to several of the other values, probably ones that none of us on this panel are really qualified to address at this time.
But the review process that Dr. Oliver is describing, is open-ended. the authors are asking other people to comment, so those other values which we may need more detailed information should come to the surface if this open-ended process is allowed to occur. And it seems like it is.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, may I have permission to submit some questions in writing for the panel to answer after we----
The CHAIRMAN. Of course. Without objection, so ordered. And any member of the committee is welcome within 10 days to offer either comments or questions that may be delivered to the gentlemen upon their return to their respective----
Mr. BROWN. And I'll try and be brief, Mr. Chairman. In fact, I will do more than try. I will be brief.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Let me just ask for some general comments by Dr. Helms, whom I attach high respect to merely because he's from California. And somebody whose name is Wood, why, I may have a little problem with.
The CHAIRMAN. I anticipated that, Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. Dr. Helms, I've been on this committee quite a few years. And we went through a long struggle back in the seventies to come up with forest management legislation, which I thought put its emphasis upon the development of programs for the National Forests, which emphasized sustainability and multiple use of the resources.
Is that your recollection of the emphasis that we tried to create then?
Mr. HELMS. Yes.
Mr. BROWN. Is there anything wrong with that?
Mr. HELMS. Not at all.
Mr. BROWN. Have we deviated from that substantially do you think over the last 20-odd years?
Mr. HELMS. No. And in this context, I might point out that the management of the National Forests is divided up into different areas and particularly to point out that wood harvesting is only conducted on about 40 or 50 percent of the National Forests, contrary to what the general public believe.
Mr. BROWN. Now, those forests which are strictly in private hands would not necessarily have the same criteria. They would use prudent business judgment as to the way they would manage the forests there, with the main factor being enhanced financial return, I suppose.
Mr. HELMS. This is a difficult question because of the private lands of the United States, private forest lands, probably 60 percent of that is owned by a very large number, maybe 9 or 10 million, small, nonindustrial private.
So, in addressing questions of management of private lands, one needs to distinguish between industrial lands and the very large number of nonindustrial. And, consequently, the management objectives vary from the extremes of sustaining wood products to those owners who hold lands for their spiritual value.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. BROWN. Or those who hold it just so they can get a higher price when they cut all the trees down and sell it for subdivisions.
Mr. HELMS. That might be also included in this continuum of possibilities.
Mr. BROWN. The report as I read it--and I have only gone through it in a fairly cursory fashion--gives proper emphasis to all of these divergent considerations in terms of managing the total asset. Is that your opinion also?
Mr. HELMS. Yes.
Mr. BROWN. Yes. And it's, therefore, a valuable report from that standpoint.
I also, however, get the view, again based on a cursory examination, from the report--and I should direct this to the authors, I suppose--that you are trying to encourage a greater harvest on the public lands, at least, because you point out fairly often that we're actually harvesting less than is being produced and that there are sound ecological reasons for increasing the harvest and so froth.
In that sense, do you feel that you are creating a report to encourage greater utilization of the forest resources, either of the authors?
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Brown, no, I don't believe that's the intent of the report, but I do believe that it is the intent of this panel to point out that if we take the position that large areas of public lands that we are to manage large areas for noncommodity production, it does have implications for other land areas in the United States and other large land areas outside of the borders of the United States. This has environmental implications that in many cases are negative and if we're going to look at any option, we need to look in a systematic or global view at what the options might be.
So in pointing out that we're managing below the productive capacity, I believe it's fair to say that our primary intent is to point out the need to look at tradeoffs.
Mr. BROWN. Well, I think it's valuable to point out these tradeoffs.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 One final question, if I may, to either of the two authors of the report. Do you have any fundamental problems with the management concepts contained in the law at the present time with regard to sustainability and multiple use of the forest?
Mr. OLIVER. I would say that from what I can see of the concepts and the intent and the philosophy, I think it's quite robust in providing a lot of these values.
We seem to have run into problems with the implementation that give us these wide swings. And I don't know whether that's because of some of the wording of the law or what it is.
I also want to just reiterate the point of Dr. Bowyer that the intent of the report was not to be in an advocacy role but simply to point out the tradeoffs. So I hope we didn't come across appearing as if we were advocating something.
Mr. BROWN. I don't think you came across as being a rabid advocate of anything. It's a well-balanced report in that sense. But I think the underlying facts that you presented lead to the conclusion that we could sustain a considerable increase in forestry, and that may be a valuable fact in itself.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I'd invite other members of the panel to comment either on Dr. Oliver's point or Dr. Bowyer's point.
I note, Dr. Helms, you indicated in your statement that you have to be careful about fire because fire can be very expensive and that the results from management of timber might equate the use of fire. Is that true?
Mr. HELMS. Well, the whole question of fire is extremely complex. And we have come to the realization I think in the science community that the past policies by which we have tried to exclude fire from the forest in order to secure property values and so on has resulted in a condition of the forest that one would quite well argue that it's deteriorating in health, deteriorating in vigor. And the issue facing society is the appropriateness of reintroducing fire in order to reduce stand density and to avoid catastrophic fires that are so expensive.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 This is a very difficult issue because it runs counter to some current policies regarding clean air and it also runs into problems of potential property damage because of the tendency for populations to move into the woodlands. But it's one of the most severe problems facing land management today.
The CHAIRMAN. Just a comment. The alternative to using fire as a tool to decrease density might in itself be an argument to increase management from on-the-ground elimination of density of forests.
Mr. HELMS. I would personally agree with that statement with the caveat that in doing so, while one would have to commonly be very careful to create the kinds of stand structures that are appropriate to secure the kinds of values that society expects from the forests. And as a silviculturist, I could attest that this can be done.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand. Thank you.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I guess to start off with, the authors of the report. Any time that you have one management technique or philosophy become the dominant philosophy above all others, you have described in the report that there is a reaction to that or an impact from doing that.
And in following up with Mr. Brown's questions about the impact of stopping forestry or logging in one particular area, the impact that has on some of the other areas, it would seem that what we have seen in the West is that when you have less forestry on public lands, the pressure then becomes on private lands because the economic factors change and force private property owners to react differently than they normally would have.
Any comment on that and what you've seen in your study of this?
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Pombo, Mr. Chairman, that certainly is the case. And I think we've tried to point out in this report in every place where it was appropriate that those kinds of tradeoffs exist precisely across really every area of the United States.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 If we had the luxury to simply put large land areas into a status that was noncommodity-producing, which is to say if we had the luxury of being a very low-consuming Nation and a very high abundance of resources relative to our consumption, then perhaps some of the tradeoffs that we describe in this report would be much downplayed from what they are.
But what we have attempted to point out is that there is a large demand for raw materials in the United States and worldwide. There is tremendous growth of population worldwide. We have a growing population in the United States. And growing consumption of raw materials.
And, therefore, if we take action on one area of land, it doesn't mean that we're somehow going to decide all of a sudden we don't need to use resources. We are going to shift our raw material producing to some other land area, and we're going to create impacts in the process.
Mr. POMBO. So that, first of all, you said ''If we had the luxury'' of doing that.
Mr. BOWYER. Yes.
Mr. POMBO. Currently, as has already been pointed out, less than half of the Federal lands are actively managed for commodities now. And every year that percentage is decreased. At least over the past several years, that's been the case. So we have made in this country the policy decision or the societal decision that we are going to have less and less land that is public lands that are actively managed.
The result of that is that the economic forces have forced much more intensive management, in some cases what I believe is bad management on private lands, where they have just completely cut down everything because the economic forces have caused that.
On a broader perspective--and I think that Dr. Perez-Garcia had talked about this somewhat--the impact then becomes on other countries. The economic impact on other countries or the economic incentive is for them to then manage their forests differently than they may have otherwise.
And I'd like Dr. Perez-Garcia to comment on that somewhat in terms of the ability for other countries to pick up the slack, so to speak, of a regulatory drought that is being caused by our actions and their abilities to do that.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. Mr. Pombo, Mr. Chairman, I'd gladly like to comment on that.
You need to consider in terms of processes what happens when you reduce timber harvests in one region. If that region is highly linked to other areas as the Pacific Northwest is to the Asian markets, then those other markets will try to increase their harvest to offset the reduction in the Pacific Northwest.
Our estimates show that they're not able to do it completely. They're not able to offset the complete harvest reduction. And, as a result, what you do is you get higher prices, which stimulates more harvests in other regions, but you also----
Mr. POMBO. Let me interrupt you for just a second.
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. Sure.
Mr. POMBO. You said that they're not able to completely replace. Is that short term or long term?
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. That is a long-term effect, and it's associated with economics. It's associated with the cost of harvesting. As you go to other areas, you're actually using higher-cost supplies. And, as a result of that, you go up the supply function, which tells you that you're not able to offset the complete reduction in timber harvest in the Pacific Northwest.
As a result of that, what you get is product substitution. And that's when you start getting into other forest values or other values that society may want to have associated with processes, production processes. You start getting into substitutes like steel studs and aluminum studs taking market share away from wood products.
So there are two processes going on. Other regions substitute their supplies of woods to replace the offset and the production process of product substitution.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Bowyer?
Mr. BOWYER. One other comment I'd like to make regarding the capability of other countries producing timber, I think it's well to keep in mind that the most likely scenario worldwide is that we're going to double world population within the next century, with most of that growth well within the next century.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 And if you look at demand for industrial raw materials worldwide, demand for raw materials is growing more rapidly today than population growth. That's not true in the United States and Western Europe, but if you look at the world as a whole, raw material demand is growing more rapidly than population growth.
Now, I think what that means is that as a very high-consuming Nation, if we look to other nations to provide our needs, whether it be for wood or whether it be through substitution effects that we're looking for steel or other kinds of things, we need to look very carefully at that because we live in a world in which raw material demand is growing very rapidly.
For the first time in recent history, the areas of world which are growing the fastest in terms of population growth are now growing the fastest in terms of economic growth. And, therefore, internal demand for raw materials in other countries is growing very rapidly.
So I personally don't think it's a reasonable proposition to look to any great extent to other areas of the world to be in the business of providing to a greater extent than they do now our raw material needs.
Mr. POMBO. You brought this up somewhat in your testimony and in your written testimony. We are currently witnessing the import of raw logs into different regions of the country, specifically in the Pacific Northwest, in an effort to try to maintain the infrastructure that exists there.
I think we all can realize that that is not long term going to survive. At the cost of doing that, it's not going to survive. Therefore, we have witnessed and will continue to witness the infrastructure disappear in producing wood products out of the Pacific Northwest.
You have already said that other countries will not be able to sustain the requirements that we have for wood-based products or that the world has for wood-based products. Ultimately what will happen--if the infrastructure does not exist, we have more forest land today than we did 60 or 70 years ago. And the other countries are not replanting the way that we are required to. They do not manage their forest land with the same broad values that we have in this country. Therefore, I see a point coming where wood products, we can't fulfill the need for that.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 What happens in terms of long term in trying to fulfill that need that exists once we have completely devastated our infrastructure in this country to produce those products?
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. Let me see if I understood the question and comment correctly. You foresee that there is a reduction in milling capacity in the Pacific Northwest and that milling capacity is not picking up anywhere else. It disappears.
Well, part of it is not taken up anywhere else. Actually, part of it is relocated. What you would see would be timber companies that own mill processing facilities in the Pacific Northwest reinvest their profits in either other regions of the world or other regions of the United States The point is that it's probably higher cost again. And so there's not the complete replacement of the reduction in processing capacity in the Pacific Northwest.
