SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCFOREST ECOSYSTEM HEALTH IN THE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 1997
House of Representatives,
Committee on Agriculture,
Joint With Committee on Resources,
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 11:05 a.m., in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Robert F. (Bob) Smith (chairman of the Committee on Agriculture), presiding.
Present from the Committee on Agriculture: Representatives Barrett, Doolittle, Goodlatte, Pombo, Smith of Michigan, Lucas, Lewis, Chenoweth, Hostettler, Bryant, LaHood, Emerson, Moran, Schaffer, Thune, Jenkins, Cooksey, Stenholm, Dooley, Clayton, Pomeroy, Farr, Baldacci, Berry, Goode, McIntyre, Stabenow, John, Johnson,
Present from the Committee on Resources: Representatives Young, Gilchrest, Cubin, Smith of Washington, Radanovich, Peterson, Pickett, Romero-Barcelo, and Doggett.
Also present: Representatives Gingrich and Taylor.
Staff present from the Committee on Agriculture: Paul Unger, John E. Hogan, Dave Tenny, Sharla Moffett, Russell Laird, Joy Mulineux, Callista Bisek, Wanda Worsham, clerk; Vernie Hubert, and Danelle Farmer.
Staff present from the Committee on Resources: Duane Gibson, Bill Simmons, Anne Heissenbutta, Christine Kennedy, clerk; and Jeff Patrick.
Chairman SMITH. Good morning, all. The Agriculture and Resources Committees are together meeting this morning to listen to a very important scientific report on forestry in America.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We're delighted to have our esteemed guests here, as well as our colleague, Mr. Taylor. Before I recognize Mr. Taylor, we have some very short opening statements that we'd like to share. And at this point, I'm pleased and honored to have my friend Don Young, Chairman of the Resources Committee, here with us this morning, and I'd like to recognize the chairman at this point.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DON YOUNG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALASKA
Chairman YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I hope we'll make this short.
Two years ago, the Republican majority came to Washington. We tried to fix a lot of problems with public forest management and the Endangered Species Act. Some of the problems with forest laws and ESA still exist, but today's hearing marks the beginning of a more scientific fact-based approach to some serious forest problems like the record 6 million acres that burned down last year.
Or, might I say, simply burned last year. A lot of it is still standing today.
This hearing is part of a three step approach to addressing forest resource management problems. Step No. 1 is understanding the science. It starts with testimony from a preeminent group of forest scientists. I want to stress that, scientists.
The goal is for everyone to better understand the current condition of the Nation's public and private forests, what led to the conditions, and options to improve the forest.
Step No. 2 is to examine the science. Chairman Smith, Chairman Chenoweth and I can lead our committees and subcommittees to scrutinize the scientific report presented here today.
Step No. 3 is to put the information to use. And what our two committees will do is we develop fact-based forestry laws that use the best scientific information. This simple three step approach using science means better information. Less emotional based rhetoric will form the basis of our forest management laws.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We aim to move away from rhetoric and towards fact-based forestry laws that allow management to improve the environment and give people the chance to work in the woods. Our laws should allow and encourage the knowledge and intelligence of the people to be used to ensure the best environmental and social results on our public lands.
We need to use management to prevent catastrophic fires. As I mentioned, last year 6 million acres burned. We need management to provide habitat for threatened and endangered species. We need to manage it to improve air and water quality. We must use management to provide healthy forests.
Our forest is in a deplorable state today. Management using scientific information, not opinion, not rhetoric, and not--especially not special interest groups is what our forestry laws should encourage. This hearing is the beginning of one big step in that direction.
Above all, my personal goal is to develop better environmental resource laws that improve forests for our children and our grandchildren.
I'm grateful, Mr. Chairman, that you're energized with the forestry issues. I know you and I have worked together on these issues before, as you served on the Resources Committee.
I'm personally grateful to the Dean of Forestry of the U.S. House, Charlie Taylor, who is good friend of mine. He has great turkeys down in his great district; but I've never seen one. I'm also grateful to the Speaker--who will join us for part of this hearing--for his leadership in calling for us to use science.
And I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your work. I appreciate being here.
Chairman SMITH. I thank the gentleman very much.
And for all those members, we will accept statements for the record. But because of time constraints, we'll just have the chairmen and ranking members offering statements this morning.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT F. (BOB) SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
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Chairman SMITH. For more than a decade, there have been growing public concerns about the health of America's forests and its associated values. There are in excess of 200 laws that govern the management and protect the resources of our National Forests.
And yet, these policies are failing to achieve their intended results and public expectations. Whether it's a healthy population of wildlife and fish, or commodity production, the current laws and regulations are not meeting the desired goals.
In the early 1980's, eastern Oregon and other western forests first began experiencing some of the same sickness problems that we face today throughout the Nation. Overcrowded forests, weakened by drought, were left vulnerable to attacks by insects and disease.
Tragically, most of this wood was not removed and has created a fire hazard of disastrous proportions. Last year, wildfires claimed more than 600,000 acres in Oregon alone, of which 95 percent burned on Federal and other non-private lands.
Resources were damaged, habitat was destroyed, air and water quality were impaired, and homes were lost. Hundreds of thousands of acres more remain exposed to a similar or worse catastrophe.
Americans expect a wide range of values from forests: robust, productive forests, clean air and water, viable wildlife and fisheries habitat, recreational opportunities, beauty, solitude, and wood products. Healthy forest ecosystems are important for ecological, social, and economic reasons.
Achieving all of these values from forests is no small feat. We want it all. And all of us have had difficulty compromising at one point or another. Each time we favor one value over another, it affects a piece of this very complex puzzle. One component suffers at the expense of another.
This hearing is a scientific status report on the health of American forest ecosystems. As policy makers representing various regions of the country, we are often inclined to focus on regional forest health issues without regard to the impacts of local policies on the Nation as a whole.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In order to achieve the largest number of values across America's forests, it's crucial that we look at the whole rather than the parts. It's critical that citizens and decision makers are informed about how American forests as a whole are doing, the impact of current forest practices and policies on forest conditions throughout the country, and how those forest conditions are meeting the public's demands for goods and services nationwide.
I would like to emphasize the phrase ''scientifically-based public policies.'' This report represents the best science available on forest health; and yet, of course, there is no perfect science. We welcome an open and thoughtful, constructive discussion on this scientific report in the months ahead.
Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon and I, in cooperation with Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, have begun a process to restore the forests of southern, central, and eastern Oregon through actively managing forest ecosystems.
The Chief will be briefed on this report later in the week, and we will be sending a coy to Governor Kitzhaber as well. Today's report will add significantly to the sound scientific work that has already been done in Oregon and build a stronger base for the need to act quickly and decisively in the rest of the Nation.
I would like to thank the scientists for the tremendous work they have accomplished in compiling this report. There were 13 drafts of this report prior to the publication of the final document. There is no question that this document will invite intensive scrutiny.
It will be peer reviewed, and the scientists who prepared this report will be called upon in the future to engage in those with differences of opinion.
Quoting from the report. ''The panel feels the results are quite robust; however, as with any analysis, the panel welcomes refinements or critiques done with similar care, expertise, study analysis and conscientiousness.''
Amen to that.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At this point, I'd like to recognize the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, Mr. Stenholm of Texas.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES STENHOLM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. STENHOLM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I do appreciate your holding this hearing today on our forest ecosystem health. I look forward to hearing from the scientists on this panel who have spent the last year studying this important issue.
One of the major problems we face in Congress, especially when considering particularly emotional issues, is the perception surrounding that issue. Many times that perception becomes the reality we must address.
Here in the Agriculture Committee, we deal with this regularly when addressing issues such as food safety and the environment. Whether it is a movie star telling people to wash their apples in dish washing detergent before eating, or the allegation that eating beef destroys the environment, to the uninformed these assertions become reality.
I believe one of the best ways to address this problem is to compile and utilize sound scientific data. Our best policy decisions are those that are based on reality and not perception.
In particular, one aspect of this report that I am looking forward to hearing more about is how the panelists dealt with disagreements. I understand that the conclusions they reached were based on consensus. If they had a disagreement, they would gather more data and do further analysis until a consensus was reached.
We sometimes rush bills through the House, accompanied by great disagreement. Perhaps we should implement a consensus approach before we address the contentious issues we face. By giving ourselves the ability to deal more in reality and less in perception, I believe we would be able to handle all issues more effectively.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Certainly, scientific studies are not perfect, and are subject to interpretation. However, I personally remain committed to all processes which are designed to interject sound scientific data to assist us in crafting policy.
I look forward to hearing the findings of this panel.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stenholm follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES STENHOLM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your holding this hearing today on forest ecosystem health. I look forward to hearing from the scientists on this panel who have spent the last year studying this important issue.
One of the major problems we face in Congress, especially when considering particularly emotional issues, is the perception surrounding that issue. Many times that perception becomes the reality we must address. Here in the Agriculture Committee we deal with this regularly when addressing issues such as food safety and the environment. Whether it is a movie star telling people to wash their apples in dishwashing detergent before eating or that eating beef destroys the environment, to the uninformed these assertions become reality. I believe one of the best ways to address this problem is to compile and utilize sound scientific data. Our best policy decisions are those that are based on reality and not perception.
In particular, one aspect of this report that I am looking forward to hearing more about is how the panelists dealt with disagreements. I understand that the conclusions they reached were based on consensus. If they had a disagreement, they would gather more data and do further analysis until a consensus was reached. We sometimes have the tendency to rush bills through the House accompanied by great disagreement. Perhaps we should implement such an approach before we address many of the contentious issues we face. By giving ourselves the ability to deal more in reality and less in perception, I believe we would be able to handle all issues more effectively.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCertainly, scientific studies are not perfect and are subject to interpretation. However, I remain committed to all processes which are designed to interject sound scientific data to assist us in crafting all policy. I look forward to hearing the findings of this panel.
Chairman SMITH. I thank the gentleman.
At this point, I'm going to recognize my colleague, Mr. Charles Taylor of North Carolina, whose farsightedness created the collection of these distinguished gentlemen from across the United States. His interest in forestry and forestry practices goes back to his training in North Carolina as a forester and as a private land owner of land that contains forests.
Beyond that, I was privileged to serve with him, as well as Mr. Young, on the Resources Committee. The Resources Committee and the Agriculture Committee accepted the Gang of Four, as they were called at that time in the early 1990's, a group of scientists who really put together the basis on which Option Nine was selected by the President of the United States regarding the spotted owl and other endangered specie. This basically resulted in the elimination of 85 percent of harvest on public lands in the States of Oregon and Washington.
At that point, that was the best science available at the time. Now we have a succeeding opportunity to recognize another group of scientists from across the country, and I think you will find that they have a little different approach.
But Mr. Taylor has been one of those people who has been looking forward in years in attempting to resolve some of these issues about forestry, and we're very privileged to have him and to congratulate him for putting together this group of people that we shall hear from shortly.
Mr. Taylor, thank you for coming.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES H. TAYLOR, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to be in here, and I appreciated my association with all three of you in the Congress over the last terms and in the Interior Committee and working with the Agriculture Committee.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would say briefly that the turkey harvest is reported to be so strong in North Carolina this year that you'll need trample insurance, Congressman Young, if you come down, to protect yourself from the large numbers.
As an individual who has spent his life with scientific fact-based management in silviculture, it's been essential that I use science in managing my own resources and also working with public resources. For too long, I've found, as a member of the Interior Committee when I served with you gentlemen, that U.S. Forest Service policy has been driven by special interest often using bumper sticker mentality.
The scare tactics used have gleaned about $700 million for these organizations, but it's done little for forest health. What we've found is that the management of the U.S. Forest Service presently is actually contributing to the deterioration of forest health.
As a result of legislation of the past, we find that that legislation has been contradictory. Many times it assigns to the Forest Service opposite goals that make it impossible for scientific management to be carried out. These conflicting laws do damage to our forests.
More to the point, the policies advocated by many of the groups who say they are environmental organizations do just the opposite of what they advocate. For example, we have the best soils and scientific know-how of any country in the world.
But shutting down the management and utilization of our forests forces us to import. And we're becoming, and soon will be, a net importer of forest products. Many of these products will be coming from more environmentally sensitive parts of the world such as the tropics and the rain forests that many organizations are saying they are protecting.
Now while refusing to utilize salvage, for instance, in the name of protecting green trees, we find that we lose tens of millions of green trees, that are destroyed by inspread of insects and fires and disease.
By working to shut down all the forests, as recommended last year by the Sierra Club in the name of environmentalism, we are forcing the reduction of the use of the renewable resource of wood, and we're forcing the use of finite resources such as oil and steel, both of which are more detrimental in their processing to the environment than the processing of wood.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I say to you many of these organizations, while advocating maintaining strong forests, they are creating just the opposite. Now the groups that we're talking about need to be aware that we have never lost a forest species in this country through harvesting.
We have lost species in this country, through the spread of disease and our failure to control that spread of disease, and that's why scientific-based management is so important for the strength of our forests and for our environment.
Recently, the Speaker asked us and Congress to look to science in formulating our legislation so that we can make our national policy based on sound science using integrated scientific fact-based management, and not what is politically expedient.
We have tried today to do that by putting together and asking this organization to put together the report that you have before you. Dr. Chad Oliver, professor of forestry of the University of Washington, assembled this panel of forest scientists from various parts of the country to study all of our forest lands, their uses, and their potential for the many qualities that they provide all Americans.
His charge was simple: recruit the best scientists and assess the state of forest health. The Forest Health Science Report that they have prepared looks at present forest conditions in each region of the country, as well as the environment and social and economic tradeoffs of various Federal policies.
Now the report examines the potential of our forests to achieve our collective environmental and social values in preventing catastrophic natural events, providing habitat for all species including endangered species, improving the quality of the air we breath, and maintaining enhanced and productive watersheds.
In this report, the scientists do not advocate policy. They simply describe the effects of current law and the numerous options that they have given for us to consider. The report asks us as lawmakers to look to the long term when we consider legislation and be aware of the consequences.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While we look to our forests for a variety of values from fiber production to specific species' habitats, these values are not mutually exclusive. And policy makers must take into account the inherent conflicts between these values and policy goals.
After all, forestry is a long term endeavor and cannot be properly handled with quick fixes. This panel of scientists has prepared this report without policy direction from any source. They chose the research methodology, and the report has been put through a rigorous academic peer review process and will continue to be put through such process.
I'm so very proud of these efforts to be able to bring sound science and clear thought to issues concerning U.S. forest policy. And I appreciate Chairman Smith and Chairman Young agreeing to hold these committee hearings to start the educational process that will be necessary for all of us to understand the modern silviculture management.
It is my hope that we can use this report as a basis for thorough and ongoing review of our national forest policy. If nothing else, we in Congress need to realize that forest policy is not bumper sticker simple. And protecting and furthering the values we cherish requires tough decisions, not feel good responses.
It's my pleasure, Mr. Chairman, to provide to you and the committee a summary and the full report that we have, and to ask Dr. Chad Oliver if he will come forward now and present the report and we'll all be available for questions.
Chairman SMITH. If there are any additional statements by Members, I would ask that they be included in the record at this point.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Thune and Mrs. Smith of Washington follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN R. THUNE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA
Today's joint hearing is indeed an important one. I am pleased to have the opportunity to hear from our distinguished panel of citizens.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Black Hills 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.
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, the 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.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. LINDA SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCI would like to thank the panel for being here today and for your work on the report you are presenting to us.
Watershed and habitat protection have become paramount in the Northwest. We have endangered species in our forests, like the spotted owl, and we are in the midst of trying to bring back declining populations of salmon and other native fish.
Regarding watershed protection, I understand your report concludes that current forest management policies could do more to alleviate things like temporary stream temperature increases due to natural disturbances. I notice that in general, you conclude we are not reaching even 50 percent of the potential to provide native species habitat and protect endangered species. We have gone to great lengths to protect endangered species in Northwest forests.
I am particularly interested in whether your report will shed some light on ways to change forest management policy in the Northwest to improve watersheds and contribute more towards our efforts to restore the fish.
I also wonder what we could be doing differently to improve efforts to protect the spotted owl and other endangered or threatened species in the Northwest forests and generally to improve the habitat.
Chairman SMITH. Dr. Oliver, please come forward. I thank the gentleman very much, and please bring the rest of your committee up if you don't mind.
And while you're coming, we're privileged to have the Speaker of the House of Representatives with us this morning, I think indicating the importance placed upon this report. We'll recognize him in a moment after Dr. Oliver has given us an opening statement.
Dr. Oliver is a professor of silviculture and ecology in the College of Forestry Resources at the University of Washington. That's on the west coast. He earned his Ph.D. at Yale University on the east coast and was an instructor in biology at Harvard University. Very interesting credentials.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me also introduce the rest of the panel because I think it's an impressive array of gentlemen that we have here.
Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen is a professor at the Department of Forest Sciences at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in forest policy in wild land resources science from the University of California/Berkeley.
Dr. David Adams is a professor in the College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences at the University of Idaho. He earned his Ph.D. in silviculture at Colorado State University.
Neil Sampson holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Idaho. He is presently a senior fellow with the Forest Policy Center after serving 11 years as the executive vice president of American Forests.
Dr. Fred Cubbage is a professor and head of the Department of Forestry at North Carolina State University. He earned his Ph.D. in forest economics from the University of Minnesota.
And Dr. Schlarbaum is a professor of forest genetics in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. He earned his Ph.D. from Colorado State University.
Now, please, Dr. Oliver, the Chair would recognize you for a statement.
STATEMENT OF CHAD OLIVER, PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF FORESTRY RESOURCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Mr. OLIVER. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to describe our report. We've made it available. It will also soon be available on the World Wide Web through the House Resources Committee.
