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SENATE JOURNAL Jan. 24 1945 pp.310-319

PRELIMINARY SUMMARY OF REPORT OF THE CALIFORNIA FORESTRY STUDY COMMITTEE

Statutes 1943, Chapter 1086

Geo. M. Biggar, Chairman

 

THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF SUMMARY

 

A waning supply of old-growth timber, much of it still being logged without, sufficient regard for replenishment; 5,000,000 acres of the best and most accessible timber already reduced to cutover or burned lands; the bulk of the cutover lands reproducing a forest inadequately or not at all; losses from insect attacks now exceeding the losses from forest fires; a taxing system that operates against private forestry the highest per capita lumber consumption in the United States; and some lesser problems, conspire to threaten California with a shortage of home-manufactured lumber, with the loss of an important industry paying out each year $35,000,000 for payrolls and $2,000,000 in taxes, and with impairment to watersheds, recreation and scenic values.

The severity of these problems can be ameliorated through remedial legislation and other aids directed toward improved logging practices; insect and disease control; intensified fire protection; reforestation of the more promising cutover land; reducing the wastes of lumbering and developing uses for unavoidable wastes; the strengthening of the technical and protection staffs of the State Division of Forestry; staggered terms on the State Board of Forestry to achieve continuity of policy; and demonstration areas for developing reforestation practices and old-growth and second-growth forest cutting and management methods.

Forest ownership and reforestation should be encouraged as private enterprises, but where promising cutover lands can not be reforested by private owners, and where second-growth lands are threatened with premature logging, it may be necessary to acquire them for a comprehensive system of State forests.

The forest counties suffer most from the loss of the forest and forest industries, but have done the least to correct the current situation. County forest surveys by county officials are seriously needed.

The committee has acquired enough information to convince it of the gravity of the forest situation and of the need for immediate action. Some phases require further study.

The committee recommends favorable action by the 1945 Legislature on the bills suggested at the end of the summary.

 

EXTENDED SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

 

For the time at its disposal, the committee feels it has made a thorough study of the forest situation in California. It made four field trips, totalling 18 days, and held 17 hearings prior to December 31, 1944. While it feels that still further study should be given to the subject, it believes that its own studies so far prove the forest situation to be of such seriousness that immediate action is necessary by the Legislature for certain legislation and, by the State Board of Forestry for strengthening the Division of Forestry, and that its recommendations, to be set forth hereinafter, are fully justified.

The findings of the committee are summarized below. Support of these findings appears in the body of the report. We find that:

 Forest Depletion

1. Depletion of timber supplies by cutting, fire, and insects has steadily accelerated, particularly since 1900.

2. The most accessible and best stands of timber were cut first, and while timber of comparable quality still remains, cutting is progressively being transferred to the lighter and less accessible stands.

3. Concurrently with logging and other human uses, losses by fire and insects have mounted rapidly. Losses by fire outside the National forests are now being held in check by the State Division of Forestry. Insect losses in the pine region are still great and exceed those due to forest fires.

4. The State Division of Forestry has developed a large fire fighting organization, and we find that it is currently making desirable changes to make its fire suppression more effective. It needs funds to develop fire prevention work, to reduce suppression costs.

5. The State is not adequately taking care of insect losses. Insects are constantly at work killing trees in the pine region, and certain ones frequently reach epidemic proportions. 

6. The "white pine blister rust," an imported tree-killing disease attacking sugar pine, is spreading southward in the pine region. Control measures were inaugurated early, and losses to date are small. The State has cooperated in control measures and should continue them.

7. In the redwood region there are, at present, no tree-killing insect or disease problems.

8. As a result of past depletion by cutting, fire, and insects, there is now an insufficient volume of timber to provide, at past average rates of depletion, for uninterrupted or continuous supplies of lumber and other forest products, thus making the lumber industry impermanent and threatening a shortage of lumber within a generation.

9. The situation described under No. 8 is definitely related to depletion without accompanying measures for replacement. The old-growth forest makes no net growth. It is static over large areas because growth is balanced by natural losses. New growth can be expected only from cutover lands. New growth is inadequate.