Eventually all of these allocations of how much wood would be produced is going to take place in the marketplace. And that's all going to take place based on what prices are and what costs are. And if it's unprofitable for mills to process timber products, then they will not process them. And, yes, that milling capacity will disappear.
If prices are able to stay high and profits are generated, then no, the milling processing capacity will not disappear. It will continue only at higher prices.
The problem with the higher prices is that you start to get into substitute products. You start seeing more competition from steel studs and aluminum studs.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. And now Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Well, just a quick followup on the peer review. How does your peer review compare to the ISC report or the FEMAT? It seems to me there's a lot of ado about peer review. Is there a comparison?
Mr. OLIVER. Actually, peer review is appropriate. I would say most all of our more, let's say, reputable scientific documents undergo peer review processes just to keep the authors from getting caught into a mental block where they overlook something that's quite important.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 If you look at the various reports that have come through beginning with things like the ISC report, the ''Gang of Four,'' and others, they began with basically peer reviews by a selected group of scientists that they considered qualified but not an open general review.
As we have proceeded forward, the reports that were relative to something like an EIS statement naturally had a comment period. And the scientists were invited to comment during that period. But, again, the treatment of those scientist's reviews was just like other public comment treatments.
I think we're evolving toward an acceptance of having these reports more and more open. The Columbia River Basin's report invited quite an extensive peer review. I would say we have taken an incremental but quite an important additional step in that we're making the statement that this isn't a final report because science shouldn't be considered that way.
If you look at one of the previously mentioned documents, it said, ''Science has now done its task, period. Now it's time for policymakers.'' Well, science is open-ended. We always need to be improving the science. So we're looking at this report in that light. However, we want to caution that we need to recognize policymakers need to make decisions now, although science is always improving.
I hope that helps.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Let me change the subject a little bit to trade and imports. I am from Michigan. And we have a large lumberyard, Townsend Lumber Company in Clayton, MI that was buying about 500 million board feet a year of mostly low-grade timber from Canada.
Your comment, Mr. Bowyer or Mr. Perez-Garcia, on last year's tariff quota agreement and its effect on our consumption. I am told that because of that tariff quota agreement, because of Canada's subsidy for timber, Canada is now exporting the higher, more expensive grade of timber within the quota without this tariff, and they are only exporting the lower-grade timber as a last resort under quota. This increases the price of low-grade timber so that our producers of such things as pallets and crates, et cetera, now have to pay a higher price. Canada is now tremendously expanding their exports of the value-added product of these crates and pallets that come in outside of the quota requirements.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Are you familiar with this? And would you comment on the possible problems of that quota tariff agreement?
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Smith, I would not try to defend in any way the export quota system. And I'd prefer to kind of leave that right where it is. But I would say that I think your observations are correct that this has caused some disruptions in normal market flows.
We could talk, for example, about legislation to reduce or eliminate export of logs. I know that's been a large point of contention for many years.
Well, it's another example of a situation in which we're messing with our market flows. We sometimes I think get the idea that if we cut off the flow of logs, then the countries that are receiving those logs will simply say to themselves, ''OK. Well, I guess we didn't need those anyway. And we'll do something else.''
But the fact of the matter is that what happens is some other country steps in to fill those flows, in this case Canada. And I think your observation is exactly right that Canada has increased its exports to countries other than the United States, in part because of this agreement, in part because of other steps we have taken to try to protect forests in different parts of the United States or to try to protect the environment in different areas.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. And, of course, the country that provides that value-added stimulates their economy and their opportunity for job creation. But it seems to me that maybe the larger question is the reason of this greater dependence on imports from Canada is simply because we're only using one-third of our potential timber production in this country.
And as we look at that lower than optimal use and the increasing demand and at the increasing amount that steel and brick and aluminum substituted for wood and the problems of increased energy consumption because of that production, the carbon problem of switching to these substitute products, it seems to me that it would be good if everybody could read this report and have the opportunity to ask this kind of expert panel the kind of questions that hopefully lead us into a more efficient utilization of our timber in this country.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 That's more of a speech, but if anybody has a comment, I would appreciate it.
Mr. WOOD. Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment. I think, sir, that one of the problems in the way we are looking at the percentage of growth that's being harvested is that ''the devil's in the details.''
A lot of the growth that we have in the Nation is in hardwood, but most of the demand for usable products is in softwoods. I'm a Southerner, obviously, I suppose; whereas, we are cutting 91 percent of growth, according to the report, total growth across the South. South-wide we are overcutting our pine forests, which is in most demand, by 12 percent. We're overcutting the nonindustrial private lands by 14 percent.
My experience across the South--and I have worked extensively with the forest products industry for the past 10 years. Must of that nonindustrial timberland is not being managed. It's being liquidated. This is where our problem is.
I'm working in Wisconsin with a forest products company on a noncommodity resource, karner blue butterfly, which you may be familiar with. Those foresters are telling me that they're going to have to go to Montana to get pine for their pulp mills.
So I think unless we look at how much of specific forest types that we're cutting, discussions that say how much we're cutting relative to total growth can be misleading. We're going to have to look at it in a more refined manner.
I work with noncommodity resources in the southern pine forest, where this is a real problem because we need the forest products. There's no question about it. But that is also where many of our noncommodity resource problems, conflicts are most severe.
We have to cut that pine forest, and the Nation values many of the noncommodity resources that are associated with that forest. We're moving to shorter and shorter rotations, higher and higher intensities of forest management in those forests. The higher that intensity grows, the greater the conflict with these other resources is going to be.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Thank you, sir.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Maybe, Mr. Chairman, I can submit it in writing or something, but the whole question of the carbon dioxide problem as we shift to other substitutes for wood and the increased energy consumption as we produce aluminum and steel and brick, et cetera, have there been studies on that? Is there some report that you could refer me to in that area?
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. Yes. There are a couple of studies that I can send off some copies to you. There is one study that I believe Peter Koch did 3 or 4 years ago exactly looking at what the energy tradeoffs are associated with timber reduction harvest.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. OK. I appreciate that.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I apologize to the committee. I had to testify at another hearing myself, and then I have to run here in just a short few minutes. But I did want to welcome this panel and very quickly ask--and I'm asking in the dark here. I'm not sure this question has been asked, but it is of interest to me.
Some folks are saying that we ought to eliminate commercial forestry on Federal lands. Have you talked about that?
I'm wondering what your opinion is, the idea of eliminating commercial forestry on our Federal lands.
Mr. OLIVER. Let me hit that in general. In our report, we gave several options, one being no commodity management on forests. And one of the options showed what would happen if we didn't do that on our National Forests and national parks.
Another option looked at timber management, in the most financially efficient manner. And a third one was an integrated approach whereby you managed your forests to provide all of the different habitats, which is shown on that diagram right to your left, but removing timber products in the process.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 And we showed the tradeoffs of each of these approaches if they were applied to just Federal lands. And we looked at the effect they would have on private lands, on a number of different values. So we looked at the whole variety.
Now, would you want me to comment more on the effect if we did no commodity extraction or more of the effect if we did the integrated management as well?
Mr. BRYANT. Well, can you just give me a conclusion?
Mr. OLIVER. OK. If you stopped any commodity management on National Forests, mainly you would directly affect the West, as we have done with a lot of the stopping of harvests there. The forests would grow very dense. Until you got the quite catastrophic fires, you wouldn't be providing the range of habitats or you would continue not to provide them.
At the same time, the eastern forests, would probably continue what's happening now, which is the over-harvesting of the southern pines. You would probably be shifting more demand to the eastern United States and more harvests there on private lands. You would continue your increased harvests of private lands in the West. And you would be increasing your harvests in other parts of the world. And you would be increasing your use of more substitute products. That would be the tradeoffs.
Let me have the others comment on it.
Mr. BRYANT. If I might just ask--Dr. Bowyer, maybe you can comment--from the scientific perspective and not the political. Do I understand that there is a need for this on Federal lands, there is a scientific need to have trees removed?
Mr. BOWYER. Well, I think if we were to talk about going to a system in which commodity extraction were prohibited, I believe the hands of the land manager would be severely tied. For example, if we look at wildlife restoration and management programs that rely on habitat modification, it's difficult to imagine how that could be done if timber extraction is not allowed.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Furthermore, if we look at some of the needs for reduction of fuel loading in stands, if we look at habitat modification programs and so forth, all of which are expensive, a commodity extraction program does provide revenue, which can at least pay part and perhaps all of the costs of those kinds of activities. In the absence of commodity extraction, we're looking at very large costs.
One other point I'd like to make is that considering carbon sequestration goals, if we allow Federal lands to continue to fuel load and then assume that nature is going to solve this problem, nature is going to solve the problem. But what it's going to mean is an unscheduled massive loading of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and nothing in the way of useful products in the process. So I would simply add those factors to what Dr. Oliver just pointed out.
Mr. BRYANT. Thank you.
Dr. Wood, let me ask you just quickly. In going through some of the questions, I see the issue of clear-cutting. And I don't know if you talked about that, but we certainly see that in the South, in my district. And it's been compared in the past. It's the same thing as a fire.
Do you have a quick opinion on this practice?
Mr. WOOD. Well, I believe clear-cutting is fundamentally ecologically sound. I believe it has been misused on many, many occasions. I myself am sorry to see it lost on the public lands. It's apparently been another great crimped of style on other lands.
It is not the same as fire. It does change structure, but in terms of ecological process, it is not the same as fire. I think the report and some comments that have been made earlier here are that cutting, various silvicultural practices can begin to approximate some fire effects in terms of the way you change stand structure and species mix, but it is not identical to fire in its ecological process.
And if I might just comment quickly on the National Forest issue thing, something I feel very strongly about is the use of the National Forests. And I think the best use from a scientific standpoint and from other standpoints of the National Forests into the future is that they must be a model for how to integrate. And this report focuses on the integration of commodity and noncommodity resource management and conservation. I consider conservation to be management, management to be conservation.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 There are no other lands in this Nation where that can be attempted as long-range experiment and can be the reference point for all other lands. There are no other lands. We must in my view continue commercial use of these lands and demonstrate how to integrate commodity resource production and harvest with noncommodity resource conservation.
Mr. BRYANT. Dr. McComb?
Mr. MCCOMB. Just very quickly. On the chart to my right, the open stand structure would be typical of that after a clear-cut. If you were to take a look at that after a fire, there would be dead trees. That can be viewed as a loss from an economic standpoint or it can be viewed as a habitat gain for those species that rely on dead wood. And that's where some of these integrated approaches, described by Dr. Oliver's group, comes into play because we can achieve both of those goals if we do go about it carefully, thoughtfully.
Mr. BRYANT. Now, when I say ''clear-cut,'' I'm making the assumption, too, that there are trees replanted behind those.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Bowyer, I've read on many occasions and I've also witnessed, being from Idaho, the fact that the forests of the world, especially the forests in the Northwest, seem to be rapidly disappearing because of fire and insects and disease.
I just took some of my colleagues into the Boise National Forest in Idaho over a burn area that is 600,000 acres. We just don't have a forest left. Yet, in your testimony, you've indicated that the forests of the United States cover a larger area today than in 1920 and contain a significantly greater volume of timber. So based on what's happening to the quality of our forests, I'd like to maybe clear this contradiction up for the record.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. BOWYER. Thank you.
