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Turbulence in the Northwest Timber Industry since the 1990’s. Federal Timberlands have been a battleground since the 1960’s

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turbulence in the northwest timber industry since the 1990 s

Turbulence in the Northwest Timber Industry since the 1990’s

Federal Timberlands have been a battleground since the 1960’s

Environmental Organizations seized the Endangered Species Act to seek protection for lands not administratively or Congressionally classified in the late 1980’s (petitioned in 1987)

The Fish & Wildlife Service denied the petition

After appeal to federal courts, FWS was ordered to reconsider, and then it concluded that biological data supported listing the Northern Spotted Owl

congressional agency and court responses in 1990

Congressional, Agency, and Court Responses in 1990

Congress tries to maintain USFS timber harvests at mid- 1980’s levels - under NFMA forest plans (sec.318)

Congress orders formation of an Interagency Scientific Committee “to develop a scientifically credible conservation strategy for the northern spotted owl.” The report (the Thomas report) was issued in 1990, and it recommended cutting logging in half, due to reservation of 5.8 million acres of federal land not previously reserved for habitat.

The FWS lists the owl as threatened, but did not identify land needed to provide critical habitat

Environmental groups appeal

judge dwyer s ruling

Judge Dwyer’s Ruling

After sec.318 expires, and appeal was made under NFMA so that: “fish and wildlife shall be managed to maintain viable populations of existing native and desired nonnative vertebrate species in the planning area of a national forest” (36 CFR 219.19)

Due to complexities of monitoring all species, an indicator species for the ecosystem was selected - The Northern Spotted Owl

In May 1991 Judge Dwyer issued an injunction ordering enforcement of this provision - leading to chaos and predictions of economic disaster

dwyer s rebuke of the administration

Dwyer’s Rebuke of the Administration

“More is involved here than a simple failure by an agency to comply with its governing statute. The most recent violation of [the NFMA] exemplifies a deliberate and systematic refusal by the Forest Service and the [FWS] to comply with the laws protecting wildlife. This is not the doing of scientists, foresters, rangers, and others at the working levels of these agencies. It reflects decisions made by higher authorities in the executive branch of government.”

congress orders another study the scientific panel on late successional forest ecosystems

Congress orders another study: the Scientific Panel on Late-Successional Forest Ecosystems

Study ordered in 1991 after Dwyer’s ruling

They concluded that continued logging in old growth damaged not just spotted owls, but salmon, and the overall integrity of old-growth ecosystems. Argued for managing the forests as ecosystems

This study precipitated a culture-change in the USFS, giving scientists a far larger role in forest plans

clinton steps in the northwest forest plan

Clinton steps in: The Northwest Forest Plan

In early 1993 - Northwest Forest Summit

Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team produces by 1994 the Northwest Forest Plan, which Judge Dwyer approves, lifting his injunction on timber sales.

USFS timber harvests could be as much as 1.1 bbf, versus the average of 4.5 bbf in the 1980’s.

Forecasts were made of community economic collapse due to harvest reductions


The Clinton

  • administration’s
  • attempt to
  • resolve
  • management
  • conflicts in
  • Northwest
  • National Forests
  • Partially implemented
  • Still controversial
washington state timber harvests
Washington State Timber Harvests

No data on

Indian lands

after 2006

gifford pinchot national forest harvest history
Gifford Pinchot National Forest Harvest History

Other National Forests Probably Mirror This History


Harvest Until WW-II

a sampling of timber related job loss forecasts
A Sampling of Timber-Related Job Loss Forecasts

Johnson et.al, Oct. 1991 11 to 61 thousand

Rasmussen et.al, 1990 109 thousand

Inst. of Forest Resources, 1990 48 thousand

Olson et.al 1990 147 thousand

FW Forest Resource C. 1989 131 thousand

Waters et.al 1990 37 thousand

USFS 1990 25 thousand

Source: ECONorthwest, The Sky Did not Fall, Table 2.5

mitigation programs in northwest forest plan nweai
Mitigation Programs in Northwest Forest Plan - NWEAI


NWEAI Funds by Category

Source: USFS PNW Research Station, PNW-GTR-465


Federal Agency

Organizational Chart

Northwest Forest



what has actually happened to community economies
What has actually happened to community economies?

Data are for the 1990-1996 time period.

Source: ECONorthwest, The Sky Has Not Fallen, Table 3.4

douglas county oregon
Douglas County, Oregon




  • * 2005 estimate jobs
  • # 2007 estimate jobs
  • $ 2010 estimate jobs
jefferson clallam




* - 2005 data jobs

W # - 2010 data jobs

clallam jefferson employment
Clallam-Jefferson Employment

2011 – Total =48,792

reconciling trends with forecasts of economic decline

Reconciling Trends with Forecasts of Economic Decline

ECONorthwest The Sky Did Not Fall argues:

Forests are more than trees; they also produce myriad goods & services, clean water, habitat. There is competition from these other users, and nontimber values have risen over time.

Actions like theDwyer decision precipitate chains of response in interest groups & the economy

The position of timber declined in the face of the diversifying regional economy.

northwest forest plan the nweai

Northwest Forest Plan & the NWEAI

USFS Assessment - Lessons Learned

Emphasize community interests & needs

It is difficult to balance long-term economic development objectives with short-term needs

There are varying community abilities to respond to economic development opportunities

There is a need to reach out to highly impacted communities

Job retraining is highly important

Trust must be built between federal agencies and communities

Need frameworks for evaluating program effectiveness


Required by

the Record of

Decision for

the Northwest

Forest Plan


Coos Bay District

is part of Douglas


Olympic National

Forest is partly

located in Clallam

and Jefferson


key findings socioeconomic monitoring 1
Key Findings Socioeconomic Monitoring (1)
  • Are predictable levels of timber and nontimber resources available and being produced? Timber: No, mixed results

Special Forest Products: Unknown

Grazing: No, but due to other forces (ESA)

Minerals: Change not related to plan

Recreation: Data problems, but mixed evidence, some categories up, some down

Overall: Mixed Results

key findings socioeconomic monitoring 2
Key Findings Socioeconomic Monitoring (2)
  • Are local communities and economies experiencing positive or negative changes that may be associated with federal forest management?

Using Census data they found population is growing, educational attainment and household income are increasing, poverty is decreasing. However, it is difficult to tie these changes to the Plan

Economies: 11,800 of 30,000 jobs lost in forest products due to reduced federal timber cut. Other changes are not addressed, and forces are acknowledged to be beyond the scope of the Plan

key findings socioeconomic monitoring 3
Key Findings Socioeconomic Monitoring (3)
  • “Consequently, the concept of community stability has come to be replaced by the concept of community resiliency-the ability of communities to respond and adapt to change in positive, constructive ways to mitigate the effects of change on the community.”
  • Agency jobs, budgets, and procurement has dropped
  • Long-term economic development & diversification: NWEAI-short-run: too little to late; long-run: too soon to tell. County payments in limbo. Public support continues for an eco-system approach to Forest management. Monitoring needs to be continued, and Plan goals are found to be still relevant.
recent issues
Recent Issues
  • The Healthy Forest Initiative
    • Roading and clearing of fire materials
  • The Clinton Roadless Rule
    • Bush Administration challenges
    • Court Decisions
    • Obama affirms the Clinton Roadless Rule
  • Private Forest Land Conversion to Non-Forestry Uses

– recent UW study

  • Industrial Forest Land Conversion to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s)
washington state timber harvests by owner 1950 2000
Washington State Timber Harvests by Owner 1950-2000

The National

Forest’s Burst

Of Production