Forest Policy

November 28, 1975

Report Outline
Current Debate Over Forest Practices
Use and Protection of Timber Reserves
Pressures for Change in Forest Policy
Special Focus

Current Debate Over Forest Practices

Conflicting Demands on American Forest Lands

America's forests are today the subject of a bitter debate that seems certain to intensify in the months ahead. At issue are broad and complex questions about forest management: How much timber should be harvested, and where? How should trees be logged? How much forest land should be preserved for wilderness, wildlife and watershed? How can various recreation demands be reconciled? Can the forests be managed to satisfy all these needs? At stake in this debate are not only future timber supply and national housing demands, but the very future of the nation's forests.

With the increase in public concern over the environment in the past few years, America's forests have aroused widespread attention and controversy. Demands on the forests are growing—and are often competing. The timber industry fights with wilderness preservationists; hikers and backpackers battle with trail-bike riders and off-road vehicle drivers; defenders of wildlife contend with hunters and fishermen; second-home developers argue with land-use planners. All of these groups want to ensure that future forest policies protect their interests.

Meanwhile, public demand for lumber, paper and other forest products, which was relatively stable for much of this century, is increasing rapidly. Between 1942 and 1972, U.S. consumption of timber for industrial wood products such as lumber, plywood and wood pulp went up 56 per cent to 13.7 billion cubic feet. By the year 2000, according to U.S. Forest Service estimates, demand for timber products will almost double to reach an annual level of some 23 billion cubic feet. Based on current forest policies, timber production by the end of the century could fall short of demand by between 2.5 billion and 8.1 billion board feet.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
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May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
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Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
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Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
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May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
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Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
Forests and Rangelands