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Timber Shortage or Timber Abundance in the U.S.A.

Chief of the united States Forest Service

This article is part of the official report submitted in 1946 by Mr. Watts, Chief of the United States Forest Service, to the Secretary of Agriculture. It was thought that this report was of such outstanding interest that even though it had already been published, it should be made available to the readers of UNASYLVA. Especially to readers outside the United States of America, it will present an authoritative and engrossing picture of forestry conditions in that country and of the efforts being made to bring full-scale systematic forest management to a nation that has realized that even its own "unlimited resources" need care and husbandry. There can be no doubt that what Mr. Watts has to say can not be repeated often enough.

The Division of Forestry and Forest Products of FAO wishes to acknowledge its indebtedness to the United States Department of Agriculture for permission to publish this text.

OUR forests today are not supplying enough timber products. While thousands search desperately for places to live, construction of urgently needed dwellings is hampered by lack of building ma serials. Lumber is perhaps the number one bottleneck. Plywood also is seriously short. Our special efforts to meet housing needs have caused restrictions on other essential uses of lumber - for business and industrial construction and repair, for farm buildings, for manufacturing numerous products, for boxes and crates to move commodities to consumers. We are now unable to meet world-wide needs for lumber exports. Pulp and paper are short, with demands mounting. Newsprint supplies are still restricted.

Manpower shortages and the shortage of operating equipment, supplies, and repair parts were major factors affecting lumber production during the war years. Some of these difficulties, together with labor unrest, continued to retard production in 1946.

These are temporary difficulties. It has become increasingly evident, however, that shortage of standing timber in many localities is a major deterrent to increased lumber production. And this is not a matter that can quickly be remedied. Long before the war, timber shortage had curtailed output in the older timber-producing regions - New England, Pennsylvania, and the Lake States. During 1946, shortages of pine timber big enough to make good lumber were pronounced in various parts of the South. Even in the West some localities are feeling the pinch; industry is reaching toward the more remote stands of timber, searching for new "logging chances."

A rapidly growing pulp and paper industry is competing with lumber producers for available timber. Heavy demand for poles and piling likewise means competition for available timber, especially in the South.

The plain fact is that our supply of readily accessible, merchantable standing timber is running low. Sufficient manpower, equipment, and sawmill capacity no doubt will be available in the next few years for a much larger output of lumber, but the increasing scarcity of good timber will continue to limit the level of production.

The present shortage of timber products, therefore, will not be of short duration. It will last until we grow a great deal more saw timber, and you can't grow trees of saw-timber size overnight. We are becoming more and more dependent on the size of our annual timber crop. And our annual timber crop is not big enough to supply the nation's present appetite for timber products. It it far short of what we are likely to need for a strong, expanding economy in the future.

For years, every annual report of the Forest Service has warned that we cannot continue to eat into our forest capital without serious consequences. The Forest Service does not wish, however, merely to say "I told you so. " Rather, it would emphasize, with all the strength it can command, that we can grow the timber we need, and that it is high time we increased our efforts to do so.

The world forest situation

Timber shortage is general throughout most of the civilized world. The Technical Committee on Forestry and Primary Forest Products of the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture reported in 1944 that -

"In the face of... rapidly multiplying uses for wood which create ever-mounting wood needs, the world is confronted by the inescapable fact that the forests - sole source of wood - are steadily diminishing. "

Fig. 1. State-owned virgin mixed hardwood timber in Wisconsin

Over 60 percent of the softwood timber upon which the world depends for construction material is in North America and Europe. Of the once heavily forested continent of Europe, the report says, only three countries now have appreciable quantities of timber beyond their national needs. Life among the crowded millions in China and India is forced to adjust itself to the privations imposed by chronic wood starvation.

Today less than 15 percent of the world's timberlands are being handled as a renewable, continuously productive resource, the committee states. About two-thirds of the world's forests receive neither care nor protection.