First, we on the panel would like to thank Congressman Taylor for encouraging us to use the best science to come up with this report. After he gave us this encouragement, he did not try to influence our findings in any way.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The first question we addressed is: what is forest----
Chairman SMITH. I might interrupt, Dr. Oliver.
That would be the first time he's not influenced anyone.
Go ahead, please. [Laughter.]
Mr. OLIVER. Thank you.
The first question we asked is: what is forest health? There are 11 different definitions of forest health. And one is not more scientific than another because science isn't about definitions. So we looked at all of the different values people want from the forest.
We looked at these values without giving judgement on whether we felt these values were valid or not--value judgements-- because that was not our position. That's a policy maker's position. We also looked at all regions and ownerships, as you see up here, both Federal and private and other public lands--because we're finding that what's happening on public lands in the west is affecting private lands in the east, as well as the private lands in the east having their own situations.
So as you'll see, everything is very much interrelated. We looked at the interrelationship between timber harvest and the use of substitute products.
Because, as you can see here, if you don't use wood, then you would use substitute products which produce a lot more carbon dioxide and use a lot more fossil fuels than wood. So we had to look at interrelations and tradeoffs of values.
We came up with 35 values that have been expressed that people want from the forest in this country. And this diagram lists those values and shows the potential of the United States forest to provide those values.
The long bar in the ranked order descending shows the potential of this country to provide the values. The dark bar shows the extent to which we're achieving the values. For such values as accessible recreation and forest land base, we're achieving thier potential very well because the forest land bases remain stable.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For no other values such as species' habitats, timber quality, and protection from wild fires, we're not achieving them nearly as well as we potentially could. The reasons we're not achieving our potential as well as we could is very common in all regions.
One of the basic reasons is that our forests in all areas are growing to small diameter, overly crowded forests.
You see, the forest naturally existed in a range of structures through disturbances and regrowth that you see here--all the way from savannah to open structures to complex forests. What we have done is, through reasons I'll describe in a minute, allowed a large number of our forests to become concentrated in this dense structure.
Now, if you notice, that structure has the fewest species that natively occupy that forest. And as a consequence, in all regions of the country, we have threatened or extinct species that depend on the savanna structure, or the open structure, or the complex structure.
At the same time, the small diameter forests are not providing high quality timber. And at the same time, as the trees get crowded, they become weakened and susceptible to insects and diseases and fires, which some of my colleagues will describe in much more detail.
The forest got to this condition through the past 80 years or more of abandoning marginal agriculture and grazing land which grew up to forests, fire suppression and fire management, and forest management which regenerated our forests and provided our wood products.
Those provided some of our values; but since they weren't providing some of the other values, people attempted to stop forest management by setting aside reserves. That temporarily provided the complex structure.
However, it basically shifted the distribution of structures so we now have even less of these savanna and open structures; and at the same time, led to more fires, which also gave us problems and shifted our wood demands to other parts of the country.
Setting aside reserves, doing nothing, was based on an ecological theory called a ''steady state'' theory which has since been considered not to be the valid one. We recognize that forests are much more dynamic.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we only have two choices the choices between managing forests for timber or setting them aside as reserves--then we're going to continue the polarization.
There is another approach that's an integrated, scientifically-based approach whereby we manage the forest proactively to maintain all of the different structures through active management by doing such things as thinning, selection cuttings, clear cuttings--whatever is necessary to provide the structures, providing wood is a co-product at the same time. There are tradeoffs with that alternative, too. We've listed some of them. One of the tradeoffs is that integrated management would be more costly than managing just for timber alone. It wouldn't be as costly as the reserves are proving to be.
These alternatives, resources, integrated managemnt, and efficient timber management, each provides some values. We have provided eight options whereby you could look at managing various national forests, parks, private industrial and private non-industrial forests by each of these three ways.
We have provided with these options some of the tradeoffs--the costs--the benefits of each of these.
We're looking for the most creative alternative and the best science that will provide these values. We felt that before individual laws could be changed, there needs to be some consensus of how we want the forest managed in each of these different ownership categories.
We hope this is useful. We consider this an open-ended process, as all science is. We have put our best, conscientious effort forward. We're looking for the best knowledge, more input that can be given with the same amount of analytical rigor. We hope that we can develop the most creative alternatives to provide as many values as possible.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Oliver appears at the conclusion of the hearing; the charts referred to in testimony are on file with the committee.]
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. Thank you, Dr. Oliver. And as the hearing goes on, we'll be able to question you, and we'd like to hear from the rest of the panel members very shortly.
At this point, I'd like to recognize the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gingrich.
STATEMENT HON. NEWT GINGRICH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA
The SPEAKER. Well, let me say first of all that I am very honored to be allowed to be up here, and I thank the two distinguished chairmen for allowing me to participate.
I do so with some hesitation, but the invitation and the meeting we had last night, I must say, was remarkable in looking at and reviewing the material.
I want to also commend Chairwoman Chenoweth who is going to take a leadership role in pursuing this hearing. And I want to commend Congressman Taylor for his initiative in bringing together a group of scientists and in taking a truly entrepreneurial lead and exactly what I hope is the model of this Congress, reaching out to people who are smart, who have the right background scientifically who can bring things together.
I apologize that I'm going to have to leave, but the F22 is being rolled out in Georgia. And while that may not be a major agriculture issue or natural resources issue, I can assure you, as a Georgian who believes deeply in national defense, that it's a--I've got to go down for at least a few hours to participate.
Let me commend the panel. I was reviewing the material last night. I think that it's important for observers to recognize that what you're getting today is the testimony of scientists; not industry, not special interest groups, not spokesmen for one cause or another, but scientists.
And I would urge the observers and the students of this hearing to look at the scientific credentials of the witnesses and the paradigms they bring to bare and the depth of knowledge they bring to bare as they approach the issue of silviculture and the concerns about the forests.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The fact is that we're entering a new era. I feel this personally as a child growing up in Pennsylvania. Gifford Pinchot and the conservation movement that Theodore Roosevelt launched was a real part of my childhood.
We had a family cabin 20 miles below State College, and I grew up with the Pennsylvania State Game and Fish Commission publications and the whole notion that human beings can conserve and manage resources in a rational way to maximize their availability both in the natural setting and for people.
And I wanted to be either a zoo director or a verbepaleontologist, so I spent a lot of my time reading biology. And still, that's one of my hobbies. And I taught environmental studies from 1970 to 1974 and taught in the second Earth Day.
I was most impressed in that period with Rene Dubot's approach to the notion that humans inevitably have to shape the garden they now live in, that they are too powerful and too numerous to either be able to withdraw from it or to ignore their responsibilities.
There's a romanticized self delusion in the land that somehow we could magically have pure wilderness areas and we could magically have pure avoidance of human contact. I would simply suggest you visit the Le Brea Museum in Los Angeles and discover how many large mammals went extinct 11 or 12,000 years ago at about the exact moment that humans arrived from Asia.
Or you can visit Hawaii and learn exactly what the impact of Polynesians were when they arrived in Hawaii. The fact is, there's a very long history virtually everywhere in the plant of human beings having an impact.
So we're going to have an impact. But the question is, how are we going to manage and talk about that impact? What we need is fact-based, integrated scientific management. And I want to repeat that phrase because it's important.
Fact-based, first of all. Not emotionally-based, not propaganda-based, but fact-based. Integrated--there are many values we want at any given place. And we have to integrate all of those values in our discussion.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Scientific--the amount we are learning, the human genome project is the one that fascinates us as humans the most because of our anthropomorphic focus on ourselves. But we're learning in biology and in ecology and ethology ranges of information about the way in which the world works that we need to be constantly updating our management systems as we learn more.
And finally, it is management. It's management as surely as Peter Drucker or Edwards Deming ever wrote for corporations. It is the systematic application of human effort in order to achieve goals defined by human beings in the most scientific way possible.
Now we have the potential to launch in the 21st century scientific environmentalism both here at home and on a world wide basis. I want to recommend to this committee that you use a model that those of you who have been on the Republican side have heard of very often, but I want to repeat it.
What is our vision of where we're going? What are our strategies for getting there? What are the projects that we can get the Government to start to test those strategies out? And a project in this model which is entrepreneurial, not bureaucratic, is a definable, delegatable achievement. It's not a process.
And finally, tactically, what should we do every day? What should we do in our forest, what should we do in our debates, what should we ask of our civil service, what should we ask of the private sector? But also, in implementing--and I want to say particularly to my friends on the left who have relied upon a command bureaucracy from Washington using litigation and punishment as a model of behavior modification, that we ought to use a model of listen, learn, help and lead.
When we decide a particular State, a particular value, a particular community ought to consider new goals, let's listen to the people of that region. Let's learn from them. Let's try to help them.
I want to suggest that the agricultural agent model of modifying behavior has worked better in America than any other systematic model over time, and it is dramatically better than a centralized bureaucracy, punishment, litigation model.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we ought to think through how do most Americans want to have the best possible environment. Most Americans want to preserve the widest possible diversity of species. Most Americans are good people trying to do good things for their own children and their own neighborhood.
And if we would in fact reach out and use--and this may be perfect to have these two committees together. Pick up the agricultural model rather than the current EPA, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management model; and instead of trying to punish a free people into changing their behavior, reward and educate and nurture, we might be shocked how rapidly we could recruit 95 or 98 percent of the American people into creating the optimum conservation program and the best possible management.
Now, I would suggest as a vision--and this is obviously only a start for these--both the two full committees and Mrs. Chenoweth's subcommittee to look at.
I would start our vision ought to be a rationally managed, fact-based, integrated, scientific management using cybernetic existence--by which I mean, for example, in my region of the Chattahoochie, I hope in a few years we're going to be able to monitor constantly--and Congressman Gilchrest can talk about work that's been done in Chesapeake.
Some of you may be aware of the work done in the San Francisco Bay Area. We ought to be able to monitor with far greater data than we have today, with far more real time knowledge, and we ought to be able then to modify as we see things and as we learn more and more.
Second, I think we have to accept the turbulence of nature. Nature is not a steady state. Nature is not a smooth flow. Things happen. Things change.
And I think it's very important to recognize that, that sometimes the people who are the most preservationist--I remember years ago they had a big fight in Scotland about keeping the moors which everybody locally believed were natural because in fact the moors occurred because sheep herding cut down all the trees creating this natural artificial environment which everyone now to save because it was the natural state of things, although it wasn't.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have the same problem with the Okeefenokie. If you block the Okeefenokie so it doesn't catch fire--it's a peat bog. If you block it so it doesn't dry out, you eventually choke it to death because all the plants keep growing. If you let it burn, everybody in the neighborhood gets mad because they can't drive in the middle of the day because there's too much smoke.
So there's a constant management problem. And the fact is that we ought to have some way of recognizing that nature is complicated and far different than some of our models. And I think we also have to have an economically rational investment of resources.
The fact is that I first got into this when they did a study of one particular creosote proposal that cost seven trillion dollars per life saved. Now that's just irrational. And in fact, we managed to stop it. But we ought to be honest about it.
How can we maximize biodiversity? You have to use some economic model of looking at it. How do you maximize the number of forests you keep in a certain way for certain purposes? That's an economic, rational investment of resources as much as anything else in life.
I would point out to you, you have to look very broadly. It's not just narrowly forest or narrowly timber or narrowly recreation. We had a fascinating discussion last night about the greenhouse effect and the fact that a society which is deeply involved in looking at the rate of change in terms of carbon dioxide--assuming there is a greenhouse effect, which I think it still scientifically less provable than some people do, but assume it is.
Well, it turns out you'd like more forestry producing more forest products because they produce less of the carbon dioxide effect than almost any substitute. So you could make an argument if you go to Kyoto on behalf of the greenhouse, you want to maximize the productivity of American forests in order to minimize the greenhouse.
Not a position that any of the people who are the most active on the greenhouse effect have taken yet at this stage.
Finally, I just want to suggest that we have an opportunity, and these two committees are launching a debate--and I want to again commend Congressman Taylor for bringing together these experts--to look at a new model and a new way of maximizing the resources and the values of the United States.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We need a genuine debate. What do we want out of our country? What kind of country should it be? And then, how do you maximize our management systems, including our Government management systems, to get us the best future with the finest level of management using the best science we have based on an honest dialogue about the facts, rather than distortions and emotions?
And I just--this is a very important hearing. I came specifically to say that I want to commend every person involved. I want to thank the scientific experts for spending their time with us today. I hope this launches a new dialogue not just about America's forests, but how to think about America's environment and how to think about the Government's relationship to the people which it should serve, not punish.
Thank you very, very much.
Chairman SMITH. I thank the Speaker for an eloquent statement.
Now we're going to move to the panel. Dr. Bonnicksen is here from Texas A&M University. My close associate next to me is quivering waiting for your testimony, Doctor.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS M. BONNICKSEN, PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF FOREST SCIENCE, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
Mr. BONNICKSEN. Thanks for the pressure, Mr. Chairman. [Laughter.]
First of all, I have been asked to concentrate on just three of the 35 values the panel assessed. Those are native forest types, native species' habitats, and endangered species.
And to briefly summarize some of the findings with regard to those three values, I should preface it by saying forests still cover nearly one-third of the United States. But many forests are deteriorating, and many other forests are actually disappearing.
To give some examples, in the north, sugar maple, which is a shade tolerant species, is taking over many hardwood forests. Also, over populations of deer are interrupting the regeneration of hemlock and hemlock forests. We have lost most of our white pine savannas. The long leaf pine savannas of the south are nearly gone.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ponderosa pine savannas of the inland west and the Pacific coast are now clogged with thickets of sapling sized trees and are in danger as well. Douglas-fir is being replaced by fir in the inland west and the Pacific coast.
And in Washington and Oregon, our western hemlock, our aspen forests may be gone in the inland west within the next 50 years because of successional processes. And we have lost oak savannas in the north and the south and in the Pacific coast. That's just a sampling of some of the forests, I think, that are in trouble.
When we lose these forests or when they deteriorate, we also lose the habitat we need for many of the wildlife we value and we also further endanger species. But I should point out only 24 percent of the endangered species actually exist on forest service land and only 17 percent on BLM land.
Why are we seeing this deterioration? Well, first, because we displaced American Indians who had lived here for 12,000 years and who managed this continent in a way that made us appreciate its beauty and its diversity when we first arrived.
They regulated wildlife populations by their hunting practices. They cleared forests for agriculture, for camp sites, and for wood products; for various reasons, construction for one. They burned--they burned intentionally in at least 91 percent of American forests, and their burning practices affected the rest.
When we displaced them, we also displaced their management with ours. And we have changed our minds on how best to manage forests over the years in part out of economic necessity. We had to build a nation. But also in part because of misinformation.
For one thing, I don't think we fully appreciated the ecological history of our forests, especially the role Native Americans played. I also think part of it is ecological theory. At one time, we thought that forests were more or less self sustaining.
And now we know, of course, that forests are very dynamic and that the forests we found when we arrived were self sustaining in the presence of Native American management. We've also, I think, had mythology about forests, about what was a pristine forest versus what we have now.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Many people believe, for example, that North America was covered primarily by old growth forests that were full of young trees in the understory and lots of dead trees on the ground. Only a small proportion of America's forests looked like that when we arrived.
And another reason is ideology. There are those who believe that people have no place in a forest. These are just some of the reasons that these changes have occurred. Let me focus on the structure of forests using the diagram that we have up here which simplifies the structural elements that one would find in more of our forests.
On the left--and it's in I think also your handout--is the savanna structure of widely spaced trees with grass in the understory. The open structure, shrubs, grass, and perhaps young trees. The dense structure--the understory structure where the forest is a little more open and there are shrubs and other things growing in the understory.
And the complex structure, which could be composed of several species of trees and several size classes and a lot of debris on the ground.
Now those are structural features that characterize our forests. Historically, our forests, all forests, were composed of a mixture of those structures. No one structure predominated in any one forest. However, in some forest types, the complex structure was the dominant; whereas in other forest types such as long lead pine in the south, the savanna structure was the dominant.
But all forests had most of these structures represented in varying proportions. Now that becomes important when we think about endangered species, for example. One of the reasons we have endangered species is because we've changed the mix of structures in our forest and we're losing the habitat for some of these species.
For example, the Karner blue butterfly requires the open structure, and it also has to have lupin. Curtland's warbler, on the other hand, requires dense structure. The Virginia northern flying squirrel requires the complex structure, but only if it's at the interface between the boreal and hardwood forest.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The red cockaded woodpecker requires the savanna structure. The red wolf, the American black bear, the eastern cougar, and the grizzly bear, however, require all five structures to be present in order to survive. The woodland caribou that many people think only requires the complex structure because it eats a lot of lichen from the trees also requires the open structure.
It has to have both. The Mexican spotted owl requires both the complex and the savanna structure. And the northern spotted owl requires the complex structure in the Douglas-fir forest; but in the redwood forest of California, it requires the complex structure, the dense structure, and the open structure.
So it's the mix of structures, their proportions, that really is important in making sure that we protect and recover many of our endangered species.
Now speaking specifically about these three values, I could propose a solution, but many other values have to be taken into account. First, I think we should approximate, not duplicate, the historical structure of our forests as a model for management.
And the two tools that we should rely on are prescribed fire and timber harvesting. Prescribed fire, however, is a blunt tool. It's imprecise, it's dangerous, and it represents a net cost, so we have to use it with discretion.
On the other hand, timber harvesting allows us to manage to get these--this diversity of habitats with surgical precision. It is very effective, it is safe, it creates jobs, it produces woods, and it pays its way.
