By the Numbers: Tester’s Mandated Logging vs. Historical Logging

What follows is some information compiled from US Forest Service records regarding historical logging on the Beaverhead and Deerlodge National Forests.

The info will clearly demonstrate how Sen. Tester’s S.1470, which would Congressionally mandate a minimum of 7,000 acres of logging per year for ten years on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, would compare with historical logging on these same forests.

From 1959-1996 the Beaverhead NF averaged 1621 acres of logging per year. The greatest acreage logged on the Beaverhead NF in that time period was 4168 acres in 1987. The Reagan years average on the Beaverhead NF was 2697 acres of logging per year.

From 1954-1996 the Deerlodge NF averaged 1592 acres of logging per year. The greatest acreage logged on the Deerlodge NF in that time period was 4332 acres in 1971. The Reagan years average on the Deerlodge NF was 1916 acres of logging per year.

The average acres logged per year for the Beaverhead and Deerlodge forests combined from 1954-1996 was 3213 acres/year. The average acres logged per year on these same forests during the Reagan years was 4,613 acres/year.

The most acreage ever logged in a single year since 1954 on both forests combined was in 1971, when 7013 acres were logged. The next highest total was in 1966 at 5813 acres. These years were also prior to our nation having environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act.

Remember, Sen Tester’s bill would Congressionally mandate a minimum of 7,000 acres of logging per year for ten years on the BHDL NF. That amount of logging per year is not only more than double the historical average on these forests, but it’s the most amount of logging ever, except for one single year.

There is near universal agreement between the timber industry, Forest Service, conservationists, economists, scientists and the general public that the logging levels on National Forests during the logging hayday of the 1960s, 70 and 80s were completely unsustainable and misguided.

However, despite the current and on-going economic crises and resulting “Lumber Depression” (lumber demand down 55% and new home construction down 70%) Sen. Tester’s bill would have Congress step in and mandate a minimum level of logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF that far exceeds anything this forest has ever seen…at an estimated taxpayer cost of $100 million.

Furthermore, it’s quite clear that because Tester’s bill contains a number of “unfunded mandates” money would be taken from other national forests in Montana and the region and given to the BHDL NF to conduct this mandated logging and complete NEPA requirements for these large logging projects within the arbitrary 12 month timeline, which Tester’s bill imposes. (Note: NEPA typically takes the Forest Service 2 to 4 years to complete, and often even at that pace the NEPA assessment isn’t as complete as it should be).

This is just yet another concrete example of a serious concern many of us have that’s based on the actual language contained within the bill.

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