We cannot look to foreign sources, therefore, to supply any substantial part of our lumber needs. Europe and Asia cannot meet their own. The undeveloped forest resources of the tropics may supply greater quantities of cabinet woods and specialty items, but they cannot take the place of the coniferous forest of the Temperate Zone. During the war years, Canada supplied us with about a thousand million board feet (2.36 million m³)1 of lumber a year. We can expect little if any more in the postwar years. Canada, like the United States of America, faces a dwindling supply of accessible saw timber, and other nations besides us are clamoring for Canada's present exportable surplus.

1 Converting factors for board feet differ according to whether reference is to sawn logs or round logs. 1,000 board feet of round logs = 4.53 m³; 1,000 board feet of sawn timber (solid content) = 2.36 m³.

Even now we are importing about a third of our pulp and paper, largely from Canada. We can look to some increase in the supply from our northern neighbor, but, by and large, any increase in our requirements for pulp and paper products will have to be met by our own production.

So, in large part, we shall have to grow our own. We would do well, moreover, to work for an annual timber crop large enough to provide liberally for domestic requirements, to increase the opportunity for healthy export trade, and to create reserves to draw on in time of need as a measure of national security.

In working for timber abundance, we shall at the same time be increasing the many other values and benefits that thriving, well cared for forests give. We shall be improving the protection of watersheds, safeguarding water supplies, reducing the menace of floods. We shall increase the opportunities for whole some outdoor recreation; improve habitat for wildlife. We shall provide a better economic background for sound community development in forest regions. We shall restore scenic beauty to ugly areas of depletion, make our country a yet more pleasant one in which to live.

The United States timber supply

During 1945-46 the Forest Service made a reappraisal of the nation's forest resources in order to cheek up on current trends in the forest situation, evaluate progress, and provide an up-to-date factual basis for conservation objectives and policies. The results will be made available in detailed reports; only some of the high lights need be given here. They show plenty of cause for concern.

In 1909 the Bureau of Corporations estimated the total stand of saw timber in the United States of America at 2,826 thousand million board feet (12,800 million m³). The reappraisal estimate, as of 1945, is 1,601 thousand million board feet (7,250 million m³). This would indicate that in 36 years the nation's wood pile has been reduced by 44 percent.

There is every reason to believe that the drop in volume of standing timber since 1909 is much greater than indicated. Many kinds of trees which were then considered of no value are now being used and are included in the 1945 estimate. Also much smaller trees are classed as saw timber these days, especially in the eastern half of the country. (Saw timber in the reappraisal estimate means all trees big enough to saw into lumber, whether used for that purpose or not.)

The reappraisal estimate of the nation's saw-timber stand is 9 percent-less than the estimate made by the Forest Service in 1938 for the Joint Congressional Committee on Forestry.

These over-all figures do not show the full picture as to character of timber, trends within states, or as to individual species of trees. More than half of the present total saw-timber stand is in what is left of our virgin forests; 96 percent of the virgin timber is in the Western States. But not all virgin timber is high-quality timber. Perhaps a third of it is of relatively low-value types, such as lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta Dougl.

The second-growth stands, upon which we are becoming more and more dependent, are not producing the quality and kinds of timber needed for many uses.

In Mississippi the saw-timber volume of all species has declined 15 percent since the middle thirties. But there has been a 32-percent decline in the volume of pine - the state's most important timber species. In northeast Mississippi, pine volume dropped 64 percent.

In New England and the Middle Atlantic States, high-grade white pine, Pinus strobus L., is practically a thing of the past. In the Lake States there is in sight at the present rate of drain only a 6- to 8-year supply of yellow birch, Betula lutea Michx., suitable for the high-quality veneer so much in demand during the war. Indications are that there is not enough spruce in the Lake States to sustain the present demand for spruce pulpwood another 20 years. One Wisconsin pulp mill is bringing wood a thousand miles from the Rocky Mountains.

Hickory handle material is growing scarce in the Central States. Barrel makers are combing large areas for white oak, Quercus alba L., stave material. The supply of white oak that will meet the requirements for ship timbers is already virtually exhausted.

