August 29, 2000

NEW REPORT SHOWS NATIONAL FORESTS MORE VALUABLE ALIVE THAN DEAD

Local Economies Benefit From Ending Logging in Treasured Forests; Recreation Creates Far More Jobs, Income than Timber Industry

Cntact: Allen Mattison, 202-675-7903

WASHINGTON - A new report released today disproves the myth that rural communities need to chop down their local National Forests in order to enjoy a healthy economy. In fact, the report, conducted by the independent economic analysis firm ECONorthwest and commissioned by the Sierra Club, found that recreation in our National Forests generates 25 times more money for the American economy than does logging on those lands.

"This report proves what many rural business owners have known for years - our National Forests are too valuable to chop down," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. "As an engine for a strong economy, recreation in healthy National Forests dwarfs commercial logging. Logging has destroyed some of our best areas for recreation and clean drinking water. Repairing the damage done by decades of clearcutting will create jobs and restore our forests to be healthy, natural and provide even more economic benefits for future generations."

ECONorthwest reached four major conclusions - and exploded some longstanding myths - in their study:

* National and regional economies are not dependent on logging National Forests;

* Recreation, clean water and wildlife habitat in National Forest are worth much more than logging in economic benefits and jobs;

* Logging has badly hurt the National Forests' ability to provide money-makers like recreation and clean water; and

* Investing in restoration can provide immediate and long-term ecological and economic benefits.

According to the report, "Seeing the Forests for Their Green - The Economic Benefits of Forest Protection, Recreation and Restoration," recreation in National Forests generates $108 billion for the national economy annually, employing 2.6 million Americans. Additionally, fish and wildlife contribute $14 billion per year, and 330,000 jobs. The timber industry in National Forests, in contrast, is worth just $4 billion and 76,000 jobs. Moreover, commercial logging actually takes away other economic benefits by reducing healthy habitat and decreasing recreation opportunities.

The report details the case of the Pacific Northwest, where logging on federal lands fell 91 percent from 1988 to 1998, but total employment in the region rose 31 percent.

"The old myth that rural communities need logging to survive is just that - an old myth," Pope said. "The timber industry predicted doom and gloom when National Forest logging plummeted in Oregon and Washington, but in fact employment shot up and the economy became stronger and more diverse."

National Forests are some of Americans' favorite places to hike, hunt, fish and camp. They provide habitat to more than 3,000 species of fish and wildlife, and clean drinking water to over 60 million people in 33 states. Unfortunately, logging an area for a single season can wipe out its recreation, habitat or clean-water value for years into the future. Logging ruins recreation areas, destroys homes for wildlife, and chokes streams with silt, clogging municipal drinking supplies.

"As developments gobble up America's remaining wild lands, the places where we can hunt, hike and fish become even more valuable," Pope said. "Anyone who sells outdoor gear, guides hunting trips or owns a tackle shop can tell you that our National Forests are worth more alive than dead. It's time we ended commercial logging in our National Forests and got to work restoring the damage that's been done, for our families and our future."

The report "Seeing the Forests for Their Green" is available at www.sierraclub.org