Let me just make a brief comment about the state of forests in the United States and even worldwide. I don't think it's quite accurate to say that forests around the world are rapidly disappearing.
In fact, forests in temperate areas of the world have remained stable for quite a long period of time and are growing in size. The forests of Europe, particularly Western Europe, are growing in size. Even the Soviet Far East, in which there are many concerns, those forests are still growing more rapidly than they're being harvested. The big concern, of course, is in the tropics, where about 42 million acres a year are being lost.
In the United States, we now have about two-thirds of the forest area that we had at the time of settlement. We have a larger standing timber volume than we had in 1920. We've had a 19 percent increase in standing volume in the last one-third century, despite a 45 percent increase in demand in harvest from those lands to supply growing timber needs.
Now, in pointing out those statistics, that is not to say that the quality of standing timber is the same now as it was in the past. And even in the eastern hard wood forests, there are certainly some timber quality problems that need to be addressed.
I don't know how you'd like me to comment beyond that, but----
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Dr. Oliver, would you mind commenting on that also for the record?
Mr. OLIVER. A couple of points to add to Dr. Bowyer. We are growing more volume, and we have increased our forest land area since the 1920s. These have occurred as such things as marginal agriculture and grazing land were abandoned. We have become more efficient in our agriculture.
The problem is that, if you look on this chart to your left, the forests we have grown are small diameter, very crowded, dense forests, which is the central or dense structure in that diagram.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 So you see whereas we have produced quite a bit of volume, we don't have the quality that we had previously. In addition, the trees are very crowded. And when they become crowded, they become weakened and susceptible to insects, diseases, and fires. And they also don't have the diversity of habitats we had before.
This could potentially change with silvicultural manipulations to change it into more quality; reduce the insect, disease, and fire hazards; and produce a wider range of habitats. So we have more volume. And we have the potential to produce the quality in the habitats, but we presently don't have that quality.
Now, I believe--and we ought to ask Dr. Perez-Garcia about this. I believe as we restrict harvests in this country we end up with global trade changes that eventually come around to impacting the tropics, not that we're directly importing that much tropical wood, I don't believe, but that we are causing shifts of wood supplies elsewhere.
Could we ask Dr. Perez-Garcia to comment on that briefly?
The CHAIRMAN. Please.
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. In terms of looking at markets from an economic standpoint, there is really little direct relationship between soft woods and hard woods. So that if we're talking about soft wood reductions in this country, there have been some attempts to link the impacts on hard wood forests in the tropics.
As a scientist, I'm not sure that link would exist. I think there have been some events in the tropics that have influenced their supply structure that are independent from the events in the soft wood market.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I thank you, Dr. Perez-Garcia.
I wanted to return to Dr. Oliver. With regard to marketable timber, though, specifically, here in the United States, the volume, of course, we all admit has increased. But, as you referred to your chart here, the timber is much more crowded and much smaller.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Are we declining in merchantable timber and marketable timber--that's specifically what I'm getting at--in the United States?
Mr. OLIVER. It gets complicated, but let me see if I can explain it.
It costs more money to harvest and remove from the woods a 12-inch or 10-inch diameter tree than it does an 18-inch diameter tree in terms of the amount of profit you make off of it.
If we had all of our trees at 18 inches in diameter, even the ones that were far away and hard to get to would be worthwhile for us to harvest, take to market, mill, and sell. But when we have 10-inch trees that are hard to get to, by the time we spent the extra money on cutting them, hauling them, processing them, and selling them, in order for us to make a profit, we have to spend so much money that it's cheaper just to import the wood from elsewhere or use steel or concrete or aluminum as substitutes. So as the wood gets to be smaller, it just gets more costly to use and substitute products become more worthwhile.
I'd like to ask Dr. Bowyer to add to that.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman? Please.
Mr. BOWYER. One thing I think we need to add to this discussion is that we have tremendous change in technology that has occurred over a fairly short period of time. And trees that were not economical to process even a decade or two ago are today economical to process with current technology. I think this is what brings us back to the issue of tradeoffs.
In the process of defining what we want our forests to look like and how we're going to manage them, I think it's fair to say that to some great extent technology can allow us to process whatever form of trees it is we decide to take out of our forested areas, at least for some categories of products.
So are today's trees less marketable than they were in the past? I think if we look at some traditional markets the answer would be yes, and it would be desirable if we had a bigger component of standing timber in larger diameters and so on.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 But if we look at some other potential markets, like structural composite lumber, which is growing at a very rapid rate, then the answer is not necessarily.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I appreciate your answers. The fact is that I was in Oregon and Idaho just this last week with, as I said, some of my colleagues. One of the timber companies that I worked with in Oregon, thanks to the chairman allowing me to go into his district, claimed that a home that was built with timber that was shipped from his mill had bugs in it that even went through the planer and everything. And after the home was built, the owners of the home heard all of this munching, and there were actually bugs that were undetected.
My concern is, yes, Dr. Bowyer, you are right. It's amazing what they're doing with every little bit of timber now that they get out of the forest. But I am still concerned that the quality of the wood is impacted more by disease and insects because it's weaker, because it's crowded. It's also impacted by insects and fire.
Mr. BOWYER. I would not disagree with that observation but maybe a little bit. Certainly this condition of stand crowding that Dr. Oliver and others have talked about I think is a very real concern and something that we need to fix as rapidly as possible. These small diameter stands that are in a weakened condition are certainly more susceptible to insect attack and then subsequently to fire and so on and so on.
The business about having insects in wood and so forth I'm not so sure. Most of the time a condition like that can be solved by a process called kiln drying. But one thing we are facing with respect to insects is that as we import more and more timber, from more different places than we did before, we are opening up the opportunity of bringing in exotic forest pests that we really haven't had in large numbers before.
And there's a potential problem there. We simply don't know what might happen, but I think we have to realize that when we take actions that are likely to stimulate in a global trade sense more in the way of wood imports, we are setting ourselves up for the possibility of exotic pests coming in in greater quantity.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I just have one more question if you would indulge me. And I'd like to ask Dr. Wood.
Thank you, Dr. Bowyer, for your answer.
Dr. Wood, I'd like for you to for the record inform us: How have management policies in the Pacific Northwest affected harvest practices in the Southeast? And then the second part of that question is: Have they contributed to the increased harvest of southern pine in the Southeast? Has that put more pressure on that species?
Mr. WOOD. I'm not a forest economist. So I cannot quantitatively answer that question, but there's no question but what the pressure on the Southeast has increased. The panel has demonstrated that we are over-cutting the southern pine forest. We made the point that we are over-cutting the southern pine forest about 12 percent region-wide, but the southern pine standing volume is about 18 times greater than the annual cut.
But how long can that excess be sustained? Each year the harvest has to cut into the foundation stock. What we're seeing in terms of conflicts among resource values is the the constant lowering of rotation lengths. And now we are moving into fiber farming.
Your point about crowding is interesting in that respect because the fiber farming will intentionally grow very dense plantations to be harvested in 12 to 15 years. They will be geared to pulp and paper production and engineered products. Those kinds of structures will not accommodate the other ecosystem components about which we worry in our Southern forests.
Those are all major problems for us. How we grow and harvest these products is a problem. But, as I often tell people who question me about it, hey, these wood products are not accumulating in warehouses. People are using them. So there's a demand for them. There is a need for it.
So how do we balance our ability to produce the resources that American society says that it wants and have the forest in a structure that the American society says that it wants? This is to me, the most fundamental question.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I don't know what the answer to that question is, but I know that in my view, that's the fundamental question.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Dr. Wood.
Mr. Chairman, I want to again congratulate you on bringing this group of fine scientists before your committee. The record established here will be so valuable to both you and me as we work together on forestry issues.
I am very sad that I wasn't able to hear their direct testimony. However, I did study their testimony. Conflicts occur here, and I had to be on the floor, Mr. Chairman, on a bill. So thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. And I thank the gentlelady for her comments.
Dr. Bowyer, in your statement, you alluded to I think the question of the protection of the spotted owl and how, in fact, while there was protection granted for the owl under option 9, which basically resulted in no harvest of timber in region VI, Oregon and Washington, that is at least an 85 percent reduction in the harvest of timber, especially for the protection of the spotted owl.
And I think you mentioned that sometimes there are intended results. If you attempt to narrowly protect one specie, what happens to the rest of wildlife or fishery in the other part of the forest?
Would you expand on what I thought I heard you say? And if that's not correct, please correct me.
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Chairman, I have heard the spotted owl recovery plan described as something that ought to be used as a model in other parts of the United States and the world. But, in all honesty, I've studied what happened in that process a great deal, and I would say that if it's a model, in my opinion, it's a model that should never be repeated again.
I think the recovery plan was remarkable for what was not considered. Now, the spotted owl and the marbled murlette, the focus of that recovery plan are not unimportant. They are important things to consider.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 But in that planning process, which was supposed to be comprehensive, there really wasn't substantial discussion of some of the following things: No discussion of where 4 billion board feet a year would come from. What's happened in the South was entirely predictable, I think.
No real discussion on what the environmental impacts would be on the new producing region. Are there endangered species in what will eventually become the new producing regions, the Soviet Far East included, which I think eventually will come on line as a direct result of what was done for the spotted owl?
What would be the environmental impact if non-wood substitutes began to kick into place and result in increased use of energy and increased extraction and so on? That question really wasn't answered.
What is the danger of importing wood pests, as per part of our discussion here in the last few minutes? That really wasn't seriously addressed, but I think it was 100 percent predictable that we were going to trigger imports and we were going to trigger that problem.
What about the transportation function of annually transporting 4 billion feet from point A to point B and so on and so on? There were a whole myriad of questions relating to interrelationships and global kinds of concerns that really weren't seriously addressed.
And I think in the future we really need to do a better job of thinking in a systems way; we must realize that if we do something in one part of the system that's going to create a reaction someplace else. We need to think beyond borders of the region that we're considering, beyond the borders of our Nation.
So I have very strong feelings about this issue, and that's kind of a summary of my perspective here.
The CHAIRMAN. I think it's very interesting. And I believe the point has been made here today time after time that the impact and decisions of forestry management in the United States indeed impact globally and indeed impact other geographic areas of the United States. So one decision in the Pacific Northwest, as you mentioned, likely and did impact southern pine questions. And I think we've made that point carefully.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The followup question really is more a judgment one. So I apologize. However, to reach the issue that you make, which I agree with; that is, in determining the management and the level of management of forests, we don't take into consideration a broader range of impacts, how do we get there under the current Endangered Species Act, which identifies one specie at a time?
Mr. BOWYER. Is that question addressed to me, Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, it is, Dr. Bowyer.
Mr. BOWYER. I wrote a few years ago in the Journal of Forestry that every proposed action to benefit a specie or any proposed action to take a large land area out of commodity production ought to be accompanied by what I called a global environmental impact statement. And I really wasn't kidding. I think that we need to have some kind of a way to force decisionmakers to look at larger concerns.
With respect to the Endangered Species Act as it is currently formulated, my view of this is that I see a great number of disincentives. Essentially the act uses a stick to try to get landowners to do what is desired.
And if you turn things around and if you look at what might be done from the standpoint of an individual landowner, somebody who owns 100 acres of forest land who realizes that if a certain specie shows up on their land it's going to mean great disadvantage in terms of ever doing anything with the land they own, then a decision to harvest timber before its normal rotation age becomes somewhat of a rational decision.