In the South, stands of softwood trees that would yield large, heavy structural timbers are getting scarce. Several hardwood sawmills have closed because of the scarcity of quality logs.

The quality situation is beginning to tighten up in the West also. The supply of Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis Carr., suitable for aircraft use was inadequate to meet wartime needs. Competition is becoming more intense between plywood manufacturers and lumber mills for Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga taxifolia Britt., logs of peeler grade.

Fig. 2. Trappers Lake in Colorado

Quality decline is noticeable not only in the growing scarcity of choice, sought-after trees, but in the general deterioration of many timber stands. Long years of "creaming" the forests for desirable timber has resulted in reduction in the percentage of valuable species, and a consequent increase in the proportion of low-value trees. Large areas in New England, for example, have been taken over by such inferior species as gray birch, Betula populifolia Ait., aspen, Populus tremuloïdes, and pin-cherry, Prunus pennsylvanica L., or highly defective trees of the better species. Clear-cutting the second-growth hardwood has resulted in stump-sprout stands of value only for fuel wood or other low-grade products.

Destructive logging and repeated burning since colonial times have reduced three-quarters of a million acres (300,000 hectares) of oak-pine land in New Jersey to a virtually nonproductive status. Similar conditions in eastern Pennsylvania have converted large areas to scrub oak. Millions of acres of former pine lands in the Lake States now bear scrubby stands of aspen and oak. A considerable acreage in the Ohio Valley States is restocking to low-value sassafras, Sassafras variifolium Ktze., and persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L.

In the South, longleaf pine, Pinus palustris Mill., has been succeeded by scrub oak on more than 2 million acres (800,000 hectares). Inferior growth of hackberry, Celtis occidentalis L., elm, Ulmus, spp., ash, Fraxinus, spp., has replaced valuable oaks and sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, on 10 to 15 percent of the Mississippi Delta forest area. In the Piedmont of North Carolina, entire counties are now mostly covered with scrub hardwoods because the mills have virtually exhausted the pine timber and better hardwoods.

In the eastern half of the United States, there is a general downward trend in tree sizes. You can find mills cutting ridiculously small logs for lack of reasonably large timber. A survey of 118 plants in the Northeast showed that the average log size for 69 of these mills was 10 inches (25 cm.) or less. A canvass of hardwood mills in the Mississippi Delta revealed that many plants are operating on logs one-half or one-third as large as formerly. With small trees it costs more to saw the same amount of lumber. And you get a poorer grade of material. You cannot get big, choice, wide boards from tiny trees.

Present growth vs. present drain

In 1944 we took from our forests for lumber, fuel wood, pulpwood, and other products some 12,200 million cubic feet (345 million m³) of wood. To this must be added some 1,500 million cubic feet (42.5 million m³) lost as a result of fire, wind, and ice storms, and damage by insects and tree diseases. This makes a total annual drain of 13,700 million cubic feet (387.5 million m³). Against this drain, the amount of wood added to our timber stand each year by growth is estimated at 13,400 million cubic feet (379.2 million m³). In this near-balance, we must remember, however, that much of the drain is of high-quality material, while the growth is generally of poorer quality.

But in trees of saw-timber size - and the bulk of our forest industry depends on saw timber - drain is at the rate of 53,900 million board feet (244 million m³), while annual growth is only 35,300 million board feet (160 million m³). Saw-timber drain thus exceeds growth by more than 50 percent.

We are overdrawing our saw-timber bank account by about 18,600 million board feet (84 million m³) a year.

We can reduce the drain from natural causes by tighter fire protection and by more intensive warfare against destructive insects and diseases. Common sense dictates that loss and waste from such causes be reduced to the minimum.

But about 90 percent of the total drain comes from cutting timber for use. And we are still not getting as much timber as we need. The answer obviously, for the long pull, is to grow more timber. Meanwhile, some drastic adjustments are inevitable.

