Policies and Programs
In recognition of the values and benefits provided by nonfederal forests, a variety of public and private organizations provide services to the nation's nonfederal forest landowners. Many programs have been developed to enhance management on these lands, and some have had a lasting influence. As with forestland conditions, a substantial amount of information is available on federal programs and expenditures, less information is available on state programs and expenditures, and little information is available on county and municipal programs and expenditures. These federal, state, and local programs affecting nonfederal forests are described in this chapter.
Federally Directed Programs
Although a variety of federal agencies have responsibility for the administration of programs for nonfederal forests (Box 4-1), the bulk of these programs are administered by agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These agencies include the USDA Forest Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), and the USDA Farm Services Agency. Other agencies with programs for the use, management, and protection of nonfederal forests are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDI) Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Assistance and Incentive Programs
The State and Private Forestry unit of the USDA Forest Service is involved with three major types of programs that deliver assistance and incentives to owners and managers of nonfederal forests: Forest Health Management, Cooperative Forestry, and several transfer programs. The total State and Private Forestry budget of $136.8 million is 6 percent of the total USDA Forest Service budget, $2.167 billion, which does not include Cooperative Work Trusts, the Reforestation Trust Fund, and Permanent Appropriation.
Forest Health Management
Forest Health Management appropriations totaled $49.9 million in 1996, having steadily declined between 1992 and 1996 (Table A-23, A-24). Forest Health Management includes the Federal Lands Forest Health Management, Cooperative
Lands Forest Health Management, and Cooperative Lands Fire Management programs. The functions of these programs are described in Appendix B. In the past, forest health efforts have been focused on insects, diseases, and fires. The USDA Forest Service is expanding the concept of forest health to include ecosystem composition, structure, and function and maintenance of biological diversity.
Cooperative Forestry Programs
Cooperative Forestry appropriations totaled $86.9 million in 1996 (Tables A-23, A-24). These appropriations increased between 1992 and 1996, when they decreased substantially. Cooperative Forestry programs provide funding and direction for the strengthening of rural communities, resource and conservation education, stewardship cost-shares, conservation easements, and urban and community forestry initiatives. Specific program details of these federal assistance and incentive initiatives are presented in Appendix B.
Transfer programs allocate funds to organizations other than the USDA Forest Service, which plays a role in the programs. Examples include emergency watershed protection, resource conservation and development, and watershed protection and flood prevention programs. Under the 1996 farm bill, many transfer programs have been consolidated under the Environmental Conservation Acreage Reserve Program (ECARP), which was established as the umbrella program encompassing the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Cost-share programs that are relevant to the nation's nonfederal forestland owners are described in Appendix B.
In 1993, four federal transfer programs provided substantial cost-share assistance to the nation's nonfederal forest landowners (Table A-24). These programs were the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP; replaced by EQIP), the Forestry Incentives Program, the Stewardship Incentives Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. The total amount of federal cost-share spending under these programs was $32 million in FY 1993. In that year, the South Central and Southeast regions received nearly two-thirds of the financial assistance provided by these programs, in part because nearly 81 percent of the cost-share dollars provided under the Forestry Incentives Program (FIP) were expended in these regions.
Extension and Outreach
Although many federal agencies and programs have extension and outreach implications for nonfederal forests, major federal responsibility for extension
programs is the USDA-CSREES. Among its many educational programs, the most discernible for nonfederal forests are those authorized by the Smith-Lever Act and the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA). In 1996 and 1997, appropriations in each year to implement these programs totaled $3.291 million. These funds are partnered with state funds that enable program implementation by over 300 cooperative extension forestry specialists and agents.
Federal Regulatory Programs
Few federal statutes have regulatory implications for use and management of nonfederal forests; these statutes are complex and their administrative focus is controversial. Federal laws and regulations can prohibit or severely limit certain practices on private forestland. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act sets conditions for felling and skidding and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act sets conditions for the application of pesticides in forested areas. These laws can also require state actions that foster conditions favorable to the establishment of forest regulatory programs. For example, the Clean Water Act requires programs for controlling nonpoint-source pollution, and the Coastal Zone Management Act requires adoption of enforceable procedures to protect coastal resources. Examples of federal laws that either directly regulate forestry activities or provide an atmosphere encouraging such regulation are discussed in Appendix B (American Forest and Paper Association 1994).
Federal forestry agencies and programs usually have a counterpart in state government. Through these state linkages, the federal government often is able to express the national interest in nonfederal forests. In 1994, state forestry agencies invested $1.1 billion in a variety of forest resource management and protection programs, an increase of nearly $500 million compared with 1984 levels (Lickwar et al. 1988) (Table A-25). Nearly 59 percent of this sum originated from state general revenues, 14 percent from fees for goods and services (for example, timber sales and recreational fees), and 7 percent from various federal sources. The remaining 20 percent was provided by other sources, including private-sector and nonfederal government sources. State agency funding varies considerably by region. Fire management is the largest single budget item. Funds for this activity are expended mostly in the South and West regions (Table A-26). Activities related to state forests were the second largest budget item ($102 million), followed by cooperative forestry expenditures ($77 million).