I'm not talking for the forest health science panel now, but my personal view is somehow we've got to figure out what our desired result is and then find a way to build incentives into the program so that people will want to create habitat for these species, rather than kind of hammering them over the head if they don't do it.
The CHAIRMAN. I invite any other members of the panel to comment on that subject if you choose. If not, we'll go on. Yes, Dr. Wood?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. WOOD. Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment. I have worked extensively with endangered species on private lands, mainly on corporate lands, over the last 10 years but also with small nonindustrial private landowners.
Dr. Bowyer is correct. We have seen the red-cockaded woodpecker, which is often referred to as the spotted owl of the South, largely disappear on nonindustrial private lands because of its economic threat to landowners.
We have another species that I have worked with for the last 4 years with the industry in Wisconsin. We took the approach from the outset that if private landowners do not feel threatened by the presence of a species, why would they get rid of it? Why would they intentionally manage, however, against it?
Of the species that I am aware of, I have yet to encounter one in which you could not integrate its conservation into normal forest management.
That does not mean that there is any free lunch. There isn't. But the species that I have worked with, primarily the red-cockaded woodpecker, the karner blue butterfly, the gopher tortoise in Mississippi, the actual economic sacrifice to accommodate these species on managed forests lands is not great.
The problem becomes the more intense, more acute, as flexibility in time, space, and financial strategy change. That typically is directly related to size of ownership. If you are a corporation, you have more flexibility in all three of those things. As you get down to the individual who has 50 acres, they have very little flexibility in any of them.
The Endangered Species Act has many problems in dealing with where most of these resources are. Seventy-three percent of the American forest is privately owned. And that is where many of these resources are.
Conservation of these resources is going to have to focus on these private lands without usurping private property rights. And I think that is how the act has to be accomplished.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I am less optimistic about improvements, about going from single species listings to multiple species listings and so on, that that's going to do a lot. It may make some improvements in some kinds of things, but it has more to do with lifting that burden from the people who have the least capability to better it and then in society at large, those who have greater ability to bear it.
They're going to have to consider themselves these larger citizens and accept some of those things. And I think that's kind of meant to be the approach.
The CHAIRMAN. Please, Dr. McComb.
Mr. MCCOMB. Yes. Thank you.
The Northwest forest plan considered the potential viability for hundreds of species associated with late successional forests in the Northwest. And they focused the assessment totally on Federal lands. The contribution of private lands to the viability of those species really wasn't directly considered.
The CHAIRMAN. Which was roughly half in both States; correct?
Mr. MCCOMB. I strongly support the views that you have just heard here in terms of an incentive-based program. If those private lands are going to be expected to contribute to the recovery of the spotted owl or to maintenance of the viability of any of the other late successional species, there has to be an incentive program in place to do that.
I think that the panel has done a good job of recognizing that both public and private lands need to be considered in any forest health assessment for the United States And it's clearly stated in here, and I think that's a step forward.
In the Northwest, about half of the land is private. In the deep South and the Northeast, it gets up to over 80 to 90 percent private land.
So if we're going to achieve any of these objectives through integrated approaches to meet the needs of some of the fish and wildlife species that are associated with stand structures that aren't provided under traditional timber management, there really needs to be an incentive program.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Very interesting.
While I have you, Dr. McComb, I note that you assisted our governor in Oregon with respect to a scientific panel that was organized in an attempt analyze and produce a reasonable answer to the forest ecosystem health problem, especially in eastern Oregon and Washington. I think you mentioned that in your statement.
If indeed we follow your thought, which I agree with, we have to have some sort of a model program somewhere to begin to prove that forest management is essential to eliminate problems of disease and finally catastrophic fire that you are suggesting I understood that eastern part of Oregon and Washington be that model area. Is that correct?
Mr. MCCOMB. I think it's a very good candidate.
The CHAIRMAN. Or one of them.
Mr. MCCOMB. Yes. There have already been several scientific assessments done in that region. There's a tremendous amount of information available on the different resources that occur there.
We have a very good understanding, I think, of the fire ecology of the system and why it is the way it is right now. And if we are going to reintroduce fire into that system, in many cases based upon my discussions with some of the other science members on that team, we have to reduce the fuels somehow to begin with because if we try to do it now, it isn't going to work.
The CHAIRMAN. May I add, as Dr. Helms pointed out, that the use of fire as a tool there is not only very dangerous but probably very wasteful.
Mr. MCCOMB. Well, it would be right now until the fuel loading could be reduced to a point where prescribed burning could then be reintroduced and then only on some sites.
But then again, you need to think about, as Dr. Helms pointed out, how you go about implementing that policy because if you do it on a piecemeal basis and start reintroducing fire back into a system where you have heavy fuel loadings around those stands that you prescribed burning, you're setting yourselves up for a big fall.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The CHAIRMAN. And that occurred, as you know, last summer.
Mr. MCCOMB. I do. So I think that that area is indeed a good candidate for demonstrating the potential effectiveness of some of the integrated approaches that Dr. Oliver's team suggested.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me pose that as a hypothetical question to the rest of you if you have any comment. Do you agree with the thought that there ought to be a model area somewhere chosen to begin to use some of the alternatives outlined in the Oliver report?
Mr. MCCOMB. If I could just followup on that, I think that, first of all, that should be done, but there should be model areas within each of the geographic regions that strategically are likely to show success in a relatively short period of time so that we can learn as much as possible as quickly as possible from those areas and then allow us to expand.
The CHAIRMAN. Give me specifically what. Give me some examples.
Mr. MCCOMB. Eastern Oregon, eastern Washington is one. I think there certainly are issues in the deep South I'll let Gene address in more detail. I think the issues in the Northeast, where we have so many small nonindustrial private landowners, lends itself perfectly to the incentive program idea and how we might go about implementing that.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Bowyer?
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Chairman, I agree with the comments that have just been made. I guess I'm not quite sure what's being suggested, but I would tend to put an asterisk on that and say that I do believe that we're going to have to address the fuel-loading issue soon. And I don't believe that there is time to spend a great deal of time studying this issue. I think we need to get about the business of reducing fuel loads.
The CHAIRMAN. I agree with that totally. And I think the Blue Mountain Institute--there have been many studies applied to the eastern part of Oregon and Washington, which certainly ought to fulfill the study need. Now we need some action.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Yes?
Mr. MCCOMB. Mr. Chairman, we need to start somewhere. And even if we start today following some fairly thoughtful analyses on the effects of the different values, as Dr. Oliver pointed out, it's going to be decades before we get to most of these stands in that region. So if we're going to start somewhere, in my mind at least, we need to start in some place that's strategically a good place to start and not just pick a spot at random.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, Dr. Oliver? Please.
Mr. OLIVER. Basically, I believe what we could do is find a number of focus areas in each region where there has been enough study and we could start there and expand outward from it. So I think we could----
The CHAIRMAN. Let's cut to the chase here. I would like to get from you folks some of your ideas on those focus areas so we could have some sort of direction here.
I guess you'd get to the next step. Where do we go from here? I mean, here we have the Oliver report. Here we have your testimony. Here we have identified many of the issues and problems that we face in this country with respect to management or lack of management of timber. So where do we go from here? I'd like to hear from each of you.
Mr. OLIVER. As we had said in the report----
The CHAIRMAN. I'm not going let you get away with just saying, ''This is a scientific report. And we're here to report on science.'' I'm going to let you get into the management process.
Mr. OLIVER. The first step would be to have some overall consensus from Congress that we want our Federal lands managed in this way, we want our national parks and wilderness managed in that way, we want to provide incentives for small private landowners to manage this way but have a general approach of which way we want to manage.
Then, on the one hand, it would take some implementation of various incentives. And I don't know whether that would take laws or whether it would just take changes in regulations to begin getting these incentives out into the private landowners.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 For the Federal landowners, again, I don't know whether it would take a change in the Federal law so that everything isn't stopped at each stage by some type of a court challenge or whether it would take simply a change in some of the rules and regulations. These could be examined fairly quickly so that you get them streamlined to achieve that agreed-upon overall mission.
There could be certain things done to fast forward that, but if you've got an agreed-upon mission, then we need a quick look at incentives and a quick look at the National Forest laws and rules. If you decided that we're going to take these areas and use them as pilot project areas, and get agreement that we're going to move in that direction with certain types of abilities to streamline a lot of the different procedures, rules, and processes, then you could move forward in those areas with something like a yearly checking of whether we achieve the objectives.
And I would put forward a number of such areas, one in western Oregon or Washington, one in eastern Oregon or Washington, one in the California area, one around the Flagstaff area, the Montana-Idaho area's got some very big problems as does Colorado.
Moving East, I would look at some in hardwood areas in the South, some in the coastal plains, some in the conifer-pine areas, some in the mountains, some in the Piedmont.
Moving to the Northeast, I would look at everything from places like Maine to the central southern New England hardwood types and then move over to the Midwest, into the New York-Pennsylvania area, but put a number of these key test places that you could then begin management and than expand outward from as we learn more.
The CHAIRMAN. And monitor.
Mr. OLIVER. Yes, definitely monitor.
The CHAIRMAN. Other comments, please, on that? Yes, Dr. Bowyer?
Mr. BOWYER. Mr. Chairman, I just quickly made up a list here. I think some of the things that need to be done directly are some of the following. I believe there needs to be a discussion in Congress. And we need to come to some closure on the question of what portion of the Nation's forests we want to have in late successional old growth stands and then move to create incentives or whatever is needed to make that happen.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I believe the same kind of discussion is worthwhile with respect to reserve areas. What area of the United States do we want ultimately to wind up in reserves? And how do we want that distributed?
The CHAIRMAN. You're talking about parks, wilderness ares, set-asides of every kind?
Mr. BOWYER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Mr. BOWYER. I think we need to identify where the most highly productive land areas are, those that are capable of producing repeated crops of timber in large volume. We need to know where those areas are, and perhaps apply to a greater extent what we know how to do.
The CHAIRMAN. Pardon me. We know where they are, don't we, Doctor?
Mr. BOWYER. To some extent, we know where they are. To a great extent, I think we know where they are, yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. BOWYER. I think we need to put into place a provision for regular, systematic, global review of proposed actions per my earlier comments. My view would be that we need to as rapidly as possible in line with what goals we decide we want here think about how to build incentives, especially for private landowners to pursue stated objectives.
And then, if I may, Mr. Chairman, there's one other comment I'd like to make. And that is we are very much disinclined as a people in the United States to talk about the issue of population growth. But this whole issue of trying to move toward sustainability and trying to move toward sustainable forests is very much dependent upon what size population we have and we are going to have.
I believe the United States has to be a leader in financing population family-planning efforts worldwide. And it's really a key to every problem that we face and certainly an underlying cause of the problem we're discussing here this morning.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The CHAIRMAN. Thanks, Dr. Bowyer. We have enough trouble here managing forestry. Now we're in population control. That's quite a lot to swallow. I appreciate your point.
Yes, sir, Dr. Perez-Garcia?
Mr. PEREZ-GARCIA. I just might want to add a couple of more points here in terms of your question of where to go from here. I think there are two things that need to be considered, and one is concerned with validating the process that the panel has implemented.