If prevailing practices and present rate of cut region by region were to continue, we could look to a further reduction of some 27 percent in our timber resources in another 20 years. Moreover, intensified search for high-quality trees would lead to a significant reduction in average quality of the saw timber that remains.

In board-foot volume, the greatest reduction of saw-timber stand is taking place in the Pacific Northwest. A 40-percent decline in 20 years is in prospect here. This would mean a reduction in saw-timber stand from its present 630.000 million feet (2,850 million m³) to 383,000 million (1,720 million m³).

Western forest industries grew up and still operate, in the main, on virgin timber. As new opportunities for operation in virgin stands play out, the West Coast States will be unable to maintain the present level of production. The West must look to its second growth for the future. There is danger that some of the second-growth stands in private ownership may be improperly and prematurely cut. This is already happening. An increasing number of small mills are stripping off the second growth, consuming the industry's future timber stocks.

The South has been optimistic about its timber future. But for the South as a whole, 20 years more of the present cut under prevailing practices would mean a reduction of one-third in the volume of saw-timber growing stock. For the Southeastern States alone, with drain currently 3.500 million feet (16 million m³) annually in excess of growth, growing stock is on a decline that will, if continued, reduce the saw-timber stand about 60 percent in the next 20 years. Since the South now accounts for about 45 percent of our total lumber production, timber depletion in this region materially affects the national production outlook.

Other eastern regions, producing about 10 percent of the nation's total dumber cut and 16 percent of the saw timber cut for all uses, have insufficient saw timber of suitable size and quality even to sustain present production levels much longer. Throughout these regions - New England, the Middle Atlantic, Central and Lake States - the big problem is one of building up the forest capital, or growing stock. With 36 percent of the country's total commercial forest area, they are capable eventually of producing a much greater share of the nation's annual saw-timber supply.

Prevailing cutting practice

A field survey of prevailing methods of cutting was made for the first time as part of the reappraisal.

The analysis shows that a majority of large owners are doing a fair or better job. On nearly 30 percent of the operating forest land in industrial or other large private holdings cutting practice is good. But on the much larger area in small private holdings a high percentage of cutting practice is poor or destructive.

For all private forest land, cutting practice on 64 percent is classed as poor to destructive. Twenty-eight percent rates as fair; 7 percent as good. Only 1 percent is classed as of a high order.

Good cutting practice keeps the forest land continuously productive. It follows principles developed through years of research and experience in scientific forestry. It leaves the forest in condition to keep on yielding other and often better crops of timber.

Poor cutting practice strips the land of all present values without thought of the future. Or it mows down young stands prematurely, before they have reached the period of most productive growth. Or it high-grades the stand, taking out the best species and leaving a residue of poor, low-value trees. It is the type of cutting that has resulted in progressive deterioration of large areas of our forests.

"Fair" practice means that there will be some degree of restocking. But it will take "good" practice to build up an adequate growing stock. And to realize the maximum permanent values of forests will take practice of a high order.

The encouraging advances in good practice by industrial forest owners will not alone solve the problem of future national timber supply. Corporate and other large holdings represent only 15 percent of the total commercial forest acreage in private ownership. The other 85 percent is in medium-sized or small holdings; 40 percent is in farms.

It is on these forest lands in small tracts that the largest percentage of poor cutting prevails.

Can output be sustained without detriment to future crops?

It will take real effort over a long period to put our forests in condition to grow as much as we are likely to need for the future. Meanwhile, we face several decades of limited supply.

Because of growing-stock shortages, it seems unlikely that the eastern regions can ward off for more than a few years a substantial decline of saw timber cut below present levels. We shall have to draw heavily on the West, therefore, to hold up our national timber output during the years it will take to rebuild eastern growing stocks. But we must guard against unnecessary local depletion which will not only work hardship on the communities concerned, but wild also increase the pressure on other regions. Light partial cutting should be applied wherever it can be used to obtain more saw-timber growth without waiting for new stands to grow from seed. With new access roads and utilization of less-favored species, some sections of the West may be able to increase output somewhat for three or four decades. However. after the remaining virgin stands have been worked over, output may be expected to drop even below present levels.