10. Of the 13,655,000 acres of commercial forest land in the State, 5,002,000 acres have been logged or burned; 8,653,000 acres of old growth remain. This acreage of old growth averages lighter stands per acre, higher per cents of the less valuable species, and much of it can be harvested only after very expensive access roads are built solely to reach the timber.

 Lumber Consumption

11. California, for 30 years, his had the highest per capita lumber consumption in the Country. Prewar per capita consumption was 560 board feet. The average for the entire United States was 221 board feet in 1940 and 275 board feet in 1941. The consumption in Southern California exceeds the average for the State as a whole. If estimates of future population and industrial development in California are correct, the per capita requirements can be expected to exceed the present rate.

12. California is already a lumber importing State. It consumed in 1941 approximately 3,784,000,000 board feet, but produced only 2,292,000,000 board feet. It shipped out of the State approximately 880,000,000 board feet and consequently had to import, largely from Oregon and Washington, 2,372,000,000 board feet. The State is thus not now self sufficient and is likely to become less so. At the same time, the production in Washington has dropped far below its one-time peak, and mills have moved to Oregon, where production is already being developed beyond the capacity of the forests to maintain.

13. By far most of the forest land already logged is, or was (about 1,000,000 acres have been acquired States Forest Service) in private ownership. Of the 13,655,000 acres of commercial forest land in the State, 6,799,000 acres was reported in 1941 to be in private ownership. Deducting 550,000 acres cutover in the redwood region, where there is very little public commercial forest land, it is evident that the private pine region timber is about 70 per cent cutover, leaving the National forests with their generally lighter and less accessible stands to carry the burden of lumbering when present private supplies are exhausted. The redwood region, practically all privately owned, is approximately 35 per cent cutover.

Cutover Lands

14. The cutover lands are not contributing what they should, and can, to replenish timber supplies already cut. Fortunately, more than 1,000,000 acres, because of early-day logging methods, have reproduced voluntarily and well, but, unfortunately, these lands are not, in general, in stable ownership and are already being cut. The timber varies from 50 to 90 years old and the stands are generally understocked. Such lands should be held in reserve for the time the old growth is exhausted. In the meantime they should be carefully protected, and managed for improved quality production. Lands logged in the high-speed steam-logging days, is generally very deficient in young growth, but still is potential forest growing land.

15. The lack of volunteer young growth on much of the cutover land is due largely to clear cutting methods occasioned by the use of high-speed donkey-engine and cable systems of logging which pulled down immature trees and potential seed trees. Some of the non-reforesting lands have been reduced to this condition of forest fires. These non-reproducing or poorly reproducing lands are practically idle, are growing up to brush species, and are not contributing growth for prospective timber trees.

16. Clear cutting, except in a few instances, mostly in second growth, has practically disappeared in the pine region, and has been reduced by about one-half, since 1934, in the redwood region. Because of more difficult logging conditions, tractors were not widely adopted in the redwood region until the development of the more modern Diesel powered tractor; the war, making required additional tractors unavailable, has slowed the changeover from clear cutting.

17. Improvement in logging methods since 1920 has served to reduce the rate of increase in the area of low or non-reproducing cutover land.

18. Legislation is necessary to set up certain minimum standards to be followed on logging operations. These standards should be arrived at through close consultation with the owners and operators to achieve practicality and as much self regulation as possible, but final approval of standards should rest with the State Board of Forestry. The committee believes that the State should go no farther in regulating private cutting practices than to demand that the land be left in a productive condition. It is anticipated that, when rules to achieve this end are adopted and put into practice, the owners themselves are bound to give more thought to the matter and will learn more of what is possible and feasible, and gradually evolve increasingly better practices without the necessity of compulsion.

 Selective Logging

19. The most promising type of cutting method, as to leaving cutover lands productive, is the one known as "selective logging" whereby only mature and overmature trees are removed and the remainder are left uncut for the dual purpose of (1) making further growth and high quality logs, and (2) providing a source of seed for natural reforestation.

