NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Splitting Revenues From Logging National Forests

December 29, 1998

The Clinton administration wants to change the way the U.S. Forest Service hands back some of the proceeds it realizes from logging operations in rural counties. The proposal was defeated by Congress this year; it will probably be resubmitted next year, and has county officials worried.

  • The counties get a 25 percent cut of federal revenues from national forests -- which totaled payments of nearly $220 million to counties in 41 states this year.
  • The federal checks help pay for roads and schools near national forests -- which cannot be taxed by local governments.
  • The federal government wants to freeze the payments and no longer link them to the number of logs it sells.
  • But county officials contend national forests are often so large that they eat into their tax bases, and they want to continue to have a say in decisions concerning logging.

Environmental groups like the initiative because it would remove, in their view, an incentive to log the forests.

Adding to the counties' difficulties, the annual Forest Service payments are roughly $140 million lower than they were in 1989 because of a sharp decline in federal logging.

Federal timber sales brought in $577 million in revenues in 1997, although the program lost more than $88 million -- mostly because of road-building costs.

Source: AP, "Counties Worry About Losses of U.S. Money From Forests," New York Times, December 27, 1998.


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