The Economic Reality of Salvage Logging
They Predicted Job Creation...
When he was promoting the passage of the salvage logging rider last summer, Congressman Taylor (R-NC) claimed that the rider would "create approximately 22,900 direct and indirect forest product industry jobs."
...But What REALLY Happened?
An analysis of total timber industry jobs in the major salvage logging states (OR, WA, ID, MT, and CA, which provided 87% of the salvage receipts for 1992 -1994) showed no increase in jobs since the 1995 passage of the salvage rider. By Congressman Taylor's account, these states should have had an extra 20,000 jobs. But they show little net change.
They Predicted Increased Revenue...
Taylor expected the new jobs would generate an extra $150,000,000 to the Treasury in the form of federal taxes paid by new workers.
... But What REALLY Happened?
With no change in the total number of workers, an increased tax revenue to the Federal Treasury will not occur.
You Pay Not Once but THREE TIMES, as a Result of Salvage Logging
- You pay for the trees to be cut
- You pay for the trees to be replanted
- You and future generations pay for ecological damage and the other hidden costs
1. You Pay for the Cutting
Salvage Sales Add to the National Debt
Revenue from Salvage Logging Will NOT Go to the U.S. Treasury
- The General Accounting Office report on the Forest Service timber program for 1992-1994, which groups together green and salvage sales, states that 18 billion board feet (BBF)* were cut from 2.2 million National Forest acres and actually increased the national debt by $1 billion!
- see the fact sheet:"How to visualize board feet"
- 103 out of the 118 sales that were classified as salvage/green lost money, including all of the sales that occurred in Idaho and Montana. It cost you, the taxpayer, an average of $450/acre to log the public lands.
Hidden Costs of Roadbuilding and "Research"
- As reported by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), "the Forest Service has never transferred any excess salvage sale revenues to the U.S. Treasury." Rather, any profits are added to the Timber Salvage Sale Fund. This Fund's money is used to perpetuate and/or expand salvage logging efforts. But total costs of salvage logging are not covered by the Fund, and require further appropriations.
- The net effect of extra logging under the Emergency Salvage Logging Program is a cost to the Federal Treasury of over $50 million.
- The Forest Service's distorted bookkeeping calls road construction income.
A road is considered an asset, although roads require maintenance, which is
an expense, and roads cause damage to fisheries and other resources during
their construction that often contribute to erosion and flooding. When road
construction is viewed this way, the salvage timber sales look more profitable,
when, in fact, federal taxpayers pay the price for new road construction.
- The Forest Service appropriated $178 million in 1996 and almost $200 million in 1995 for research primarily for commercial applications. An example is the total national inventory that occurs every ten years classifying all sellable timber by ownership, class and size. This information is free to the timber companies. Commercial research should be terminated or only conducted if the full costs of the research are paid by its commercial benefactors.
2. You Pay for Replanting
- Forest Service costs for planting and seeding on cut acres as a part of tree regeneration for the years 1977-1994 totaled $2,449,900,000.
- This figure does not show that only 49% of the planted acres received satisfactory regeneration certification. When a plantation fails, it is re-entered as a new planting. The cost works out to $314 per acre planted. Considering that 51% fail, this is a waste of about one and a quarter billion taxpayer dollars.
3. You Pay for Ecological Damage and Other Hidden Costs
Why are the Public Land Timber Sales so Frequently "Below Cost?"
Most taxpayers are unaware that salvage logging, in addition to degrading our public lands under the banner of "health crisis," is also a drain on everyone's wallet. Taxpayers are subsidizing logging on federal land because timber companies are not responsible for any indirect (hidden) costs associated with their cutting, so the onus rests on the national and local public to pay. Some of the reasons costs are overlooked include:
Now how about some Ecological Facts.
- The amount that timber companies pay for the logs they remove from federal
lands is often less than the costs federal agencies incur to sell the timber
(preparing and administering the sale).
- Logging will cause an increase in the level of sediment in streams and rivers. Taxpayers will pay the costs of dredging waterways, repairing roads and removing sediment from water supplies. For example, it cost about $1 million to clean up more than 500,000 tons of debris and repair the road associated with the slide of Quartz Creek on the Clearwater National Forest, where heavy logging took place. This is just one storm in one area; it will cost taxpayers more than $8 million to repair damaged forest logging roads in Northern Idaho and Western Montana.
- Taxpayers will pay to cope with damage to ecosystems caused by destructive logging and roadbuilding practices. Some effects frequently associated with logging and roadbuilding include fragmentation of the habitat of wide-ranging species such as the grizzly bear, degradation of critical habitat for rare and sensitive species, a lowering of water and soil quality, and a general decrease in biodiversity.
- Property owners will have to pay whenever logging on federal lands causes them to incur extra risk of flood damage on private property adjacent to logging areas. Flood damage is often greater during storms and snow melts in logged areas.
- Based on a Department of Agriculture study of the costs of off-site damage of sediment, the value of the damages associated with cutting 4.5 BBF will total about $58.5 million.
- The commercial and recreational fishing industry will suffer reduced income as logging degrades essential salmon habitat and lowers viable salmon populations.
- Businesses downstream of timber extraction will incur extra costs due to the sedimentation of water they use in various processes.
- Business owners and workers will suffer. They will have to pay extra unemployment insurance costs because the timber industry does not cover all of its costs. Based on Idaho timber company data, a 4.5 BBF harvest (the total anticipated harvest under the Emergency Salvage Logging Program) would impose an estimated $13.5 million on other industries.
- Non-commercial values, such as recreation, aesthetic, ecological functions and spiritual values, will be compromised by the destruction linked to logging practices. These values cannot be converted to dollar figures, and so are ignored in the Forest Service's cost/benefit analyses.
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