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Nonfederal public forests.

Nonfederal public forests have traditionally received much less public attention than federal timberlands. However, these state, county, and Indian-owned lands comprise a significant resource totaling 39 million acres, which is especially impressive when you stop to think that the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management manage 97 million acres of commercial timberland.

Between 1952 and 1987, nonfederal public timberlands increased by 4 million acres while federal timberlands decreased by 21 million acres of timberlands reserved for wilderness areas. This opposing trend has resulted in increasing recognition of nonfederal public lands as an important national resource.

In fact, a major strategy for stimulating more intensive management of these lands, as well as nonindustrial private forestlands, was proposed in the 1990 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Program-the long-range strategic plan for our nation's forest and range resources. The purpose of the new strategy is to increase timber production on nonfederal public lands and thereby allow a shift in emphasis for the National Forests toward recreation, wildlife, fish, and water resources.

Because of the lack of consistent, comprehensive data on nonfederal public forestlands as a whole, we will focus here on timberlands. "timberlands" and other terms used in this special report.)

Eleven states contain more than one million acres of nonfederal public timberlands, while 29 others have between 100,000 and 700,000 acres. About half of these lands are located in the Northeast, 40 percent in the West, and 10 percent in the Southeast. More than two-thirds are owned by the states, while 18 percent are county lands, and 14 percent are Indian lands.

Many of these timberlands were not managed intensively in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 provided federal financial and technical assistance to state governments to begin planning for improved management on nonfederal forest and range lands. Since then, 48 states have undertaken comprehensive planning programs. Their experiences in developing and implementing plans have been extremely diverse, reflecting the varied nature of forest resources, objectives, and management agencies in each state.

Because of this diversity, it is difficult to discuss the management of nonfederal public timberlands in a national context, so we will instead present six case studies that constitute a representative cross section. These six examples provide a sense of the various approaches taken by different states and also a feeling for what may be expected in the 1990s in the management of nonfederal public timberlands.

NONFEDERAL PUBLIC

TIMBERLAND IN THE U.S.

(State, County and Indian Lands)

STATE THOUSAND ACRES

MINNESOTA 5453

ALASKA 4664

MICHIGAN 3790

WASHINGTON 3626

WISCONSIN 3103

PENNSYLVANIA 2992

MONTANA 1262

OREGON 1244

ARIZONA 1231

IDAHO 1125

NEW YORK 1092

NEW MEXICO 693

FLORIDA 589

MAINE 537

LOUISIANA 498

NORTH CAROLINA 465

MASSACHUSETTS 434

VERMONT 409

TENNESEE 402

COLORADO 370

ARKANSAS 352

HAWAII 338

WYOMING 315

NEW JERSEY 287

VIRGINIA 286

MISSOURI 267

SOUTH CAROLINA 26i

MARYLAND 258

NEW HAMPSHIRE 252

OHIO 252

WEST VIRGINIA 250

MISSISSIPPI 237

CONNECTICUT 230

ALABAMA 210

CALIFORNIA 206

INDIANA 2o6

UTAH 197

GEORGIA 188

OKLAHOMA i68

SOUTH DAKOTA 129

ILLINOIS 97

TEXAS 93

RHODE ISLAND 79

IOWA 59

NORTH DAKOTA 55

NEBRASKA 35

KENTUCKY 34

DELAWARE 14

KANSAS 13

NEVADA 3

WASHINGTON

In Washington State, nonfederal public lands means mostly, but not exclusively, state-owned forests. The state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 2.1 million acres of commercial forestlands for trust beneficiaries including public schools, universities, county governments, and state institutions. Washington is one of few western states that retained the lands it was granted at statehood. In 1988, the trust lands generated $178 million in revenues for the state.

Management of Washington public forests took a new direction in 1981 with the election of Brian Boyle as Commissioner of Public Lands. Bringing a new vision to the state DNR and an ability to find innovative solutions to land-management conflicts, Boyle recognizes the agency's primary fiduciary responsibility to the trusts, but at the same time he makes certain that the state forests are also managed to enhance wildlife habitat, protect water quality, and provide recreational opportunities.

Expanding economic opportunities in the Northwest and the region's natural beauty have favored population increases. Projections call for another 1.5 million residents in Washington by the year 2010, bringing the head count to 6 million. These newcomers are tending to settle in areas traditionally managed as commercial forests, and they do not appreciate commercial forestry near their homes.

