Survival of the Biggest
During last fall's campaign, Democratic orators justly decried Republican give-aways in our Pacific Northwest National Forests. But they failed to expose a more dangerous give-away, growing preferential treatment for the big lumber companies by the Forest Service under the Eisenhower Administration.
Today, the lumber companies, especially the smaller ones, are almost entirely dependant upon National Forest sales for their timber. The small operators have difficulty enough obtaining timber in a straight competitive sale, since the larger companies can afford to pay more than the timber is worth in order to deprive the smaller operators and hence force them out of the area. The large company, having then no competitors, can buy National Forest timber at the minimum price.
The Forest Service, however, adds to the problems of the small operator in its effort to eliminate all but the biggest companies. In many cases, the Forest Service will sell only to the operator, usually large, logging adjacent lands; or it will sell only in large blocs.
These Forest Service practices hurt the small operator greatly, but he is most impoverished by the variability of marking. All trees to be cut on a sale are marked by a Forest Service Ranger to insure that enough will be left for sufficient reproduction. Most of the profit in lumber is made from the larger trees which contain the select, high-priced lumber. But usually on a sale to small company, few large trees are marked. A small operator has no control over Forest Service marking.
However, a large company, if dissatisfied with marking, will request and often receive a new marker. Consequently, the large companies get almost all the large trees marked, so many that inadequate reproduction often results. This is especially deplorable when one considers that this country cuts fifty percent more timber annually than it grows.
The Forest Service, to some extent, has always been guilty of these mal-practices, but under Eisenhower and Secretary Benson they have been intensified. If the large companies continue to receive Forest Service preference, the small operator will eventually be eliminated; the large companies will, to a great degree, be able to control the price of lumber in this country. The American people must act soon to prevent this lumber monopoly by demanding equitable rights for all logging companies in our National Forests.