Interesting item from the American Forest Resource Council‘s Nov. 2019 newsletter. This line drew my attention:
The Forest Service is developing a “market based” approach to timber sale appraisals that will aim to improve alignment between local market conditions and appraisal metrics.
I assumed that they’d been doing this all along. Anyone have insights?
Federal Timber Purchasers Committee Meeting
Last month the Federal Timber Purchasers Committee (FTPC) met in Alexandria, Louisiana with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management leadership from around the country. The committee meets with agency personnel twice a year to discuss issues pertinent to the timber sale program. The meeting covered topics such as timber sale appraisals, updates to Forest Service manuals and handbooks, and product utilization standards.
The Forest Service had initially established a timber target of 3.7 billion board feet (BBF) for Fiscal Year 2019. That level was assigned to the Regions and then reduced by the Chief of the Forest Service in May to 3.3 BBF for reasons including, but not limited to, the government shutdown, the impact of not receiving the 2018 fire repayment, and delays in hiring new staff. However, the agency target, assigned by the Department of Agriculture, remained at 3.7 BBF. The Regions sold 3.26 BBF, attaining 99% of the adjusted target. The agency as a whole attained 88% of its assigned target. Forest Service leadership emphasized the need to grow in 2020 and anticipates establishing a timber target of 3.7 BBF with a goal of hitting 4.0 BBF in 2021.
These ambitions for growth will likely be augmented by ongoing Forest Service efforts including Forest Products Modernization (FPM), Environmental Analysis and Decision Making (EADM), and Shared Stewardship. Through FPM the Forest Service is developing a “market based” approach to timber sale appraisals that will aim to improve alignment between local market conditions and appraisal metrics. There was general agreement and recognition among all participants that demand for federal timber products remains high and that improvements to the agency’s appraisal practices will help ensure that all economical sales with useful products will sell. Coupled with this effort were recommendations that Regions and Forests improve their access to up-to-date information on product utilization specifications to ensure alignment with local industry standards. Revisions and updates to Forest Service Manuals and Handbooks are ongoing and solicitation for public comment is anticipated to begin this calendar year. Updates on items ranging from timber cruising to stewardship contracting will be rolled out in batches over a six-month period.
Efforts to supplement the agency’s capacity for growth through outside partnerships, generally referred to as Shared Stewardship, were recognized as an integral component of expanding active management. There are currently 10 Shared Stewardship Agreements signed across the country and an additional 10 in progress. Partnering with entities such as State governments and Tribes continues to be a national priority. Forest Service leadership emphasized not just the importance of establishing these agreements but also developing clear metrics that can be used to gauge their effectiveness to further the agency’s mission.