Last week the Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests released their “proposed actions,” a new step in NFMA planning preceding the draft EIS and proposed forest plan.
This gem from both plans (the plans appear identical — only the maps differ) illustrates that adding more process does not make plans any more timely:
While the U.S. demand for timber remains relatively high and is expected to increase in the future (USDA FS 2000), timber harvests from 1990 to 2002 in Washington have declined by 39 percent (Washington State Department of Natural Resources 2004). United States lumber markets have relied increasingly on foreign imports, such as from Canada, to help offset declining timber harvests in the state. Softwood lumber imports into the Seattle Customs District from 1992 to 2002 have increased by 11 percent (Warren 2004), while inflation adjusted wholesale prices for Douglas-fir 2x4s have dropped by 33 percent (Warren 2004).
Washington DNR has issued no fewer than five state-wide timber harvest reports since the 2004 report cited here. And Deb Warren has published five more annual statistical summaries, up through 2009, since the 2004 version.
Lo and behold, using the more up-to-date statistics shows that softwood lumber imports into the Seattle Customs District have dropped 70% since 2002 — a far different picture from the 11% increase claimed in the already out-of-date plan.
I suspect that these “proposed actions” were actually written several years ago and have been gathering dust on the shelves while the Forest Service tried to sort out its planning process. Rather than up-date these documents, the FS just slid them out the door with nary a glance.
Just one more illustration of how silly it is for the FS to bite off more planning than it can chew.