So I think this is a solvable problem with regard to these three values so long as we provide all the forest structures that existed when the European explorers first arrived.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bonnicksen appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Chairman SMITH. Thank you very much, Doctor.
For member's information, I plan to listen to all of the scientists first. We will then take a break for lunch. I want to make sure that the members have adequate opportunity to discuss with the scientists in depth any of their concerns, and you will be recognized as usual as to the timeliness that you appeared this morning.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ranking members, of course, will be privileged in that respect. So we will continue listening to the scientists, break for lunch, return, and have opportunity for each member to ask questions of these distinguished gentlemen.
STATEMENT OF DAVID L. ADAMS, PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF FORESTRY, WILDLIFE AND RANGE SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
Mr. ADAMS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.
My role here this morning is to discuss the role of fire and the impacts of fire as related to watersheds, forest vegetation, wildlife habitats, and other forest values. Mr. Sampson on my left here will also join me in discussion of fire.
All regions of the country are variously susceptible to wildfire, and the ecological consequences of fire in the various regions do differ somewhat. But I will use an example from the inland west, since I'm more familiar with that part of the country than the other regions, to illustrate the current conditions and the changes over the years that have led to the current conditions.
One thing that many of us don't recognize, and this has already been inferred, is that the forests that we see today are not, in most cases, like the forests that were here 80 or 100 years ago. There have been changes. In the dryer ponderosa pine types of the inland west, development has been quite closely related to wild fire.
Frequent, low intensity ground fires were quite common before European settlement. Fires returned as low intensity fires on intervals as short as 2 to 10 years over much of the inland west. The result was that much of the tree regeneration was discouraged. Not very many trees were able to survive these low intensity fires.
And particularly, the fire susceptible species like Douglas-fir and grand fir were essentially kept out of the environment. Some of the pines and some of the western larches did survive these low intensity fires, so the result was large areas of fairly open forest with a few big ponderosa pine trees.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With European settlement, displacement of Indians, very successful suppression activities of the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, things changed quite a bit. The frequency of the low intensity ground fires has been greatly changed.
Because of that, more of the pine trees have been allowed to survive, and very dense stands of the more fire susceptible Douglas-fir and grand fir have developed. Sites out in my part of the country that earlier carried about 30 or fewer ponderosa pine trees per acre now support over 500 trees per acre.
And most of this density is Douglas-fir and grand fir. Unfortunately, these are species that are the most susceptible to many of the insect and disease problems of the area, and they are also very susceptible to wild fire damage.
So the bottom line is that we now have too many of the wrong kinds of trees leading to moisture stress, increased susceptibility to insect, disease, and wild fire problems. The frequency and severity and the pattern of wild fires has also changed.
The experience on the Boise National Forest in my state is a good example of this change. Before 1985, the average burn on the Boise was about 3,000 acres. From 1986 to 1994, the average has been 63,000 acres. Three thousand to 63,000--that's quite a change.
One interesting point about that is that most of these averages have come as a result of few large catastrophic wild fires. Wild fires are clearly getting larger and more intense throughout the west. This is a result of higher fuel loadings.
And when fires do occur, the higher temperatures and greater energy releases taking place with these high fuel loadings are causing increased soil damage. These high severity fires increase damage to soil structure, to porosity, to nutrition, and in some cases change the soils permanently.
In the past, wild fires typically burned in mosaic patterns leaving some areas unburned within a fire perimeter and with ranges of damage occurring within the fire perimeter. The result was a mosaic pattern post-fire development with grass, shrubs, newly regenerating trees, and some area of unburned mature trees.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But now the larger, severe wild fires are causing more complete burns over large areas with very little of the diversity and the varying mosaic patterns of the past. The homogenous conditions created by these large, catastrophic fires are destroying wildlife habitat, causing extreme sedimentation, they destroy valuable timber resources and recreational opportunities; and of course, the suppression and rehabilitation costs are enormous.
I might add that in my written comments, I have discussed the trends under the three management alternatives that we presented in our report: the financial efficiency alternative, an integrated management alternative, and management with no commodity extraction.
Those three scenarios are played out in terms of what we think fires will do.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Adams appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Chairman SMITH. Thank you, Doctor, very much.
STATEMENT OF NEIL SAMPSON, SENIOR FELLOW, AMERICAN FORESTS
Mr. SAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have been asked, as part of this panel, to focus on a few of the other aspects of the wild fire study, and I will be referring to some graphics that are in the testimony that you have been given but which are not in our report. And that illustrates something.
Some of these were prepared after we got through the 13th draft of this report. And it illustrates the fact that science is an ongoing process. We continue to learn, and we invite other people to help and to continue this learning process. This is not a closed, finished, final report that has all the answers. This is a step in the process of learning.
So let me just point out a few things about the fire situation that should come to your attention. On the chart by Mr. Taylor, in addition to showing the acreage burned in the 11 western States, and with apologies to Mr. Young, these are the 11 contiguous western States to develop a history over time.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And they show that, for instance, in 1996, we affected about 4 million acres with wild fire. We heard several people cite the 6 million acre figure which is the national figure, but that includes the east, which has a lot of prescribed fire in it. So you have to be a little sanguine with that data.
But at any rate, this is the west which is largely wild fire. But what I wanted to point your attention to is the green bar. That's the Federal expenditures on forest service fire fighting alone in the last--in this fire history.
And in the last decade of that chart between 1985 and 1994, that represents a $4 billion outlay for Federal fire fighting funds. That does not include Department of Interior outlays. It does not include state and local outlays. And it does not include resource damages in that past.
This is a situation that runs into what I think one of our esteemed figures Mr. Dirksen called real money, and I wanted to bring that to the attention. It's also causing, as Dr. Adams pointed out, some serious damages. And I have brought some illustrations of what's happening.
We are suffering fires that burn somewhere between two and sometimes as often as 10 times as much fuel as the historic fires that Dr. Adams suggested shaped those forests. So to compare it to these wild fires with those fires is like comparing a hurricane to a spring rain storm just because they're both water.
These are events of much more energy that cause much more effect. Figure 2 in the testimony I brought shows what we need to do to treat these forests to get them through a wild fire. And it's a very complex thing, and I'm not going to go into it very much.
The take home lesson is, if you want to save hundred year old, 10-inch pine trees in the west, you better thin the stand and get some prescribed fire under it; because if you don't, when a wild fire hits it, they die. And that's a hundred year set back even if no further impact is felt.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The next impact though that I wanted to show you is in figure 3, and it is the one that Dr. Adams mentioned on soil conditions. My training is in soil science, and I am really concerned about the fact that many of these sites are impacted in terms of geologic range. These are not temporary impacts, and we go through that.
Another effect that these wild fires are having is in the smoke pollution they create. And we're having a national debate now about regulatory particulate emissions. We all recognize that these are health hazards.
What we don't really understand yet, to be quite frank, is how to live as a modern society with 260 million people in the middle of a fire environment, and that's what we're doing. And fire environments tend to smoke, and they tend to smoke a lot in the condition that they're in.
I call your attention to that graphic which suggests that in the Boise National Forest on the research that we completed to do this measurement, those high intensity fires were emitting--were consuming something on the order of 75 tons of fuel per acre and emitting somewhere over a ton of particulate matter to the acre on the high intensity fire.
The low intensity was far less. But the average, which is the average across the landscape--as the fire burns some places and didn't burn other places--was up in the 40 tons of fuel consumed range and in the 1,0001,200 pounds of pm per acre.
In that event, Boise was over the Federal standards for several days as were other communities. So these are not minor events from a human health standpoint. By contrast, the treatment of the prescribed fire, as you can see there, is fairly low.
Mr. Gingrich mentioned the Co2 emissions thing. Back of the envelope estimate says that our 1994 fire history in the west kicked something like 400 million tons equivalent of carbon into the atmosphere, and our current national goal is trying to help us ramp down to previous levels.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We're about 100 million tons short. So again, this is a number of some magnitude.
The final chart I wanted you to consider is on the last page. It's figure 5. And it just basically shows what treating these lands with thinning and prescribed fire costs versus what fighting fire and losing the resources cost.
You will notice that a treated area--and this is an actual thousand acres area that got treated at a cost of about $25 an acre. When a wild fire hit it from the surrounding area with one of these very intense fires, it got damaged to the tune of another 2 or $300--I think or maybe $400.
I don't remember the exact number per acre. It was fairly modest. But right beside it, in the areas that were untreated, wild fire suppression costs were running 4 and $500 an acre and damage was pushing the total up to over $1,500.
So it's reasonably easy from the data that we've got to suggest that investments in treatment of these forests to get that fire more manageable to keep it more--in more of the traditional intensity and energy pays back on the rough basis of perhaps 6 to $7 for every dollar we spend in treatment.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sampson appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Chairman SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Sampson.
And in order of their seating arrangement, Dr. Schlarbaum from the University of Tennessee.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT E. SCHLARBAUM, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, FOREST GENETICS, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSE
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Mr. Chairman, committee members, I've been asked to speak on exotic pests today.
In the mid 1700's, naturalist John Bartram took a trip through Pennsylvania observing the various flora and fauna. During this journey, he encountered a number of trees, including white and black oaks, followed by eastern white pine, American chestnut, a tree that he called spruce but probably was eastern hemlock, hickory, sugar maple, American linden, pitch pine, elm, American beech, and white walnut which we also call butternut.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What has happened to these tree species since that walk 250 years ago is a national tragedy. Exotic pests and insects have devastated many of the species on this list which is table 1. For example, Bartram's most commonly encountered species were white and black oaks.
Currently, these species are the preferred food of European gypsy moth, an insect that was intentionally imported into this country. The American chestnut once comprised 25 percent of the eastern hardwood forest, has been essentially removed by the chestnut blight fungus.
For American chestnut, once grew to over 150 feet in height, only short lived sprouts now exist coming from root systems of long dead stems. The eastern hemlocks, important to plants and animals in mountain riparian zones, are currently being eliminated by hemlock wooly adelgid.
The American elm that once shaded our streets and houses was removed by Dutch elm disease, a disease brought to this country on elm logs imported from Europe. And finally, butternut is being extricated from eastern forests as butternut canker disease moves from southern forests into like states and New England.
Exotic pests have been damaging American forests for over 150 years. Many exotic pests have arrived in this country on shipments of diseased nursery stock or on logs that are not properly sanitized. There are other avenues of importation, however, as shown by the recent arrival of the Asian gypsy moth on ships transporting grain to the Pacific Northwest and military equipment to the south.
In general, eastern forests have been more heavily impacted by exotic pests than western forests. The east was colonized by Europeans at a relatively early date, and a number of intercontinental trade routes were established long before western trade routes were developed.
Additionally, eastern forests are generally more diverse, thereby providing more opportunities for establishment of pests to feed on closely related host species. Exotic pests will likely increase in the future due to the number of importations from countries that have formally had trade restrictions with the United States such as Russia, or in response to the need for more fiber and wood in the United States.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The impact of exotic pests stem beyond their host species to the flora, fauna, and sometimes the environment associated with the host species. The estimation of lost commodity values are easier than for non-commodity values.
For example, lost timber revenue from exotic pest damage--lost timber revenues from exotic pest damage are believed to be approximately $2 billion dollars annually. In contrast, how can a monetary figure be assigned to the loss of the aesthetic view of a mountain stream when the surrounding hemlocks die from hemlock wooly adelgid?
The management approaches and the forest health panel's report to minimize exotic pests in forest situations differs significantly in results. Timber managements for financial efficiency would control exotic organisms on economically important species, but generally would not provide for control on non-commercial species.
An integrated management approach would proactively manage or control of exotic organisms in relation to the importance of value associated with the host species or land base. Management with no commodity extraction generally would not seek to control the exotic organisms.
And I have, if someone could put up the figures, an example of what happens when you have no--they'll be up in a minute. The example is a balsam wooly adelgid--the effects of balsam wooly adelgid in the Smokey Mountains National Park. The black and white photograph is the park in 1933, and the top photograph is a shot of spruce fir forest taken several years ago.
Minimizing exotic pests in our forest extends beyond the management approaches in the forest health panel's report and into the realm of policy. The 1993 Office of Technology Assessments Report on harmful, non-indigenous species cite the lack of national policy on harmful introductions, antiquated Federal and state regulations, and the need for better environmental education, accountability, faster response, and adequate funding as critical deficiencies to safeguarding our national interests from exotic pests.
These deficiencies must be successful addressed in order to halt or slow the natural conversion of our forest ecosystems. The public attitude toward exotic pests is somewhat unique. Currently, a myriad of views exist on how forests should be managed or not managed depending upon the relative importance of certain values.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Debates among parties with different viewpoints can be heated and frequently are resolved only through litigation. However, there's a universal distaste for these non-native pests that are damaging our forest ecosystems, regardless of individual agency, citizens group, or corporate viewpoint.
Therein lies common ground among all that are concerned with forest ecosystems and the environment in general. And whether it is common ground or cooperative planning, the process can begin to manage our forests wisely for the multiple values that they can provide.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Schlarbaum appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Chairman SMITH. Thank you, Doctor.
Dr. Cubbage from North Carolina State University.
STATEMENT OF FREDRICK W. CUBBAGE, PROFESSOR, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
Mr. CUBBAGE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As a member of the forest health science panel, I've been asked to talk about timber supplies, timber imports and exports, and domestic carbon balances. My expertise lies with timber supplies, and to a lesser extent, imports and exports. And I probably know just enough to be dangerous about domestic carbon balances.
My talk is drawn from our forest science report and other materials that are available as well. One principal thesis that we examined was the question of a timber shortage in the United States. This has been a common premise in the United States, and indeed the world, for perhaps a century.
Various factors, including technology, markets and investments, Government interventions, and trade, have reduced the fears of a timber shortage. But timber in local areas still is important and can be scarce.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Timber also contributes an important natural resource. It is energy efficient and non-polluting compared to alternative construction materials or printing and packaging materials. In forests products wew remain the most competitive sector in trade other than agriculture; and are by far the most self-reliant in forest products manufacture.
The total forest land base is over 700 million acres of the United States including Alaska. But of that, about 300 million are not productive forests. They're either chaparral or they're tundra; or indeed, some are reserved from forest production.
Of this total of the productive forests, the south has the largest share at 41 percent; the north the second at 32 percent; and the balance of the productive forest lies in the other parts of the United States. For the United States as a whole, the combined growth of hardwood and softwood species is far greater than the annual removal.
It's about a third more on net growth or two-thirds more if one does not include mortality. However, timber surpluses or shortages differ somewhat by region, by species group, and by ownership. Annual hardwood growth basically exceeds removals annually in every region of the United States and for every sector with the exception of forest industry lands.
For softwoods, this is a somewhat different story. The south, which comprises 55 percent of the total harvest in the United States and makes it the largest timber producing region in the world, has softwood removals at the moment that do exceed softwood growth.
Now we can rectify this through management intensity and indeed through public policies. The Pacific Northwest has softwood removals that are also very close to growth. Now some of that actually is because many of the trees are quite old and are not growing.
Projections are also made of future timber supply and demand in the United States, and this is mostly done through the USDA Forest Service models and the RPA models. In general, just to show what some of the projected changes might be in timber harvest among regions, this is based on 1991 data.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Certainly these have changed a little bit and perhaps decreased harvest in the west and perhaps increased harvest in other sectors. But based on these 1991 data and policies that were in effect at that time, the decreased harvest in the west, mostly on public lands, was a decrease of 1.6 billion cubic feet per year.
And all of the shift of that went to other sectors or overseas and perhaps to other species, along with an increase in demand for forest products.
Chairman SMITH. Doctor, pardon me.
Convert that 1.6 billion feet to another factor which we can----
Mr. CUBBAGE. I guess the harvest in the Pacific Northwest went from over 10 billion board feet to less than 4 billion board feet most recently, perhaps as low as 3 billion board feet.
Chairman YOUNG. And now it's down to less than 1 billion.
Mr. CUBBAGE. OK, thank you.
Chairman SMITH. So 1.6 billion cubic feet, someone told me you multiply by five roughly----
Mr. CUBBAGE. It's awful hard to do on my feet in front of such a large crowd. [Laughter.]
Chairman SMITH. Well, I just----
Mr. CUBBAGE. I could do it if you gave me some time.
Chairman SMITH. Cubic feet is a foreign number to us.
Mr. CUBBAGE. That's true. It's the measure that I guess they use for the timber data because there's a lot of different ways you can process it.
Chairman SMITH. Right.
Mr. CUBBAGE. But I think it's 200 cubic feet per thousand board feet. So maybe if you divide by five, you can----
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of that shift, about a billion board feet of softwood went to--or cubic feet, excuse me, went to the south. 1.8 billion board feet of hardwoods would then go the south. This is from 1986 to 2010. 0.8 billion would move to the northern forest, and 0.6 billion would come from Canada, mostly eastern Canada specifically.
The ownership changes actually were a decrease of about 1.3 billion in total cubic feet from the public lands--again, mostly in the west. The industry would remain basically stable. It's already running at full speed. And the other private sectors, which is basically non-industrial private, would increase over a billion cubic feet in softwoods and 2.4 billion cubic feet in hardwoods.
So the entire shift would go to private forest lands, most of that indeed in the south.
Also, I was supposed to speak briefly of trade in general. Our balance of trade in forest products is about equal at the moment in volume. We tend to import a little bit more, but we may be close to equal at the moment.
We tend to import manufactured products like lumber, furniture, and even newsprint or something of that nature. We tend to export raw materials such as chips, pulp itself that has been manufactured, and waste paper has become our largest export.
On a value basis, we're actually at a deficit in foreign trade. Now whether indeed it's possible then to mix this foreign trade and the impacts on the environment are certainly questions; and indeed, both environmental concerns and competitive concerns are important in the foreign trade issue.
