trails. In the 1940’s, the U.S. National Forest had 144,000nmiles of trails. By 1984, there were only 98,500 miles ofntrails — despite the fact that during this period the numbernof backpackers and sportsmen using the forests had increasednby a factor of ten. The problem is that backpackersncontribute little to Forest Service budgets.nThere is increased awareness that mankind is running upnagainst serious environmental constraints. Both locallynand nationally people are coming to recognize that belowcostnsales are injurious to the environmental and economicnhealth of many areas. In the same way that the ExxonnValdez spill hurt nearly all domestic oil producers, belowcostntimber sales in areas such as the Greater Yellowstonenportray the industry as environmentally insensitive andndependent upon government largesse. Over the long run,nthe timber industry has a stake in eliminating below-costnsales.nEnvironmentalists often decry private timber companiesnas environmental plunderers. Inciting public indignationnand generating funds, environmental groups portray thentimber industry as a wanton destroyer of wilderness andnwildlife. But this is an industry that must be understood in itsninstitutional context.nCurrently the federal government owns about one-thirdnof the land in the United States, and state and localngovernments own another 9 percent. The rest is privatelynowned. In 1973, the Forest Service adopted a nondecliningnflow policy, which is to say it would sell no more timberntoday than will be sold in the future. However, during thenReagan administration, John Crowell, who was assistantnsecretary of agriculture responsible for the Forest Service,nadvocated ignoring the nondeclining flow policy and suggestedndoubling the allowable cut. This timber “overhang”nhas had a huge negative impact on private sector investmentsnin forestry, because increasing uncertainty aboutnfederal “dumping” of timber onto the market reduces thenexpected value of private timber.nPrivate companies manage their land for marketablenproducts. They do not build extensive road systems intonpoor quality timber sites or systematically lose money onntimber sales as the National Forest Service does. Privatenfirms cannot force taxpayers to subsidize their operations,nand those that lose money on sales will go bankrupt. If anprivate company owns marginal timber land that is de factonwilderness, it is normally in the company’s interest to leave itnalone or transfer it to a conservation group such as thenNature Conservancy. Alternatively, they may manage it fornits most highly valued use, which may be for wildlife habitatnor recreation when they can benefit from doing so.nHowever, if a company owns a high-quality timber site, itnwill be logged and managed in such a way to maximizendiscounted returns. While private timber companies donengage in political favor seeking, these companies do not actnprimarily to placate Congress. They are more interested inngenerating profits in the marketplace. That self-interest leadsnprivate timber cornpanies to behave in a more economicallynresponsible manner than does the Forest Service. Often,nthey do less environmental damage, for they rarely removentimber that will not pay its way out of the woods.nA good example of private management benefitingnwildlife and timber management is Champion International’snmanagement of its forest lands in western WashingtonnState. In the late I970’s Champion International and thenWashington Department of Wildlife began a cooperativenmanagement program to encourage deer in the forests.nChampion limited the size of its new clearcuts and distributednthem across the forest in order to give the deer as muchnhabitat as possible.nInitially, this did not have the desired effect for Champion.nThere was an explosion of the deer population, whichnresulted in widespread deer damage to conifer seedlings.nAlso, because of the high deer densities, the reproductivenrates of the does declined, and the number of fawnsnsurviving was low. The public blamed Champion’s clearcutnlogging for the decline.nIn response, the Washington Department of Wildlifenagreed to alter the management of the deer herd onnChampion lands by designing special hunting seasons tonreduce the deer numbers. This, in turn, lessened the deerndamage to seedlings, and allowed for more viable fawns. Innreturn. Champion continued its cooperation in timbernharvesting, and agreed to fund a deer population monitoringnprogram.nThe best managers of timberlandsnare private timber companiesnand institutional investors, such asnpension funds and insurance companies,ninterested in long-term investments.nIn 1987, Champion began a fee-access program. Huntersnwere charged a modest fee for the right to hunt onnChampion lands. Not only was the response of huntersngreater than expected, but nearly one-third of the accessnpermits in the first two years was purchased by mushroomnand berry pickers, hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, andnothers.nThe cooperative deer management program on Championnlands benefited all parties. The combination of sensitivenforest management and a balanced hunting season has madenthe Champion lands the most productive deer habitat innwestern Washington. In 1988 the Champion tree farm hadnthe highest hunter success rate of any forest lands in thenstate. For Champion, the deer were converted from anliability into a resource.nCongressman Dick Armey’s (R-Texas) solution fornclosing obsolete American Army bases may show us anway to reform the Forest Service. Last spring a Housenresolution to prevent the closure of 86 military bases failednby a vote of 381-43, a belated but no less welcome victorynfor common sense and economic efficiency. The closingsnare projected to save taxpayers $5.6 billion over the nextntwenty years.nCongressman Armey overcame his previously successfulnnnAUGUST 1990/25n