NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Businesses Oppose Logging In National Forests

August 12, 1999

Business groups have traditionally supported efforts by logging interests to harvest trees in the West. But a coalition of businesses in the Sierra Nevada mountains is siding with environmentalists in efforts to pare down the Clinton administration's plans to greatly increase logging in the area.

In a letter to U.S. Forest Service officials, 52 business leaders have asked the agency to reject recommendations by its staff that logging be as much as tripled from current levels across a swath north of Lake Tahoe (which lies on the border of California and Nevada).

  • The reason for the shift in business sentiment, observers report, is that the rural West's economy has shifted more toward recreation and tourism recently and away from timber, mining and other resource industries.
  • Logging of public lands is under such scrutiny that a federal judge in Seattle last week halted nine timber sales approved under President Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan because they failed to include mandated surveys of threatened species.
  • Largely because of environmental restrictions, logging in national forests fell 74 percent between 1987 and 1997 -- to 3.3 billion board feet from 12.7 billion board feet.
  • Logging interests have become increasingly concerned that the buildup of old and diseased trees in national forests, due to the wane in logging, could lead to major fires.

Experts say that logging contributes little today to the Sierra's economy, while tourist businesses -- such as rafting outfitters and apparel shops -- are an increasingly important sector of local economies. Members of the business coalition say they will go to court if necessary to cut back the timber plans.

Source: Jim Carlton, "Business Coalition Protests U.S. Plan to Greatly Increase Logging in the West," Wall Street Journal, August 12, 1999.


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