Administration of the Federal Ban on Exports of Unprocessed Federal Timber

T-RCED-90-77: Published: May 8, 1990. Publicly Released: May 8, 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 unverified industry reports regarding timber exports 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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