And the second one, which is what you have been talking about more here recently, is implementation of the recommendations. Prior to the implementation, there has to be a set of recommendations made. And I think that process has to come out of Congress and not from us.
The validation part, I think it's an interesting one because, as I mentioned in my comments, I think this whole process has developed a capability to do these sorts of assessments, to ask these sorts of questions of ''What happens if we want this amount of reserve? What happens if we want this amount of set-asides?''
That capability I think should be maintained, and I think that's a question that has not been brought up by anyone here. And the process of maintaining that I think deserves some thought.
I think the panel did an excellent job of coming up with this system to evaluate the values and to come up with the options. And if this process is to remain open, that system needs to be built upon and should be considered simultaneously as implementation of options occurs.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Helms?
Mr. HELMS. Mr. Chairman, if I could add a comment regarding your thought about where do we go from here, we had some discussion about areas that might be suitable for demonstration.
And I'd also like to pick up the thought I think that Professor McComb raised earlier, which I think is important. And that is as Congress deliberates among options, I'm sure questions will be asked in the ''What if?'' nature.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 And it might be worth considering the thought that a small core group of scientists be identified in several regions, to which these questions could be addressed. And that core group would not necessarily have all of the expertise, but it could draw in depending upon what questions Congress asked the expertise to provide information.
And so perhaps one of the next iterative steps might be to take this panel's report, which casts very broadly a whole set of options, and then to provide a mechanism by which Congress could interact more with a science base as it develops its policy.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Thank you.
So if we had established call them priority areas, call them model areas, call them focus areas around the Nation, then around that, we would identify some regional scientists who could be called upon to comment on----
Mr. HELMS. I think that would be worth exploring as a very fruitful endeavor.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. That's a good thought.
Mr. WOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm aware that the Forest Service is now trying to pursue a strategy of ecosystem management for the entire National Forest system and to implement that with an adaptive management strategy. I think that that is a good thing.
The only caveat that I would have is that humans must be considered as ecosystem components and human activity as ecological process in the ecosystem management context. That is, humans are consumers of forest products and have to be. If Congress was going to do anything, I guess that's a caveat I would like to see ensured in that process.
Only 7 percent of the eastern forest is in National Forest lands. So any focused approach I think would have to involve the entire National Forest system in the eastern forest. I don't think that that is bad.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The Southern forest is 90 percent privately owned. It is inherent to Southerners to not seek out more Federal involvement with private lands. And I think that what can happen here is that we can learn a lot from the ecosystem management or integrated management approach on the National Forest.
As that information is disseminated to the other forest landowners, the National Forest becomes a reference point. I know I have referenced this point before, but that is how the National Forest system and Congress I believe can best serve the eastern forests of the Nation.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. It's obvious that you here hold timber to maturity. Any incentive-based system would obviously apply to the forests because the public forests are managed by public entities. And so if we indeed are going to encourage people to hold timber to maturity, we need to look at the tax laws.
Mr. WOOD. I think how to do this on the National Forests, how to do integrated management, becomes a reference point. Private landowners don't have to and won't exactly duplicate how the National Forest is managed, but it gives them a reference point to possibilities. And that's extraordinarily important.
Management of the National Forest has and will continue to be criticized by other forest land managers. And, yet, historically the National Forests have been a reference point. Unfortunately, in my experience, that reference point is being lost under the current approach.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, another way to put it, if we reference the National Forest policy right now to the East, we'd shut down 85 percent of the private forests in the East. I don't think we'd want to do that.
Mr. MCCOMB. Dr. Oliver did just a fine job summarizing the steps that I think need to be taken and supplemental steps I support.
Just one last thought. If we have regional focal points with experts who are allowed to provide input, invariably scientists are going to disagree. And the best way I can think of coming to some resolution about disagreements that are bound to occur is to have access to the most available and current information so that those scientists can sit down with that information, look at it critically, and come to some resolution regarding a disagreement about how to proceed.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 So, as a followup to some suggestions earlier, not only should we have regional focal points with experts who can then provide expert opinion, but I think that there also need to be regional data banks or information centers, where the information that is accumulated from the National Forests, from the Federal agencies, from universities can be stored in one place and that the experts who have to comment can have access to that information.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, Dr. McComb, taking this back to an issue you're familiar with and I am in Oregon, the regional scientists--you were one--put together an 11-point program trying to address the problems of the ecosystem health in the East as part of the State of Oregon.
We've run into the problem of the devil's in the details, which we all have addressed today. In fact, the problem simply is one of those 11 points suggests that we not enter for any purpose, including salvage or thinning. We never enter rolvus areas. We certainly never enter old growth. And we certainly never enter any place that might have an impact on stream bank protection. Therefore, we don't enter.
Now, I think the idea was that we ought to have a priority. You go to the least controversial area first. But there is no least controversial area. They're all controversial areas. They'll take you to court, no matter what you do.
So it's very difficult for us and for you as scientists to say this is a good alternative, but you never arrive there because you can't make it.
Mr. MCCOMB. I think the only thing that scientists can do is provide the best overview, synthesis of the information to the policymakers and the decision-makers that they can. As far as helping to prioritize areas where we can be successful, I think that science can do that.
We have geographic information systems that can allow us to identify forest types and age classes and areas which are prone to insect outbreaks and fire for example.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I think we can do just a fine job of helping the managers and policymakers to identify areas which would come out as high priority. Implementing that under the current system of laws can present some problems.
And, again, the only thing we can do is bring the science to the forefront. And then it falls on the shoulders of the policymakers to make any changes that they feel necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Dr. McComb. I appreciate that.
We've had a very patient gentleman here from the State of Georgia, who I know has a great interest in this and has a knowledge of the timber industry. Mr. Chambliss, I apologize for holding you this long. Thank you for your patience.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Quite all right, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
I've learned a lot in listening to your recent questions; in particular, about Northwest timber. And, Dr. Wood, I appreciate your comment about the attitude of Southerners regarding Government intervention. You know, if we had won the war, we would be doing a lot of things differently from what we're doing. [Laughter.]
I am very proud of the fact that my congressional district is the second largest timber-producing district in the country now. And, in addition to having a large number of trees, I have as constituents a large number of red cockaded woodpeckers. And while my growers have had some problems with the regulations regarding all ESA matters, I think for the most part, they have done a very good job of creating safety-free zones and managing that issue.
There are some things that we do from a forestry management standpoint that were addressed in the report that are obviously significant different than what's done in other parts of the country.
Three things that particularly I want to mention and see if there's any reason for comment are: No. 1, burning. Dr. Wood, I would say that a normal rotation for burning in our part of the world is about 3 years, I think it's safe to say. And I realize in the western States, it's probably not feasible with hardwood, but with our pine trees, it works very well and helps with our endangered species problems and other wildlife habitat situations.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The other thing we do on a regular basis is thin our trees. And I think we have the advantage in both of these two areas of being able to do that because, as you say, 90 percent of our land is privately owned. But, again, I think our normal thinning process begins with our new hybrid trees about, what, 8 to 10 years. And it works very well.
The third thing that we do is continually remove diseased and dead trees, which we have had some problems with out West I think, I hope at least, that we're doing a better job of addressing with our western tree farmers.
But I'd like your comment if anybody has any comment, particularly negatively, about those types of practices. Do you agree that those are good forestry practices, that they help with our endangered species problems? And if you disagree, tell me where you might have a problem from an endangered species standpoint with respect to those types of practices. And I'll throw that open for whoever wants to comment.
Mr. MCCOMB. Well, just from a western perspective and to as lesser extent the Northeastern perspective, removing the dead trees is probably not going to help some wildlife species that rely on those as habitat.
So I'm not saying that you shouldn't remove any of them, I am saying is that you shouldn't remove all of them if you value some of those species that use that dead wood.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. In that respect since we're on that--I apologize for interrupting you, but do you know of any specific instances where removal of dead trees has created a removal of endangered species?
Mr. MCCOMB. Not of endangered species but of State-sensitive species. And there are quite a few examples of State-sensitive species that are associated with dead wood, and require dead wood for nesting. And when I say ''remove,'' I mean that if you remove dead wood from an area that these wouldn't occur there. So there is that effect.
Mr. WOOD. If I might respond to my colleague where there is a mandate for maintaining so many dead trees, dead standing material and so on on National Forest lands, it's not a real problem. And quite a few corporate landowners are doing that sort of thing.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I know that the chairman was caught by the mention of family planning, but actually OSHA is a problem in leaving dead trees while logging as a hazard. So that is a problem.
The problem I think that we face in the South is with this tremendous demand for southern pine timber. It requires shortening rotations. Up until recently, the financial maturity on most of the southern pine was around 45 years. As that price has gone up, then it's shortened that financial maturity. And that is the price we're paying.
How much must these owners sacrifice financially for the Nation's value for noncommodity resources? Now, I make my living off of those noncommodity resources. That puts bread on my table. But the problem becomes one of an integrated approach and particularly for the private lands in the region of the Nation in which the most pressure is on and will be for the foreseeable future.
Mr. OLIVER. I'm originally from South Carolina, although I've been in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years now. And I worked in forestry in the South. I'm very much familiar with the burning and thinning programs. And I think if those programs had been done in the Pacific coast or especially in the inland West--but in the western United States--we would not have many of the problems that we have now.
There are still other concerns, such as down woody debris and leaving some trees for the large high-quality wood that are concerns. But I do think that burning and thinning activities and the removal of trees where you have an excess amount of them killed by an insect or disease are activities that were done in the South that could have reduced many but not all of our concerns in the inland West.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Another area that is not particularly part of the report but is something that I'm particularly interested in--and, Dr. Wood, I know you'll be familiar with this and all of you may be. You know, historically our tree growers have planted slash and loblolly. And we have recently had the reemergence of the long leaf.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The reemergence of the long leaf has been in spite of industry telling us that the long leaf won't survive and you can't compete with the slash and the loblolly. And I'm curious about your thoughts on that because my growers are excited about some things that they're seeing with the long leaf. And, of course, it's a much more desirable tree from a lot of different standpoints. I'm curious about your thoughts on that.
Mr. WOOD. Well, this spring I spent several days helping a friend of mine plant longleaf pine on an experimental basis in the upper Piedmont of South Carolina, which we think has possibilities for an agroforestry approach.
But I think the thing that's changed in the technology has been the longleaf tubeling, which the longleaf is produced from seed, it stays in what we call the grass stage for a long time and has many possibilities for death in that stage. You must have a burn go over it for a brown spot needle rust, these kinds of things.
With the tubeling, that's not the case. Within 3 to 4 years or so, you have a 3- or 4-foot seedling to sapling. And it's going right on up. That's where it's come in. Of course, the longleaf produces better wood. The fiber product is a superior product.
From a wildlife standpoint, we like it because it's a totally different structured stand with that narrow crown versus the loblolly pine crown being much wider. We think it has greater possibilities for integrated management.
But I think we're going to be right back to the same question of how long can that stand be carried? Even though we're getting these benefits and we can get to a stand structure that can accommodate these other resources faster and better than we can with the loblolly, how long can you carry that investment? And that is what will be the final decider.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I certainly agree with you, Dr. Wood. If we're ever going to truly protect endangered species in this country, we've got to come to the realization that if the endangered species are identified by the public by law, then it's the responsibility of the government to make sure that those endangered species are protected and, beyond that, to provide incentives so that private landowners are encouraged to help protect the endangered species, not punish.
