Forest Service:

Distribution of Timber Sales Receipts, Fiscal Years 1995 Through 1997

RCED-99-24: Published: Nov 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 24, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Forest Service's timber sales receipts for fiscal years (FY) 1995 through 1997, focusing on: (1) the amounts distributed to specific Forest Service funds or accounts; (2) the outlays for preparing and administering timber sales; (3) the amounts of timber sales receipts transferred to the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury; and (4) any changes in the receipt distribution process that have occurred since GAO's last report.

GAO noted that: (1) during FY 1995 through FY 1997, the Forest Service collected about $1.85 billion in timber sales receipts and distributed about $1.7 billion, or about 92 percent, to Forest Service funds or accounts established for specific purposes such as reforestation, salvage sale preparation, and credits for roads that timber purchasers build; (2) during this same period, the funds not otherwise distributed--about $125 million--plus about $29 million from the Roads and Trails Fund were deposited into the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury; (3) to operate the timber program and to prepare and administer timber sales, the Forest Service expended about $1.2 billion in appropriations and other moneys during the period FY 1995 through FY 1997; (4) since GAO's September 1995 report, Congress, in April 1996, established an additional fund to be used to prepare future timber sales; (5) beginning in FY 1996, Congress omitted appropriation language requiring that the moneys in the Roads and Trail Fund be deposited in the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury; (6) also, since FY 1996, the Forest Service has been using a special appropriation provided by Congress for a portion of the required payments to the states affected by a substantial drop in the size of timber harvests--and, therefore, a substantial drop in payments to these states--as a result of listing the northern spotted owl as a threatened species; and (7) in addition, beginning in FY 1999, Congress eliminated the credit given purchasers for building roads.

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