Option 9 US Forest Legislation (OPTION9)
CASE NUMBER: 54
CASE MNEMONIC: OPTION9
CASE NAME: Option #9 Forest Plan
1. The Issue
The United States is the world's largest producer and consumer
of wood. Wood and wood-product demand is so great that it
threatens to completely eliminate the few virgin forest areas left
in the country. The desire to protect forest lands is met with the
need for employment, especially in many rural areas. The current
rates for harvesting wood on government-held lands include large
subsidies that often make the practice economically viable. One
proposal for changing the way forest lands are managed is
legislation known as "Option 9." Option 9 legislation includes a
variety of proposals, such as The Unified Reserve System. It is
intended to allow the United States to remain leaders in the timber
industry while protecting national forests. This is considerable
controversy as to whether that will actually happen.
Theodore Roosevelt once said:
"In the past we have admitted the right of the individual
to injure the future of the republic for price and profit
-- now the time has come for a change. As a people we
have the right and the duty to protect ourselves and our
children from wasteful development of our national
On July 1, 1993 President Clinton unveiled legislation
referred to as Option 9, which would cut current timber jobs and
preserve old-growth forests, while establishing long term riparian
reserves. "The forest management plan is accompanied by an
economic assistance package that would infuse $1.2 billion into
forest regions for worker transition, community assistance, summer
jobs, and watershed restoration over the next five years".
Although 6,000 domestic timber jobs would be lost, this piece of
legislation is expected to provide more than 8,000 new jobs and
retain 13,500 timber workers.
Every year, 1-2 million acres (roughly the size of
Connecticut) of U.S. national forests are "clearcut", contributing
to environmental problems such as soil erosion, mud slides, and the
loss of watersheds. Increases in air temperature have also been
attributed to massive lumber harvesting. Every year about $300
million is lost under current policies on forest harvesting
(see TIMOWL and USWOOD cases).
Since 1979 the forest service timber program has lost over $4
billion and 100 out of 120 National Parks will lose money in 1993.
Option 9 is intended to change that deficit. Option 9 consists of
four key parts; Late-Successional Reserve System, Riparian Reserve
System, Forest Matrix, and Ten Adaptive Management Zones.
The Late Successional Reserve System is designed to protect
and designate areas for inhabitants such as the spotted owl and the
marbled murrelets. Many of the threatened and endangered forests
animals can only be found in large, inviolate, old-growth reserves
such as Mt. Hood, Olympic, Flathead, Shasta and Trinity National
Forests where the trees and ground cover have had hundreds of years
to form and develop. This Reserve System will reduce the need to
establish breeding farms or small wildlife reserves to maintain
species numbers. These reserves have been recent targets for
poachers and smugglers (see BEAR case).
The Riparian Reserve System is designed much like the Late
Successional Reserve System. It is proposed to protect salmon and
steelhead runs and provide biological connectors between old growth
reserves. One hundred and sixty watersheds will be included,
protecting forests along shore-lines, around lakes, and water ways.
Specific states will be affected directly by this new alliance of
old growth trees and eco-system protectionism. In Oregon, where
the oldest and biggest industries are timber and fishing, the goal
of Option 9 is to protect the region's best salmon spawning habitat
by placing large tracts of timberland near rivers and streams off
limits to logging. Surrounding areas, outside a 100 foot buffer
zone, could be moderately logged provided testing showed no threat
to nearby protected areas. With areas designated to the
enhancement of spawning habitat and removal of barriers to
migrating salmon the United States will directly create jobs and
indirectly increase spending from tourists (anglers) and investment
from outdoor recreation.
The Forest Matrix System entails creating areas where more
intensive "thinning" (selective cutting) can occur. At periodic
intervals, individual or small groups of trees (in healthy forests)
may be cut. These areas will use a formula based on a percentage
of the forest matrix which must contain trees of an average
diameter and provide canopy coverage for a specified area.
Industry standards will change from clearing whole sections of
forests to cutting the healthy, older and larger trees in various
regions. The larger and healthier trees will aid the timber
industries efforts to increase board feet per acre as well as
produce better quality wood. Dead old growth may also be cut and
this means fewer mud slides, less loss of habitat and ground cover,
and decreased logging of premature trees. Logging may continue as
long as the specified terms are still under the limit. Thinning
old growth will reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, particularly
in southern Oregon and northern California.
Ten Adaptive Management Zones totalling 1.5 million acres,
including a portion of the Late-Successional reserves will be
managed with more of a voice from local timber communities. The
residents of these communities would rather have better management
over their forests and ensure 20 timber jobs for the next 200
years, whereas the government sees larger profits in 200 extensive
cutting jobs for the next 20 years.
These changes are likely to lead to changes in consumption of
American wood, where trade is an important factor. The United
States is the world's second largest wood exporter (after Canada),
and the largest importer. The United States for example enjoys a
considerable surplus in wood trade with Japan and South Korea, and
deficits in many other products. The impact will probably reduce
cutting of virgin hard wood timber and an increase in softwoods
produced by plantations largely in the southeastern part of the
country. Countries that import hard wood will then turn to other
3. Related Cases
(1): Trade Product = WOOD
(2): Bio-geography = Temperate [TEMP]
(3): Environmental Problem = DEFORestation
4. Draft Author: David Dalbec
B. LEGAL Clusters
5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and INPROGress
Option 9 has not passed in either the chamber of the U.S.
