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Statement About the Report of the Task Force on Softwood Lumber and Plywood

June 19, 1970

I HAVE RECEIVED from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy the findings and recommendations of the Task Force on Softwood Lumber and Plywood. The Task Force reports that a substantial increase in the supply of softwood timber products will be needed to meet the Nation's growing requirements, especially in order to attain our goal of providing adequate housing for all our people by the end of this decade. It stresses also that this increase in supply can and must be achieved in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the quality of our environment. I fully endorse these findings.

The Task Force report includes a number of specific recommendations designed to meet these objectives. While some of these recommendations require further intensive study and continuous reassessment in the light of changing conditions, I am directing that the following initial steps be taken promptly.

1. The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior should formulate plans to improve the level and quality of management of forest lands under their jurisdiction in order to permit increased harvest of softwood timber consistent with sustained yield, environmental quality, and multiple use objectives. As recommended by the Task Force, such plans should take cognizance of the increased requirements for timber to meet our housing goals. They should be developed in consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality with the aim of not only protecting but also enhancing the quality of the environment in our forest lands. Any additional funding required for the execution of these plans will be reviewed by the Bureau of the Budget in relation to overall national priorities.

2. In determining the level of timber to be offered for sale in any given year, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior should provide reasonable flexibility to take account of anticipated swings in demand. Such adjustments may be upward or downward, and should be compensated as promptly as feasible to keep within the constraints of long-term sustained yield objectives.

3. The Secretary of Agriculture should press ahead with the development of programs designed to increase the production and harvesting of timber on State and private lands, consistent with maintaining environmental quality.

4. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in cooperation with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, should continue the development of programs and standards looking toward improved and more economical wood products utilization, including encouragement of the development and utilization of substitute materials.

The Task Force has recommended that a panel of outstanding citizens be invited to study the entire range of problems involved in ensuring that the achievement of our housing goals is not constrained by an inadequate supply of softwood lumber and plywood, while fully protecting and enhancing the quality of our environment. I concur in the need for such a panel, and hereby direct that the necessary steps be taken to select its members, who should be persons of outstanding ability and broad experience, with no ties or commitments that might prejudice objective judgment.

I am releasing the full report of the Task Force at this time so that the public may be fully informed of the issues involved in this important problem.

Note: The task force report, dated June 18, 1970, is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, p. 788). On June 19, the White House released the transcript of a news briefing on the report by Saul Nelson, a staff member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Richard Nixon, Statement About the Report of the Task Force on Softwood Lumber and Plywood Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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