We've already seen the figure on the comparative values of wood as an energy source or in reducing energy. By far, wood is the least energy consuming material. And in fact, forests store carbon in wood. Once harvested and converted into products, will store carbon for centuries perhaps in elegant furniture such as we have in this room.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing. I think we are indeed at a crossroads in how we manage our forests and what this means for timber supply, for recreation, and for the other values that indeed we talk about in our report.
As a representative from the south, we're happy to contribute more to the forests and the forest productivity in the United States. We would certainly welcome our efforts from our colleagues in other regions and other ownerships to meet those needs both environmental protection and timber supply and other values that do come from our forests.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cubbage appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Chairman SMITH. Thank you very much.
And before we recess, are there any members of the panel who have airplanes to meet--you've come from long distances--that would constrain your time here this afternoon?
I'd like to have an opportunity for all members to have a chance to question you and to have their concerns answered.
Mr. TAYLOR. Dr. Cubbage has the 3:00 plane. Perhaps we could take up his questions now.
Chairman SMITH. All right, let's do that.
Mr. TAYLOR. He has to leave at 3:00, excuse me. Let's do it early this afternoon.
Chairman SMITH. All right, let's question Dr. Cubbage at this----
Mr. TAYLOR. No, that's not necessary now. Perhaps after lunch, Mr. Chairman, we could talk with him first.
Chairman SMITH. All right, we'll take Dr. Cubbage first.
Anything that North Carolina wants, we must do. In that case, we will recess until 1:30 and return back.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Recess.]
Chairman SMITH. The committee will come to order. And as acknowledged, Dr. Cubbage has a----
Mr. CUBBAGE. Actually, I have plenty of time. I do not need to leave until about 3:00 or so. I don't know how long it will last, but I think we should start with our distinguished chair of our panel, if that's acceptable.
Chairman SMITH. All right. Let's start with Dr. Oliver, then.
The gentleman from Alaska.
Chairman YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, if you haven't been in this business before us before, don't feel offended because there are only two people here. The Congressmen have a tendency to wander all over the countryside and think everything else is equally as important. We know it's not. This is the most important thing on the Hill today. So I want you to keep that in mind.
First, let me congratulate the panel. I, hopefully, will be able to talk to Dr. Oliver and he will talk to each one of you individually at a later time. As I was sitting here, it struck me that it is too bad that your presentation in this report, although it's going to be sent out, can't somehow be put into documentary, because you're just restating thoughts I've had for many years: the condition of our forest is in a deplorable state.
And most Americans, because they live in large cities, have little knowledge of the health of the forest, and you don't have to advocate. If they understand the condition of our forest, there might be more interest in a more balanced approach. It would make our job a lot easier, because I know today in the audience, and even now, are those that don't believe there should be any man's footprint at all in the forest. Without any footprint, of course, we eventually have the disasters I see on the wall here.
I forgot which one of you gentlemen mentioned $4 billion. Was that real dollars, or that does not include the other losses and everything else?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAMPSON. That is actual dollars. There is no inflation factor. That is Forest Service reports on what they call their fire fighting expenditures. When you look in their annual report, that's just adding them up for 10 years.
Chairman YOUNG. Ten years, $4 billion. Now, but you didn't in your formula put together the other loss, you know, like the loss of wildlife, the total cost of no management?
Mr. SAMPSON. We not only were not able to go through what I mentioned, which is you could find the other Federal expenditures reasonably easy, the States get a little harder, and the localities get really difficult to document. These losses are really tough. The forest value is lost. In the Rabbit Creek wildfire in Idaho, the loss was somewhere around $1,400 per acre, if memory serves me right, on the measured losses, and the fire fighting costs were $400, which put it into kind of the $1,800 range there.
So the only estimate you'd have is sort of a back-of-the-envelope that for every dollar the Forest Service spends in fire suppression you can probably find them document four to five other dollars in damages and losses without too much trouble.
So you could take that $4 billion and run a four to five factor past it and be talking in somewhat reasonably terms, although the data is very difficult to come by to support that.
Chairman YOUNG. Last month or the month before, our esteemed Secretary, Mr. Babbitt, made a speech in Boise--this is for Dr. Adams or Mr. Sampson--and he said, ''At the root of the recent infernos lies a basic, yet overlooked, truth. We don't have a fire problem in the west; we have a fuels problem.'' And then he added, ''We can't stop fires' hunger any more than we can stop a lightning strike, but we can understand how it feels and how to control its appetite. We can learn to fight fire with fire.''
With all due respect to our Secretary, isn't this approach of fighting fire with fire a little simplistic?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ADAMS. I heard that talk and found it very interesting, too. A little simplistic perhaps, yes.
We can introduce fire back into the system, but not until we've done something with the biomass buildup. In the inland west, for example, I think we harvest something less than a third of the growth. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going to happen here. The forest will turn over one way or another eventually, and part of that turnover will undoubtedly be in wildfires. And we can turn over some of it by more harvest than we're doing now and have the added value of doing that.
But as a silviculturalist, not worrying at all about the industrial benefits of harvesting timber, it scares me to death that we have this kind of biomass buildup taking place, and particularly in the west where there is large preponderance of Federal land, this biomass buildup is greater. And so we are going to have a real fire hazard.
Chairman YOUNG. It goes back to this fire concept. We have hot fires now. And, you know, when I was a little kid and lived in California, we used to go up to the Sierra Nevadas. My dad said the worst thing that ever happened was Smokey the Bear, because he'd show me every large tree would have a burned area on it. And he said, ''Once we let the volatility grow up, we'll kill this tree and every other small tree around it.''
And so when you fight fire with fire, you can reintroduce, it's my opinion, yes. But it's not the only way that timber could be managed, nor is it the best way. And I am very--because these fires are hot, and it kills a lot of species other than the trees that burn when it burns. That's the thing.
Mr. SAMPSON. If I could follow up on that, Mr. Chairman. You know, the statement wasn't, I don't think, terribly simplistic, but it can be interpreted very simplistically. And I think there is a couple of things we have to think about. Dr. Adams said one, and you just mentioned another. You've got to pull the levels of fuel down so that the heats generated are within the range that is tolerant for those places. Those are different.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But there are two further things that we need to think about. Dr. Bonnicksen mentioned one. Fire is the most dangerous management tool that people use. And as you get more houses and more development sprinkled through that place, it just gets more dangerous and more high risk. So it takes very skilled people, and it takes a very careful approach to use the tool wisely. Both of those are expensive, so this is not a cheap way to go at it.
The second thing is it is not a one-time way. We're looking at systems that had light fires through them every five to 15 years. You can't just go in there and do something once and leave. You have to have a commitment to long-term management, and sylvicultural practices such as thinning and the removal of biomass have to be coupled with these other tools in order to work. So it's a long-term commitment, not a one-time fix.
Chairman YOUNG. In your report, you give these different alternatives. And, of course, the Secretary doesn't want any harvesting at all. I mean, he shut my State down. Dr. Oliver, you've been up there. I mean, period, and we've got now about 10 million acres of dead trees just standing there. Beetle is already beginning to arrive in other areas. We've got some very serious problems.
But if you were to look at it, in your report you put down the alternatives including fire, including harvesting, including I guess what would be the other one, so we can take care of the diversity. Is that correct? You don't recommend. You give us the options.
Mr. OLIVER. Right. One of the options, the integrated scientific approach, would be to do thinning and fire in a prescribed manner.
Chairman YOUNG. Now, their argument, those that don't want to do anything, say they'll match--in nature's time, there was no thinning done by man. But the thinning occurred anyway, did it not, because the elimination occurred because we weren't involved?
Mr. OLIVER. I want to bring up a couple of things. At many times, there was not as much dense crowded forest as we have now. They are dense over more areas than before. You would have natural fires that would hit dense, crowded spots and you would get a hot fire, but not over as large of an area as we have now. And you often had some thinning occurring naturally. It's just that we now have so much of the hot fires occurring all at once.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's our big issue, and because so much is growing in a dense condition.
Chairman YOUNG. Right. Can I ask the panel--and, Mr. Chairman, I know my time is up. I have two questions. What would happen if we went--the Sierra Club, my favorite group that rates me so highly every election time--I love them for it. If they ever give any credit, I'd be in serious trouble.
What would happen, though, if we, as the Sierra Club wants, cut no timber at all on all of our Federal lands? What would be your estimation of the effect to the health of the private timber and the effect upon our--not our social standard of living in this country, but the environmental standard? What would happen if we just didn't do anything else?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. I could respond to that in part. Part of the problem we're facing today is precisely as a result of that. We have set aside areas in parks and reserves that we do not manage, and we have, since 1910, been putting out fires as quickly as we could, which has a similar effect to a hands-off management policy.
I would suspect that if we even did more in that regard of letting the forest go, and we stopped expressing fires altogether, that what we would do is change the structure, the character, and even the fire regimes in our forest. The successional processes that are operating in the Pacific Northwest would continue, and the Douglas-fir forest would be replaced by Western Hemlock.
Other forests, such as in Yellowstone, for example, where historically about 30 percent of the forest was in the complex structure when the 1988 fires occurred. Sixty-five percent of Yellowstone was in the complex structure directly because of a hands-off policy. The fire size far exceeded, in 1988, anything that occurred over the last 350 years. And what has happened there is what would happen elsewhere.
In the future, the fire size will be similar, if not larger, because now all of the trees are growing up at about the same time and become the same size at about the same time. So, in essence, we're going to change the species composition of our forest. We're going to change the fire regimes in our forest. In essence, we're going to change everything.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman YOUNG. But what happens--Mr. Chairman, what happens, what I'm worried about, is those fires--I never got over it last year. I flew over the Grand Canyon. There were 17 fires on the border of the Grand Canyon burning, and Secretary Babbitt said, ''We have to decrease the overflights of the Grand Canyon because we're polluting the air.'' These are creosote smoke, which is a heavy smoke. It's very damaging to the lungs. You can't see diddly squat.
And I just can't imagine anybody saying that we ought to stop the overflights because we're polluting the air, and in the meantime they won't fight those 17 fires, or they will not manage those 17 fires. If we let this all burn, the effect upon the particulate amount is awesome in the air. I don't understand where the thinking comes from.
Doctor, and then I'm out of here. I'm not out of here. I'm through.
Mr. OLIVER. First of all, just as a comment, we were predicting those fires around the Grand Canyon quite a few years ago, because we could look at the structure of the forest and know that they were coming.
The second thing is options 5, 7, and 8 all address what happens if we had no commodity management on the national forest. And if we, then, look at intensive management of some of our other regions and other land ownerships, especially the private forests in the east, the non-industrials, because they make up most of it, we would still have to import wood from somewhere else or use more polluting products.
Chairman YOUNG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time has expired.
Chairman SMITH. Thank you.
Dr. Oliver, let me ask you, in your model, what do we lose with a no commodity extraction? Just for the record, give us 5, 7, and 8 out of your model.
Mr. OLIVER. OK. The options 5, 7, and 8 looks at--this is under figures 2.5, 2.7, and 2.8. There is a whole group of tradeoffs there, and this is simply looking at no commodity management on the national forest. It's looking at integrated management on the small private landowners and timber production on the others. We would even then end up being a net timber importer of 1.2 billion cubic feet, which would be 6 billion board feet.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. So under no commodity extraction we would become a net importer of six billion board feet. What else would we lose?
Mr. OLIVER. In terms of--I'm just trying to read down these. The cost to the public, we've estimated by our method, would go from $3.6 billion to $4.2 billion, and the public return would go from $19.8 billion to $18.2 billion.
Now, there are other ways that we could do this, for example, we could practice for intensive management of our private lands in the east for timber production.
Chairman SMITH. I'm really more interested in the comparison between no commodity extraction and integrated management, because I think that is where we're going.
Mr. OLIVER. OK. What I haven't done here is--I'm sorry. Let me look at another table, because I think what you're wondering or asking is a comparison of the costs if we went to the whole country in one way or another.
Chairman SMITH. Yes.
Mr. OLIVER. OK. If we went to the whole country and set it aside in terms of no commodity, our timber harvest volume would be zero. If we went to integrated management for the whole country, our timber harvest would be 19.2 billion compared to our present 16.3 billion cubic feet. We could harvest more because there is a lot of areas that we're just growing but not harvesting.
Chairman SMITH. And now beyond timber, what would we lose with the no commodity extraction model?
Mr. OLIVER. The no commodity approach: our exotic pests would basically be allowed to continue and expand rather than have any control of them, so that would be a negative. Our native pests: we would not be controlling. Our mammal pests: we wouldn't be controlling. Our extreme fires: we wouldn't be controlling. Our other natural losses, such as through hurricanes, et cetera: we wouldn't have any recovery from.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our atmospheric carbon dioxide buildup would increase, because we would be using substitute products, or we would be harvesting forests from abroad which means we would be exporting our environmental problems.
Our native forest types would be somewhat conserved. But as Dr. Bonnicksen pointed out, since we would go through extreme forest cycles, we may lose certain groups like the aspen forest. We would not be providing all of the native species' habitats. We wouldn't be protecting all of the endangered species, because of the ones that need openings.
We wouldn't be avoiding the invasive exotic pests, because we would be increasing our import of wood. We would be maintaining the genetic diversity at the same level as if we were doing integrated management. We wouldn't be maintaining the site quality, because we would have these extreme fires.
Our watersheds would be sustained at approximately the same level either way. It would be through booms and busts as opposed to more small scale regular concerns. Our forest land base would be maintained at the same level. Our timber volume would be reduced. Our timber quality would be, obviously, reduced if we weren't harvesting, as would our availability of selected timber species on timber products.
One thing we would be gaining is ''reserve areas'' as opposed to areas of integrated management. We would be gaining some more remote recreation. We would not be gaining accessible recreation. Our commodity dependent lifestyles would decline. Our non-commodity lifestyles would decline somewhat. Our employment and value added would decline.
The water volumes and usefulness would be about the same in either way. Our game and non-game fish and wildlife would decline. Our small non-industrial landowners would decline. We're looking at no commodity management on any forest.
Chairman SMITH. Yes. And I assume, Dr. Oliver, that the integrated management model would be the reverse, basically.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OLIVER. Yes. Yes, I was comparing that with the integrated management.
Chairman SMITH. So you have just the opposite occur.
Mr. OLIVER. Yes.
Chairman SMITH. And just a sideline comment, that seems to me to be the most environmentally pure model that we could endorse.
Mr. OLIVER. Well, as a scientist, I don't want to make a value judgment.
Chairman SMITH. I want to ask Dr. Schlarbaum--I know he wanted to make a comment on this question.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Yes. Under the policy options 5, 7, and 8, that's where you take the national forest and you go to reserve status. You'll look at that we will increase our importations, and that will raise the probability that we will get a number of exotic pests into the country.
Chairman SMITH. Because of increased import.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. That's right. In 1991, the Forest Service, at the direction of APHIS, looked into this in terms of importing logs from Siberia. And on one species alone, Siberian large, they thought that there was about 175 potential pests that could come into this country. They focused on 36 of these pests, and just the economic loss to timber revenue was--best case scenario was $24 million. Worst case scenario was about $56 billion. And then, of course, you've got all of your environmental impacts, too.
Chairman SMITH. So what you're saying, I guess, is that we're going to reach out for the demands of the Nation for timber products. If it is not domestic, it is going to be imported from somewhere.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. That's right.
Chairman SMITH. Which means that we further endanger the existing forest base that we're trying to protect by importing more insects and more problems for the stands that we're trying to protect.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHLARBAUM. That's right, yes.
Chairman SMITH. OK. I've got it.
I'm going to yield now to Mr. Pombo because the gentleman has another engagement, if you'll pardon me, Mrs. Chenoweth.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Bonnicksen, in your testimony you talked about a number of endangered species and their ranges, and I know that you are familiar with California and the response that we had, in particular, on the spotted owl, and how we took the response of it's best just to leave the forest alone and to stay out of the forest in terms of recovery of that one particular endangered species.
And I know that today a lot of the biologists and foresters have determined that that wasn't the best thing to do in terms of recovery. That the spotted owl needed different habitats and that an unmanaged forest was not necessarily the best thing.
For example, you mentioned the Karner blue butterfly. How would we manage forest lands to best recover something like that butterfly that is also endangered?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. I think we just have to recognize that each of these species has habitat requirements that need to be documented. And with scientific management, we can reconstruct, and we have to do that for every endangered species. We have to know its habitat requirements. And in most cases, that is going to be a multitude of different environments all juxtaposed in a certain way to one another, which allows them to find the food, cover, water that they require.
In the case of the northern spotted owl, even if the Douglas-fir forest is replaced by Western Hemlock, the spotted owl will probably survive just fine because it lives on flying squirrels. On the other hand, by simply drawing a line around those forests and assuming that they're going to stay that way, we're setting up a catastrophe for the long-term viability of the owl, because inevitably some of those forests are going to burn.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. And not only the owl, but also the marbled murrelet, and some of the other endangered species in that particular habitat, in the forest habitat, by drawing a line around them and saying, ''We're not going to manage this area. We just want people to stay out of it,'' the end result will be certain endangerment, if not extinction, of those particular species.
Mr. BONNICKSEN. Yes. And I think the problem really is that we're starting to carve up our forests into categories that reflect those structural stages. When we start carving out a complex structure, like the old growth Douglas-fir forest and say, ''That's what we want to save,'' we're totally ignoring the dynamics of the vegetation.
Historically, those forests would have reproduced themselves in this case by catastrophic fires. And if we want to maintain the viability of the owl, we're going to have to have replacement forests available for them when the habitat they're currently in is burned, as it inevitably will be.