If we continue to punish the private sector, we're never going to really protect endangered species. I think you've all made that point. And I totally agree with that.
We're about to wind this up. Mr. Thune joined us from South Dakota, a very informed member of this committee. If he has any questions, I'd be delighted to yield to him.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. Chairman, my understanding is the bases have all been covered. This is an issue which is important in our State. We have a group called the Multiple Use Coalition, which has attempted to bring a very common sense approach to management of our resources in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
And so it is important. But I'm informed that most of the questions that I would have asked are already on the record. So I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. I thank the gentleman.
I do have a comment by both Mike Dombeck, who is Chief of the Forest Service, and Mr. Jim Lyons, who is Assistant Secretary of Interior, lauding your report, Dr. Oliver. I thought I'd get it in the record before their change their minds.
So, without objection, I will ask that this be entered in the record.
[The statements of Mr. Dombeck and Mr. Lyons folllow:]
I want to applaud the effort of the academic community and Dr. Oliver for adding to that body of knowledge that we continually search for.
Subcommittee hearing on forest health
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 April 17, 1997
I think that it is important that we sit down and assess the recommendations that the [Oliver] team has generated***.I think Chad offers a number of recommendations that we need to look at to deermine how best to use them as we develop our management plans.
Subcommittee hearing on forest health
April 17, 1997
The CHAIRMAN. We're about to wind this hearing down. It's been excellent, very informative. I applaud all of you.
Should you have any closing remarks, I would like to hear them.
Mr. OLIVER. I'd like to make just two statements. They're unrelated, but they're things that caught my attention. One thing is in terms of managing for endangered species, right now we're targeting endangered species and chasing after them.
If we found a way of incentivizing and otherwise providing conditions so that we maintained the whole range of habitats across a landscape, we'd have less chance of species becoming endangered. And then if we still had species becoming endangered, then we could chase after them.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. OLIVER. The second thing I want to bring up is something that you kind of ran into at the end, which is in the whole management science area. There are two roles to be played the analyst and the implementer.
And, whereas I applaud the regional science groups to do the analysis, it must be remembered that when people get into an analysis mindset, the idea is to analyze and want more data, more information and never make a decision.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 There needs to be almost another group, or person, with another mindset to decide: ''OK. It's time to implement. We can change our mind, but we need to implement.''
And I just want to caution that we don't expect scientists to play both roles in that.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. I hear you.
Any other comments?
The CHAIRMAN. May I ask, then, that you produce the recommendations that you have made about regional areas of focus, please? And we'll carry on with the regional scientific panels in those regions suggested by Dr. Helms so that we have some follow-through on that issue.
Would you provide that for the committee led by you, Dr. Oliver, and consulting with the gentlemen?
Mr. OLIVER. I'll be glad to do that.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Anything else that should come before us?
The CHAIRMAN. Well, again, thank you very much. It's been very informative.
And we will continue to call on you as we formulate policy for this Government and this country.
[Whereupon, at 12:35 p.m., the committee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
STATEMENT OF CHADWICK D. OLIVER, PROFESSOR OF SILVICULTURE AND FOREST ECOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, COLLEGE OF FOREST RESOURCES
This hearing is to improve the scientific understanding of the conditions and options for management for the United States' forests. The hearing is to build on the report entitled ''Report on Forest Health of the United States by the Forest Health Science Panel'' (4 April, 1997). This report was chartered by Congressman Charles Taylor, who empowered a panel of 10 scientists--primarily from academia--to provide the report. The report was the subject of a joint hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture and Resources Committees on April 9. Today, I will briefly summarize the perspectives and important findings of the report and make some additional statements.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 THE ROLE OF THE SCIENTISTS IN THE POLICY PROCESS
The panel tried to determine and describe all the values people want from the forest (Table 1.1 of the report). By listing and examining a value, it does not imply we advocate the value, nor do we imply each value should have equal weight. We recognize that any decision on the importance of a value should be done by policymakers, not by us scientists.
As scientists, we can describe the present conditions and trends of the forests, alternative active and passive approaches to managing the forests, and the consequences of each approach on the different values--and hence tradeoffs in values by different approaches. However, we can not decide which values are worth foregoing (trading off) for others--that is a policy decision.
It is true in both ecology & economics that ''everything is connected to everything else.'' A major role of science is to make the connections explicit, so people can not and will not develop ''single-issue solutions'' and later have to deal with the negative, ''unintended consequences.''
THE SCOPE OF THE REPORT
We examined all forests in the United States--both public and privately owned--because what is done in one region or ownership has direct consequences to other regions and ownerships (Figure 1.1).
Many values are not being provided in both the eastern and western forests. Most western forests are publicly owned, and National Forest policies will strongly influence the values provided. However, two thirds of the United States' forests are in the east--and most of these forests are owned by small, nonindustrial private landowners (Figure 1.2 of the report). How their lands are managed will greatly affect such values as the survival of threatened and endangered species, the behavior of exotic insects, and our use of imported wood and/or more polluting (and fossil fuel-consuming) substitute materials. In addition, curtailing management of national forests in the western United States is have quite strong consequences on the private forests in the east.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 THE PRESENT CONDITIONS OF THE FORESTS OF THE UNITED STATES
The present conditions of our forests could be summarized as follows (Figure 1.4 of the report):
The land area in forests has remained stable for the past 50 years as the population has become more urban (figure 1.11);
We are harvesting less than two-thirds of the wood we are growing (Figure 1.9); however, we are increasingly using more polluting substitutes (e.g., steel, aluminum, brick, concrete; Figure 1.8)--and we are on the verge of being a net importer of wood;
We are harvesting a greater proportion of the growth in some regions than others. The Inland West and North are harvesting the least proportion of their timber growth--less than 40 percent of their growth (Figures 1.10 & 1.13);
Resident exotic and/or native insects and diseases in all regions are changing our forests;
Much of our forests in all regions consist of trees of small diameter which are overly crowded (Figure 1.14);
These overly crowded forests:
Do not provide the diversity of habitats, so we have endangered species in all regions which require the more open (''open'' or ''savanna'') as well as the more complex forest structures (Figure 1.3 & Table 1.2);
Do not provide the high quality timber, which is valuable for many segments of the forest products economy;
Are becoming weakened, and so are becoming increasingly susceptible to insects, diseases, and catastrophic fires (Figure 1.15).
Most of our reserves (areas presently managed with no commodity extraction) are in the West, and most of the people live in the East (Figure 1.12).
HOW OUR FORESTS REACHED THEIR PRESENT CONDITIONS
Whereas our forests are providing many values, the present shortcomings in providing some values are the unintended consequences of the past century of good intentions. The past decade's good intention of avoiding active commodity extraction in many forests--either through outright creation of reserves or ''de facto'' reserves through judicial or administrative delay--has compensated for a few of the shortcomings in values, has exacerbated many shortcomings in values, and has created shortcomings in other values.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Neither a policy of ''timber management for financial efficiency'' nor one of ''no commodity extraction'' has provided a wide range of values (Table 1.3).
FINDING THE MOST CREATIVE APPROACH
The challenge to scientists is to help find and analyze creative options for management--approaches which will provide the most values with the fewest negative tradeoffs. That is why science and this report are an open-ended process. If someone can find even more creative options or better analyses than those suggested in this report, these options and analyses should certainly be considered.
Given the scientific talent, knowledge, and creativity in the United States, we should be able to find, analyze, and explain options which will get away from the polarization of focusing on narrow ranges of values to the exclusion of others.
CHANGING THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS WHICH GOVERN FOREST MANAGEMENT
The science panel was initially asked to suggest changes to individual laws. We realized, however, that different policymakers and the public have not reached agreement on whether they want the public and private lands to be managed for ''no commodity extraction'', for timber by the most ''financially efficient'' manner, or by an ''integrated'' approach.
We felt it was necessary for policymakers to decide how they want the forests managed before specific laws and policies are examined or modified. Once the decision is made of what option we want for our forests, the morass of laws and/or regulations can be addressed by examining the purposes of the different laws, how well they are achieving the purposes, whether the purposes need to change, and then looking for the most creative ways to make the laws accomplish their purposes while providing the needed safeguards.
OPTIONS SUGGESTED IN THE REPORT
The three different management approaches--''timber management for financial efficiency'', ''integrated management'', and ''management with no commodity extraction''--can be applied to all or different parts of our different forest ownership types and in different regions. The tradeoffs--values provided and not provided--will vary with what approaches are applied where.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We have suggested eight options (Table 1.4) and (in the main report and summary) have tried to show the effects of each option on each value (Table 1.5A). In the main report, we have tried to show the effects of each approach on each region as well.
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS IN GIVING POLICYMAKERS THE MOST ROBUST UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONDITIONS AND CONSEQUENCES
This hearing of scientists is extremely significant both in resolving the current forestry issues and in showing how science can be constructively used in the formulation of policy.
Instead of using scientists in adversarial roles, this hearing is asking scientists not involved in the original report to build on and improve the report. Science is an open-ended process which is constantly seeking the best knowledge, and by involving other scientists we will provide you with even better knowledge.
Nobody wins with poor knowledge. The policymakers need to know what the best knowledge is. They need to know it in clear, non technical terms which avoid the two extremes of over generalizations or nit-picking over details. And, they need the best knowledge we have at this time without resorting to the old scientific cliche of ''more research is needed.'' Delay while more research is done is a de facto decision which can lead to very specific, predictable consequences.
The role of policymakers, not scientists, is to debate which values are to be prioritized. Scientists need to help provide policymakers with a robust range of alternatives with the fewest negative consequences--the fewest negative tradeoffs--and an understanding of the consequences of each alternative. To this extent, we need to agree on the science.
UPDATES OF THE REPORT
We are in the process of having the Forest Health report peer reviewed. The report is presently available through the House Resources Webb Site and can be purchased (at cost) through CINTRAFOR at the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington.
When we receive the reviews, we intend to publish them as a document and make them available on the Web site.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 In addition, we are finding typing and other errata in the report and summary. We would welcome others bringing such errors to our attention; we will provide a list of these errata and corrections with the reviews.
STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN M. PEREZ-GARCIA
TRADEOFFS IN FOREST VALUES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH FOREST PRODUCTS TRADE
Let me start by stating that I find the report an excellent, positive step in the right direction of forestry analyses. The Report on Forest Health of the United States describes how a set of 35 values change under 8 options from present conditions. An important contribution of the Report is that it demonstrates the notion of tradeoff-options contain different predicted outcomes of values indicating that you lower (raise) one value while you raise (lower) other values under alternative options. In my review of the report, I will direct my response to one area of values studied by the panel: those values associated with economics and forest products trade. In a final section I briefly comment on the process utilized by the panel.
TRADE IN FOREST PRODUCTS IMPACTS IMPORTANT FOREST VALUES
My first set of comments is organized around trade in forest products and the importance of recognizing trade activity when implementing forest sector policies. The Report acknowledges the importance of trade in its discussion of imports and imports dependence, and I will elaborate on these points in my discussion below.
