Forest Service:

Better Reporting Needed on Reforestation and Timber Stand Improvement

RCED-91-71: Published: Mar 15, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed the reliability of the Forest Service reporting on national forest land: (1) needing reforestation or timber stand improvement; and (2) where reforestation or timber stand improvement activities have been successful.

GAO found that: (1) Service reports understated reforestation needs and did not always identify all needs resulting from forest fires and other natural disasters; (2) from fiscal years 1985 to 1990, reported reforestation needs rose from about 822,000 acres to over 1.2 million acres, while reported timber stand improvement needs decreased from 1.5 million to 1.2 million acres; (3) the nine Service regions used several different methods to identify and report reforestation needs resulting from forest fires or other natural disasters; (4) each Service region followed its own criteria for defining timber stand improvement needs; and (5) none of the regions certified and reported all reforestation and timber stand improvement achievements, making it difficult for Congress to accurately assess the reforestation and timber stand improvement achievements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service incorporated the recommendation in its Renewable Resource Uses for Knutson-Vandenburg (K-V) Fund Handbook--2409.19, effective August 24, 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to ensure that the additional guidance the Service is currently preparing on reforestation and timber stand improvement needs instructs the regions to: (1) identify and report all reforestation needs resulting from forest fires or other natural disasters on a more consistent and timely basis; (2) identify and report all timber stand improvement needs on a more consistent and timely basis; and (3) report all timber stand improvement work planned for the coming year.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service incorporated the recommendation in its Renewable Resource Uses for Knutson-Vandenburg (K-V) Fund Handbook--2409.19, effective August 24, 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to improve guidance on the certification of reforestation achievements and permit forest technicians to certify those achievements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service incorporated the recommendation in its Renewable Resource Uses for Knutson-Vandenburg (K-V) Fund Handbook--2409.19, effective August 24, 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to improve guidance on the certification of timber stand improvement achievements and, in doing so, accept approvals of timber stand improvement contract payments as certification of successful timber stand improvement achievements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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