So we have to have a different view. Instead of carving up the landscape into these structural types and trying to preserve them forever that way, which is impossible, we should be instead maintaining a dynamic mosaic of these types on the landscape, so that each species has its habitat somewhere when it loses it somewhere else.
Mr. POMBO. Last year we had a GAO report that talked about ownership patterns of Federal land, and I was surprised that in California that about 70 percent of the federally owned land had a conservation easement on it that prohibited the management of that area, the multi-use of that area.
Knowing that, what kind of laws do we have to look at--and I know you don't deal with the political side. But from the scientific side, what kind of things do we really need to look at and change so that these lands are managed in a way that is the best for wildlife in general?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. First, we have to know what the habitat requirements are of all of those species, and then we have to provide those habitats and we have to recognize that these are living organisms we're dealing with. The habitats are alive as well, and they are dynamic and they will change. And by simply precluding any form of management, we have precluded our options for maintaining their habitat.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I think we need to have laws that encourage people to provide a dynamic and properly proportioned set of habitats for these species, instead of simply precluding them from taking any action at all. If we focus on the requirements of the species and provide what they need, we will not have an endangered species problem.
Mr. POMBO. And again, you deal in the science side of this and not the political side. But when you deal with an issue like the spotted owl, where a decision is made on how to recover it, that was done really before the science was done where we really didn't know all of the facts at the time that the recovery plan began to take shape, how do you--and this is one of the things I'm interested in with the Endangered Species Act.
How do we get better science into the act so that we don't have these kind of situations that come up where the recovery plan is actually worse for the species than if we had left it alone? How do we get better science used in what we have to deal with as policymakers?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. Well, I can only speak I guess philosophically from my personal point of view, but I think part of the problem is uninformed emotionalism. I don't think most Americans would like to see any species go extinct, and I think most Americans would like to have beautiful cathedral groves of Douglas-fir forests available to them. And so I don't think that is really the issue.
I think we all want those things. I think we need to set aside the idea that one group doesn't want that and another one does, recognize we all do, and get down to the difficult business of providing it. And then we'll use science.
Mr. OLIVER. Could I try to address that briefly? First of all, we need to recognize we're on the cusp of a change in scientific paradigm, and I could elaborate on this if you'd like. Ecological science is going from the ''steady state'' to the ''dynamic perspective'', where we now recognize that the forest existed in all of these conditions.
Scientifically, when people are looking at managing for species, they refer to the ''coarse filter'' approach and then the ''fine filter'' approach. The ''coarse filter'' is to maintain all of the habitats across a landscape area, and what you do then is catch most of the species that may possibly be endangered. And only then if you find that you are still losing a species, do you go to the ''fine filter'' approach, where you target individual species.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we target individual species and try to expand that habitat at the sacrifice of others, we'll end up chasing endangered species across the landscape. So one approach may be to first start with a ''coarse filter'' approach, where we first try to maintain all of the habitats. And then, if we're still having a certain species endangered, look for a way that we could keep that species from getting endangered without endangering the habitats of other species.
Mr. SAMPSON. Could I follow up, too? You know, it is the sad truth that the more political blood we spill in these halls to get one of those laws finally on the books, the less likely we are to be willing to go back and relook at it, whether it's right, wrong, or indifferent. And many of these things have been that way, and the sad fact of the matter is we used to think forests were stable and laws were changeable. And now we think laws are inflexible and forests are changeable.
What is happening out in the woods is changing faster than we're able to respond. That isn't a solution, but it's an observation. And I think we have to look at the level to which our laws that we enact are, in fact, so rigid that they cannot allow managers to adapt. Any manager that has ever been out in the field and made a decision and then watched what happens realizes that having exactly what they thought would happen happen is a luxury and a rarity.
Often what happens is a lot of complexity, variety, and differential stuff, and the good manager responds. And that's why we find some of the best examples of forest management today on private lands. It is not that Federal land managers don't know good forestry. They do know good forestry. They know good forestry as much as anybody else. But the rules and the binds that they're in often preclude them from adapting or reacting to reality.
And when you can't react to reality, you're nearly always going to make a mistake. And that, I'm afraid, is part of our problem today as we look at this issue.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I think that Dr. Bonnicksen said it when he said that we all have to realize that we all like the beautiful forests, and none of us want species to become endangered. And that's the reality that we live within. And I know that as we look at developing new policies to deal with our forests, to deal with our environment, that the use of good science is something that all of us need to depend upon.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And it's extremely frustrating as a policymaker to have science that is given to us that I believe is politicized. And I appreciate a great deal what you've put into this report. I'm sure that this will be a new era in the way that we deal with these issues, and I appreciate it a great deal that you put so much into this and were able to keep the politics out of it.
Chairman SMITH. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. FARR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate this hearing. It is very essential for us in doing public policy.
What I really love hearing, and I thank the panel for it, is the emphasis on science. And I heard the Speaker say that also. I think in this committee the way we try to deal internationally on agriculture is based on science--for example, fair play on the phytosanitary issues. We rely heavily on science.
The difficulty--well, first of all, I want to also congratulate you on the options that you presented in the report. I don't know if every member of this committee really read them, because what I read is all eight options said let's preserve the reserves, just protect them. Nobody disputed that.
The second option was that the national forests ought to be moderately harvested. Some felt that only half of them ought to be moderately harvested and the rest protected. And one of the recommendations said that the reserve and national forests should both be protected.
I think the difficulty we come to is that we are not dealing with forests based on forests, on the science of forests, because we are dealing with forests based on boundary lines, whether those boundary lines are publicly owned forests or privately owned forests. That dictates the policy.
And what we really ought to do with science is allow--in fact, and this is what I'd like you to reflect on--is that I think we talk about science in this room, but when we go out into our constituencies, we don't use that same science, because what I'm hearing is let science dictate cutting policies. Let science dictate where, when, and how.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, you know, the loggers may not want to hear that. Sawmills trying to respond to the market may not want to hear the science. And if, indeed, which I think we ought to do, we are moving to a science-based management--and I believe in this--that we need to leave areas totally protected.
I think there are some--you know, I've fought fires as a forest firefighter in some of the wilderness areas. But I do think that there are some parts, because I believe strongly that we've got to protect the biodiversity of this planet, and what I've seen happen is we've lost 17 million acres of tropical forests annually in the tropics. And we have lost 98 percent of the tropical dry forests in Central America. I mean, the rest of the world is looking at our forests only for money and for resources, not for biodiversity.
There are going to be countries, the ODC countries, that are going to have to protect the remaining forests which are mostly in the northern hemisphere, and there are only 10 of those forests in the world that I think are hot spots where there is a great deal of biodiversity.
So our committee has got to do this, and I'm glad to see that the committee is kind of moving towards ''let's do it on a scientific basis.'' But I want to ask you, as scientists, do you think that the industry will accept that? Because what I hear you saying is that we're going to not manage this from the standpoint of logger science or milling science or lumber science. We're going to base this on forest science. Do you think that this country can tolerate what the scientists might say about how we ought to manage our forests?
Mr. OLIVER. I'd like to start responding, and then some of the others could as well. First of all, science cannot decide values. We listed those values, but we can't say which ones are important or not. The roles that we can play will tell you what is the condition of the forest, and what are the consequences of different actions, so that there are no unintended consequences.
The danger of this is that you cannot enact a decision and then later claim that something that happened was unintended, and, therefore, try to say that you're not to blame for it. So we were pointing out that whatever you do has this or that consequence.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other role that science can play, as well as other people can play, is try to find the most creative way that we could manage to provide the most values.
Mr. FARR. And that's a diversity of value, isn't it? I mean, it would be diversity for value for fishermen, for tourisim.
Mr. OLIVER. Yes. If you look at all of the different values and if you look at what Congressman Smith and I went through, you'll notice that, for example, with the no-commodity approach the main values that you got more of were reserve areas and remote recreation.
Now, if you feel that those are so valuable that they are worth foregoing these other options for, then you would want to have the reserve areas. But you have to be aware that these are the tradeoffs, and you're making the decision that you want other people to harvest their forests elsewhere, et cetera. So we can show you what these tradeoffs are.
Now, once we can get a clear idea of what approach and the tradeoffs entailed with them, the next point would be how can we craft--and I use ''we'' in a general sense. I don't imply the panel. How can we craft laws that will get us in that direction? And it would be a combination of such things as incentives for small private landowners, and laws for public landowners that would basically move us in the direction that we're after. I hope that is helpful.
Mr. SAMPSON. If I could follow up for just one moment. You know, I think most of us that try to follow the art see science as a structured way to try to understand reality as opposed to a way to establish right and wrong. And one of the things we're considering here today is 491 million acres of reality, if you look at timber lands, 700-and-something if you look at forests. And that is a very large reality to try to get your head around.
And so we are doing our best at this point. You, as a policymaker, need to know that we depend on the Federal Government almost solely for much of the information. Much of the new information is going to come out of satellites that fly overhead and scientists that interpret that well.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But Dr. Cubbage mentioned this morning that we were giving you data that was based from a 1991 publication, and I think that Mr. Young rightly pointed out that many things have changed since 1991. I only say this to suggest that if you want to use science and policymaking, policymaking has to pay for enough data gatherings so that science has something to work with.
If we're going to be in the process of trying to understand reality, we're going to need to have the information on which you deal. And I'm afraid we are behind on that quite a little bit, and we look to policymakers up here to be sensitive to that need as well as to have the tools that they ask for.
Mr. BONNICKSEN. I'd like to respond as well. I really don't think it would be feasible to manage our forests without the timber industry. I think it's analogous to a surgeon with a scalpel. They are the surgeons. They have the tools and the knowledge. They can perform the work that needs to be done. But like the surgeon, they're not going to perform the work, do the surgery, unless they can make a profit.
And that means that in order to have healthy forests, in my judgment, we have to have a healthy industry. And if we attack it from that perspective, I see no reason why the industry wouldn't be enthusiastic about scientific management.
Mr. FARR. Yes. But the difficulty I see, and the reality, is that because of market prices, the forests are pounded at different levels by different harvesters. And a lot of it has to do with your own corporate or company situation. You talk about the health of the entire industry. I agree.
But you talk about a particular forest timber harvest plan, and the prices are high, and it's time to go in there and get the timber, you're going to get enough out to meet your costs and make some money. You're going to sit on that forest when the prices are low.
And so what happens is that I don't think the best science is used at that point. That's what I'm trying to--if we reshape this based on a science model, you're not going to be able to have the kinds of market driven forces pound for us like they have in the past, and that may be costly to some companies.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OLIVER. What you're talking about is the timber management for financial efficiency model that we described. Now, if your objective is to produce timber and that's your main value, yes, that's the way you would manage it. But if you are looking to provide these other values, then we need to craft policies which are doable, which would then encourage landowners to manage in something like the more integrated approach, where they would provide other values than just tose provided with maximum timber financial efficiency.
Mr. ADAMS. Could I respond, Mr. Chairman?
Chairman SMITH. Yes, in just a minute, Dr. Adams.
I might ask Dr. Oliver to point out the difference between public and private timber in this question.
Mr. OLIVER. OK. Well, actually, the----
Chairman SMITH. Timber does not cycle with prices.
Mr. OLIVER. Right. The public timber, of course, has some very interesting contradictory laws. On the one hand, we are supposedly managing for multiple use. It doesn't have this cyclic effect except, since the harvester often has several years to harvest it, you can get some cycling. But I'd leave that more to the economists to discuss.
Two things are interesting: First, restriction of no below cost timber sales, means that if we want to thin a forest where some of the cost of the thinning is compensated by selling the wood, we have difficulty. We either have to thin it at a complete cost, or we can't thin it. So we've put certain shackles on the Forest Service that make it almost like a timber financial efficiency approach, even on the Federal lands. There are other things that we could do on the Federal lands that would make it different, such as the policy that is used in Europe of not having stumpage sales, but removing the wood and then selling the wood. That is something to consider. I'd like to hear all of the options, the considerations of that.
For private landowners, we would be looking at incentives--to ask them to provide these other values that the public receives. There are many examples which show that wherever the private landowners are receiving a value for the non-commodity values, they can provide these values. I hope that is what we're looking for.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. I just didn't want the record to stand that, as intimated by Mr. Farr, that public policy on public lands shifted with the price and demand of timber. I didn't want that to stand. It may on private land somewhat, but not on public timber.
Dr. Adams had a comment.
Mr. ADAMS. I would just like to comment on the situation on private industrial lands. I deal quite a bit with large private landowners in the inland west, and I feel they are very interested in the science of forestry. They realize that there are no more acres out there. And if they are going to stay in business, they have to care for the forests that they manage, and they realize that the Federal timber is not likely to be as available as it once was.
And in my experience, the industrial foresters are the ones that are most interested in maintaining long-term viability of their industry, and that is dependent upon the long-term ecosystem viability of those forests.
Chairman SMITH. And very quickly, and then I want to recognize Mrs. Chenoweth, and I apologize for the delay.
Dr. Schlarbaum, when you testified earlier there was an indication--and again, in an answer to one of Mr. Farr's queries--that we are rapidly depleting the international supply of timber, especially of those areas of rainforests. Query: I suppose the manner in which we manage timber policy in this country impacts what occurs in foreign countries. Would you expand on that? I think you made that point.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. The points that I was talking about, that if we import more timber we will raise the probability of exotic pests. But it's true, the less wood that we cut, the more wood that we demand. It's going to put more pressure on countries that we could classify maybe as Third World countries, countries that need the money, and they're going to go ahead and cut their timber. And they're not going to worry too much about good management practices, probably.
Chairman SMITH. And they're not curtailed from any policy point of view. They only reflect market. They do directly reflect market.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Yes, they do.
Chairman SMITH. Yes.
And yes, Dr. Cubbage?
Mr. CUBBAGE. And can I add to that a little?
Chairman SMITH. Please.
Mr. CUBBAGE. I've visited several developing countries that are developing forestry programs as well. And certainly, the natural forests are under great pressure, but there is also increasingly stringent environmental protections for those forests.
But their plantation forests are perhaps much more competitive than even our southern forests, which are among the most productive in the United States these days. So I think there is also a significant international trade component to this question, and probably countries such as Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, and Indonesia can grow wood fiber at costs far less than ours, which will be a very significant trade issue perhaps as we progress, if we do not encourage management on our forests.
Chairman SMITH. I thank you all.
And please now, Mrs. Chenoweth, who is chairman of the Forestry Subcommittee of the Resources Committee. Sorry for the delay.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I have had a strange experience today. It is almost like a paradigm shift in my thinking as far as forest management is concerned and it's good. I've just been sitting here soaking up all of this information.
I realized as the Speaker was talking that this is a new day. And because of what you've brought to light, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Taylor, and all of the scientists and experts, that there really is light at the end of the tunnel, and it really isn't a train coming at us.
I want to especially thank Dr. Oliver and Neil Sampson and all of you that I don't know as well as I do those two gentlemen for this fine contribution. My dad used to say in buying a pair of shoes that ''I wear a 9, but a 10 feels good, so I buy an 11.'' Well, I can tell you, these concepts feel good. They are right.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are bringing together the concerns about endangered species and concerns about the ecosystem management, and so forth, things that 4 or 5 years ago I didn't even use the terms. They weren't part of my little world in Idaho.
So I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Taylor, for this very, very interesting presentation. And it will make a huge difference.
I want to ask Dr. Cubbage, before you have to run off and catch your plane, one of my concerns in the forest and forestry health subcommittee is forest health in the east also. I notice from being back here we have some really serious problems. I think my staff has talked to some of you about the fact that I do want to hold some hearings on issues involving exotic seeds and pests that have come in and the results of those, importations such as kudzu, and so forth.
I look forward to working with those of you who are interested in that in the very near future, because even though I come from the west I am very concerned about the state of the forest health in the east also.
With regards to that, Dr. Cubbage, we have had a large number of acres of reserve set aside in the west where we don't manage it at all. What would be the long-term tradeoffs associated with creating that kind of system of reserves on the east side?
Mr. CUBBAGE. Well, the initial response probably to setting aside reserves in the west, or else managing for longer term forest management in the west, has been to reduce the harvest in the west and shift much of that harvest, actually, to the south, and to a lesser extent to the north. So that has really altered the structure through more complex structures perhaps in the west, and perhaps to more simple and fast-growing trees and plantations to some extent in the south or forests in the east.
Now, as far as looking at, you know, what further reserves in the east would do, it would sort of depend on the extent and the magnitude of those. Currently, I think there is less than 5 percent of any reserves of any type in the east, and less than 2 percent in the south. So at that level, probably the amount of complex structure would fit within the broad scheme.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But if we're talking of the same magnitude of western forests, we'd place extremely intense pressure on the remaining private lands and private forests in the eastern United States, and further simplify the management on those remaining lands.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. I think if you look at the top photograph there, that's what you're going to get in the east. With all of the exotic pests that we have, if you go to a reserve system, you won't be managing for exotic pests, you'll lose your infrastructure to protect your forests. And I'm talking about the infrastructure like your tree improvement programs, reforestation programs, which the Parks Service, which is the best example, does not have.
And so there is no response to these exotic pests. There is no reforestation effort. You just--you'll have something come back there, but it's going to be very different than what you have had before.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you.
Mr. SAMPSON. There is a tendency once in a while to equate reserves with not having the imprint of human impact, and that may work to a degree, although not fully in the west. But it doesn't work at all in the east.
For example, if we published a map of just the nitrogen input from atmospheric sources, from the industrialization in the midwest, we'd get a map that indicates that the forest ecosystems of the east are picking up anywhere from two to 20 times as much nitrogen input from that atmospheric source as they did in pre-settlement times.
