Renewable Resources of the United States Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Transmitting a Statement of Policy and Related Documents.
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am pleased to transmit a Statement of Policy, an Assessment of the Nation's Renewable Resources, and the Secretary of Agriculture's Recommended Program for Forest Service activities as required by the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 as amended.
The Secretary of Agriculture's recommended program provides important guidance for the near and long-term management of the nation's natural resources. The wise use of these valuable natural resources is essential for providing continuing social and economic benefits to Americans. My Statement of Policy provides further guidelines for implementation of the Recommended Program.
I am proud of the progress we have made since the first RPA documents were transmitted to Congress in 1976. But there is much more to be done to assure our forest and range resources will continue to be properly managed in the 1980's and the decades beyond. The documents, which are being transmitted to the Congress today, will be useful in your consideration of natural resources policies, programs, and budgets.
I look forward to working with the Congress as you review these documents and my Statement of Policy in the coming months.
STATEMENT OF POLICY INTRODUCTION
Today, I am transmitting to the Congress my Statement of Policy regarding the management and use of the nation's renewable resources. This statement enunciates my policies for planning, budgeting, and implementing Forest Service programs between now and 1985. Accompanying this policy statement is the Renewable Resources Assessment and Renewable Resources Program prepared by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act. The RPA documents review in detail the current and prospective condition and uses of 1.6 billion acres of public and private forests and rangelands and recommend near and long-term programs that will improve the contribution of these resources to the welfare of the American people. These documents, the most comprehensive ever developed for this purpose, will provide an improved basis for managing our nation's natural resources, and balancing economic efficiency, environmental quality, and important social values. They reflect the contributions of a great many people in Federal and State agencies and in the private sector.
The Assessment provides estimates of present and prospective demand and supply for all renewable resources on public and private forest and rangeland. These resources are extremely important to the welfare of our nation. They include vast outdoor recreation resources, varied fish and wildlife habitats, livestock forage, surface and ground water, energy and mineral resources, extensive areas of pristine and scenic wilderness, and wood for housing, paper and energy.
These lands are part of our natural and national heritage. Our responsibilities for their management not only include the immediate needs of our nation, but also our long-term needs. Since I took office, we have worked together in many ways to protect and improve the productivity and environmental quality of forests and ranges. The Congress enacted and I signed into law the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act, the Renewable Resources Research Act, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act, the Endangered American Wilderness Act, the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act and many other important laws. I am proud of this record of protecting and improving the environment and in fostering economic growth and productivity. In addition, my Administration has taken a number of actions to advance these objectives. I have delivered two comprehensive Environmental Messages. We 'have made considerable progress in building the National Wilderness Preservation System. Last year, we completed the comprehensive Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) of the National Forest System. This review examined 62 million acres of undeveloped lands. From this review, I recommended to the Congress that over 15 million acres be designated as wilderness. My recommendations bring the total wilderness designated and proposed for the National Forest System to over 34 million acres. I directed the management of 36 million acres for other multiple use purposes and 10.6 million acres will be studied further for possible wilderness or other uses.
While we have made progress, there is much more to be done. Our forest and range resources have not yet been developed to their full potential. We have a basic need to continue to improve the overall productivity of our renewable resource base. It is the source of much of our nation's strength and prosperity.
Theodore Roosevelt once said that, "the nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value." The rich potential of our forest and rangeland resources have been confirmed in the RPA documents.
The "Assessment of the Forest and Range Land Situation in the United States" indicates that our nation's demands for renewable resources—outdoor recreation, wilderness, wildlife, and fish, range, timber, and water, will continue to increase. Demand for timber is expected to be particularly strong during the next decade. We have an opportunity to manage our nation's resources, both public and private, for increased productivity. Such increases would moderate upward price pressures on wood products and other forest-related commodities, decrease our dependency on foreign suppliers, and provide additional opportunities for our people to enjoy the outdoors, enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality.
I believe it is important to make use of the potential of the National Forest System to contribute to the nation's supply of renewable resources in an economically efficient and environmentally sound manner. For this reason, last June I directed the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to "use maximum speed in updating land management plans . . . with the objective of increasing the harvest of mature timber through departure from the current non-declining evenflow policy." I further directed that "... all relevant economic and environmental implications must be taken into account." The updating of land management plans for national forests is underway and thus, accurate estimates of the potential for increased supply from this policy are not presently available. Consistent with multiple use requirements, such increases are to be reflected in the annual program proposals.
The basic policy that I intend to pursue will seek a balance among three important principles:
—Economic Efficiency. Public investment in resource management should be directed toward maximizing net national benefits.
—Environmental Quality. Environmental values will be maintained and where possible enhanced. Legal requirements will be met, including those for air and water quality standards, and for protecting long-term soil productivity. Threatened and endangered species, and fish and wildlife habitat will continue to be protected.
—Social Values. The relationship of individual communities to the National Forest System with respect to employment, income and social amenities is important, and will be considered in management decisions. The concerns of those using the forests for recreation and aesthetic purposes will also be considered in management decisions.
To reach these goals, the Resources Planning Act and the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act provide important and appropriate guidance. The Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act specifies "... management of all the various renewable surface resources of the national forests so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the needs of the American people... with consideration being given to the relative values of the various resources and not necessarily the combination of uses that will give the greatest dollar return . . ." The Resources Planning Act specifies a process for determining the best combination of uses of national forests lands and other Forest Service activities. It emphasizes determination of demand, supply, and price relationships and the comparison of benefits and costs of Federal activities. The Secretary's recommended program is based on this general guidance.