20. Selective logging should be encouraged wherever possible. It is being practiced as a matter of good business by some operators; it may need fostering by the State in some cases, and compulsion in a few others unless a satisfactory substitute method can be offered.

21. Since there are all grades of selective logging from heavy (approaching a seed tree system) to light, standards should be progressively raised to approach the grade most certain to bring about the earliest and most complete stocking of the cutover land and yet provide for maximum growth of the residual immature trees.

22. Selective logging, to be effective, must be accompanied by fire protection, insect control, and, where sugar pine is present, by blister rust control.

23. To depend solely on selective logging in remaining old-growth stands will not assure continuity of lumber supplies. The old cutover lands must be brought into full productivity and existing young stands must be conserved.

Stimulation of Forestry Practices

24. The problem of guaranteeing future lumber supplies is complicated by ownership problems, yearly becoming more serious as large units are broken down by sales. There appears, therefore, to be needed some incentive for holding on to and keeping forest tracts intact. Some owners are not able to or interested in holding their cutover lands past the first cutting. Such lands are often sold to stock ranchers for whose use they are burned and seeded. Ordinarily they make poor and impermanent livestock ranges.

25. Because of the long deferred income from newly reforested lands, an additional incentive is needed to stimulate private reforestation.

26. Timber ownership and production should be encouraged as a private enterprise to keep the land on the local tax rolls, to benefit from the ingenuity and resourcefulness of private initiative, and to keep the public out of business as much as possible.

27. The lumber industry itself is an important contributor to State and county income. Its investment exceeds $140,000,000; it pays out annually for labor more than $35,000,000; it pays in taxes, other than income taxes, nearly $2,000,000; and, including planing mills, the value of its products approaches $100,000,000. The value added to raw material exceeds $35,000,000. It is an important industry, therefore, to preserve, quite aside from the public's need of its products. It is important also for the local forest counties that depend for a large part of their tax reserves upon lumbering.

28. Several owner-operators have set up their properties as "Tree Farms." These are favored by a strong financial condition, ample old-growth timber reserves, productive cutover lands, and good growing conditions. Such owners merit official recognition, and, if they give reasonable guarantee of devoting their lands to timber growing in perpetuity and practise a superstandard of forestry, they merit special public compensation in some way in payment for such guarantee, perhaps by taxes based on yield and better public fire protection and pest control. This latter subject requires further study.

 Acquisitions for State Forests

29. The fact that much cutover land is sold for live stock ranches of dubious permanence and value, and much more is held in idle condition awaiting sale or trade for stumpage, points to the need for the public to acquire such lands for eventual reforestation and creation of managed State forests.

30. It is expected that as much as 1,000,000 acres may have to be so acquired, reforested, and managed if the lands are to be made to produce timber again. They are valuable for little else, although they have accessory recreation, wildlife, scenic, and watershed values. This large area will not be in one or a few large blocks. Preferably, it should be in blacks of 10,000 to 50,000 acres each, depending upon the region. But smaller areas, sometimes of only a quarter section (160 acres) in the proximity of ranger stations, should be considered for use as demonstration plots of reforestation, management, and second-growth management methods.

31. Should the State make such acquisitions it should center this activity on lands of real promise rather than on lands that are too far gone. And, in view of the real need for future timber supplies, timber growing should be made the main objective and the lands acquired with that in mind, but accessory and incidental uses should not be ignored.

32. We believe that, if purchases are made wisely, the State should reap not only timber but a profit on its investment. The initial total cost of acquisition and reforestation should not exceed a total of $15 per acre; at the end of 50 years the crop alone should be worth not less than $100. Intermediate returns are quite possible from pulp wood, poles and pilings, providing additional returns.

33. Reforestation work is a desirable activity for jobless men in unemployment emergencies, prisoners, and Youth Administration boys. It is healthy and inspiring. It is wealth producing, and entails very modest maintenance charges.