6. Forum and Scope: USA and UNILATeral
7. Decision Breadth: 1 (USA)
8. Legal Standing: LAW
Similar U.S. legislation includes:
o S 1696, the Montana National Forests Management Act,
o HR 1164 (October 1993), The Biodiversity and Clearcutting
o HR 4045, the Endangered Species Act,
o HR 2501, The National Forest Timber Cost Recovery Act
o HR 4899, Abercrombie's Amendment to HR (102nd
o HR 2274, The National Forests Redwood Act (102nd
o the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.
C. GEOGRAPHIC Clusters
9. Geographic Locations
a. Geographic Domain : North America [NAMER]
b. Geographic Site : Western North America [WNAMER]
c. Geographic Impact : USA
10. Sub-National Factors: YES
Oregon, California, and Washington all have legislative
actions occurring or pending that relates to the case.
11. Type of Habitat: Temperate [TEMP]
D. TRADE Clusters
12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]
13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDirect
The proposed regulations would have impacts on U.S. trade in
14. Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact
a. Directly Related : YES WOOD
b. Indirectly Related : NO
c. Not Related : NO
d. Process Related : YES DEFORestation
15. Trade Product Identification: WOOD
16. Economic Data
Option 9, while cutting back the amount of cut timber by only
one-third, is expected to generate 119,700 future jobs. There will
be increases in revenue generated by higher timber costs,
recreation, tourism, paper industries, etc.
In January, 1990 there were 770,000 Americans employed in the
wood and lumber industry who would be directly impacted by the
changes. Some impacts will also be felt on industries where wood
is an important input product. Wood is an important input in the
furniture (522,000 employed), construction (5,418,000 employed),
and paper (697,000 employed) industries, among others. 17.
Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: LOW
The actual change in wood prices wood probably be minimal.
However, the change may be significant in a marginal sense,
especially in a competitive market for products.
18. Industry Sector: WOOD
As noted earlier, there are a variety other industries,
especially those downstream, that the measure could impact.
19. Exporter and Importer: USA and MANY
E. ENVIRONMENT Clusters
20. Environmental Problem Type: DEFORestation
21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species
Name: Softwoods and Hardwoods
Diversity: 2,036 higher plants per
10,000 km/sq (United
There are many species of trees that would be represented in
a forest mix. Most common are Cedar, Aspen, Oak, California
Redwood, Pines, and Conifers.
22. Impact and Effect: MEDium and REGULatory
23. Urgency and Lifetime: MEDium and 100s of years
The average age of U.S. forests are 80 to 120 years old. Some
have been recorded in our national forests as old as 3,000 years
old. They have survived wars, floods and droughts, and serve as
books with stored information in their rings for generations of
scientists to read.
24. Substitutes: RECYCling
In Japan recycling rates are approximately 50 percent compared
to the United States which is around 15 percent. Research is
being undertaken on alternative fibers like kenaf for making paper.
Growing and processing kenaf causes almost no pollution and would
help boost farm economies. Kenaf can be mixed with softwood or
recycled newspapers to make newspaper and has some characteristics,
such as opacity, that exceed softwood. Kenaf is a member of the
Malvaceae family, which includes cotton and okra, and plants grow
from 12 to 18 feet high. Of 500 fiber crops examined as the most
suitable substitute for wood in the manufacture of paper by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, "kenaf was singled out as the best
candidate for continued study." At the moment, kenaf is being
grown, often under test conditions, in Texas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, California, Oklahoma and Delaware, to use for
newsprint. Kenaf has long being used in Asia, particularly
Thailand, to make burlap sacks for rice made from tougher, outer
bast fibers of the plant. Although not a complete substitute,
kenaf would surely reduce the demands on American forests.
VI. OTHER Factors
25. Culture: NO
26. Trans-Border: NO
27. Rights: YES
This plan has been criticized because of the burden it puts on
labor and denial of worker's rights. In Oregon and elsewhere, it
is described as a "jobs versus owls" conflict. Environmentalists
argue that the ethical and economic value of the forests outweighs
the employment gains from cutting them down (see BRAZIL case).
Pro-harvesters answer that these changes will cause
significant unemployment, although technological change has caused
the loss of more jobs than would result from regulatory reform of the
system for forest management. It is clear that job losses will be
extremely concentrated and no doubt entire towns will essentially close down.
28. Relevant Literature
Bosio, Matt. "Kenaf Paper: A Forest-Saving Alternative."
Agricultural Research (Washington, DC: USDA, Agricultural
Research Service, October 1988).
Egan, Timothy. "Forest Service Abusing Role, Dissidents Say."
The New York Times (March 4, 1990).
Johnson, James Holbrook. "The Secret Harvest." American
Forests (March/April 1992).
Lee, James R. and Glaser, Lewrene K. Alternative Crops in
Mississippi: Prospects, Profiles, and Policies.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic
Research Service and the Mississippi Department of
Agriculture and Commerce, December 1992.
"Louisiana-Pacific to End Clear-Cutting in State." Telegram-
Tribune, San Luis Obispo County (California)
Maloney, Congresswoman Carolyn B. "Letter supporting HR
2638" (Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.)
Colleague Letter (July 21 1993).
O'Toole, Randal. "Changing Images -- The Forest Service View of
Clearcutting." America's Forests 12/2.
Save America's Forests. "In Brief: What Are The Problems? What
Can We Do To Solve Them?" National Newsletter.
St. Clair, Jeffrey. "Cutting It Down The Middle." Forest Watch
"Wilderness: The Last Stand." New York: Miranda Smith
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