With some of the state's most productive forestlands increasingly speckled with residences, the DNR's top priority is keeping them in the commercial-forestland base. Development must respect the prior and continuing claim of forestry in this state," says Public Lands Commissioner Boyle.

MINNESOTA

Forests cover nearly 17 million acres of Minnesota-approximately one-third of the state's land base. The commercial timberland is divided nearly equally between private (47 percent) and public (53 percent) landowners. The proportion of forestland controlled by state and county governments is unusually large. In fact, Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation in state-owned land, behind Alaska, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In county ownership, Minnesota leads all of the states, with 33 percent of the nation's county-administered forestland. When viewed in totality, Minnesota leads the nation in nonfededal public timber landownership.

During the late 1970s, a great deal of interest in the status of Minnesota's forest industry emerged. According to John Velin, director of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR), there was "great concern as to whether state policy was sufficient to allow for a healthy forest capable of producing multiple-use benefits." Velin adds that the concern "stemmed from inadequate answers to questions about the condition of forest resources, projected timber demand, and long-term sustainability of forests, especially state-administered forests. In addition, county lands were not being managed up to their potential. " Increased funding for county programs has led to improved land management. For example, a stand-by-stand inventory of 6.9 million acres of state and county forestland was completed in 1986. Crow Wing County Land Commissioner Lans Hamilton, who is also the former chairman of the Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, sums up the situation by saying that a tremendous improvement in county land-management programs has occurred in the past 10 to 15 years "due to improved funding, recognition of the need for forest management by county boards, addition of new staff, and improved cooperation with the Minnesota DNR. " The 1980s saw a remarkable expansion of Minnesota's forest-products industry. Capital investments from new and expanding wood industries are projected to have increased threefold from the 1980s to the 1990s. In the opinion of Nelson French, director of government relations for the Minnesota chapter of The Nature Conservancy, management for ecological diversity on state lands also increased during the 1980s. In the coming decade, however, he predicts that persuading all parties to agree to a common agenda for protecting diversity will be a challenge. "Designation of areas that are known to contain endangered plants, animals, and communities will be a major issue says French. He believes that an important challenge for the 1990s will be gaining a better understanding of the impact of investments in forestry on the economy as well as on the environment. "We need to weigh the costs and benefits of subsidizing the forest-products industry," he adds. "Minnesota environmental groups are likely to scrutinize the economic aspects of forest management very closely. "

MASSACHUSETTS

At the turn of the century, Massachusetts was less than one-third forested. An annual report by State Forester Frank Rane described the situation in 1913: "To allow 1,000,000 acres of depleted and waste lands to lie idle in a . . . progressive state like Massachusetts . . . is accounted for only by the fact that forest products, like all other natural resources, have been cheap in the immediate past, it only being necessary to harvest the crop. From now on we shall find it necessary to plant and grow the crop to secure the harvest."

And plant they did. Today Massachusetts is about two-thirds forested.

The 1980s were years of change and controversy. The decade began with the largest gypsy-moth defoliation ever recorded in the Commonwealth. About 2.8 million acres, both forestlands and suburban areas, were affected in 1981.

As forested acres in Massachusetts have increased, so has citizen involvement in the development of resource policy. The expansion of suburbia has led to conflicts over forest use. "The public land manager's role is changing from that of an applied scientist to that of a diplomat, and the cruiser's vest has been replaced by a briefcase," says State Forester Tom Quink.

A Natural Heritage Program was established to develop a comprehensive database on the locations of rare and endangered species, with emphasis on Commonwealth lands.

Most of the public recreational facilities were built years ago and, like much of the nation's infrastructure, have suffered from a lack of maintenance. A recent survey indicated that most state facility managers feel that the sites need renovations to continue to meet public needs.

ARIZONA

This state is especially rich in Indian-administered forestlands. Four of the Indian tribes in Arizona have significant forests-the Hualapai, Navajo, San Carlos Apache, and White Mountain Apache. The intensity of forest management varies on each of the reservations.

A change began in the mid-1970s following the Self-Determination Act of 1975, which established the tribes' right to economic self-sufficiency and offered new opportunities for self-government. Economic independence was encouraged through the development of tribal natural resources-principally the harvest of ponderosa pine, which was accelerated toward annual sustained-harvest levels. (The pinyon-juniper forest is used extensively by tribal members for fuelwood and nuts.)