THE RECOMMENDED PROGRAM
The comprehensive planning process embodied in the 1980 RPA Program has important benefits. It provides a systematic look into the future to determine what actions may be required now or in the near term. It helps in managing complex programs. It facilitates achievement of uniform standards, policies, and procedures while also permitting management to be responsive to specific local and regional situations.
The 1980 Program recommended by the Secretary of Agriculture is presented as a range and will be used to guide budget proposals, land management planning and other government action. It reflects certain limitations in the data and analysis, and uncertainty about the economic conditions that we face in the future. Thus, it allows a reasonable degree of flexibility for considering differing views on resource management priorities.
The program being recommended by the Secretary of Agriculture is briefly described below:
National Forest Management. National Forests will continue to be managed under multiple-use sustained yield principles to assure a continuous flow of all goods and services, and to achieve the regional and national goals displayed in the Program. Specifically, it will include:
• Recreation and Wilderness. Dispersed recreation will continue to be emphasized in the National Forests. Recreation facilities will be maintained, improved and developed in a way that compliments dispersed recreation and encourages energy conservation by providing greater recreational opportunities to areas closest to urban areas. Additional areas will be considered for the wilderness system.
• Wildlife and Fish. Planning and support activities will be maintained as necessary to protect and enhance wildlife and fish habitats and to meet the needs of threatened and endangered species. Population targets will be established to guide the enhancement of wildlife and fish habitats. Forest and range landowners will be encouraged to practice wildlife management within the context of multiple use. States will be encouraged to consider wildlife needs in the development of their forest resource plans.
• Range. The range program will be directed toward improving range conditions with emphasis on efficient forage production opportunities and protecting soil and water values.
• Water. On National Forest land, water quality goals specified in the Clean Water Act will be met.
• Minerals. There are extensive undeveloped energy and non-energy mineral resources in the National Forests. The development of mineral and geothermal resources will be emphasized within appropriate environmental constraints.
• Timber. Timber supplies from National Forest lands will be maintained through more complete utilization standards and intensive management on more productive sites. Timber sale contracts will be modified where feasible to increase utilization. A complete review of appraisal procedures and timber sale receipts will be conducted.
Research. An aggressive research program would be continued. Research to meet increasing demands for timber, energy, protection of riparian habitat and streams, air and water quality and recreation will be emphasized.
Cooperative Forestry. The assessment underscores the importance of commercial forestland held by non-industrial landowners for meeting future resource needs. Cooperative Forestry programs will promote improved management of State and private lands for timber production and other forest values.
SPECIFIC KEY CONCERNS
While greatly improved over the 1975 RPA, the present program is necessarily based on available data and analysis. This program will be strengthened further through the next generation of land management plans scheduled for completion in 1985. A broad array of options will be considered in each forest plan including options that may fall outside the boundaries of the recommended program.
In addition, I would like to stress the following special concerns:
• Timber Production. This nation's housing requirements during the next five years are expected to place major demands on the forest products industry to increase production of lumber and wood products. In the long run, private forestlands are expected to become a chief source of increased timber supply, but during this decade, careful consideration must be given to increased supplies from Federally-owned lands, particularly the National Forest System. The recommended program for the National Forests provides for timber harvest goals ranging between 11.0 and 12.5 billion board feet by 1985, based on the traditional planning guidelines. However, at my direction, the Secretary of Agriculture is accelerating national forest land management plans with the objective of increasing the harvest of mature timber through departure from the current nondeclining evenflow policy.
Increases in the state and private cooperative forestry program will be based on additional analyses of the effectiveness of existing and potential approaches that could efficiently improve productivity on these lands. This includes a joint review by the Agriculture and Treasury Departments of tax implications for forest land management.
• Environmental Values. My Administration has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to maintaining and enhancing the quality of our nation's environment. The importance of the values provided by water, recreation, fish and wildlife, wilderness and many others, is well recognized. Proper management of both timber and other resources, as outlined above, requires ongoing recognition and protection of environmental values. This will be done through my recommendations on expanding the wilderness system, and also by considering environmental values as an integral part of multiple-use management. This policy will be reflected in all actions to increase the economic efficiency and productivity of our nation's forests and rangelands. The recommended program is directed toward assuring long-term maintenance of these. resources.
It is my intention that the Department of Agriculture manage the National Forest System and carry out research and cooperative forestry programs with a keen sensitivity to the anticipated difficult economic and budgetary choices confronting this nation over the next several years. Federal investment decisions must be made in accordance with the most urgent and pressing needs.
I anticipate that my budget proposals for fiscal years 1982 through 1985 and beyond will fall within the bounds of the recommended program totals. Funding for Forest Service programs will necessarily be considered in each year's economic and fiscal context, along with emerging resource needs, and the demands placed on our financial resources by our other national goals and interests. Consistent with my zero-based budget process, additional planning and analysis will be necessary to provide specific program justification.
I believe the RPA process is important and desirable. The 1980 assessment and program comprise major progress in developing a sound planning process. They provide a very useful picture of the status of our forestry resources, the projected demands on them and a realistic set of options for managing those resources to meet national needs. In this respect, the results represent a significant improvement over the 1975 RPA.
I commend the Secretary of Agriculture for his Department's efforts in preparing the Renewable Resources assessment and program, and for his responsiveness to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act.
Note: This is the text of identical letters and statements of policy addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Walter F. Mondale, President of the Senate.
The reports transmitted with the letter are entitled: "An Assessment of the Forest and Range Land Situation in the United States-January 1980" (Government Printing Office, 631 pages), and "The 1980 Report to Congress on the Nation's Renewable Resources" (Government Printing Office, 155 pages).
Jimmy Carter, Renewable Resources of the United States Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Transmitting a Statement of Policy and Related Documents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251122