Department of Environmental Conservation

State Forest Timber Sales

The Department of Environmental Conservation regularly cuts down trees in State-owned forests to promote forest health and biodiversity, ensure forest sustainability, provide for recreational opportunities, and accomplish other important forest management goals. The Department then sells the harvested timber to the highest bidder in publicly advertised sales. While forests benefit from some harvesting, a forest may not be sustainable if the amount of harvesting is excessive. The Department has determined the optimal amount of sustainable harvesting that can be done in State forests each year. However, we found that the Department was harvesting only about half that amount. As a result, important forest management goals were not being fully achieved. We also estimated that about $4.85 million a year in potential timber sale revenue was being lost.

We determined that the main reason for the low harvest rate was a lack of available staff. We also determined that additional foresters would be cost-effective. For example, if the Bureau had employed 17 additional foresters during the three years that we reviewed, it could have met its harvesting goal. The 17 foresters would have cost the State about $1.15 million a year, but with an additional $4.85 million a year in timber sale revenue, the State would have realized $3.7 million a year in net revenue. The additional foresters also would have helped the Department achieve more of its forest management goals. We recommended the Department formally evaluate the costs and benefits of hiring additional foresters. We also recommended that certain improvements be made in the Departmentís administration of its publicly advertised timber sales.

For a complete copy of Report 2006-S-9 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.