Forest management has remained under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, although some of the tribes have private contracts with the BIA. The Hualapai Tribe has contracted the entire forestry program on their reservation except for fire protection. The tribe has two professional foresters and a technical force that is compiling an updated forest-management plan. Once the plan is complete, the tribal council will determine the management of tribal forests. The area encompassed by the Navajo Nation contains over 16 million acres, an area larger than New Jersey. Of this vast land, 4.5 million acres are forested, with 523,000 acres being commercial sawtimber (prime ponderosa pine) and 4 million acres growing pinyon pine and juniper.

The ponderosa forest is utilized for wildlife, fish, grazing, recreation, and supplying timber to the tribe's sawmill enterprise at Navajo, New Mexico. The forest is managed under a sustained-yield 10-year management plan prepared by the Tribal Forestry Department.

Forest-management practices are new to the Navajos, and managing a forest the size of New Jersey with 28 personnel is a monumental challenge.

The White Mountain Apache Reservation contains 1.7 million acres in northeastern Arizona, commonly known as the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The northern half consists of 659,000 acres of commercial sawtimber and 414,000 acres of pinyon, juniper, and oak woodlands.

The coniferous forest supports an allowable cut of 79 million board-feet. During the'90s, demands on the forest are expected to intensify, particularly for lumber products and firewood.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe has contracted a part of the BIA Forestry Program, including timber sales, growth, management, and a portion of the fire-management program. At this time the tribe has hired three foresters and three permanent forestry technicians, along with several temporary technicians. The current forest-management plan period is 1982 to 1991. Approved by the tribe on May 2, 1989, the plan emphasizes integrated resource management.

The future for Indian forestlands depends to a large extent upon what the tribal governments decide. The tribes are beginning to visualize their future and are finding themselves the same social, economic, and environmental considerations as other American forestland owners.

FLORIDA

The state's Division of Forestry (DOF) is currently involved as the lead or primary manager on 336,190 acres of forests. These lands are managed under multiple-use principles to "provide the greatest combination of benefits to the people of the state." The DOF assists in the management of an additional 380,939 acres in cooperation with other governmental entities.

"Forestlands provide habitat for our wildlife and recreational enjoyment for our citizens," says Harold Mikell, director of the Division of Forestry, "as well as an $8 billion contribution to Florida's economy."

According to Mikell, "Between 1980 and 1987, the total number of forested acres in Florida fell from 17.1 million to 16.5 million acres, a loss of 600,000 acres. This loss is a concern to an industry that utilizes trees as its raw material. It is a concern to our conservationists and environmentalists because forestlands are the major contributor to Florida's clean air and water. It is a concern to millions of citizens who seek relaxation and recreation in our forests. "

Under Commissioner Doyle E. Conner's leadership, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service coordinated a series of four forums in 1987 to discuss the future of Florida's forests. The compilation of the hopes and fears and opinions and ideas of several hundred participants led to the development of a list of seven major concerns facing forestry in Florida. First on the agenda is improving forestry's image and educating Florida's citizens to understand how healthy forests contribute to their quality of life. Next are instituting regulations to improve cooperation and communication between agencies to avoid overlap and to simplify the application of brief, clear, and effective guidelines for all who use Florida's forestlands; improving the management of the state's shrinking wetlands; promoting a favorable business climate for an enlightened forest industry; providing protection from wildfires, especially where urban construction extends into wooded areas; granting forestry leaders greater responsibility for maintaining healthy wildlife habitat, especially where a growing population continues to encroach; and bringing forestry's influence, knowledge, and expertise into urban areas to help residents recognize the value of city trees. Hopes are high that the programs evolving from the public meetings will preserve Florida's forests for future generations.

ALASKA

As part of the Statehood Act of 1959, Alaska was granted the right to select 104 million acres of land. Of the total selected, an estimated 21.5 million acres have some form of tree cover. Approximately 4.6 million of those acres produce over 20 cubic feet per acre annually, and another 2.0 million acres produce 15 to 20 cubic feet of annual growth. Local small operators and private parties are permitted to use land of lower productive capacity on an intermittent, subsistence basis to obtain house logs and firewood.

