Watching the Timber Dog Chase its Tail

Watching the Federal Timber payments issue is kind of like watching a dog chase its tail. Environmentalists hate timber being cut, so Landowners rights to produce timber gets held up. Counties suffer from tax revenue, so the government steps in to subsidizes county loss of tax revenue. The government pulls back on subsidies for tax revenue, so counties suffer from tax revenue.

Doesn’t seem to be working very well does it? Seems the only pieces missing here seem to be a little bit of the free market system and a landowners property right to the use of their land.

See “County sees no good options”
and “Counties strive to make up for federal timber payments”

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 14 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • eagle eye

    Did I miss something? What does the loss of county revenue from timber cutting on federal lands have to do with property rights of private landowners? Hasn’t private timber cutting increased dramatically in the wake of the federal timber cutbacks, starting with the spottend owl ruling of years ago?

    • dean

      Eagle…it is just like you to drag reality into these discussions. Can’t people just post whatever nonsense suits their cause to make a point, irrespective of reality?

      Private land timber harvest in Oregon is regulated. On occassion it can get “held up,” if one has a protected natural resource (stream, spotted owl) or has trees on an unstable slope perched above a neighbors house. Even in these cases logging is usually allowed, with some restrictions. For good or ill, Oregon has the weakest regulations on private land timber harvest on the west coast.

      Beyond that, not all “environmentalists hate timber being cut.” Painting with that broad of a brush might be convenient, but it is demonstratably not truthful.

      • Anonymous

        Beyond that, not all “environmentalists hate timber being cut.” Painting with that broad of a brush might be convenient, but it is demonstratably not truthful.

        If that is true that “not all environmentalists hate timber being cut.” Then why are the environmentalists going to court over a huge number of the timber sales, wasting time until the timber is wasted?

        • dean

          In some cases, *some* environmentalists use the courts to stop, change, or delay projects they believe do more harm than good, notably post-fire salvage and old growth harvests. In other cases, *some* environmentalists work with foresters to advocate or support, or at least stand aside from projects that do more good than harm, such as pine forest thinning to reduce fire hazards in places like the Applegate Watershed and Deschutes National Forest.

          The Siuslaw National Forest, as just one example, has exceeded its timber cutting goals nearly every year since the Northwest Forest Plan went into effect. No lawsuits, and environmentalists have praised their efforts and helped them win an international award for good watershed management.

          And there are very few lawsuits against private timber land harvest. The only ones I am aware of are for violations of the clean water act when sediment was alledgedly released into salmon streams from bad road construction practices in the coast range.

          Point is…”environmentalists” are a diverse bunch with differing aims and tactics.

          • Steve Plunk

            In our bass ackwards world all it takes is a small handful of militant environmentalists to stop reasonable logging. Until the moderates step in to control that sort of abuse they will be as guilty as the radicals. The moderates know inside the militants will do the heavy lifting for them.

            The environmental movement has proven itself an enemy of working Oregonians time and again. It’s promises of tourism dollars and high tech jobs have impoverished thousands of formerly middle class families and ruined communities up and down the coast. I find it amazing people still believe a word any of them say. The blind evil of people like Andy Kerr has been exposed yet gone unpunished. To say I cannot ever respect a thing they say is an understatement.

            It is as if we are being governed by children. No one seems to be able to make rational, reasonable decisions anymore and when they do make a good one the malcontents run to the courts for a remedy they cannot find through the political process.

            Yes, environmentalists are painted with a broad brush because they paint themselves that way most of the time.

          • Anonymous


            “Point is…”environmentalists” are a diverse bunch with differing aims and tactics.”

            Folks like dean are the illegitimate poster children for those with the mind-set you describe. When pressed, they wave their arms and attempt to divert and distract. The sentence above demonstrates the drill perfectly; saying nothing – intending only to obfuscate.

            I’m sure dean is reasonable and could countenance cutting trees in the abstract sense – it’s just that, when you get down to specifics, he bobs, weaves and dissembles. Witness his injection of the Siuslaw *National* Forest into a discussion of timber harvesting on *private* land.

      • cc

        “For good or ill, Oregon has the weakest regulations on private land timber harvest on the west coast.”

        “Painting with that broad of a brush might be convenient, but it is demonstratably not truthful.”

