Need To Concentrate Intensive Timber Management on High Productive Lands

CED-78-105: Published: May 11, 1978. Publicly Released: May 11, 1978.

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A 1974 report noted that the Forest Service had a reforestation backlog, including 13.4 million acres needing timber stand improvements (TSIs). The report found that the Service's land inventory data were inadequate because it did not show specifically the location and condition of the lands needing reforestation and TSI. Fund allocation procedures had not insured that appropriated funds were used where reforestation and TSI would result in the best possible timber growth and other multiple-use benefits such as improved recreation, watershed, and wildlife areas.

Since the report was issued in 1974, annual appropriations for reforestation and timber stand improvement work have increased from about $33 million to about $73 million, the Congress has enacted legislation to provide for obtaining the best possible benefits from reforestation and TSI investments, and new timber management plans for national forests have given more attention to reforestation and denuded lands and intensified management. However, many problems still exist. The Service has not: obtained adequate land inventory data, used economic analysis techniques to determine project priorities, stored all land inventory data in a central automated system for easy retrieval, or made or set target dates for using analyses required for investment decisions. Projects were still selected on the basis of individual forest managers' assessments of land condition, land topography, and site accessibility and may not have been cost effective. The basic problem may be the Service's management philosophy for its program.

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