Administration of the Federal Ban on Exports of Unprocessed Federal Timber

T-RCED-90-51: Published: Mar 20, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 1990.

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GAO discussed the implementation of the federal ban on exports of unprocessed federal timber. GAO noted that: (1) Congress imposed the restrictions in 1973 because of the adverse impact of federal timber exports on the domestic wood-processing industry; (2) the ban's provisions allowed timber-exporting companies to maintain their historic export levels for private timber and to buy federal timber to replace the private timber they exported; (3) exports of unprocessed timber from Washington and Oregon increased by about 1 billion board feet between 1984 and 1988; (4) the Forest Service's and the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) regulations for controlling timber replacement differed significantly; (5) neither agency regulated companies' exports of federal timber acquired through intermediaries; (6) the Service and BLM lacked adequate oversight and monitoring controls, since both agencies relied almost solely on purchasers' unverified reports regarding timber exports and on members of the industry to inform them of suspected violations; (7) vaguely defined boundaries for historic export levels and limited penalties made enforcement of the regulations difficult; and (8) both the Service and BLM planned to institute improved internal controls that would include at least selected testing of information provided by timber-exporting companies.

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