34. In making purchases, priority should be given to lands, part of which carries a volunteer stand of young growth so that (1) initial reforestation charges are reduced; (2) management practices for young growth can be developed; (3) demonstrations can be offered to private owners, particularly small owners; (4) earlier returns can be obtained to offset in part initial charges and, most important, (5) conserve such young growth which may otherwise be sacrificed to fire or premature and clear cutting; furthermore, (6) employment can be given to key State fire protection employees in the non-fire season.

35. No lands should be acquired whose ownership already is in strong hands and is likely to be cared for adequately by their possessors. The early reforestation of such lands may, on further study, be found to warrant some State assistance such as free seed or planting stock and tax alleviation.

36. Along with inadequately reforesting cutover lands and second growth lands, the State should acquire also a few moderate-sized tracts of old growth for trial and demonstration of various cutting practices. It would be desirable if such old growth blocks are close to or contiguous with cutover land for greater economy in administration.

37. Tax deeded lands have been suggested for State forests. The area of such lands suitable for State forests seems at present to be rather small. A preliminary study is nearing completion to determine the probable area and condition of the lands.

 County Interests

38. Under present laws, lands acquired by the State are removed from the local tax rolls. The committee has given this extra study but feels the subject should be gone into more deeply and in consultation with the counties. Answers to this problem considered by the committee include legislation permitting (1) the State to buy as a private buyer, paying an annual fee equivalent to the tax, and (2) paying nothing annually but giving the county a good share of the proceeds when harvests are made. The second method shows promise of being the most profitable to the county in the end. At present, the tax return is small and insecure. The lands may ultimately be abandoned for taxes, and, certainly, many of them will not be put to a permanent high use under the present tax system.

39. The forest counties have shown little concern over their future tax structure. They seem to believe that other resources will offset the loss occasioned by depletion of the timber. None have been found to have given serious thought, certainly no action, to making timber a continuing tax source. Very few counties have analyzed even in small part the effect of depletion. The annual tax loss from depletion is far greater than would be the loss of cutover land taxes should part of the cutover be taken over by the State.

40. The Ad Valorem Tax System is not fitted to continuous forest production. In every forested State it has contributed to bringing pressure for early and often premature liquidation. In not a few cases in California, investors in timberlands have paid into county treasuries more than the value of the timber. Taxation, it would seem, should be related to the productivity of the land. Old-growth poses quite a different problem than young growth for taxation. Severance taxes have been proposed for both classes, but they appear to have been unsatisfactory for old growth, and more adapted to young growth. 

Present State Lands

41. The Latour Forest of 9,173 acres, in Shasta County, already owned by the State for the Department of Education, not now productive of returns, can be made productive, and continuously, if put under forest management. It would make a desirable nucleus for a State forest in that locality.

42. The State also owns some school lands of a grazing character which need consolidation and management.

 State Division of Forestry

43. The State Division of Forestry has developed into a purely fire protection agency, with grass, grain, and structural fires absorbing much of its time, effort, and resources. Obviously, these resources must be protected as well as are forest and watershed brush lands, but the question has been raised as to whether it is the job of a forestry organization, and if it should be charged to forestry. This subject requires further and thorough study.

44. The Division of Forestry has on its staff a number of well trained and able technical foresters but they have little opportunity to gain practical experience in forest management problems as long as the State owns no State forests.

45. The State's fire protection effort is seriously impaired by having to hire new men each year for key positions such as truck drivers and crew foremen. Employed for only the fire season, there is no incentive for making the job a permanent vocation. Year-long employment for the key men would greatly increase the effectiveness of the personnel. In the nonfire season they could be employed on forestry work as State forests are acquired.

46. The growing of a forest is a long-time process. It requires stability of policy. Fire protection is in a similar category. Stability is not assured under the present system permitting a complete change of the State Board of Forestry each four years. Overlapping terms would more nearly approach the desirable continuity of policy.

 Southern California Watersheds

 47. Commercial timber growing is possible only in northern California. The southern part of the State, however, has protection problems of a special and acute nature. The chaparral cover burns fiercely, leaves the easily eroded soils bare and subject to heavy erosion should a heavy rain follow fire. Catastrophic floods and erosion are a periodic menace to life and property. Currently, fire protection is handled separately by three southern counties, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara, but cooperatively with the State by others. There is a lack of uniformity of cooperation. This requires solution, without delay. A study has been recommended by the State Board of Forestry to determine the degree of the State's responsibility.