In all parts of the country crowded young stands should be thinned to obtain faster growth, and premature stripping of young timber should be prevented. By these and other measures to build up an adequate and well-balanced growing stock we can lessen the difficulties of a period of restricted supply and eventually achieve our long-term goal of timber abundance.

If we fail to do this, the period of inadequate supply will be prolonged indefinitely.

The role of national forests

The national forests include 73 million acres (29 million hectares) capable of growing commercial timber crops. They contain one-third of the national saw-timber stand. They are being managed for continuous timber production. In recent years they have supplied about 10 percent of the nation's yearly lumber cut. With careful management of their timber resources, the national forests can help to cushion the shock of private timber exhaustion in many areas, and save many mill operations from shutdown. Eventually their total sustained-yield output of timber can be more than doubled. c

New roads now under construction or planned will provide a means of reaching inaccessible timber stands in the national forests.

For the long pull, the national forests can do a special service in production of high-quality material. The long period needed to grow trees big enough to make large timbers or certain specialty materials discourages many private owners. Such trees must be held many years, during which they bring in no returns to the owner. Public forests administered under long-term programs might well assume a substantial part of the country's future production of high-quality material. Special emphasis should be placed on producing timber of large size and high grade.

The future holds a promise for forestry

We must plan for a liberal use of timber in an economy of full employment. Unless we visualize a static America, there is no place in our thinking for any plan based on how little we might get along with.

How much timber is our nation likely to need in the future? As a part of its reappraisal of the forest situation, the Forest Service has endeavored to estimate how much we would be likely to use if we maintain a high level of employment and if suitable timber products are available in ample quantities at reasonable prices.

All told, it looks as though we should strive to build up the growth rate of our forests to something like 20,000 million cubic feet (566 million m³) a year. Of this, some 65,000 to 72,000 million board feet (294 to 326 million m³) should be saw limber. This estimate would provide a safe margin for security, for new and unforeseen uses, and for unavoidable losses, with a reasonable allowance for exports. It would also allow for what might be termed " ineffective growth, " such as timber growth in scenic and recreation areas, roadside strips, and other areas that we shall wish to reserve from cutting or where harvesting will be economically impracticable.

No one, of course, can say just how much timber we are going to need 50 or 100 years hence. Development of atomic energy and other scientific advances may bring radical changes in our way of living But such a versatile and useful raw material as wood - and a material that can be grown in continuing supply - should certainly have an important place. Although the assumptions on which the above estimate has been based are unlikely to be wholly realized for many years, particularly because of short supply, there seems to be no reason to believe that potential requirements for wood will be any lower.

Today nearly 90 percent of our timber supply comes from privately owned forest lands. In general, the private forest lands are the most accessible and potentially the most productive. We must continue to look to private forests for the bulk of our timber supply in the future.

Before the war, the lumber industry had little trouble producing as much as consumers demanded. There was enough accessible standing timber and enough mill capacity to turn out even more. Now the situation has changed. It is not likely that the industry will again be able to meet consumer demands in full for years to come. The outlook of a strong demand for forest products should provide a strong incentive for long-term investment in timber growing and permanent forestry operations. Private financing of timber-growing projects should be easier.

In the Forest Service's Report for 1944, it was noted that publicity emanating from organizations representing the forest-products industries often tended to lull the public into a false feeling of complacency about our forests - to give the impression that all was well, that there would always be plenty of timber. It is encouraging to note that the program of the American Forest Products Industries, Inc. - a promotion al organization representing major forest-industry groups - now places major emphasis on growing more trees. Its program calls for continuous growing of trees on every acre of land suited to that purpose, and for bringing the widest area possible under permanent forest management. Leaders in the forest industries realize that the timber supplies they will need in future years will have to be grown as a crop.

