National Forests:

Timber Utilization Policy Needs To Be Reexamined

RCED-88-31: Published: Nov 17, 1987. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1987.

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John W. Harman
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GAO examined the Forest Service's compliance with a timber utilization policy requiring that timber be offered for sale at its full tract value.

GAO found that: (1) 39 percent of 657 timber sales recorded in fiscal years (FY) 1985 and 1986 for 17 national forests in Montana and Idaho were advertised at amounts lower than GAO calculations of the tracts' values; (2) the total difference between the tract value and the advertised minimum bid price for these sales was about $16 million; (3) the Service did not make the required calculations to determine tract value; (4) personnel believed that the utilization policy was no longer relevant and that sale below the full tract value was justifiable on certain bases; and (5) regions did not follow requirements to calculate the cost of removing saleable but uneconomical trees for silvicultural treatment purposes and to subtract those costs from the tract value.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service eliminated the outdated policy.

    Recommendation: The Chief, Forest Service, should reconsider the relevance of the timber utilization policy under present conditions. Depending on the outcome of this analysis, policies and procedures should be updated or compliance with the manual's provisions should be enforced.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service


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