Having Your Trees and Eating Them Too

What I already knew, before today:  When the timber industry was booming, local governments made out well as Federal law gave them a cut of USFS and BLM timber sales dollars in their county.

What I already knew, before today:  Under environmental pressure, serious logging has virtually ended in the National Forest, particularly in northwestern states like Oregon. 

What I learned today:  For the last 15 years, despite the fact there have been no timber sales, the Feds are still paying local government as if there still were timber sales.  The payments last year were $238 million a year to Oregon counties alone.

And for some reason that nobody seems to be able to understand, the local economies have not adjusted structurally to the new economic reality.  I wonder why?

Of the
county's general fund, a full 67 percent -- about $12
million -- had come from the federal timber payments.

Finally, it looks like Congress may cut them off.  Good.  Because the only thing worse than killing an industry for suspect environmental reasons is continuing to pay that industry for not producing anything.


  1. karl:


    Somthing else you may not have known, living here in okanogan co. wash. myself, this is a fact i know first hand.
    Most of your out of work loggers have found new employment in fire fighting, indeed it has grown into an actual industry , the going joke at the shop i work in, is that " fire fighters " is the proper title....because there is no money to be made putting them out, the money is made " fighting" them.
    I guess the thing that gets my gall is this... when we had a healthy logging industry, we had gainfully employed folks making there wages and paying taxes on a profitable product.
    As i said ...these folks are still employed, but from where does their income come from now??? And what product creates the wealth that pays their wages??


  2. morganovich:

    this is one of the key issues with government programs:

    they never go away.

    take a look at the billions of dollars a year given out in synfuel subsidies and to "spray and pray" projects that allege (but have been conclusively shown not to) make coal less dusty and cleaner burning. in some cases, you get a tax credit for spraying diesel fuel on coal.

    i am not a fan of subsidizing anything, but if you must, then all subsides ought to have an automatic sunset data. letting them go on forever regardless of the results is ludicrous.

  3. Frederick Davies:

    And I thought the EU agricultural subsudies were bad: that is nuts!