Designation of tree farms under sponsorship of forest-industry organizations continues. Started some five years ago in the Pacific Northwest, the tree-farm campaign has been extended to a number of states in the South and East. The owners are pledged to a program of timber growing. A trees-for-tomorrow campaign sponsored by pulp and paper companies in the Lake States is encouraging tree planting.

Many operators are doing a good job in utilization of timber formerly wasted. In the Pacific Northwest some companies are going over the land a second time to bring in small logs and chunks ordinarily left on the ground after logging. In some cases, small portable mills have been used in the woods to do a scavenger job on material left from earlier operations.

Some kinds of trees formerly ignored are now being utilized. Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta Dougl., on the west coast, for example, is no longer considered an unmarketable tree; it is being cut for power poles, box shook, and lumber.

A large plant to make industrial alcohol from wood waste near Eugene, Oregon, is expected to be in operation before the end of 1946. There are plans for it to turn out high-protein stock feed as a by-product.

All these things indicate that it is now economically feasible to step up management plans and practices well beyond what was considered feasible either on industry or public forest lands before the war.

We must, of course, be continually on guard against the pressure to overcut the forests. Heavy demand may increase the tendency of some operators to liquidate their timber at a rate and in a manner which will undermine future production.

Key to a permanent timber supply

A realistic, comprehensive, and progressive forest conservation program must aim at keeping our forest lands productive, building up our growing stock of timber, and making the one-third of our country that is forest land contribute its full share to the prosperity, security, and well-being of the American people. What will it take ?

More protection. - Where organized, intensive fire protection has been applied, it has amply demonstrated that forest-fire losses can be greatly reduced. Yet 136 million acres (55 million hectares) of forest land in the United States of America still lack any organized protection whatever. And fire control forces and facilities in most of the protected areas fall short of the needs.

We have no way of stopping lightning from starting fires. But 90 percent of the forest fires are started by man, largely through thoughtlessness, ignorance, or carelessness. Ninety percent of our forest fires therefore can be prevented, if and when every citizen can be made to realize the values at stake and the necessity for his individual co-operation.

Fig. 3. What unfortunately happens - clear cutting of private woodland in Oregon

Science has developed methods of combating some of the most destructive forest insects and diseases - the white pine blister rust and the pine bark beetle, Ips pini, for example. Research is giving promising leads to the control of others. But our combat forces out on the front line in the war against the pests and parasites of forest trees are far from adequate.

The drain on our forests caused by losses from fire, insects, and diseases is pure waste. It should be reduced to a minimum.

More planting. - We are carrying millions of acres of good potential timber-growing land as dead weight. This is land which repeated fires or destructive cutting have reduced to a status of virtual non-productivity. Some of the poorly stocked or deforested land may some day come back to a fair degree of productivity by natural means. For much of it, the best way to restore the land to usefulness in any reasonable time will be to plant trees. We need to step up our planning program tremendously, for a full-scale attack on the huge reforestation problem.

Less waste. - Less than half of the wood volume in the average tree cut now goes into usable products. Tops and limbs trimmed from felled trees, broken trunks, and cull logs are left in the woods. More waste occurs through the various steps of manufacture to the finished product. Many species of trees are not harvested because they are poorly suited in form or properties to present uses or present manufacturing methods. We need intensified research and experiment to develop methods for profitable utilization of these wasted materials. We need to encourage better integration of wood-using industries so that one plant will use the waste of another. Reduction in waste, more complete utilization of the forest crop, can help to stretch out our short timber supply, to keep us going while we grow more and better timber for the years ahead.

Better forest practices. - Only 8 percent of all private forest lands are receiving good management. On nearly two-thirds, cutting practice is poor to destructive. The general level of forest practice will have to be raised materially if we are to stop the downward trend of our forest resource and start growing more timber for the future.

We must put a stop to destructive practices. We must encourage wider adoption of really good management practices. Technical foresters have developed proved methods of managing forest lands for continuous production. The technical know-how must be carried out into the woods.