It is very hard to find an ecologist that will suggest to you that you can take a system and put 20 times as much nitrogen into it and not have it respond. It will react. And so just the fact that we've changed the atmosphere, that we've changed the nutrient cycling, that we've changed water dynamics, that we've fragmented these places with roads and other things, there is no longer very many places that we can make a very good case for the fact that putting a reserve around it sort of eliminates that level of human impact. And that's particularly true in the east.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I see that my time is almost up. I do have a couple more questions that I'd like to ask.
Chairman SMITH. Go ahead.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. All right. Mr. Sampson, are you familiar with the concept of a Quincy Library Group plan?
Mr. SAMPSON. Yes.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Does the integrated scientific management approach reflect what the Quincy Library Group plan has brought forth?
Mr. SAMPSON. Yes, I think it does. And even more to the point, it reflects a policy approach which would let those on the land at that level studies take place.
One of the most difficult things for someone on this side of the table to be subjected to is to be asked from that side of the room what is the right solution out there, because the right solution is different in Quincy than it is in another place. And it's probably different in one watershed on Quincy than it is in another watershed. And unless you're out there working with that, it's very hard to deal with it.
So our policy question is: how do we let these local communities do the right kind of analysis and come up with prescriptions that seem to them to integrate the best science that they can apply and the best values that they have locally? How do we, in the policy context, allow them then or encourage them to move ahead, and not just stifle that creativity that will come out there?
The term ''adaptive management'' really comes to play in something like that. They have done their best to adapt to the reality they find out in their community, and somehow we have to find a policy way to let that happen.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Sampson.
Dr. Adams, as you know, we are all concerned in Idaho about water quality, soil stability, watershed management, primarily because we are looking in the face of the bull trout being listed, but also the listing of several--well, three species of salmon, sturgeon. And what is the impact of the large catastrophic fires on watershed management and on soil quality and other important forest values? And how will that impact us in the Northwest who are concerned about the endangered salmon fish runs?
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ADAMS. These large fires are causing situations that are more severe, in terms of their impact on those watersheds, than were experienced throughout most of history. And what we've seen with some of the recent large catastrophic wild fires is that the soils become hydrophobic. They do not absorb the moisture that comes down, and even a normal rainfall event causes a lot of overland flow and sedimentation. And these large catastrophic fires have particularly removed vegetation in the riparian zones, the stream side zones.
And this not only reduces the protection that those streams have from the sedimentation from the surrounding slopes, but it changes the water temperature because you no longer have the shade from those riparian zones.
The riparian areas have sometimes been managed to death, in that we have tried to keep out of them, fearing that we would harm the streams. And this has sort of reversed the impact. It has allowed an abnormal buildup of biomass in those areas. So when we do get a wildfire, the riparian areas sometimes suffer more than the rest of the landscape.
And one of the main impacts I think these fires are going to have is reducing the diversity of these landscapes. We're getting large fires that are very severe and intense. And like has already been mentioned today, this is causing a homogeneity of landscapes. We have one age class coming up in the future, all of the same kinds of materials at the same stage of development. And so this is quite harmful to wildlife habitat of all kinds.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Mr. Chairman, I do have just one final question of Dr. Adams; that is, with your permission.
Chairman SMITH. Sure.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Down in the Chamberlain Basin area in Idaho, in the wilderness, we have a fuel load buildup sometimes of 12 feet tall. And I was down there looking at some of that area and it is shocking.
If I'm asking you the wrong question as a scientist, just let me know. But what else, other than catastrophic fires, can resolve that problem of such gross deterioration in our wilderness areas?
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ADAMS. I don't know that there's anything else in the wilderness areas that is going to cause an impact. I think fire is inevitable. Those fuels will burn one of these days. In the Chamberlain Basin, it is amazing to me that it hasn't already happened. I don't know of a solution in those environments. I think that is an opportunity to see what will happen with catastrophic wildfire over a large scale with huge biomass that is ready to go.
I, like you, have stood in those spots in August and pray that nobody strikes a match, because you just know it's all going to go up in smoke.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Dr. Oliver, thank you.
Chairman SMITH. We'll keep them here as long as you want, Mrs. Chenoweth. [Laughter.]
As a followup on that point, I can't help but point out that in Oregon, as you know, we had catastrophic fires, which you've all mentioned. And one of them is in the Hell's Canyon, which is a set-aside area, a beautiful spot. It was estimated that we ought to let the fire burn to 10,000 acres. It was in August, 100-degree temperature, 12-degree humidity, 40 mile an hour winds. And guess what? It burned to 50,000 acres. Not too surprising.
In the Strawberry Wilderness, which is near my home in Oregon, we set it aside in a reserve. It's a beautiful place, but it was to be reserved for eternity, for man to see what God had really intended. A fire got started and it burned half of it. So Mother Nature and God are difficult sometimes to deal with.
And when we're talking about reserves and people continue to say, ''Well, we must reserve this,'' I suppose they thought reserving Yellowstone would be a good idea. And I think somebody made the point earlier that, finally, the reserves are going to burn, and we lost half of the acreage in Yellowstone National Park.
Am I correct in saying that man's efforts to reserve at a stated point of production of timber is impossible? Is that what I hear you saying?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. I'll give you an exception so it's not impossible.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. All right.
Mr. BONNICKSEN. The upper peninsula of Michigan has the Porcupine Wilderness, State Wilderness. And it's a northern hardwood forest, and that's a forest that burns maybe every 1,000 to 1,500 years. So at least for that period of time it wouldn't be impossible. That forest is primarily disturbed, and has been historically, by wind--tornadoes, downbursts, and so on. And so as long as we don't interfere with the wind, I suspect the forest will sustain itself. But even that forest eventually will burn.
Mr. SAMPSON. Mr. Chairman, one of the problems that we face is that we've attempted to reserve part of the system without reserving the whole system. And when you do that, you kind of run into problems. The Yellowstone example--had we wanted to reserve it, there were several large animals that we didn't have in there. And we weren't willing to go out and recreate the intentional firesetting of the American Indians, and we weren't willing to let the fires that were lightning set go for about 50 or 60 years.
Now, the problem with these systems is is that over 50 or 60 years they can move into a position where a lot of your options are gone. We liken this to having a strategy for painting a room. It's one thing to have a strategy going in; it's another to have a strategy after you've painted yourself into the corner.
And we've painted ourselves into the corner on some of these systems where they've put so much on the land, like in the Chamberlain Basin thing, we're not where we were 50 years ago. We're where we are today. And the options today are very different.
So I will give you an opinion that's not scientific and not very politically correct. We have made rules which keep us out of those places to do what we need to do. Now, are our rules going to hold, or are the realities of the places going to hold? That's a policy question and we can address it.
But right now we are using our reserves as having once made the decision that that's final. And even if we see the reserve falling apart as the result of our decision, we're unwilling to think about doing what it takes to react to that.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That may be a politically incorrect way to put it, but I suggest that what I'm suggesting is is that we ought to think about flexing the rules instead of waiting for Mother Nature to do something that we wish would have happened 50 years ago.
Chairman SMITH. Mr. Taylor?
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, let me ask a followup on what you're saying. In other words, those people who want to preserve wilderness areas--and ''preserve'' is the contorted word because it acts like you have rocks out there and you can't preserve a living thing. I mean, it has a life cycle and it's going to grow and die.
But to put that word in parentheses, those who want to preserve the wilderness areas may need to adopt some of the management practices we're talking about here, or else those wilderness areas are ultimately going to be destroyed by fire, insects, disease, some catastrophic event. And the only way to prevent that destruction is going to be through some management, perhaps not the same management you would have in a commercial forest, but in a management to protect against those catastrophic destructive events.
Mr. SAMPSON. I think that is very articulately stated. I personally agree with that.
Chairman SMITH. So that the issue is not the reserve. That is not really the problem. The issue is: how do you protect the reserve?
Mr. SAMPSON. And its condition.
Mr. BONNICKSEN. That is precisely the problem, and the Park Service is now coming face to face with this difficult problem.
I'm most familiar with the west slope of the Sierras and the Sequoia kings, Sequoia mixed conifer forests. They initiated a prescribed burning program in 1968, and I guess they assumed that they could simply use prescribed fire, low intensity fires, and then allow lightning fire to burn. And then they discovered that lightning fires occurred at a frequency that was less than the historical frequency, so there was no question that Indians had augmented the historic lightning or fire frequency.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC They reduced the fuels and then discovered that prescribed fire of low intensity could not get rid of the pole-sized trees that had come in over the last century without destroying the overstory trees. So they started cutting trees.
Then they discovered that even when they opened up the forest, a century of litter surrounding the bases of the most beautiful trees in the park--not just the giant sequoias but I'm talking about sugar pine trees that are 6 feet in diameter and larger in some cases, magnificent trees, Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa of similar sizes--that by just clearing out the heavy material, taking out the pole-sized trees and then putting in a low intensity prescribed fire, they cooked the roots of the trees and they're killing all of their giant sugar pine trees and Ponderosa and Jeffrey pine trees now.
It is becoming--we've gotten to the point where this is a complicated problem, and the Parks Service is probably further along than anyone in some areas in trying to address the problem. But we have far more to do, and they're only able to do it on very tiny areas as it is right now.
So I think, ultimately, we're either going to philosophically have to accept a long return interval, massive fire cycle, with different form of vegetation in our wilderness areas as somehow pristine or natural or what we want, or we're left with the choice of actually doing some form of management to recapture some of the values that we've lost from our historical forest. I really think those are our only two options.
Chairman SMITH. Dr. Schlarbaum?
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. I think it needs to be recognized, too, that if you are going to have a reserve strategy, you do need to have that infrastructure to take care of these reserves. And I'll come back again to this Frazier fir example.
Frazier fir first became a problem in the Smoky Mountains in 1958. It wasn't until 1988 that the first seed collection from different mountaintops of these Frazier fir populations was initiated, and that was initiated by the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, and the National Parks Service. But the Parks Service basically--they piggybacked that onto some other projects of theirs.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so they don't even have an infrastructure there to even preserve the genetic diversity of some of these species that are being wiped out. So if we are going to reserve areas or more areas in the future, we need to have that infrastructure that goes along with it.
Mr. TAYLOR. Could I ask you, doctor, how would you approach the spread of the balsamwoolly adelgid in the Frazier stock in the Smokies or in the Appalachian area?
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Right now?
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes. Well, in the beginning. Start in the beginning of the process.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. The first thing I would have done, I would have made seed collections in the areas that could have been affected, made my best judgment where our greatest diversity was, made seed collections, germinated part of those seedlings, get them into a range out of the balsam--plant them in a range out of the balsamwoolly adelgid, maybe up north, and then preserve part of those seeds in the national seeds storage lab.
And then, at the same time, I would initiated programs on biological control and also be observing some of these areas for resistant trees. And we do think that there could be some resistant trees to balsamwoolly adelgid, but nobody has the resources to go out there.
Mr. TAYLOR. Some of the biological control, of course, is salvage harvesting.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Yes. Probably not with these forest. But yes, that would be an option with other forests. Yes.
Mr. TAYLOR. Because, Mr. Chairman, it removes the larvae that are going to be spreading. I mean, it continues to grow just as a circle goes out, and that's why the salvage legislation last year was so necessary and why we need to look at that option in our forest in controlling disease.
Mr. SCHLARBAUM. Yes. Especially if we're going to reforest that area. We would want to get in there and get those dead trees out of there and prep. the site for reforestation, if we had, let's say, a resistant genotype to plant in those areas.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. We understand that we have 3 billion board feet of dead and dying standing timber in my congressional district alone, and I don't know how much in Idaho and Washington and other places.
Dr. Adams, you probably know these numbers.
Mr. ADAMS. Well, I just wanted to say something about this standing timber and how it got that way in Oregon. Back when the western spruce budworm epidemic was developing on the Wallowa-Whitman, I took some of my senior students over there to look at this.
And the students were asking the forest health coordinator for the forest, ''When did you first think you had a problem? Or when did you discover you had an abnormal spruce budworm problem?'' And he said, ''Well, it was 7 years ago.'' And they said, ''Well, why aren't you doing something?'' And he said, ''Well, this year we will cut the first stick as a result of the problem that we detected seven years ago.''
And, of course, he was very frustrated with this, but he said that to jump through all of the hoops in order to enable the Federal people to act, it just took that long. And he reiterated the sequence of events necessary.
Now, intervening industrial lands did not have the same kind of a problem, as you well know. And those people were able to jump on the problem immediately when they detected that the spruce budworm was building. And we have photographs taken from the air where you can see the fence line effect between the Federal lands and the industrial lands, with yellow trees on one side of that line and no yellow trees on the other side.
Chairman SMITH. Where they sprayed.
Mr. ADAMS. That's right. Well, no, this was not sprayed. This was silvicultural activity in this case, where they were able to control the density and go in and salvage the dead material to help remove the bug. And so all I'm getting to here is that there needs to be some kind of ability to respond in a rapid fashion when we discover a problem.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. I remember and recall exactly, Dr. Adams. And as I recall as well, the life cycle question came--the life cycle of the spruce budworm came into play. And the Forest Service said, ''Well, the average life cycle is eight to 10 years, and why go in there now. It's seven years old. They're going to die away.'' Well, they lasted 14 years, an abnormal cycle which, you know, created a horrible mess. Anyway, I recall that exactly.
The reason I am interested in your response to managing reserve set aside areas in this country is because simply it is over the edge of any other testimony that we've heard in this country for a very long time, the very idea that to protect ''the parks or the wilderness areas,'' are we going to have to enter them?
Can we spray? If they catch on fire, can we use borate bombers? Can we use the normal efforts to fight fire in wilderness areas? And should we assign it? Should we use chainsaws to try to fight fire, or should we let fires burn, because that's the way nature provided?
Mr. BONNICKSEN. Can I just say one brief response to that? I really think it is like this report. We have an array of values that people seek. And if in wilderness areas the value people seek is the absence of other people, and the absence of any sign that other people have been there, then for those people letting the fires burn would provide them still with the value they seek.
If, on the other hand, you have concerns about maintaining a legacy of forests, historical forests, that we were given when we arrived here, then you see that that value will be compromised by not intervening. It really depends on which values you're trying to provide.
Chairman SMITH. Well, I think it has never really been put in that perspective that you have placed it in, because we want it all, as I stated. [Laughter.]
We want to preserve it, but we don't want to enter it. And that is not an option.
Mr. BONNICKSEN. Science can't do that.
Chairman SMITH. Science can't do that. Interesting.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. Oliver, how would the integrated management approach fit the Endangered Species Act as we know it today?
Mr. OLIVER. Well, actually, I think it would make it stronger in two respects. What we're doing right now is waiting until a species becomes endangered, and then we are focusing exclusively on that species. And right now we have several problems with this approach. We basically take a do-nothing approach, a reserves approach to providing endangered species habitats. And on public lands, that causes other habitats to disappear.
On private lands, people feel so threatened by the idea that, if they have the endangered species they won't be allowed to harvest, that they are getting rid of the habitat before an endangered species comes into it. We have seen that in the west.
So our present efforts of creating, more or less, reserves wherever we run into an endangered species are creating problems. And, in fact, we seem to have caused an endangered species to become either extinct or exterminated simply by locking up its habitat.
Now, the integrated approach would start off by providing a broad range of habitats on the landscape, so that you would be able to have fewer species even reach the endangered species list.
I would be willing to bet that if we set our mind to looking for endangered species and use the same criteria as some of them that are endangered right now, we would probably be able to find enough species that existed in each of these structures in each area that we would be in a position where we're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't.
Basically, if we don't have enough old complex habitat, we'll have a species endangered, and at the same time be frustrated because of a species in the same area that needs the open habitat.
If we were to be able, No. 1, to have the ''coarse filter'' approach--maintain all habitats. Then, No. 2, we could have something like the ''God squad'' only modified so that if we still had a species that was becoming endangered, the ''God squad'' could make the decision that we're going to go away from integrated management toward focusing on that single species. You would still have the same protection. You would just put the emphasis on first protecting all species and then aiming toward the specific.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I think you could actually strengthen our protection of endangered species, and it would strengthen the Endangered Species Act and allow us to take single species approaches, if necessary. But we'd have to understand what all we're giving up.
Chairman SMITH. Dr. Cubbage, I've heard you make the statement that if you reduce substantially harvest in the west, it would put great pressure on the south and on eastern forests. And frankly, that is exactly what is occurring, as you know.
Mr. CUBBAGE. Right.
Chairman SMITH. The 1991 numbers do not reflect the closure of most of the forests in region 6, and region 5 for that matter, and the closure of mills and the loss of jobs which resulted in the reduction of some 85 percent of harvest levels.
Do you see those concerns of yours playing out as a result of what is happening or what has happened in the Northwest?
Mr. CUBBAGE. I guess in looking at those numbers, you asked for, you know, board feet. I'm not sure we ever made that conversion very explicit. But on a percentage basis, say that the harvest of the total Nation's harvest, at least 10 percent up to 15 or 20 percent depending on what the current status is, has shifted from the west to other parts of the country. So that's maybe a numeric that's a little more useful.
Chairman SMITH. Yes, it is.
Mr. CUBBAGE. So if we use that, that implies then that we have to be at least 10 to 20 percent more productive in the other parts of the country as well, and that's a challenge by any measure that we'd like to do that. And really, it will indicate that probably we may become more efficient, but we'll have to do that through innovation and management, which our colleagues have suggested.
