An Assessment of Forest Policy Changes in Western Washington
Bruce R. Lippke, B. Bruce Bare, Weihuan Xu and Martin Mendoza
Changing forest policies in both riparian and upland areas to help protect threatened and endangered species have contributed to the reduction of timber harvests in western Washington. The economic, biodiversity, and environmental impacts of these policy actions have been substantial. Policy simulations across 9.4 million acres of timberland show that, relative to proactive management strategies, current habitat conservation and environmental programs ( largely based on a reservation strategy) result in net present value reductions to forestland owners of $9.9 billion. Accompanying these asset value reductions are employment losses (sustained) of 30% and tax receipt losses of 26%. The policy simulations further demonstrate that proactive management will not decrease the long-term percentage of the upland landscape occupied by functionally old forests relative to the reservation strategy. In the riparian area, adoption of a reservation strategy actually decreases (by 29%) the percent of the landscape occupied by functionally old forests relative to a proactive management approach. These results illustrate the importance of proactively managing western Washington forests to provide maximum functionally old forest habitat for endangered upland animals (such as the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet) as well as riparian species.