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Forest watch II: still waiting.

Last month we reported that a scientific task force had been commissioned by President Clinton and given a June 2 deadline to develop a range of policy options for managing timber harvesting in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. We also pledged to provide an update of that group's actions.

Here is a status report.

June 2 came and went with neither fanfare nor an official announcement of the forest-study group's progress. Industry sources we contacted indicated that a public disclosure disclosure of the group's recommendations would most likely be delayed for several weeks.

Relative to a recent Associated Press report, no news was good news for the logging industry. The May 31 AP report attributed unidentified administration sources as saying the scientific task force leaned toward recommending that old-growth timber harvests be reduced by 60 percent or more of what they were in the mid-1980s. That translates into a maximum annual harvest of 2 billion board feet, down from a high of 5 billion board feet.

As a nation, the United States consumes more than 40 billion board feet of softwood timber annually. Up until a couple of years ago, before Judge William Dwyer's landmark northern spotted owl decision sealed off large tracts of the national forests from logging activities, national forests accounted for about one-third of U.S. softwood needs. That figure has dipped to 22 percent, with about 30 percent of the softwood demand being met by Canadian imports and 1 percent by other foreign sources. Private forests have been pushed to pick up the slack, which gives additional incentive for their owners to plant more trees. Higher lumber prices, however, also create a new impetus to cut down trees before they fully mature.

If private forests are unable to meet the nation's long-term lumber supply needs, the obvious question becomes, where will the additional wood come from?

Shepard Tucker, a spokesman for the American Forest & Paper Assn., based in Portland, Ore., says he knows. "The answer is one that environmentalists will not find appealing. The wood will come from Russia or Third World countries where they do not have reforestation"

In more ways than one, we might add, at what cost?

Where does your company stand?

The availability, cost and quality of lumber, and of course, sustainability of timber and nature, are issues that smack at the heart of the woodworking industry. We find ourselves regularly talking to readers about these matters whenever the opportunities arise. But we have never attempted to quantify the information, until now.

If you have a minute, please grab a pen and use the postage-paid Reader's service Card to respond to the following questionnaire. If you would prefer, mail your responses to: Rich Christianson, Wood & Wood Products, P.O. Box 1400, Lincolnshire, IL 60069 or fax them to (708) 634-4379. Written comments are encouraged.

We'll share the results in an upcoming issue. Thanks in advance for your help.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Christianson, Rich
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:488
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