Certainly, it also will mean that we will end up importing more, whether that be from moist tropical natural forests, which has probably remained fairly stable, or whether it comes from tropical plantations, which have growth rates which are probably three to four times as fast as ours. And they are becoming far more sophisticated in their management as well.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I think the issues are both in bringing in perhaps exotics, bringing in concerns of competitiveness, and indeed putting a lot more pressure on southern, and to a lesser extent northern, forests to be more productive.
Chairman SMITH. Yes, Mr. Sampson?
Mr. SAMPSON. There's another aspect to this that this report basically did not consider, because it looked primarily at the forest and timberland of the country.
In another piece of work that we did, which was looking at the forestry opportunities to effect global carbon dynamic, you immediately run into the fact that there is somewhere in the range of 100 million acres of currently cropped or pastured land in the United States that is marginal for crop and pasture use, but biologically adapted to forests.
So this Nation has an enormous opportunity to expand certain types of forests in the south and in the east primarily, in an environmentally stable way and in an economically productive way. Now, that is going to take incentives to private landowners, and it's all in private land. And it's going to take education. And it's going to take information on how to do it right.
But this country has enormous forest opportunities on both the public and the private existing forests and on some land that was mistakenly, let's say, from an ecological point of view, converted earlier to agriculture and pasture.
Chairman SMITH. Dr. Cubbage?
Mr. CUBBAGE. Yes. To follow up on that, as the Chair of the Agriculture Committee, certainly, you know, you'd be familiar with the very significant changes occurring in the farm system. As we move to an economic-based system, there are going to be many opportunities for rather marginal farmlands to actually go into forests and be quite productive in attractive financial returns on a forestry basis.
So I think both the opportunity is there, and actually the policies that you can implement from the agriculture side as opposed to from the public land side, can have a big impact on how farmers view this and how the profits and returns from forestry investments in those regions can make up perhaps for some of these differences that are occurring on the public lands.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SMITH. Dr. Cubbage, you mentioned the shift of production of timber. Did you examine at all the result of public policy of set aside and how that impacted private forest lands?
Mr. CUBBAGE. Well, basically, as one of the figures I mentioned--and this is in the RPA, the Forest Service documents--it basically says that the public lands are decreasing harvest, as I say, about 10 percent. And of that, it's all shifting to private lands or else coming from imports.
So, certainly, to the extent you increase those public land reserves, again, all of that shift is going to have to go to the private lands, mostly in the south with a smaller component in the north.
Chairman SMITH. Well, I'm very interested in--this is a hypothetical. I'm very interested in the protection of exotic species, of endangered species, of the future of private lands, and the environmental protection of private lands.
If I am, indeed, that concerned, and I shut down public lands, have I not committed a sin against myself?
Mr. CUBBAGE. Well, only if you don't make similar investments somehow in helping the private landowners meet these goals you want to achieve. As Speaker Gingrich suggested, if somehow we're able to have some vision as to how to get there and develop strategies and tactics that will make up for that difference by some investments in private lands beyond what the market would do, maybe we can achieve some of that. But it can't all come from private lands. Some remains to be necessary on public lands.
Chairman SMITH. Put another way, if I were concerned about the total timber picture, Dr. Oliver, I would be as concerned about the private land protection as I was the public, but I ought to understand that what we do in this public arena does not only impact public land. So I ought to be concerned about the impact of my decision on private lands as well.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OLIVER. Yes. I do want to point out that there is plenty of opportunities to influence private lands through incentives, which----
Chairman SMITH. Yes.
Mr. OLIVER. But other than that, yes, you're correct.
Chairman SMITH. But if I'm the tourist, environmentalist, and I only protect public lands, I've not done my job.
Mr. SAMPSON. I come out of an agricultural background, and my studies in Europe, head of the agriculture committee, and there's a little difference that you have to recognize. One is that the bad things to a forest can happen pretty fast. These wildfires happen fairly quickly. You can shut down the public lands and shift demand quickly. An industrial company can be bought up by a corporate raider and its lands be virtually liquidated in nothing flat. The bad things happen pretty fast.
The good things happen pretty slow. The incentives to private landowners can change their behavior, but that timber won't come on line for 15 to 20 to 25 or 30 years. It's the same way you can change other things.
It is unfortunate that we have to think about the fact that the good things that happen in forestry happen over lifetimes that are roughly five times longer than the average political lifetime in this town. And so when we're making 2 and 4 and 6-year decisions in a 25-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year environmental forest, it's very difficult to make those come together once in a while.
Chairman SMITH. I understand. I recall vividly the time when we relied upon the Forest Service and the silviculturalists to manage our timber. We trained them to do that. And then it changed to a scientific panel, by the way, in the early '80's, if you'll recall.
And suddenly, that wasn't working so it moved to the political model, which I facetiously say we have today. And thank goodness for you all. We're moving back to the scientific model, which I think is going to, for the long run, be much better for the whole resource.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unless others have a comment, I want to thank you very much for this I think historical breakthrough in the management of our forest resources in this country. With your indulgence, we will be calling on you from time to time. I hope you can leave the classroom and enter our classroom for the same purposes of education, because I think this report, and as you all indicated, as did Mr. Taylor, will be peer reviewed.
Frankly, I'd like to, with your permission--and I know that you have and are going to visit with the Department of Interior and maybe the Department of Agriculture, I assume. I would like to, after you have accomplished that, send your findings to both the Department of Agriculture and Interior. I'd like a response from them, and maybe necessarily another hearing to determine whether or not they accept the integrated response. And if not, why not. And if they do, then this may change drastically the direction in which we manage timber.
So with your permission, I will do that, Dr. Oliver. And gentlemen, it's been a very rewarding time. And thank you for a year's work. It's excellent. Thank you.
Mr. OLIVER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Whereupon, at 3:05 p.m., the committee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
TESTIMONY BY DR. DAVID L. ADAMS, PROFESSOR OF FOREST RESOURCES, COLLEGE OF FORESTRY, WILDLIFE AND RANGE SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
My name is Dave Adams and I am a professor of forest resources in the University of Idaho, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences. I have been asked to briefly discuss the role of fire, and the impacts of fire as related to watersheds, forest vegetation, wildlife habitats and other forest values. Since I am from Idaho and am more familiar with the Inland West than with other forest regions I will use examples from the Inland West.
Insects, diseases and wildfires have always played important roles in forests of north America. In fact, most forest ecosystems would not function very well without these natural disturbance factors. Just how fire and the other factors work is different in different forest systems; the occurrence and consequences of wildfire in the central hardwoods, or the southern pine region are different from those of fire in the forests of the interior west, but all regions are variously susceptible and the frequency and severity of fires have different ecological results.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFOREST CHANGES AND CURRENT CONDITIONS
The drier ponderosa pine types are common in the west and their development has been significantly related to wildfire. Frequent, low intensity ground fires were a normal occurrence in this type before European settlement. Fire return intervals as short as 2 to 10 years were common and the low-intensity ground fires killed a lot of the tree regeneration and particularly reduced the successful regeneration of the more fire-susceptible species, such as Douglas-fir and grand fir. Some of the more fire resistant ponderosa pine and western larch survived resulting in open forests consisting primarily of pine.
With European settlement, displacement of Indians, and later the fire prevention and suppression efforts of the Forest Service, the frequency of low intensity ground fires was greatly reduced. This allowed survival of more of the pines as well as establishment of dense stands of Douglas-fir and grand fir. Sites which supported less than 30 ponderosa pines per acre before European settlement now commonly carry 500 or more trees per acre, most of which are species that are not only susceptible to fire damage but to many common insects and diseases. So now we have too many of the wrong kinds of trees leading to moisture stress, increased susceptibility to insects and diseases, and fuel accumulation. An additional problem resulting from the change in species composition from pines to firs is that the firs are more shade tolerant and therefore retain branches on the lower portion of the boles. These branches are called ''ladder fuels'' because they carry ground fires into the crowns. Recent research has also shown that the firs require and use more of the site's nutrients than the pines--another factor leading to growth loss and susceptibility to insects and disease.
WILDFIRE FREQUENCY, SEVERITY, AND PATTERN
The frequency and severity of wildfires in the west has changed dramatically since the late 1970's. The experience on the Boise National Forest in Idaho is a good example of this change. Before 1985 the burn averaged 3000 acres per year; from 1986 to 1994 the average was 63,000 acres. Similar changes have taken place throughout the west and it is significant that the annual averages are largely driven by a few large events. Wildfires are clearly getting larger and more intense. This is the result of higher fuel loadings, higher temperatures, and more energy release during the fire. Those increases translate into additional soil damage from increased soil heating. High severity fires can damage soil structure, porosity, and nutrition, and in some cases change the soil permanently.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIn the past, wildfires typically burned in mosaic patterns, leaving some areas unburned and with ranges of damage intensity. The result was a mosaic pattern of post-fire development with a variety of stand structures from grass and shrubs to new tree reproduction to patches of mature undamaged forest. The larger, more severe wildfires now being experienced result in more complete burns over large areas with little of the varying mosaic patterns of the past. The homogenous conditions created by large catastrophic wildfires destroy wildlife habitat, cause stream sedimentation, destroy valuable timber resources and recreational opportunities, and of course, suppression and rehabilitation costs are enormous.
Although these examples are based on one major forest type in the west, many of the same concepts apply in other forest regions.
TRENDS UNDER VARIOUS MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES
Let's briefly consider the probable trends under ''financial efficiency'', ''integrated management'', and ''management with no commodity extraction.''
Management under financial efficiency would include active efforts to prevent and suppress damaging wildfires and fire-killed merchantable timber would be salvaged and sold.
Integrated management would minimize catastrophic fire events and use harvesting and controlled fire to mimic historic ecosystem disturbances. Some damaged timber would be harvested and some would be left--to the extent that these practices helped maintain the balance of conditions across the landscape.
Management with no commodity extraction would allow catastrophic fires to occur in many places. When catastrophic fires occur in regions where fuels have been allowed to accumulate the fires will probably be extremely hot and burn over large areas. The historic landscape mosaics are likely to move to a new, homogenous condition. And where control measure are considered necessary, lack of infrastructure would limit their effectiveness.
STATEMENT OF FREDERICK W. CUBBAGE, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The United States is the largest producer of industrial wood fiber in the world, harvesting about 25 percent of the world's total timber supply. The South accounts for about 55 percent of the U.S. removals, which would make it alone the largest timber producing region in the world. As of 1991, the United States had net annual timber growth of 33 percent more than removals, and gross annual growth, not including mortality, was 64 percent more than timber removals. The large surplus of annual growth compared to annual removals appears to provide considerable opportunity for industrial expansion and more than adequate buffers for environmental protection. In fact, we already had explicitly reserved 7 percent (36 million acres) of our commercially productive forest land from timber harvest as of 1991. However, detailed analyses of timber supplies by region, ownership, and species group indicate that net annual softwood removals exceed growth in the crucial southern region and that softwood removals almost equal growth in the Pacific Coast region. The largest amounts of surplus timber inventory consist of softwoods on public lands in the west, and hardwoods on nonindustrial private lands in the East. Public land reserves, strict environmental protection standards for private lands, urbanization, multiple landowner objectives, and poor markets for many hardwoods in the East do limit the expansion potential of the forestry sector. Nevertheless, forests and wood products also offer significant environmental and economic benefits that could prompt policy reform. Wood products contribute substantially to international trade, and both the volume and the amount of value-added processing could be increased based on the surplus components of the timber inventory. More forests, converted to products, are also the best alternative for reducing the fossil fuels used in building products, and for outright capture and long-term storage of carbon. Public policies have substantial influence on the use and economic returns to forest land. For example, western public land reductions have shifted a substantial amount of timber harvest onto private lands in the South, as well increased imports from eastern Canada. Tradeoffs between timber uses and environmental protection should consider the broader interregional economic impacts, carbon storage, and trade consequences of alternative management and reserve policies.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAs a member of the Forest Health Science Panel, I have been asked to talk about timber supplies, timber imports and exports, and domestic carbon balances as affected by forests. My talk is based on the ''Report on Forest Health of the United States by the Forest Health Science Panel'' (Oliver et al. 1997). I have served as a contributing member to the panel. My expertise lies mostly in timber supply and forest policy--the first subject area--and I am serving mostly as reviewer or reporter of information for the other subjects in order to keep the talks at this hearing to a moderate number. Much of the scientific knowledge about these subjects is widely accepted. I will talk about timber supplies first, followed by trade and carbon impacts. My testimony is based mostly on the data and interpretation of the Forest Health Science Panel Report. I have supplemented that report with a couple of other data sources in order to provide more useful testimony today.
TIMBER SUPPLY STATUS
The Forest Health Science Panel Report contains a wealth of tables on the forest and timber situation in the United States, particularly as summarized in Appendix C. Those tables do not need reproduction here. Comments about their implications for timber supply are relevant. In addition, data summarizing world trends in industrial and fuelwood use is attached for this testimony (Table 1). Another table containing the USDA Forest Service 1993 RPA Assessment projections for selected U.S. forest products production, trade, and timber characteristics also is attached (Table 2).
One principal thesis examined in the Forest Health Science Panel Report is whether we are facing a timber shortage. This has been a common premise in the United States, and perhaps even the world, for almost a century. Various factors, including trade, technology, markets and investments, and government intervention have prevented prophesied timber shortages from occurring. Timber continues to be an important natural resource that is energy efficient and non-polluting compared to alternative construction materials or printing and packaging materials. And forest products remain one of the United States' most competitive sectors in international trade. The concerns with timber scarcity were examined in the panel's report, because this is a key in making informed policy recommendations. A brief summary follows here.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAs table 1 indicates, the United States contains a modest share of the world's total forest area (about 6 percent), but produces a large share of world industrial roundwood (25.5 percent) and even some fuelwood (5 percent). In fact, the United States is the largest industrial roundwood producer in the world, at almost double any other major region. The U.S. South alone, which produces about 55 percent of the total U.S. timber harvest, produces more industrial roundwood than any other region in the world. Fuelwood harvests are largest in other parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa. The United States also contains a large share of the forest plantation area, about 75 percent of which is in the South. In fact, the U.S. South contains about one-half the total industrial forest plantations in the world.
Table 2, which is drawn from the USDA Forest Service 1993 RPA Analysis (Haynes et al. 1995), summarizes a few of the projections relevant to timber supply and demand in the United States. In general, the RPA projections indicate increasing amounts of wood products production, including for pulpwood, lumber, and panel boards. Projections for production of other less important wood products show similar trends. Increased production translates into increased national timber harvest levels, for both softwoods and hardwoods. Much of this increased timber harvest is projected to occur in the South, and to a lesser extent, the North. Despite the harvest increases, timber inventory levels are projected to increase significantly for softwoods and slightly for hardwoods.
Some conclusions about timber scarcity can be made based on the data summarized in Appendix C of the Forest Health Science Panel Report, much of it drawn from the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data (Powell et al. 1993). The FIA data summarize information on forest land area, which includes all productive and non-productive forest land, including scrub, chaparral, and tundra forests, as well as legislatively reserved forest areas. It also includes data on commercial timberland, which includes only land that is productive enough to grow timber on a reasonably sustained basis (defined as the potential to grow 20 cubic feet per acre per year) and is not legislatively removed from the commercial base.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe south, with 212 million acres of forest land, has the largest forest land area of the U.S. total of 737 million acres (29 percent). The North has 168 million acres of forest land (23 percent); the Inland West 140 million acres (19 percent); the Pacific Coast 87 million acres (12 percent); and Alaska 129 million acres (18 percent). The timberland area distribution is quite different, with a U.S. total of 490 million acres. Of this total, the South has 199 million acres (41 percent); the North 158 (32 percent); the Inland West 63 million acres (12.8 percent); the Pacific Coast 55 million acres (11.2 percent); and Alaska only 15 million acres (3 percent).
National forests comprise 17 percent of the U.S. timberland area, other public owners hold 10 percent of the area, forest industry holds 14 percent of the area; and nonindustrial private forests (NIPFs) comprise 59 percent of the timberland area. Greater proportions of private forest land occur in the East; national forest and other public land dominate in the west. Most of the timberland area in the North and the South is held by NIPF owners (71 percent and 70 percent, respectively). Forest industry holds less than 22 percent of the timberland in any region, with the greatest amount in the South. Most of the productive timberland in the Inland West (67 percent), Pacific Coast (53 percent), and Alaska (60 percent) is owned by Federal or state governments.
The productive reserved forest area--potentially commercial timberland sites that are legislatively removed from timber production--amounts to 36 million acres, or about 7 percent of the total productive forest area in the U.S. Greater amounts of productive timberland are reserved in the Inland West and Pacific Coast (16 percent and 11 percent, respectively), and especially in Alaska (29 percent), as one would expect given their larger proportion of public lands. Only 2 percent of the productive forest lands are reserved from timber production in the South, and 5 percent in the North.
For the U.S. as a whole, for the combined total of hardwood and softwood species, the country was growing 33 percent more per year of net growth than it was removing by timber harvests or was lost to mortality. Excluding mortality, gross growth was 67 percent greater than annual harvests. These data suggest that the thesis of timber famine is unlikely, and indeed have been widely used to rebut fears of a timber shortage. They also suggest that large opportunities for increased timber production exist, even with the current areas in timber reserves. The data suggesting timber surfeit, however, do bear closer scrutiny on a regional and species group basis. So do the implications of effectively adding more to reserves by outright additions or mandated reductions in management intensity.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTimber surpluses (or shortages) differed by region, species group, and ownership class. The Inland West was harvesting the smallest share of its annual growth in 1991, with 29 percent of its gross growth and 38 percent of its net growth, for all species. The North harvested 40 percent of gross annual growth and 52 percent of net growth in 1991. The South harvested 75 percent of its gross growth and 91 percent of its net growth in 1991; the Pacific Coast harvested 75 percent of gross growth and 88 percent of net growth. Alaska harvested 50 percent of its gross annual growth and 89 percent of its net growth.