Alaskan State Forester Bob Dick explains that the state's forestlands are managed under two scenarios. "Some of the lands are directly managed by the Division of Forestry [DOF), and others are owned' by other state agencies," he says. For those, the DOF Iacts as a management consultant. "

Joe Wehrman, who supervises planning for the DOF, notes that planning for development on state lands was begun by dividing the state into 22 Area Planning Units containing from 400,000 acres to more than 16 million acres. The plans for 10 of these areas are in progress or finished at this time. Public participation was encouraged to help identify primary and secondary uses for the land and general constraints intended to ensure compatibility among conflicting uses.

The proximity of some of the areas to the state's population centers affects some of the plans. The few road-accessible areas in Alaska are often crammed above capacity on holiday weekends. The Susitna, for example, is near Anchorage, where two-thirds of the state's population reside. Intense pressure is being exerted to leave the Susitna in its pristine condition.

The gross acreage of state land in which timbering is classified as one of the primary uses has increased from 3.2 million acres in 1986 to 6.2 million in 1989, largely due to the completion of the more remote Area Plans. Any form of forest management involving timber cutting tends to be controversial. Even legislatively designated State Forests are not proving to be secure land bases for resource development. The most productive and easily developed area in the Haines Forest, for example, was withdrawn from harvest at the request of river rafting interests. The drain of forestlands for single-purpose uses will take its toll on the potential to attract new forest-resource industries to Alaska.

Other effects on the forest resource include lack of vegetative management, which can result in major problems such as the spruce-bark-beetle epidemic on the Kenai and the Rosie Creek fire on the Tanana State Forest.

Are the Area Plans good moves for Alaskans? Only time will tell.

Despite all the constraints, 24 million board-feet are available to the public and forest industry annually.

"As oil revenues decrease in Alaska, other revenues and employment opportunities will be needed," says Bob Dick. "The DOF is moving to identify and implement opportunities to make forest management on state land a For Real' player in the Alaskan economy. "

The issues confronting Alaska, Florida, and the other states we've looked at are representative of the problems that arose during a decade in which public concern no longer focused on federal lands. Public outcry and debate challenged state and county forestland managers with tough decisions. AF

Number-crunchers and others may wonder why the forest-acreage figures used in this special section don't add up or don't agree with figures they may have seen elsewhere. Some explanation is in order.

The federal, state, and private entities that care for most of the nation's forests know a lot about one component of those lands-"timberlands," a term generally agreed to mean land that grows at least 20 cubic feet of wood per acre per year and is not "reserved" for other uses. We have used the timberland figures in the artwork spots that appear at the beginning of each of the articles here, because only in that component are the figures complete enough to permit accurate comparison among the forest-ownership categories.

Unfortunately, timberland figures exclude large forested areas, such as national and state parks, wilderness areas, and the like. For example, U.S. timberland, at 483 million acres, is only two-thirds of the total U.S. forestland, known to be about 727,072,000 acres.

The figure shown for world forests, 7.275 billion acres, is the Food and Agrigulture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)'s number for closed-canopy forest, roughly comparable with timberland statistics. The most reliable figure for total world forests is 10.18 billion acres.

The confusion here carries the message that-we still have a long way to go in understanding and managing the complex mechanism that is the forest resource.

How Forests Measure Up

Number-crunchers and others may wonder why the forest-acreage figures used in this special section don't add up or don't agree with figures they may have seen elsewhere. Some explanations are in order.

The federal, state, and private entities that cate for most of the nation's forests know a lot about one component of those lands-"timberlands," a term generally agreed to mean land that grows at least 20 cubic feet of wood per acre per year and is not "reserved" for other uses. We have used the timberland figures in the artwork spots that appear at the beginning of each of the articles, here, because only in that component are the figures complete enough to permit accurate comparison among the forest ownership categories.

Unfortunatel, timberland figures exclude large forested areas, such as national and state parks, wilderness areas, and the like. For example, U.S. timberland, at 483 million acres, is only two-thirds of the total U.S. foresland, known to be about 727,072,000 acres.

the figure shown for world forests, 7.275 billion acres, is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)'s number for closed-canopy forest, roughly comparable with timberland statistics. The most reliable figure for total world forests is 10.18 billion acres.

The confusion here carries the message that we still have a long way to go in understanding and managing the complex mechanism that is the forest resource.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:The State of Our Forests; includes related information
Author:Mobley, Melody
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1989
Words:3341
Previous Article:World forests.
Next Article:Christmas for the birds.
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