A forest-conservation program

These are the things we need to put our ailing forest resource on the road to recovery - more protection, more planting, less waste, better forest practices. We can get these things only by positive and aggressive action on a national scale. Here are the measures which the Forest Service believes are essential to an adequate program of forest conservation.

Regulation of cutting practices. - For several years, the Forest Service has advocated that the public exercise some measure of control over timber cutting and related practices. Some commentators have seen in this proposal a move toward extreme regimentation, socialism, or dictatorship. Actually, the proposal visualizes only those requirements sufficient to prevent the use of destructive cutting practices and to make sure that forest land will be kept in condition to continue growing reasonably full crops of timber Such regulation should encourage and stimulate progress toward sustained-yield forest management.

The Forest Service has suggested that the regulatory program might well be administered by the individual states, with Federal financial assistance, and in line with basic standards set up by national legislation. There should be provision for direct Federal administration, however, in the states which fail to take appropriate action within a reasonable time.

The Forest Service feels strongly that such a measure is necessary if we are to prevent premature logging of young stands and further deterioration of the timber-growing capacity of our forest lands.

Opposition to public regulation of cutting practices has come mainly from forest-industry organizations. It seems obvious, however, that the proposal fits industry needs today. Many industrial owners already have adopted good practice. Those operators who still use poor or destructive methods would be required to improve their practices. Competition would thus be on a more even plane. Also, relatively few forest-industry concerns have enough timberland of their own to supply all their needs. Many buy all or most of their timber from farmers and other small owners. By raising the general level of forest-management practices, regulation would help to safeguard their raw-material supplies.

Aids to encourage better management on private lands. - To make sure we have the best answers to the many problems of forest management, protection, and utilization and to find the answers to problems yet unsolved we should have an expanded program of technical research. Through research we can find even better and faster ways of growing timber. We can find ways to reduce waste and make the timber cut go farther

Fig. 4. The aftermath - logged over, burned over area in Pennsylvania

The technical information developed through research should speedily reach the owners who can put it into practice. At the present time the Forest Service is cooperating with state agencies in providing about 150 trained foresters to help farm-woodland owners. Although spread thin through 600 counties, these foresters are helping many a farmer to realize better returns from his timber while at the same time keeping his woodland in better productive condition. But such direct, on-the-ground service should be made available for 3¼ million farm-woodland owners in more than 2,000 forest counties. Similar service should be provided for almost a million small non farm owners of forest land who thus far have received little help. In addition, technical assistance and advice based on forest-products-research findings and other up-to-date information should be made available to small processing plants and to consumers to help them make better use of wood products.

We should encourage more forest planting on private lands. Under the Clarke-McNary law of 1924 Federal aid is now given to the states in growing and distributing tree nursery stock at low cost. Only farmers can now receive planting stock under this program. Authority for such aid should be broadened to include other forest landowners. The present $100.000 annual authorization for the work is far too small for any real attack on our reforestation job.

Development of co-operative associations of small forest owners also should be encouraged. Individually, small owners are short on bargaining power in marketing their forest products and on equipment and facilities for the most efficient management of their timberlands. Establishment of co-operative associations could be aided by legislation authorizing special studies in this field and loans as needed to carry the co-operatives through the pioneering stage.

Private owners usually have had little trouble financing an operation to liquidate grown timber, but credit facilities for long-term timber growing are often lacking. The Forest Service and the Farm Credit Administration have given the question much study. With cash so plentiful today, demand for forest credit is probably at low ebb. However, in the long view, it is believed that adequate credit facilities, especially for small owners, will be an important aid to forest conservation. Establishment of a federally sponsored forest-credit system to make long-term loans available on reasonable terms and on conditions adapted to the needs of private forest operators is recommended. Such loans should by all means be conditioned upon sound forest practice.

