Presentation on theme: "Trust Management for National Forest Timberlands _____________ A concept proposal for A NEW APPROACH."— Presentation transcript:
Trust Management for National Forest Timberlands _____________ A concept proposal for A NEW APPROACH
This presentation is pertinent to legislation now being formulated by the House Natural Resources Committee and various members of the Congress. My hope is that it will be useful in bringing about changes needed to help our National Forests and other public lands better serve the public by meeting forest-dependent citizens’ basic need for jobs, community and family stability, adequate K-12 education, and solvent local government: needs that are not being met by current Federal Land Management. January, 2012 W.V. McConnell U.S. Forest Service, Retired This presentation was produced pro bono publico and may be freely distributed for that purpose. W.V. McConnell, Land Management Planner, Forester 2406 Carefree Cove, Tallahassee, FL
NATIONAL FORESTS ARE HAVING PROBLEMS Forest Industries shut down, jobs lost, communities destroyed. Dependent counties and school districts facing bankruptcy. Increasing mortality from insects, fire, and disease. Increasing fire hazard, intensity and control costs. Deteriorating wildlife habitat. Decline in the population of some endangered species.
THE PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF THESE PROBLEMS Timber resource non-management: A 80% decline in harvest over the past 25 years.
Federal land non-management - The result!
WHY has the National Forest timber harvest declined? What are the causes for the virtual non-management, of the timber resource on the Nation’s single largest forest-land ownership? They are many and their relative importance has been debated. Here are some frequently advanced reasons for the existing management gridlock and the resulting adverse impacts: Inadequate funding. Unending protests, appeals, and litigation by special interests with narrowly-focused agendas - resulting in varying judicial interpretations (Sept FS has 183 active lawsuits and 32 appeals) Shifting priorities by the Public and by the Executive Branch. Excessive, conflicting direction (2004: F.S. has 93 governing laws plus an unknown number of executive orders and directives). Excessive Planning and Environmental Analyses Diversion of resource funds to fire control. The proposal that follows addresses all of these issues.
TRUST MANAGEMENT Has been proposed as the solution to these problems Under this system --- The surface estate of selected non-reserved land best suited for producing timber would be transferred to an independent Trust and managed for that purpose as a quasi- domesticated ecosystem dedicated primarily to commodity production. Revenues from Trust Land would be used to: 1. Fund costs of management 2. Benefit local counties and schools 3. Revitalize existing forest industries and develop new ones. 4. Reimburse the USA for the value of transferred land Here’s how the system might work
TRUST MANAGEMENT I SELECT THE LAND II TRANSFER OWNERSHIP III MANAGE THE LAND A. EXPEDITE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW B. MINIMIZE LITIGATION IV DISTRIBUTE THE REVENUE
TRUST MANAGEMENT I. SELECT THE LAND The U.S. Forest Service with the assistance of, and subject to approval by, the Forest’s Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) will, at a landscape scale, i dentify non-reserved timberlands whose highest and best use is the production of commercial timber.
SELECT THE LAND A Florida Example – The Ocala National Forest
The 1972 Ocala Plan designated timber and wildlife as the featured resources in the shaded area. These lands could be candidates for Trust Management under one version of legislation now being considered by Congress. SELECT THE LAND How this might work in Florida
TRUST MANAGEMENT II. TRANSFER OWNERSHIP of the surface estate of the selected lands to a Forest Trust governed by 5 trustees -- 1 representative of the Parent Forest 1 representative of the Host State 3 representatives of the Parent Forest RAC (one from each of RAC membership categories): (a) commodity interests (b) non-commodity interests (c) public interests
TRUST MANAGEMENT III. MANAGE THE LAND The Trust will control and direct overall policy and management of the surface estate of its lands. Operational management will be accomplished: by the Parent Forest, Host State or by private contractor to maximize the production of commercial timber products and other revenue producers, following the practices currently used for state- owned or state trust-managed lands within the Host State, while accommodating other uses as may be necessary or desired.
TRUST MANAGEMENT EXPEDITE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND MINIMIZE FRIVOLOUS APPEALS & LAWSUITS Trust Lands, as selected lands whose surface estate is under non- federal ownership, managed under special provisions and for specific purposes, shall be subject to all applicable state and federal environmental laws and regulations but shall be exempt from the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, he National Forest Management Act and the Northwest Forest Plan. Litigation relating to the management of Trust Lands shall be subject to the English Rule pertaining to award of costs and damages under which the loser shall pay to the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and any costs or damages attributable to the lawsuit (e.g. value loss of timber due to delay in harvesting).
TRUST MANAGEMENT IV. REVENUES FROM TIMBER TRUST LANDS shall be distributed as follows: Retained by the Trust – a sum sufficient to finance the activities of the RAC and all other Trust related expenses and activities related to the production and utilization of commercial timber or other revenue producing resources and for ensuring the sustainability of those resources. At its discretion, the Trust may use retained funds to provide grants or loans to construct, upgrade, or reactivate wood utilization facilities within the timbershed of the Trust Lands. Monies not retained by the Trust shall be considered as “net revenues”. To participating counties and schools – a sum equal to ___% of the net revenues. To the Treasury of the U.S. as payment for transferred lands -- a sum equal to ___% of the net revenues.
DOES Trust management WORK ? In 2010, 63,200 acres of state-managed trust timberland (Elliot State Forest) in Oregon, managed for multiple uses but focusing on timber production, yielded a profit of ~$77 per acre while protecting endangered species, old growth stands and riparian forests. In FY 2010, the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon on 357,000 acres of near-by similar lands managed under the Northwest Forest Plan for “late successional habitat” (grow big, old trees) with “limited timber harvesting permitted to further primary objective” produced a loss* of ~$8.40 per acre. * The first of 5 key principles of the Northwest Forest Plan is “Never forget human and economic dimensions of the issues”.
COMPARE – U.S. Forest Service v. Trust Management Objective – Maximize revenues consistent with sound land management techniques. RESULT: A 2010 PROFIT OF ~$77/ac. Objective (under NW Forest Plan) – Create late successional habitat (Grow big, old trees). RESULT: A 2010 LOSS OF ~$8.40/Acre. Graphic representations are approximate and based on best available information. McC, Jan. 2012
TRUST MANAGEMENT SOME QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED: BY THE CONGRESS: Will Trust Management be “revenue neutral or positive” to the Feds? Should payment to U.S. for transferred surface estate be in the form of a percentage of revenues produced by those lands after transfer or as a stated sum ? How should transitional financing be handled? Should BLM and other federal timberlands be Trust Managed? BY THE TRUST: Should “on the ground” management, as directed by the Trust, be by the Parent Forest, the Host State, or by a private land management entity? Should payments to counties and schools be based on a set percentage of net revenues or be the equivalent of revenues produced under private ownership? How would non-revenue producing activities within Trust Lands be funded?
CHANGE WILL COME! HOW? Trust Management is one option Does the U.S. Forest Service propose another?
New times demand new mea- sures and new men; The world advances, and in time outgrows the laws that in our fathers’ day were best; And, doubtless, after us some better scheme will be shaped by wiser men than we, Made wiser by the steady growth of truth. James Russell Lowell