State forestry agencies use these programs to accomplish societal goals in the use and management of private forests. The goals include maintenance of biodiversity, protection of endangered species, and promotion of aesthetic values. The usefulness of any one program is dependent on its ability to positively
influence the application of specific forestry practices, such as reforestation after harvest, the creation of buffer zones along sensitive waterways, and the practice of soil-sensitive timber harvesting techniques. Program selection is influenced by contextual factors, including the geographical variability of a state's forest resources; economic importance of the forest-based sector within a state; historical traditions of governmental intervention in the private sector; and limits on available financial and human resources. Program choices also are swayed by the capacity of potential programs to achieve social and political objectives for the use and management of private forest resources.
Assistance and Incentive Programs
State governments assume a variety of roles when addressing the use and management of private forestland. States can implement information or service-oriented programs that involve the transfer of technical assistance and information to landowners. States also can influence private forestry practices by offering financial incentives, which can take the form of direct cost-sharing of forestry practices or the granting of tax credits or property tax assessments. If service-oriented programs and fiscal incentives fail to result in private forestry practices that complement societal interests in private forests, state governments can implement regulatory measures. These measures force uniform application of socially acceptable forest practices on all private lands within a state.
Programs used by state forestry agencies to directly influence the use and management of private forests can be grouped into the following major categories: educational, technical assistance, voluntary guideline, tax incentive, fiscal incentive, and regulatory (Appendix B). Of the many programs implemented by the lead state forestry agencies in 1992, most fell into the technical assistance category (28 percent of the program applications listed in Table A-25), followed closely by programs that were primarily educational (27 percent) (Table A-27). These programs rank similarly high in the number of states that have such programs. Depending on the forestry objectives to be met, technical-assistance programs exist in 88 to 96 percent and educational programs in 84 to 94 percent of all states (Ellefson et al. 1995).
Among the major objectives that lead state forestry agencies promote are protection of water quality (vegetative buffer strips, skid trail design, road construction and maintenance); promotion of reforestation (silvicultural regeneration systems, and artificial regeneration practices); improvement of timber harvesting procedures (harvest engineering systems, location of landings, and size of harvest area); protection from wildfire, insects, and diseases (forest health) (treatment of slash, appropriate application of pesticides, and silvicultural prescriptions for
insect and disease control); management of wildlife and protection of rare and endangered species (vegetation management, and exclusion of competing uses); and enhancement of recreational and aesthetic qualities (trail design and construction, and scenic buffer prescriptions).
Protection of wildlife and threatened and endangered species is a common subject for educational and technical assistance programs, although more than half of the states also use fiscal incentive programs for these purposes (Table A-27). Regulatory programs are used by 20 states to accomplish these objectives. Tax-incentive programs are used by only three states as a means of protecting wildlife and endangered species on private forestland.
State forestry agencies are unlikely to rely on a single type of program to influence the forestry practices of private landowners. For example, to protect water quality, educational and technical assistance programs are used by 46 and 47 states, respectively; 34 states also have chosen to use voluntary-guideline programs and 28 states employ regulatory measures for this purpose (Table A-27). Educational and technical assistance programs dominate as means of accomplishing reforestation objectives, but 39 states also use fiscal incentive programs to this end (Ellefson et al. 1995).
Regional physical characteristics, the importance of forestry in state economies, and past traditions of state involvement in private land-management activities are the primary variables affecting the types of programs each state implements to influence private forestry activities. Educational and technical assistance programs account for 23 to 31 percent of a region's total application of programs (Table A-26). Voluntary guideline programs tend to comprise a larger proportion of total program applications in the South Central (16 percent) and the Rocky Mountain (17 percent) regions than in other regions (9 to 14 percent). The West region has the lowest rate of application of voluntary guideline programs (9 percent) (Ellefson et al. 1995).
The Mid-Continent region has the highest application of tax incentive programs (14 percent), whereas the Southeast region has the least (1 percent) (Table A-27). In general, such programs are less commonly used in the Great Plains region (3 percent), the Rocky Mountain region (2 percent), and the West region (3 percent). Applications of fiscal incentive programs applications as a proportion of a region's program applications are highest in the Mid-Atlantic (18 percent), South Central (18 percent), and Rocky Mountain (17 percent) regions (Ellefson et al. 1995). In the northern states, where private landowners are the dominant forest landowner category, the relatively flat topography and the modest impact of timber harvesting generally has fostered state government involvement in private forest landowners' activities primarily by providing extension education, technical assistance, and financial incentives. In the southern states,
the role of state government in private forestry has historically been nonintrusive. With 90 percent of all forestland in private ownership, the attitude regarding government intervention in private property matters has been traditionally conservative. Many attribute the success of the intensive management of the southern pine forests as evidence of the forestry community's ability to effectively use nonregulatory programs to provide a range of forest-based benefits (Ellefson et al. 1995).