Trade connects the economic activities of different regions. When trade encompasses two or more nations, policies unilaterally implemented in one nation alter trade activity and affect production and consumption activities in other regions and nations. Timber and nontimber values depend on forest products trade flows. I describe two examples that illustrate the importance of forest products trade and its impacts on forest values. The first example describes changes in habitat preservation regionally and globally. The second example explains how trade affects carbon sequestration values. Also embedded in these examples is the notion that alternative forest values are impacted differentially necessitating that a broad range of values be evaluated.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 HABITAT CONSERVATION AND TRADE: SUBSTITUTION TO OFFSET HARVEST REDUCTION
Policies that protect habitat in the Pacific Northwest have the unintended consequence that area harvested in others regions increase to offset the reduction of timber output in the PNW region. As a consequence, area of habitat increases in the PNW region, but because trade patterns for the region are impacted, area harvested in other regions increase with unknown consequences on habitat in those regions. If management practices are below U.S. standards, habitat loss will occur possibly offsetting gains achieved in the conservation area. As a result trade impacts need be considered when evaluating policy options.
The shortage of wood fiber in the Pacific Northwest has increased interest in the Russian Far East, Chile and New Zealand as potential sources of wood imports to the PNW. While there has not been a sustained flow of wood fiber materials into the U.S. from these regions, the shortages in wood fiber availability and trade in forest products allow these potential supply sources to exist. Attached with the flow of wood resources from new sources are exotic pest related issues. In the end, economics will determine whether the PNW will import raw wood material to maintain its milling capacity operational.
Many of the above impacts were simulated with an economic trade model at the Center for International Trade in Forest Products. The results of the simulations showed an increase in harvests from the U.S. South, and internationally. Increases in the harvest in Scandinavian countries are also attributed to the decline in timber output from the Pacific Northwest, as Scandinavian producers look towards Asian markets to increase their market share, market share that once belonged to U.S. producers. In short, an increase in habitat conservation value in the PNW carried with it a redistribution of trade globally because of the strategic location of the PNW. As a result, forest values in other regions and countries are affected as well.
CANADA IS A MAJOR SUPPLIER OF FOREST PRODUCTS TO THE U.S.
What is the importance of trade? Where do we get our imports from? Where do our exports go? Canada is our most important trading partner in forest products, primarily as a source of products. The Canadians in recent years have increased their share of lumber imports to the U.S. Several reasons exist for this trend. One is the decline in industrial wood availability in the U.S. The reduction of wood availability in the PNW has shifted harvests from the region to others, particularly the U.S. South. In the South, there exists concerns whether sufficient inventory exists to meet the increase in wood fiber demand as the South increases it's productive capacity in response to mill shutdowns in the West.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST IS A MAJOR EXPORTER OF WOOD PRODUCTS TO ASIA
While Canada is a strategic importer of forest products to the U.S., the PNW forest sector is strategically linked to international markets, more so than to U.S. domestic markets in the Northeast or South. The reduction in Federal timber harvests has not meant the demise of the forest sector in the region due to strong log export markets and a significant increase in secondary manufacturing exports. Were it not for the export sector, the higher raw material costs associated with the decline in Federal timber harvests would have reduced the competitiveness of the region to compete in the domestic market to the point where a substantial reduction in the size of the sector will cause larger employment impacts.
CHANGES IN FOREST PRODUCTS UTILIZATION RESULTS IN CHANGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL VALUES
The attempt to offset the harvest reductions in the PNW has had another consequence. The reduction of forest products output and consumption has increased substitution for nonwood products and has impacted carbon sequestration and emissions. Measuring one forest value does not account for all unintended consequences since other forest values are impacted.
The substitution of different products and the use of nonwood products is a source of carbon emissions. There are substitutes for nearly every application of wood. Most of the structural substitutes--steel, concrete, aluminum--are fossil fuel intensive resulting in substantial emissions of carbon dioxide. The equivalent nonwood product volume compared to wood products from an acre of forest land requires 300 tons of emissions compared to 25 tons of emission to process the wood offset by 90 tons of carbon storage.
Also, simulations done with the trade model indicate that the reduction of harvest in the Pacific Northwest reduce carbon sequestration globally. Trade in forest products puts into action a sequence of events where alternative suppliers attempt to offset the harvest reduction. In the case of carbon sequestration, more carbon in stored in the woods in the Pacific Northwest, but a greater amount is released through increased harvests from other regions.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 CARBON SEQUESTRATION PLANTINGS REPLACE PRODUCTIVE FOREST LANDS AND REDUCE CARBON SEQUESTRATION GLOBALLY
As a second example of tradeoffs consider the planting of marginal crop land to increase carbon sequestration in the U.S. Simulations of tree planting programs were conducted with the trade model. The goal of a tree planting program is to increase carbon sequestration utilizing forests as carbon stores. As expected, the amount of carbon sequestered by new plantings increase as these plantations grow. But as these plantations begin to be harvested, they replace more productive lands and their sequestration rate declines, going below the baseline levels achieved without the plantation program. This is a long-term effect, one that is observed fifty years down the road. In the present case, supply expands using less productive lands which would otherwise not have been planted to trees. Trade activity then shifts production shares regionally.
The two examples above--a policy to conserve habitat and a tree planting program to sequester carbon--illustrate the potential tradeoffs in forest values and the importance of trade. To increase habitat preservation in one region, you reduce it in other regions. This is an example of a geographical tradeoff directly linked to trade activity between regions. Also, an increase in habitat conservation in one region leads to lower carbon sequestration or higher carbon emissions globally. This is an example of tradeoffs among different forest values, again associated with trade activity.
A LARGE SET OF VALUES OFFERS POLICY MAKERS GREATER OPPORTUNITY TO EVALUATE TRADEOFFS
One of the more important insights derived by the above results is that there needs to be a large number of criteria or values evaluated when policies or options are considered by decision-makers. In the above cases, habitat conservation increases in the Pacific Northwest; but it declines in other regions, notably internationally. Even though the habitat preservation alternative does not contemplate carbon storage and sequestration as a program goal, these values are impacted by habitat preservation programs. By promotion land plantings, carbon stored increases in the U.S.; a greater amount is sequestered, but in the long-run, more carbon is released as less productive lands are used to produce timber products than productive lands. Other forest values will also be impacted.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The bottom line is that a large number of values need to be considered, values that adequately represent those held by stakeholders. The forest sector is not an isolated sector. Trade is an important component and one that will take on further importance as competitiveness of forest products industries change globally. The third is that options need to be defined that adequately encompass the decision space. In my review of the Report on Forest Health, I found that the panel followed this process quite successfully.
As a final comment, let me add that we all like one-pagers that summarize the findings of the investigation. I compliment the panel for providing a concise report, one in which they were able to synthesize a large amount of information into several fact sheets. The process utilized by the panel takes alternatives that demonstrate the range of values for a large set of criteria. We as scientists are concerned with the actual measures or predictions each value would take under the alternative scenarios. The panel should be complemented for providing predicted outcomes for a wide range of values and options.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN A. HELMS
Mr. Chairman, my name is John Helms and I am professor emeritus of silviculture at the University of California, Berkeley. I am pleased to have this opportunity to comment on the Forest Health Report.
The Report is a remarkable collection of information on U.S. forestry. It identifies many basic principles as well as many important issues. It contains an almost overwhelming wealth of information that has not previously been compiled into one document. The Report, therefore, provides much useful information. My comments will not elaborate on details but will focus on interpretation and philosophical approach to the use of the Report.
I find the Report to be not so much an analysis of forest health but more a compendium of the status of forests by region relative to potential and in the context of alternative management and policy scenarios. I will address ten points, the first five of which address the four questions on which you requested comments;
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 1. For comparative purposes the Report identifies three extremely diverse management goals and evaluates the likely consequences of the uniform application of each across five regions of the U.S.. In evaluating these alternatives, however, it should be recognized that, within each region, there is enormous value to managing forests for many different objectives. It is therefore important to appreciate that the three management approaches suggested in the Report actually cover extremes on a continuum consisting of enumerable approaches. One of these would be the important distinction between ''timber management for financial efficiency'' (one of the options in the Report) and those many private companies that manage for sustained yield of forest products. Thus the issue is not one of choosing among three alternative management approaches but determining, through public policy debate, the desired proportion of resources allocated to particular uses or values to meet societal needs.
2. The Panel's use of 35 values is most useful in focusing attention on the extent of forest attributes. Again, however, it should not be expected that all acres on all forests on all ownerships should necessarily contribute, or be capable of contributing, to all these values.
3. The Report's assessment of the potential of forests to achieve values and the extent to which they are currently doing so, using the Panel's very broad categories, is probably accurate. The real issues are, however, at the level of individual stands, forests, and ownerships. Here, the attainment of values can probably always be enhanced by a combination of increased investment or incentives. This will be particularly true where these values extend across property or jurisdictional boundaries.
4. The concept of integrated forest management is no doubt the most desirable model--especially on public lands. However, there are three important issues that need recognition 1) a distinction must be made between integration of values and uses on every acre of forest land versus integration within a forest, watershed, or region; 2) the definition of integrated forest management must necessarily vary from incorporating relatively few values to many depending on forest type, site quality, location, and ownership; and 3) although the general concept of integrated management may be the most desirable, the Nation will undoubtedly benefit from a proportion of forest lands, probably predominantly privately owned, being managed efficiently and sustainably for specialized uses or values.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 5. The Report's analysis of environmental and social trade-offs is, again, probably accurate given the broad categories with which the Panel was dealing. Again, I emphasize the need of, and legitimacy for, diverse management approaches among different ownerships rather than attempting to choose among limited alternatives. Society is best served by diversity of approaches that result in diverse benefits. The issue is, therefore, one of resource allocation (how much of any value is enough) rather than prescribing a single approach or policy.
6. The Report correctly acknowledges that forest health is difficult to define. There is even considerable debate as to what constitutes a ''forest''. To me, forest health is a biological condition that relates to the resilience of forests to stress. The difficulty of definition lies in the differing perceptions of health as a function of land ownership objective, and spatial and temporal scales. It is similar to evaluating human health where differing interpretations can be made depending on the physiological or performance standards chosen and whether we are concerned about health of people, suburbs, cities or regions, and over what time scales.
7. The Report rightly raises the issue of sustainability. I underscore the concept that sustainability cannot be rationally discussed without considering the size and demographic makeup of the population that forests must support.
8. Regarding science base as a foundation for decision making, I believe that we have good forestry knowledge at the level of stands and individual ownerships, but inadequate knowledge at the level of whole forests where consideration must be given to the sustainability of diverse values. This is due to the fact that societal expectations from forests have rapidly outpaced the development of knowledge, consequently substantial new research is needed.
9. I reinforce the fact that there is enormous diversity in the ownership and management goals of U.S. forests and therefore enormous diversity in forest structure. This, I believe, is a strongly positive attribute. The Report shows that U.S. forests are owned by the public, forest industry, and by millions of small, nonindustrial private owners and these ownerships are collectively, because of diverse reasons for ownership, providing values to society that range from efficient and sustained wood production to spiritual renewal.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 10. Finally, on a philosophical note, recognizing the numerous interest groups and stakeholders in forestry, I suggest that we all have the common goal of sustaining forests to provide essential and diverse values for society. There is no ''right'' and ''wrong'' in terms of management approach--the issue is that, when resources are finite, decisions must be made that provide needed diversity in appropriate proportions. To this end, I trust that policies can be developed that encourage diverse approaches to management and to the development of partnerships and collaboration that will ensure the health and sustainability of the Nation's forests.
SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD BY HON. GEORGE BROWN TO JOHN A. HELMS
1. You mention under point 1 in your written testimony that there is an important distinction between ''timber management for financial efficiency'' and management for sustained yield.
