New Interactive Maps Show National Forest Timber Sale Data

From Headwaters Economics:

Headwaters Economics produced two interactive maps that help users better understand the commercial activities on National Forests such as the timber economy–gross receipts, timber harvest sales, and timber cuts–at a variety of scales.

Gross Receipts from Commercial Activities allows users to view and download data on gross receipts from all commercial activities at the National Forest, State, and National Forest Region scale for the updated period Fiscal Year 1986 to 2013.

Timber Cut and Sold Reports allows users to view and download cut and sold data on timber volume, value, and price at the National Forest, State, and National Forest Region scale for the updated period Fiscal Year 1980 to 2013.

6 Comments

  1. This is an excellent resource. Thanks, Matt, for posting it.

    In 2013, “my” forest — the million-acre Mt. Hood — cut just over 39,000 MBF, for a value of $3 million, or $79.49/MBF.

    Steve

  2. Ya…the interactive map is cool…I’ll put it on my favorites. The FY 2014 3rd quarter USFS “cut and sold” reports just came out. The fabulous Willamette averaged $115/Mbf for doug fir…while the State of Oregon ODF timber sales have been averaging $430/MBF for doug fir. The Nez Perce in Idaho averaged $136/MBF…while the Idaho Department of Lands has been averaging $250-300/MBF. (of course, with so little volume sold on the Nez Perce and Panhandle it’s hard to get a statistically significant number outa them). Montana is a little better…the Kootenai got $200/MBF while the Montana state lands get $200-$250/MBF (here’s a strange anomaly…the Helena got $350/MBf for doug fir…the Cabin sale must have sold…to a starving timber industry.) Of course the 40% of the volume sold on the Northern Region that is “non-saw”…got a buck and a half/MBF. My favorite timber sale result…was the $250/MBF the IDL got for a sale in the extreme southeast corner of Idaho…on a north slope ridge in the midst of a desert…that went to a Montana mill that’s 250 miles away. My second favorite sale, was one in the Snowy range in Southeast Wyoming, that was trucked to a railhead, then railed 400 miles to a mill in Southwest Montana. Hey…who cares…at least the state money goes to school children…while the federal money disappears into the rat hole of the treasury to pay for 10 seconds of interest. Always fun to get my mind off analyzing numbers at work by analyzing them here LOL.

  3. Kudos to headwaters for going through the laborious process of digitizing this data from pdf’s–its no small feat, to be sure. However, my huge concern with this project is in the details:

    First, not all timber is created equal. Material harvested and sold as sawtimber not only brings in more revenue to the agency, but is likely to be made into higher value products. Second, the opposite is true for products labeled ‘non-saw’ or ‘miscellaneous convertible’ which are sold at a much lower rate and may not be utilized at all. In many forests in the intermountain west, non-saw can make up as much as half of the total cut volume in any given year. How much of that material even left the site is questionable and the subject of a current study I’m working on. Stay tuned.

    For some data users who are mostly interested in the volume of stems being cut versus left standing (net/gross growth calculations), these distinctions are less important.

    However, for anyone looking at cut and sold reports as a way to gauge the agency’s commitment to their social contract to provide raw materials to make products that society demands and economic opportunities for rural communities, this tool in its current form is less informative.

    • Thanks for this comment and information. I reached out to some of the folks at Headwaters Economics and was told that they are well aware that the data they provided in those interactive maps doesn’t include a detailed breakout by species and size class. The Headwaters folks also said more details would be great for those who want it, like us policy wonks, and that they have tried to work with the agency to provide it. Sounds like perhaps the agency has been unable or perhaps unwilling to provide more details, I’m honestly not sure. Having said all that, some may not think this is an argument against providing summary data.

      I am sort of curious what Chelsea thinks about the U.S. Forest Service data provided at this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r1/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=stelprdb5131032&width=full

      At that link you can find the Periodic Timber Sale Accomplishment Report (PTSAR), which is the regional summary displaying each National Forests current fiscal year timber sale program of volumes advertised, bid, and awarded.

      Also, there are Cut and Sold Reports, which are summaries of total volumes and values for forest products sold and harvested from the Northern Region National Forests by Fiscal Year, Calendar Year, and Quarterly through the current Fiscal Year.

      Finally, as was pointed out in a previous post, that link also takes one to a section about “Uncut Volume Under Contract” and “Timber Sale Program Statistics.” That information is very interesting to me, but as you can see no link was actually provided.

      I was told by the Forest Service public affairs officer “Those links are disabled right now as the reports contained errors so we removed them.” I have to wonder what errors those reports contained and how long the errors were in those reports. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the timber industry objected to not only the specifics of what was contained in that “Uncut Volume Under Contract” report, but also perhaps objected to its presence in the first place. Perhaps Chelsea and her team at the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research know something about those missing links. Regardless, hopefully the errors are corrected soon and the links go back up on the Forest Service website.

      • Agreed. Like I said, it’s a great effort. My point was that cut and sold reports do break out volume by product type and species, so if there were any way to also input that data when the total volume is being entered, I think it would be highly valuable to many users.

        We use these resources quite a bit and the cut and sold reports specifically may be disabled due to a computational error we caught related to the reporting of calendar years in addition to fiscal years, which is the agency default. Hopefully the error will be fixed soon and the links live again.

        There is definitely a lot of data to mine there, and I’m sure we have only scratched the surface. One current effort that I am heading up is an analysis comparing the predicted uses of timber (i.e. the product categories listed in cut and sold reports) with the actual utilization (or not, as it were) of that timber based on our Timber Product Output (TPO) data that comes from our mill census work. The result will provide not only a clearer picture of utilization, but is going to help the Forest Service economists do a better job of estimating the size and location of economic impacts related to the harvesting and processing of timber.

        One other resource I just came across and you and other readers may be interested in are the ‘At a Glace’ reports that estimate the job and labor income contributions of all national forest management activity. They include timber harvesting, restoration and other service work as well as the impact of federal employment in rural communities, and are available at the forest level for any national forest in the country. They can be found here: https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/economics/contributions/at-a-glance.shtml. Of course, I have to make my usual disclaimer that not all of those jobs are local jobs, but it is a valuable resource nonetheless.

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