NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Outperform Feds In Timberland Management

January 8, 1996

A new study shows that states win hands-down over the federal government when it comes to managing some of their natural resources for profit. The study was conducted by an economist with the Political Economy Research Center of Bozeman, Montana.

It compares the performance of timberlands run by the federal government and those managed by the states of Montana and Minnesota. The states were required to produce a profit from their resources to finance schools and local government operations.

Here's what the study found:

  • Although Montana had only about 8 percent as much land as the federal government, it generated $13.3 million in profits in the 1988-92 period -- while the U.S. Forest Service lost $42 million in that state.
  • St. Louis County in Minnesota reaped $2 million in profits from timber sales between 1990-93 -- while the federal government was losing $5 million on almost exactly the same amount of acreage.
  • Water quality studies in both places showed that the states' operations completely outperformed the feds.

Source: Tony Snow, "Timber! Another Clinton Idea Falls," USA Today, January 8, 1996.


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