- As the population in the United States and the world grows, the demand for wood products, recreation opportunities, clean air and water, and other primary and derived forest resources will grow. Opportunities to realize each of the forest resources in a given area may be mutually exclusive, and their production may involve externalities, both positive and negative.
Externalities are costs or benefits, directly measurable or not, that are generated by the primary producer, but assumed by others outside the production process. For example, if a logging operation reduces a certain population of wildlife, this could be considered an external cost. In many cases, external costs have been undefined or spread over so large a population that they have been ignored. As they become defined and or more expensive through time and technology, some believe it is a function of the State or Federal government, as agents or stewards of public goods such as streams and air quality, to assess these heretofore external costs to the producers as much and as fairly as possible.
States with large acreages of timberlands have also coupled externality management with a policy of increased production from these lands. If demand for forest resources increases above current levels, future prices for forest resources will rise above those that would prevail if efforts to increase resource supply in the future are undertaken now. This possibly avoidable price rise is considered a cost to society, and as a societal cost not seen to be rectified by other means, the state may have some justification to encourage increased production or realization of the forest resource.
One method states have chosen to address the issues of protection and long-term supply of forest products has been to focus on the silvicultural and harvesting aspects of the supply process. Logging has the most visible and important impact on the forest and watershed environment, and improper techniques can act to damage additional areas, now and in the future. In addition, improper or nonexistent regeneration of tree species can effectively remove logged over lands from many of the expectations held upon these lands by society as sources of present and future timber supply, watershed, erosion control, wildlife habitat, fire protection, etc.
At least 16 states have enacted forest practices acts to deal with these issues in the absence of federal control of state and private forest lands. This paper will describe two such acts, the Z'berg-Nejedly Act of California and the Forest Practices Act of Oregon. Both Acts will be compared as to history, policy base, structure and applicability, and evaluated in terms of impacts, costs and defensibility. Published materials will be used as references with limited original research performed.