Uncertain timber supplies. Access to dependable supplies of raw material, namely, timber, at acceptable prices is critical to the industry's ability to function. Wood-based enterprises consider it is essential that uncertainties regarding the availability of timber be eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels. How that is accomplished varies from firm to firm, although strategies generally include fee-simple ownership of forest property, supply agreements with owners of private forestland, and contracts (short and long term) to harvest timber from public forests. In recent years, uncertainties over access to timber supplies (and over timber production and harvesting) have increased substantially, most notably in the West over federal land.
The ability of the industry to operate and meet its corporate and social responsibilities is dependent on its access to timber as a raw material. Although the industry has improved its competitive position in recent years in terms of labor productivity and expanded exports, the industry remains sensitive to the federal role in influencing access to raw-material supplies and the industries' ability to manufacture timber products demanded by a variety of markets. Federal policies, especially tax and regulatory policies, need to be sensitive to the adverse impacts they might have on the cost of growing timber on industrial timberland and on activities involving the manufacture of wood products. Federal policies should also foster cooperative actions among public and private landowners (sustained-yield units, long-term timber supply agreements) that will enable industry to address uncertainties of access to long-term supplies of timber. Industrial initiatives to improve the sustainable management of industrial timberlands (for example, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative of the American Forest and Paper Association and the Forest Stewardship Council) should also be facilitated by the actions of government.
State and county governments own nearly 64 million acres (9 percent) of the nation's forestland, most of which is in the Great Lake states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), Alaska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Some 24 million acres are located in five states, namely, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, with 14 million in the three Great Lake states alone. The largest single state ownership (22 million acres) is in Alaska.
State and county forest-resource programs have been strengthened markedly over the past 25 to 30 years. Federal technical and financial assistance has been used in the process, although the assistance resulted from the state's initiative to obtain it. Important efforts to strengthen management of state and county forestland are illustrated in Box 8-1. Over a period of 25 to 30 years, Minnesota, for example, markedly raised the professional level of resource