The first major state efforts to regulate the forestry practices of private landowners occurred in the 1930s and 1940s with the establishment of seed-tree laws, all of which have been repealed and replaced with more modern regulatory programs (Ellefson and Cubbage 1980). Fostered by heightened social and political concern over natural environments, the second generation of forest practice(s) regulatory programs arose during the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1971 and 1974, California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington became the first states to establish comprehensive forest practice(s) regulatory laws. Alaska and New Mexico followed suit in 1978. In 1982, Massachusetts's legislative assembly substantially expanded the regulatory authority granted by the state's Forest Cutting Practices Act (Henly and Ellefson 1986). Maine enacted a comprehensive forest practice(s) law in 1989, as did Connecticut in 1991. No southern or midwestern state has adopted a comprehensive forest practice(s) regulatory law.
Since the mid-1980s, a third generation of forest practice(s) regulatory laws and programs has evolved. In some states (for example, California and Washington), these laws and programs are concerned with the long-term, cumulative effects of forest practice(s) on the sustainability, productivity, and biological diversity of forest ecosystems. In other states (for example, Florida, Maryland, Montana, and Virginia), forestry practice is only one component of a broader state regulatory system that is designed to reduce nonpoint sources of water pollution from agricultural, forested, and urban areas or to promote natural resource conservation generally. In many states (for example, Georgia), forest practice(s) regulatory laws are a statewide mosaic of rules and ordinances promulgated by local units of government.
Regional differences in the rate of application of forest practice(s) regulatory programs help explain the programs' national presence (Table A-27). These programs comprise the smallest share of regional regulatory programs in the Mid-Continent (2 percent), Great Plains (2 percent), Southeast (4 percent), and South Central (5 percent), and the largest share in the Northeast (17 percent) and the West (29 percent) regions. In the western states, the large forest industry, the rugged topography, and a politically energetic public have spurred the development
and implementation of regulatory programs. Although state regulation of forest practices exists in some northeastern states, this approach to influencing private landowner forestry activities has not yet been firmly established throughout the region. Although regulation is widely regarded as unacceptable in the South, the region has the highest acreage enrolled in cost-share assistance programs, indicating private landowners' interest in governmental assistance and tolerance for ensuing government involvement (Ellefson et al. 1995).
Interest in state initiatives to regulate the forestry practices of private owners relates to circumstances unique to a particular state. In some states, this interest is reflected by the high level of activity to amend, revise, and update existing statutes, rules, and regulations. Since 1989, all states with comprehensive forest practice(s) regulatory programs (most notably, California, Oregon, and Washington) have revised their acts, rules, or standards. Interest in adopting regulatory programs can also be the result of certain forest management practices, heightened public interest in natural environments, a regulatory climate fostered by federal environmental laws, sentiment favoring greater accountability, proliferation of local ordinances, landscape value of forests, and a desire to emulate the actions of other regulating entities.
In most states, individuals and organizations with forestry interests oppose the adoption or expansion of regulatory programs, but some states are actively considering regulatory approaches. In 1992, seven state legislatures were considering legislation to establish a regulatory program as part of a state forest practice(s) law; ten states have contemplated such a law in the past. State government managers of private forest management programs in five states suggest that a regulatory program, in the form of a state forest practice(s) law, is needed now in their state; nine additional states will need such a law within 5 years, 10 states within 10 years, and three states within 20 years. Managers in seven states suggest that a regulatory program focused on private forestry practices will never be needed in their state (Ellefson et al. 1995).
Some circumstances discourage adoption of programs to regulate forestry practices. In the opinion of state forestry program managers involved in managing private forests, a major deterrent to the establishment of new or expanded regulatory programs is the perceived resistance of private landowners to compliance with the rules and regulations that might be embodied in such programs. Many states consider the financial burden on private landowners as an obstacle, as well as the cost of administering a regulatory program.
County and city governments have also taken the initiative to regulate the forestry practices of private landowners (Cubbage and Raney 1987, Cubbage and Siegel 1988, Cubbage 1989). Most local regulation occurs in the East; forest
practice(s) laws in the West often preclude local regulation. As of 1991, nearly 400 local ordinances regulated forestry practices (Hickman and Martus 1991). More than 70 percent of these ordinances have been established since 1980—50 percent since 1985. Nearly three-quarters of the ordinances have been enacted in the Northeast.