        Anyone else see the irony here?

        It’s “demonstratably” hilarious.

        So you don’t have an opinion on whether the alleged “…weakest regulations…” are “…good or ill…”?


  • eagle eye

    “it is just like you to drag reality into these discussions. Can’t people just post whatever nonsense suits their cause to make a point, irrespective of reality?”

    Well, maybe I really did miss something. I would be happy to be enlightened. Really!

  • Jerry

    Everyone loves a tree. Everyone loves a forest. However, to not allow salvage logging is ridiculous. The trees are DEAD. If we took all the salvage timber out we would have plenty of $ to go around.
    Alas, though, it will just sit and rot because of the wackos.

    • dmf

      This is the biggest absolute waste of resources I’ve ever seen.

      • dean

        One atta time boys and girls.

        1) “Moderates” do not and cannot “control extremists” in any political realm. America is a free country, and if one is not getting satisfaction from a moderate group one joins or forms a farther out group. Goes for the anti-abortion movement. Goes for environmentalists. Read your Tocqueville.

        2) It is the original post that mixed federal timber sale issues (read the 1st sentence) with private land issues. Not moi.

        3) Dean has also advocated and helped plan cutting of trees in the specific, as well as in the abstract sense. He has co-authored 2 books on the subject, has done consulting work for private timber companies, and served on a board that managed 450 acres of timber in southern Oregon. Cutting down trees is not a problem. Which trees? How many? How? Where? How often? What gets left behind? These are the questions that matter.

        4) Yes…I have an opinion. Oregon’s regulations on private land timber harvest are too weak and out of date.

        5) It often costs more money to salvage dead trees than what they are worth, especially in today’s market. We currently have a glut of available timber but few buyers. Plus…dead trees have value left right where they are. Just a different type of value than money.

  • eagle eye

    I still don’t see what the original post has to do with reality — what in the world is the connection between property rights and federal timber payments to counties? Only dean seems to have recognized this question at all. The rest of you seem off in meanders about salvage logging on federal land, the alleged evil of Andy Kerr …. again, if I am missing something, please explain.

    • hapypacy

      Eagle eye, let me see if I can help you define property rights. I can’t blame you for having difficulty since the concept has become so remote as to be indistinguishable from public domain. But, let me give it a try. Let’s say you own property that has a stand of timber. But, your right to harvest that timber is taken away due to regulations (brought on by enviro-engineers”). You have lost your right to the use of your property, i.e. property rights.

      • dean

        You still failed to answer EE’s question. The original post started with a complaint about environmentalists suing, and this affecting Federal timber payments. Then it went straight into landowner rights to produce timber. Then onto taxes.

        Oregon forest land owners do not pay property taxes on their standing trees…period. Teh state does not treat these trees as “real property.” The land the trees stand on is real property, and is taxed at a very low rate, basically the value of that land as stumps and brush. There is a small tmber “severance tax” paid to the state only when trees are harvested. That rate is only $2.61 per 1000 board feet, with the first 25,000 board feet exempted. Timber in Oregon is worth $400-800 a thousand board feet depending on the type of tree and the current market (which is low for doug fir, high for alder at the moment). This tax supports OSU forest research, state forest fire fighting, forestry administration, and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, which is essentially a PR program to tell Oregonians about all the wonderful things the timber industry does for us.

        The severance tax only pays 40% of the cost of administering our state forest practices act, and only 50% of forest fire fighting costs. The rest again paid by us through the general fund, allowing forest landowners to use much of the severance tax for their very own PR campaign.

        And…forest land owners with less than 5000 acres get to defer 80% of their already limited property tax until they harvest trees. Nice deal, since they do not defer their use of County roads, schools, etc. in the meantime.

        So…if trees are “property,” then how come we don’t tax them as such? The argument is that Oregon has decided trees are not real property because they have other value to the rest of us, and we don’t want them harvested prematurely, just to pay taxes (as has happened in other states). Yes…we regulate harvest and occasionally, very ocasionally prohibit a landowner from cutting a stand. But is this “taking property?” Hardly, since these trees are not real property, and we have not “taken them.” We have merely prohibited the owner, who has paid no taxes on them, from harvesting them at a given time. Until the owl or eagle flies away basically.

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