Forest owners also are generally unable to get insurance on growing timber. The Forest Service feels that forest insurance should be brought within the economic reach of the average owner. One means might be through expanding the authority of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

There is still need for improvement in forest taxation. In some states property owners feel that the present tax system militates against timber growing and adds to the pressure for quick liquidation. Inheritance taxes often have similar effect. The Forest Service stands ready to advise with states and agencies in their efforts to improve forest tax laws and their administration.

Private forest lands need more and better fire protection. The work on areas now covered should be brought up to par, and protection should be extended to the 136 million acres (55 million hectares) still unprotected.

Fig. 5. Repairing erosion damage in Ohio

More effective protection against forest insects and diseases is essential. The Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine and the Forest Service have recommended new legislation which will declare the Federal responsibility in nation-wide protection and provide prompt and adequate action to combat outbreaks of destructive pests and parasites. It will provide for state and private participation under flexible arrangements suited to varying circumstances.

More public forests. - The foregoing are measures that will help to encourage private enterprise in timber growing. They should go far toward raising the level of forestry practice on private lands.

There are a great many areas, however, that would best be in public ownership, managed and protected as national, state, and community forests. That is the only practical way to assure stable ownership and satisfactory management for those lands which are obviously not suited or destined for successful permanent private development, and for certain key areas where public values are of high importance.

Public ownership is the logical answer for certain areas in regions of scanty rainfall, poor soils, or extreme inaccessibility, where the prospective returns will be too small to offer much incentive for private development; also for certain forest lands that have so deteriorated that they offer no prospect of income for many decades.

For certain other areas, where there are acute problems of watershed protection or other needs vitally affecting the welfare of dependent communities, public ownership also twill be desirable.

Forest restoration and improvement - There would be little point in establishing public forests if we failed to develop their full potentialities. On national forests already established, 3¼ million acres (1.3 million hectares) of partly or wholly denuded land need to be brought back into production by planting. Much improvement work - thinning, pruning, etc. - needs to be done in young stands to speed the growth of usable timber and better its qualities. New forest roads must be built and old ones improved to facilitate use of the forests and give access to undeveloped areas. We need improved facilities for fire protection and reduction of fire hazards and additional administrative facilities.

To realize the full values of our national forests under multiple-purpose management, improvement work is needed. in other lines in addition to that calculated to increase growth of timber and facilitate its harvest. Within the national forests are range -lands which play an important part in the nation's production of meat, wool, and leather. Reseeding and other improvements are needed to increase the live-stock-carrying capacity of these lands. More facilities are needed to meet the increasing numbers of recreationists. Upstream work is needed to reduce floods. On state and private forest lands, an even larger amount of similar work is needed.

All such work for the rehabilitation and development of our forests is capital-improvement work - an investment that will pay back in increased yields of commodities or service. We are now engaged in a vigorous program of road construction to open up untouched timber for early operation. Range reseeding and other urgent projects are also being attacked currently. The work program could be greatly augmented when needed to help avoid or relieve unemployment. But the needs are so great that a forest-improvement program should not be deferred until we face acute unemployment conditions. A substantial program should be in operation at all times.

Timber abundance can be achieved

An abundant timber supply is essential if the United States of America is to maintain its place as a strong, progressive nation. Wood was a vital necessity in conducting the war; it is just as important to our progress and security in peace. Producing forests are the source of thousands of needed commodities. Producing forests mean jobs. They have an important part to play in maintaining the high level of industrial activity upon which full employment depends.

Our nation's forest lands can eventually be made to furnish in perpetuity all the forest products we are likely to need, and even help in some measure to supply the needs of other countries less fortunate. But it will take some real doing. The downward trend of our forest resource must be reversed. The scars of past misuse must be healed. We should aim to double our annual saw-timber growth.

And the time for a real, all-out attack on these jobs is now. Prompt action is needed to minimize the pinch of timber shortage in the years immediately ahead and assure abundant supplies of timber for the more distant future.

Photographs accompanying this article are reproduced by courtesy of the U. S. Forest Service.

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