Harvest of annual growth also differed significantly by ownership. As of 1991, the national forests were harvesting only 45 percent of their gross annual growth (61 percent of net growth). NIPF owners were harvesting 53 percent of their gross annual growth and 66 percent of net annual growth. Industry harvested 105 percent of gross growth and 124 percent of net growth.
Annual hardwood growth greatly exceeded annual gross and net removals for all but forest industry lands. In fact, annual removals were only 55 percent of net growth (44 percent of gross growth) for all hardwoods as of 1991. Timber growth and removals were more balanced for softwoods. For all regions, softwood annual removals were 92 percent of net growth and 73 percent of gross growth. The South, which comprised 55 percent of total U.S. softwood timber removals, had annual removals of 114 percent of net growth and 94 percent of gross growth. The Pacific Northwest also was harvesting most of net annual softwood growth (96 percent) or much of gross growth (80 percent). Alaska was harvesting large amounts of softwood net annual growth (137 percent) and 64 percent of gross growth, largely because of large harvest on private (tribal) lands. Only the North and the Inland West appeared to have annual softwood growth that considerably exceeded removals.
Urbanization, water quality protection, wetland protection, endangered species restrictions, public opinion, and landowner objectives also may limit the availability or increase the costs of timber supply. Several studies have examined the impacts of these factor on available timber supply in the South (Cubbage et al. 1995a, 1995b). Urban counties as defined by Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) comprise about one-quarter of the total land area and hold about one-quarter of the timber inventories in the South. Short-term harvest in these areas is likely, but long-term timber management is not. The use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) protects water quality during harvesting operations, usually via nonregulatory or quasi-regulatory approaches. BMPs increase timber harvest operations somewhat, and the Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) recommended in BMPs can reduce available timber inventories by a few percent. Wetlands comprise about 15 percent of the total timber area in the South, including about 7 million acres of pine types and 22 million acres of hardwood types. These areas can be used for timber growing and harvest, subject to recommended BMPs in each state. They are environmentally sensitive and closely regulated, however, which limits some timber availability and increases costs. Endangered species restrictions have had only modest effects on timber harvest in the South compared to the west. Large scale extensions of restrictions to private lands and to more animal and plant species would increase timber growing impacts. Landowner objectives often favor activities other than timber production, including use for hunting, second homes, or recreation. High prices may induce more interest in timber harvest and sales, but the effect on increased tree planting and timber management has been small according to past forest economics studies. Last, the public continues to indicate strong support for environmental protection in most surveys.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCREGIONAL TIMBER HARVEST PROJECTIONS AND FOREST PRODUCTS TRADE
The preceding data and tables discuss the status of the nation's forests. RPA projections of current conditions and demand indicate that the U.S. is expected to increase timber harvests in the future (Table 3). Based on historical economic trends and timber market models, the RPA divides the total U.S. timber demand among domestic regions and external trade to project the probable future timber supply situation. Public policy decisions drive timber harvests on public lands in the west, and are projected to lead to substantial decreases in softwood timber removals on the western lands (Haynes et al. 1993). The implementation of the President's Forest Plan will decrease these projected harvest levels more.
Decreases in western harvests, along with future increases in demand for timber, are made up in order of magnitude by: (1) very large increases in hardwood timber removals in the South; (2) large increases of softwood timber harvests in the South; (3) substantial increases in hardwood removals in the North; (4) significant increases in softwood timber removals in eastern Canada (western Canada also is projected to have harvest decreases); and (5) modest increases in softwood timber removals in the North. The large decreases in timber removals on national forests and public lands shift almost entirely to nonindustrial private forests. Forest industry already is harvesting more than it is growing, at least in the short run, and cannot make up much of the difference at all. Whether it is even possible, or indeed appropriate, to shift so much timber harvests away from public lands and the west onto NIPFs and the South is the crux of the timber supply debate, and perhaps the forest health debate. It also raises questions about encouraging more imports, mostly from eastern Canada.
The second question I was asked to address today concerns timber and forest products trade. This is a complex subject, with which I am less familiar. In general, the United States is a net importer of virtually every type of raw material used to support our economy and lifestyle, with the singular exception of wood. We are roughly in balance in the trade of wood based on total volume, but tend to export more raw materials and import more processed goods.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTables 1 and 2 suggest the difficulties with determining the exact status of U.S. forest products trade, and my conversations with more knowledgeable experts confirm the uncertainty regarding U.S. trade in forest products. Table 2 is based on historical USDA Forest Service data and the RPA projections. It indicates that the U.S. has been and is projected to be a significant net importer of softwood roundwood, and is a net exporter of hardwood roundwood. The RPA also summarizes import and export data for processed forest products (Haynes et al. 1995). As of 1991, we imported far more lumber (12.4 billion board feet) than we exported (3.8 billion board feet). Panel board imports (1.5 billion square feet) slightly exceeded exports (1.3 billion square feet) in 1991; nonstructural panel board imports also exceeded exports. Paper and board imports (12,167 tons) exceeded exports (7,043 tons) in 1991; wood pulp exports (6,338 tons), however, exceeded imports (4,997 tons). On balance, these RPA data indicate that on a roundwood basis and on a processed product basis, the U.S. was a net importer as of 1991.
The World Resources Institute (1996) data for roughly the same time period, however, indicate that the U.S. was the world's largest exporter of roundwood volume, with a net trade surplus of 26 million cubic meters. The WRI data are based on Food and Agriculture (FAO) data. The volume difference between the WRI/FAO data is not readily explicable, but one would have to place more credence on the RPA conclusions that we have traditionally been net importers of solid and processed wood. The WRI/FAO data do indicate that we are net importers of forest products on a value basis. Thus despite the apparent net positive volume balance, we do tend to ship out more unprocessed wood (i.e., logs and chips), and import more processed wood products (i.e., lumber and furniture).
I have discussed the interpretation of this trade data with colleagues since collecting the secondary information. They indicate that we are surely net importers of forest products on a value basis. Another important variable in this trade is recycled waste paper, in which we are now a large net exporter. European and Japanese buyers have made large purchases of recycled material, which contributes significantly to our recent ''export'' totals. Including recycled stock, recent statistics indicate that we were probably barely net exporters in total trade of wood fiber in 1995, but conversations with persons familiar with these markets suggest we may have become a slight net importer on a volume basis as of 1996. In any case, there is plenty of room for improvement in our forestry sector trade balance depending on how manage and reserve our private and public forests, as well as how we encourage value-added processing in the United States.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCGLOBAL CARBON BALANCES
The third question I was asked to address was the effects of forests and timber management on global carbon balances, particularly with respect to other construction materials. With timber trade, I probably know just enough to be dangerous. With respect to global carbon balances, I am probably just dangerous. The conventional wisdom about global carbon balances and the merits of wood and forests, however, is widely believed.
Figure 1.8 from the Forest Health Science Panel Report (attached) depicts old data on the comparative net energy efficiency of the principal building products in use, based on the old CORRIM (1976) report. The concrete efficiencies now apparently are much better than shown then--at only about 50 percent more energy use than wood--but the comparative advantage of wood remains similar for other products. In short, wood generally uses much less energy, and thus contributes less to excess global CO2 balances.
Including the storage of carbon in trees and forests, as well as the storage of carbon in solid wood or paper products, forests in use probably contribute to net carbon storage, not release. It has been found that old growth forests are large carbon sinks, and suggested that they not be harvested at all as one means to store carbon. In the intermediate run--say 100 to 200 years--this may be true. In the longer run, they will become carbon sources as well, once balance of carbon storage and volatilization occurs. Thus managed forests, with conversion to products that store carbon in use for the very long run--say more than 200 years--still probably offer the best net gain in carbon storage. Other experts can address this question better. For reference, I would suggest beginning with the two-volume American Forests tome (Sampson and Hair 1992, 1996) on the subject. Efforts to update the CORRIM report also are being initiated, and Jim Bowyer at the University of Minnesota has recently completed a study that re-examined some of these raw material energy questions.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBased on the Forest Health Science Panel Report and on the data added here, what can we conclude about timber supply, trade, and carbon balances? First, we would have to tentatively reject the thesis of a timber shortage. It is clear that in aggregate, the United States is growing more timber than it harvesting each year. In fact, for all species and regions net annual growth it is one-third more than removals and gross annual growth is two-thirds more. However, like everything, the total or average numbers need be examined more closely to draw conclusions about important species groups, regions, and ownerships. Specifically, the annual removals of softwoods actually exceed the net growth in the South, which is the largest timber producing region in the country, and indeed in the world. Softwood timber removals also are almost equal to softwood growth in the important Pacific Northwest, the second most important region in the country. This is despite the fact the Northwest and Inland West contain almost two-thirds of the total softwood timber inventory in the country, while the South contains only about one-quarter of the nation's softwood inventory.
Many factors can contribute to help us realize the benefits of the large amount of surplus timber growth compared to removals. First, technology will continue to shift demand from scarcer softwoods to more pervasive hardwood fiber, especially for paper and packaging products, and to a lesser extent for solid wood products. In addition, new reconstituted board and lumber products will allow use of smaller trees. More efficient use of roundwood will also extend timber supplies. Increased harvest in the South and North are projected to provide increased future U.S. wood fiber demands. However, the role of public lands in the west, and even in the East, remain important in timber supply and demand. The single largest inventory of softwood timber remains to be in the Pacific Northwest and Inland West. Harvest reductions or increases on these lands will clearly affect timber balances in other parts of the country and the U.S. forest products balance of trade. Timber size and quality also are important factors. Larger trees remain in the west, and certainly are required for many uses. In addition, better quality trees will continue to fetch higher prices for solid wood, or even for reconstituted forest products.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe U.S. has generally been considered to be a net importer of wood products, but recent data indicate that our wood fiber exports may slightly exceed our imports. Most of this ''balance'' is based on the recent additions of recycled paper fiber to international trade. We still remain a significant net importer of solid wood products, and a even larger net importer of forest products based on a value measure. Thus we are losing value-added market share for forest products, shipping out mostly raw materials and importing more manufactured products. Being a leader exporter of recycled waste also is only moderately comforting when we talk about trade. Overall, the trade statistics indicate that we do have considerable room for improvement in domestic harvest and processing of wood products. Trade generated in the U.S. based on enhanced forest management and harvest will generate more local employment, and prevent adverse forestry impacts in other countries that have lower environmental protection standards.
United States forests and use of forest products can make large contributions to global carbon balances. Quite simply, forests are the only raw material that capture and store carbon and improve net carbon balances, rather than consume energy and fossil fuels and produce CO2. The key to improved carbon storage is to add more volume in forests, and to convert that volume into even longer-term storage by use of trees in durable forest products. On balance, use of wood as raw material increases carbon storage on the earth. Use of any other raw material decreases carbon storage and increases CO2 in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming problems. Many studies and models have examined the net effects of the use of the different raw materials, and the contributions that large planted forests or natural forests can contribute to prevent global warming.
Overall, healthy forests and utilization of wood products can contribute substantially to our economy, to trade, and to the global environment. The United States has a surplus of wood fiber, but does need to increase production of the most commercially important species and adopt public policies that recognize the importance of many sources of timber supply--on private and on public lands, and the interactions among U.S. ownerships and regions. Our current policies go to considerable length to protect forests for nontimber uses. Current Forest Service projections indicate that such policies will cause large harvest shifts to private lands in the South and the North, and increase timber imports from Canada and other countries. Reserving more forest lands will cause the use of more wood substitutes, increasing energy use and CO2 emissions. Prudent policy reforms could enhance the economic and environmental contributions of forests.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing. We believe we are at a crossroads in the directions we will take in timber supply in the South and in the United States. Our population and industry demands are increasing rapidly. These pressures call for more intensive forest management efforts to provide a reasonable amount of wood fiber and environmental protection. Private lands in the U.S. South have been projected to contribute the most to increased timber supply needs by the national RPA assessments. However, all regions and ownership classes can help meet these needs, and we surely would welcome continued national contributions in growing timber as well as protecting the environment.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT E. SCHLARBAUM, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
In the mid1700's, naturalist John Bartram took a trip through Pennsylvania, observing the flora and fauna. In his diary, Mr. Bartram wrote about the different kinds of trees he saw during the journey (Bartram 1751). The most frequently encountered trees were white and black oaks, followed by eastern white pine, American chestnut, a tree that he called spruce but probably was eastern hemlock, hickory, sugar maple, American linden, pitch pine, elm, American beech, and white walnut or butternut (Table 1).
What has happened to these tree species, since that walk almost 250 years ago, is a national tragedy. Exotic pathogens and insects, sometimes referred to as alien, introduced, or non-indigenous pests, have devastated many of the species on this list (cf. Campbell and Schlarbaum 1994). Bartram's most commonly encountered species were white and black oaks. Currently, these species are the preferred food of the European gypsy moth, an insect that was intentionally imported into this country. Eastern white pine populations have been heavily damaged by white pine blister rust, which was imported on diseased nursery stock. The American chestnut, once comprising 25 percent of the eastern hardwood forest (Kuhlman 1978), has been essentially removed from eastern forests by the chestnut blight fungus. Where American chestnut once grew to over 150 feet in height, only short-lived sprouts now exist, coming from the root-systems of long-dead stems. Eastern hemlocks, important to plants and animals in mountain riparian zones, are currently being eliminated by the hemlock woolly adelgid. Sugar maple and American linden are subject to severe defoliation by exotic thrips species. The American elm, that once shaded our streets and houses, was removed by Dutch elm disease, a disease brought to this country on elm logs imported from Europe. Beech bark disease complex, a combination of an imported scale insect and native and exotic fungi, has killed approximately 94 percent of the beeches in northeastern forests, reducing this once proud species to thickets of sprouts. Finally, butternut is being extirpated from eastern forests, as butternut canker disease moves from southern forests into the Lake States and New England.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCExotic pests have been damaging American forests for over 150 years. Many exotic pests have arrived in this country on shipments of diseased nursery stock or on logs that were not properly sanitized. There are other avenues of importation, however, as shown by the recent arrival of Asian gypsy moths on ships transporting grain to the Pacific Northwest and military equipment to the South. Some pests are species specific, e.g., butternut canker kills only butternut trees, while other pests attack a broad range of species. e.g., gypsy moth feeds on over 200 different plant species. Currently, there are estimated to be over 20 harmful exotic pathogens and 360 harmful exotic insects known to attack trees and shrubs in the United States (Mattson et al. 1994; Liebhold et al. 1995).
In general, eastern forests have been more heavily impacted by exotic pests than western forests. The East was colonized by Europeans at a relatively earlier date, and a number of intercontinental trade routes were established long before western trade routes were developed. Additionally, eastern forests generally are more diverse (with the exception of California), thereby providing more opportunities for establishment of pests to feed on closely related host species. Exotic pests will likely increase in the future due to the number of importations from countries that formerly had trade restrictions with the United States, e.g., Russia and China, or in response to a need for more fiber and wood in the United States (USDA Forest Service 1991, 1992, 1993). Northern, southern, and Pacific Coasts forests all contain numerous ports-of-entry and correspondingly, have a high potential for the introduction of new pests when compared to the Inland West and Alaska.
The impact of exotic pests extend beyond their host species, to flora, fauna, and sometimes, the environment associated with the host. The true environmental and economic costs of forest damage by exotic pests (Oliver et al. 1997 - Forest Health Panel's report, Table 1.1B - Values expressed as contribution to quality of life) is difficult to assess. Estimation of lost commodity values are easier than for non-commodity values. For example, lost timber revenues from exotic pest damage can be estimated, and are believed to be at approximately $2 billion annually (Pimentel 1986). In contrast, how can a monetary figure be assigned to the loss of the aesthetic value of a mountain stream when the surrounding hemlocks die from hemlock woolly adelgid?
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe management approaches in the Forest Health Panel's report (Oliver et al. 1997) to minimizing exotic pests in forest situations differ significantly in results. Timber management for financial efficiency would control exotic organisms on economically important species or when required under law, but generally would not provide for control on non-commercial species. An integrated management approach would pro-actively manage to control exotic organisms in relation to the importance of values associated with the host species or land base. Management with no commodity extraction generally would not seek to control exotic organisms. Pest epidemics on lands under this management strategy could affect surrounding properties that are managed for different values. Additionally, the lack of infrastructure on these lands would make any control effort expensive and have limited effectiveness.
In closing, I offer the following opinions.
Minimizing exotic pests in our forests extends beyond the management approaches in the Forest Health Panel's report and into the realm of policy. The 1993 Office of Technology Assessment's report on harmful non-indigenous species (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment 1993) cites the lack of a national policy on harmful introductions, antiquated Federal and State regulations, and the need for better environmental education, accountability, faster response, and adequate funding as critical deficiencies to safeguarding our national interests from exotic pests. These deficiencies must be successfully addressed in order to halt or slow the unnatural conversion of our forest ecosystems.
The public attitude toward exotic pests is somewhat unique. Currently a myriad of views exist on how forests should be managed or not managed, dependent upon the relative importance of certain values. Debates among parties with different viewpoints can be heated and frequently resolved only through litigation. However, there is a universal distaste for these non-native pests that are damaging our forest ecosystems, regardless of individual, agency, citizen's group, or corporate viewpoint. Therein lies common ground among all that are concerned with forest ecosystems and the environment in general. Where there is common ground, a cooperative planning process can begin to manage our forests wisely for the multiple values that they can provide. Hopefully, the Panel's submitted report and today's joint hearing will be the initiation of this process that will provide the foundation for properly addressing the overall health of our Nation's forest.