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Timber Management Costs in the Northern Region: A Historical Analysis

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This study investigates three aspects of timber management (TM) costs in the Northern Region of the USDA Forest Service from 1960 to 1995. Total timber management costs and costs/unit of timber harvested were analyzed to determine: (1) trends in unit costs and their probable causes, (2) whether economies of scale existed in timber management over this period, and (3) the distribution of total cost changes geographically and among expenditure categories. Results indicate the prevailing factor behind the upward trend in unit costs was the decline in timber harvested (especially since 1990). Separation of TM unit costs into seven cost categories shows that from 1960 to 1980, road construction accounted for 50% of overall unit costs. After 1985, however, harvest design and administration expenditures replaced road construction as the dominant expenditure category. By 1995, harvest design and administration accounted for 26% of unit costs, while road construction's share had dropped to 13%. Other analysis found unit costs to decrease as the timber land base increased, indicating economies of scale in timber management. Finally, an examination of total timber management costs shows road construction (including reconstruction) was the largest contributor to both cost increases from 1960 to 1980 and decreases from 1980 to 1995. West. J. Appl. For. 14(4):200-207.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, MT 59807

Publication date: 1999-10-01

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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