How are these two management options different?
Response: Timber management for financial efficiency differs from management for sustained yield in that the former can imply short-term planning where the only value being considered is timber production. The term could also be construed as implying exploitation. Commonly, forest industries and public agencies having an objective of sustained yield incur costs beyond what would be normally considered for attaining ''financial efficiency'', either voluntarily, public policy, or by state regulatory requirements, that are associated with ensuring timber supply in the long-run (such as regeneration and stand improvement treatments), protection of other values such as riparian areas, prevention of soil erosion, and provision of wildlife habitat and aesthetic values, etc.
(b) If management for sustained yield is not financially efficient how are private companies able to practice this and stay in business?
Response: Private companies always strive to be financially efficient. However, they also commonly desire to be in business for the long-run and to provide benefits from the forest, either according to their own diverse management objectives, public policy, or by state regulation, over-and-above simply producing timber. This requires them to incur costs that would not be normally incurred if they had single goal of timber production. The issue is similar to the incorrect presumption by some that, in general, private timber companies have a goal of maximizing profit.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 (c) How important are local, state, and Federal tax policies in determining what types of forest management are economic on private lands?
Response: I have no expertise in forest economics or taxation. However, I believe that local, state, and Federal tax policies, play a very important role in determining the type of forest management used. I suspect that this is especially true for small, nonindustrial, private forest landowners who cannot take advantage of economies of scale and where the values obtained from timber harvesting can be largely offset by the costs associated with harvesting, administering sales, and meeting regulatory requirements. In addition, private owners have special difficulties in long-term, sustained management of forests associated with capital gains and estate taxes.
2. Under point 7 of your testimony you indicate that ''sustainability cannot be rationally discussed without considering the size and demographic makeup of the population that forests must support.''
(a) Can forests, under any management scheme, accommodate sustained increases in demand for forest products or at some point do we need to consider policies that limit or reduce demand?
Response: Similar to the production of agricultural crops, large increases in production of timber can potentially be made by combinations of genetic tree improvement, fertilization, and stand treatments such as thinning. Incentives to do these treatments are largely driven by supply (or price). Currently in the United States, except in the South, relatively little has been done to increase timber productivity because supply has been relatively abundant. As forest areas are withdrawn from the timber base to provide other societal values it would be possible to provide, if society is willing to accept the practices, as much or more wood by practicing more intensive forestry (similar to what has been achieved through intensive agriculture) on fewer acres of land. Increased intensity of management could, however, result in increased price of forest products.
Limiting or reducing demand for forest products is always prudent, for example reducing the amount of packaging and by recycling. However, encouraging the use of substitute products for wood in construction, such as using steel, plastics, bricks, aluminum, or concrete, as stated in the Report, results in greater use of energy in manufacture and increased carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. The prime attributes of wood are that is a renewable and biodegradable natural resource and has low energy requirements for manufacture.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 (b) Is this point inconsistent with the assertions made by the authors in this report that the notion of a timber shortage is a false one?
Response: I don't believe so. The Report correctly states that, in the United States, the growth of forests has exceeded harvest for the past four decades. However, a high proportion of the total forest base (both public and private) is not available for timber harvest. In addition, there has recently been a reduction in timber harvest on public forest lands in the West of approximately 70 percent. Thus the first factor regarding sustainability of timber supply in the U.S. is to address what is the appropriate forest land base on which timber harvesting can occur. The second factor is the size of population for which the supply of forest products (as well as other values derived from forests) should be sustained. For example in California, which is currently importing about 60 percent of its wood needs, the development of policies associated with forest management and productivity would need to consider the size of population that needs to be served by its forests. Furthermore, as demographic changes occur in states such as California, it would be prudent to consider what effects, if any, are likely to ensue from changed attitudes, preferences, and expectations from the forest.
Questions for All Four Members of the Peer Review Panel:
1. (a) As a member of the peer review panel, what instructions did you receive regarding the criteria you were to use to evaluate the report.
Response: The letter from Chairman Smith asked me to address (1) the Science Panel's use of 35 ''values'' to help identify alternative forest management objectives, (2) the Report's assessment of the potential of our forests to achieve these values and the extent to which they are presently doing so, (3) the concept of ''integrated forest management'' as defined in the Report, and (4) the Report's analysis of the environmental and social ''trade-offs'' associated with alternative forest management policies.
(b) Was there a formal letter requesting your participation as a member of the review panel?
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Response: I received a formal letter from Chairman Smith, dated May 28, 1997, inviting me to appear before the Committee to provide testimony and to respond to questions from Members of the Committee.
(c) If so, please provide a copy of the letter for the record.
Response: Chairman Smith's letter of May 28, 1997, is attached.
2. Were you asked to be a reviewer of the report by its authors or by some person or group not associated with the production of the report?
Response: I was not asked to be a reviewer of the Report by its authors. The invitation to be a reviewer was extended by Chairman Smith.
3. The scientific panel that authored the report appears to be geographically diverse. However, there is less diversity of expertise than the range of forest science subjects covered in the report. For example, none of the authors appear to be soil scientists, hydrologists, plant pathologists, entomologists, or wildlife biologists although issues in all areas are addressed in the report.
(a) Are there members of the peer review panel who have expertise in these areas that can assess these subject areas as addressed in the report?
Response: Yes, especially in wildlife biology. As a silviculturist, I do not have expertise in these disciplines, except in their relationship to stand growth and development.
4. Are there plans for the review panel to produce a summary document of review comments from all members of the panel or has each of you been asked to provide comments individually to the authors?
Response: No, the review panel was not asked to provide a summary document but to provide individual comments to the House Committee on Agriculture. We were not asked to provide comments to the authors.
5. The authors of the report declined to select or develop a definition for forest health although the title of the report indicates it is supposed to address this issue. Without a working definition, however imperfect, as a guideline how can you evaluate forest health according to the various policy options the authors have defined?
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Response: As I mentioned in my written testimony, the Report treats the charge of reporting on forest health in the United States very broadly and deals with it in the context of considering alternative management and policy options and their effects on diverse forest values. The Report provides eleven different definitions currently used in the literature. With these as a base, one can then address the likely effects of alternative forest policies on forest health.
As noted in my written testimony, the Report correctly acknowledges that forest health is difficult to define, which is not surprising since there is even considerable debate as to what constitutes a ''forest''. It is probably accurate to state, however, that forest health is a biological condition that relates to the resilience of forests to stress. The difficulty of definition lies in the differing perceptions of health as a function of land ownership objective, and spatial and temporal scales. The problem is similar to evaluating human health where differing interpretations can be made depending on the physiological or performance standards chosen, and whether one is concerned about health of individuals, suburbs, cities or regions, and over what time scale.
QUESTIONS FOR DR. JOHN M. PEREZ-GARCIA
1(a) You indicate in your testimony that there are substitutes for nearly all applications of wood. What percentage of the annual output of steel, concrete, or aluminum products would be replaced if we were to harvest the maximum amount of timber annually that our forests are capable of providing?
Response: In terms of wood output, around one third of the reduction of 4 billion board feet may be substituted by non-wood products according to my analysis done in 1993. Total harvest decline in the U.S. West has been around 9.6 billion board feet, so about 3.2 billion board feet worth of timber may be replaced by non-wood products. What this reduction means in percentage of annual output of steel, concrete or aluminum products I don't know, but I suspect it may be small, with little price impact on the non-wood products.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 (b) To what degree is this substitution effect influenced by the availability of wood products as opposed to other factors that influence the choice between these alternative products?
Response: It is not clear to me what ''other factors'' the question is referring to. The substitution effect is measured by accounting for changes in output in wood products and the availability of other producers to increase their supply of products. In response to the shortage, the market reacts by searching for alternatives and adjusting product prices upward.
Higher prices, caused by the lack of wood products on the market, signal producers of substitute products to increase their production. Buyers of wood products now face choices between paying higher price for wood products or buying substitute products at competitive prices. The price effect is a result of wood availability and is the largest influence behind substitution. There may exists other attributes that continue to favor wood products, despite their higher prices, such as familiarity by users, appearance, codes and others. However, if prices remain higher than competitive products, wood products will lose market share irrespective of its other attributes.
2(a) You indicate the model you use to analyze trade in forest products is an economic model, however you and the authors also report effects on global carbon budgets. Does this model also account for changes in carbon exchanges between forests and the atmosphere for forest areas directly or are you estimating carbon changes based upon the output of the economic model? Please provide some documentation to illustrate how your estimates of net changes in carbon budgets are made.
Response: The model accounts for changes in carbon exchanges between forests and the atmosphere for forest areas directly. The economic trade model is built on submodels of product and timber markets and the linkage between them. The timber submodel includes models of forest area, forest inventory and changes to inventory, i.e. growth and removals. The carbon analysis accounts for both the carbon changes in the timber and product submodels. That is, carbon exchanges were summarized at both forest and product levels. The analysis with the economic trade model was undertaken as a cooperative research agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The result of my work as well as others studying carbon changes is summarized in a 1995 EPA report titled, ''Climate Change Mitigation Strategies in the Forest and Agricultural Sectors'' under the leadership of EPA's Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, and collaboration with the Office of Research and Development, the U.S. Forest Service's Research Office and Experiment Stations, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development at Iowa State University and the Center for International Trade in Forest Products at the University of Washington. The document provides a detailed description of the carbon analysis.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 (b) Are you using the same methodology that the authors used in their report? If not, how does their methodology differ from yours?
Response: The methodology used in the Forest Health Report produces directional and qualitative changes in carbon accounts rather than quantitative estimates as produced by the economic model. The Forest Health Report classifies the forest's ability to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by region using forest growth and removal estimates, similar to that utilized with the economic model. The economic model provides market interactions to determine how much of the growth will be removed as products, whereas the Forest Health reports identifies carbon removal potential by region based on the availability of forest growth for removal.
Questions for All Four Members:
1(a) As a member of the peer review panel, what instructions did you receive regarding the criteria you were to use to evaluate the report?
Response: I was asked to provide my comments on the report both in general and relating to my field of expertise. I was asked to evaluate the ''values'' and ''trade-offs'' identified in the report.
(b) Was there a formal letter?
(c) Provide a copy of the letter of record.
Response: A copy will be sent via mail.
(2) Were you asked to be a reviewer of the report by its authors or by some person or group not associated with the production of the report?
Response: I was asked by David Tenny, Staff Member, House Committee on Agriculture.
(3) The scientific panel that authored the report appears to be geographically diverse. However, there is less diversity of expertise than the range of forest science subjects covered in the report...
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 (a) Are there members of the peer review panel who have expertise in these areas that can assess these subject areas as addressed in the report?
Response: As a forest economist, I note that there are two authors who have worked in the area of forest economics on the committee.
(4) Are their plans for the review panel to produce a summary document of review comments from all members of the panel or has each of you been asked to provide comments individually to the authors?
Response: I was asked to provide my comments individually and present a brief description to the committee.
(5) The authors of the report declined to select or develop a definition for forest health although the title of the report indicates it is supposed to address this issue. Without a working definition, however imperfect, as a guideline how can you evaluate forest health according to the various policy options the authors have defined?
Response: I believe that the authors have characterized forest health in their report and because of it, they are able to evaluate forest health according to the various policy options the authors have defined.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
Next Hearing Segment(2)