Some state forest practice(s) laws prohibit or severely restrict local governments from regulating forest practice(s). For example, Oregon's Forest Practices Act states that ''no unit of local government shall adopt any rules, regulations or ordinances or take any other actions that prohibit, limit, regulate, subject to approval or in any other way affect forest practices on forestlands located outside of an acknowledged urban growth boundary" (Oregon Forest Practices Act 1993). Pennsylvania and New Hampshire prohibit municipal zoning and planning authorities from limiting timber harvesting activities. California permits local governments to regulate forest practice(s), but only after review and approval by the State Board of Forestry; five counties have special board-adopted rules.
However, some states explicitly give local governing units authority to adopt forest practice(s) rules. In Maine, for example, "nothing in this subchapter [forest practice act] shall be construed to preempt or otherwise limit the existing authority of municipalities to regulate harvesting, except that [they] shall adopt definitions of forestry terms … that are consistent with forestry terms adopted by the commissioner." Similarly, in Connecticut, "municipalities may regulate forest practices in a manner consistent with the purposes of the [Connecticut Forest Practices Act]."
Studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of programs directed at nonindustrial private landowners. Some studies have analyzed the biological result of these programs. For example, Kurtz et al. (1994) examined the retention of trees planted through three cost-share programs, namely the Soil Bank Program (SBP), the ACP, and the FIP. Under FIP, 95.7 percent of acres were retained in forest cover; the percentages of acres retained under ACP and SBP were 87.1 51.1, respectively. The differences in the percentages are due to the period of time in which each program operated. For instance, FIP is a relatively new program, and therefore FIP plantations are all relatively young and most trees have not reached harvestable age. Moulton et al. (1991) examined the impact of the tree planting on biological diversity and found that trees replaced what had once been continuous cropland or extensions of cropland, and therefore tended to increase cover-type diversity. Also, plantings were judged to be often comparatively small in size, and more than 70 percent of them were not adjoined by existing pine stands on any side.
Other studies have analyzed the influence of these programs on landowner behavior (Table A-28). Alig et al. (1990) reviewed and summarized the variables
affecting tree-planting decisions and, after a review of the relevant literature, concluded that
(1) cost-sharing correlates with increased tree planting, (2) cost-share plantings are typically not liquidated when support payments end, (3) technical assistance with harvesting tends to increase stumpage revenues for owners and results in residual timber stands that are in better condition, and (4) technical assistance is correlated with increased harvesting.
In a review of FIP by Gaddis et al. (1995), public and private rates of return were found to average about 10 percent for the various public and private accounting criteria, and program benefit-cost ratios consistently exceeded 1.0 by a substantial margin. Federal income taxes on timber harvests from FIP planting eventually would be more than double annual FIP expenditures. Some studies found that FIP could create social welfare losses by public intervention, which is consistent with economic theory. Several researchers have examined the possibility that public funding could substitute for private funding (capital substitution), but only one study found any measurable effects.
The experiences of program administrators (state foresters, directors of forestry divisions or bureaus, or directors of private forest management programs) can be useful in determining the effectiveness of educational, technical assistance, voluntary guideline, tax incentive, fiscal incentive, and regulatory programs. When asked to rate the capacity of different types of programs to influence private forestry practices in manners considered necessary to accomplish various forestry activities or objectives, program managers consistently judged educational and technical assistance programs to be the more effective means of influencing private forestry activities (Table A-29). They judged voluntary guideline and regulatory programs to be less effective or ineffective. Technical assistance programs were rated most effective for accomplishing five of six specified forestry activities or objectives. Only educational programs were considered more effective for protecting wildlife, including threatened and endangered. Voluntary guideline, regulatory, and tax incentive programs were determined to be least effective in addressing one or more of the objectives. Voluntary guideline programs were judged least effective for promoting reforestation; regulatory programs for improving timber harvest methods and enhancing recreational qualities; and tax incentive programs for protecting water quality, forest health, and wildlife (Table A-29).
Many studies examining the effects of various public policies, landowner characteristics, and market factors on the forest management practices of nonindustrial private forestland owners indicate that cost-share assistance provides the greatest motivation for owners to reforest their lands (Cubbage et al. 1996). Technical assistance is a significant variable in encouraging reforestation but is less important than cost-share payments in influencing decisions.
Summary of Findings
Programs affecting nonfederal forests are administered by federal, state, or local governments. The bulk of these programs are administered by the USDA. Within the USDA, the Forest Service has major responsibility for programs focused on nonfederal forests, especially programs involving forest health, cooperative assistance, and transfer of funds to states. Federal agencies usually have a counterpart in state government. Various efforts have been made to assess the effectiveness of programs directed at nonfederal forests. Although study results are at times mixed and vary by region, technical assistance and cost-share programs have been judged effective in promoting forest productivity and stewardship; voluntary guidelines, tax incentive, and regulatory programs are considered less effective.
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