 Federal Relations

 48. Considerable concern has been expressed by some counties and citizens over the mounting acquisition of forest lands-virgin and cutover-by the United States Forest Service without immediate compensation to the counties. While the effect on local taxes is no different than if the State should acquire the lands, without such compensation, it seems dangerous to permit the acquisitions to go on unchecked. Already nearly one-half of the State is owned by the Federal Government. Pressure by Federal forest officers on private owners and on county supervisors for approval of transfers have been reported.

Livestock Range Protection

49. A controversy was found between foresters and live stock men. The stockmen demand rather broad freedom to burn their stock ranges at frequent intervals to remove brush to encourage grass and browse. The foresters, while not opposing such burning, feel it should be conducted plan-wise, under control, and at times when fires are not likely to get out of hand. Stockmen also feel they should not be held liable for fires that escape to adjoining lands. Foresters argue that reasonable effort should be made to confine the land-clearing fires to the owner's own lands. The foresters also aim to keep fires out of cutover lands not formally devoted to stockraising. A Trespass Law or a Fencing Law to keep range stock off reforesting lands has been suggested by some. This subject should be given further study particularly a cooperative one between foresters, fire-control agencies, and range live stock men to determine the most economical and safe burning methods; the effect of burning on soils and slopes and exposures of various kinds to determine the effectiveness of burning and the effect on long-range soil productivity. Progressive ranchers want such a study.

 Education

50. The State has not been effective as an educational force on forestry matters. Several recommendations have come to the committee suggesting the State develop some educational programs to promote better care of forest land and to prevent fires.

 Forest Products Studies

51. Waste of valuable trees and parts of them seems to be concomitant to logging. It develops from felling breakage, logging damage, broken down immature trees, and the like. Its reduction should have the effect of prolonging the life of the virgin stands. The utilization of the unavoidable portion of the debris should add new industries and should sweeten the realization from the logging operation. Studies in both fields are required in close cooperation with interested owners. The committee has been advised that the University of California has in prospect a Forest Products Laboratory for postwar construction for such studies. Testimony of witnesses at committee hearings indicate that forest operators are keenly interested and hopeful that the completion of the laboratory will not be delayed, as soon as war needs permit.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Notwithstanding the need for further study of the State's forest situation, the committee believes justified in making the following recommendations for legislation. The bills recommended are not affected by further study, and because of the seriousness of the situation, favorable action by the 1945 Legislature is recommended.

 Proposals for Legislation

l. A bill setting up machinery to establish and enforce cutting and protection practices in privately owned old-growth and second-growth forest stands; practices being designed to promote a prolongation of the remaining virgin timber, and such management as will leave the cutover land in a productive condition. Since the Maryland Law, which provides for a large measure of self regulation, fits California needs so well, it is recommended that our legislation be patterned on that law. It calls for dividing the commercial forest area of the State into forest districts, each with a forest district committee of local people who are required to initiate the rules of cutting and protection practices. Such rules are to be transmitted to the State Board of Forestry, and, if adopted, have the force of law.

2. A bill providing for the acquisition of forest lands for demonstration areas and State forests. It should carry an appropriation sufficiently large to enable the State Forester to make surveys and appraisals of desirable properties during the current biennium, and funds should be earmarked for eventual purchases. The bill should clearly state the intent and purpose of such demonstration areas and State forests; define desirable lands; provide for compensating the counties for loss of tax revenues; provide for reforestation, for cutting, administration and management, and for the disposition of the income from sales.

3. A bill providing for the transfer of the Latour Forest in Shasta County from the Department of Education to the State Division of Forestry, to be incorporated in the State Forest System, and managed as such.

4. A bill providing for State cooperation in the control of tree-killing forest insects.

5. A bill providing for staggered terms of membership on the State Board of Forestry; clarifying duties and powers of the board and defining its membership.

6. A resolution for continuing the committee and the study.

 

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