Some of the world's most productive timberland lies on the slopes of the coastal range in Oregon and Washington. More than one-half of the commercial forest land in that area is estimated as high site quality for Douglas-fir, with a site index of 140 or better. But much of this land is not so well forested as it could be. A study of costs of reforestation was made with partial support by the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. Background An analysis of survey data and interviews of the U.S. Forest Service with forest land managers in 1972 revealed that about one-fourth of the high-site-quality land needs major reforestation or rehabilitation work, or both, to establish commercial softwoods (Beuter and Handy, Unpublished. 1972). The major problems to overcome in reforestation are brush, undesirable hardwood species, and animal damage to softwood seedlings. These interviews also revealed a variety of practices undertaken by forest land managers to reforest high-site-quality lands. Chemical and mechanical means, as well as fire, are used to rid sites of undesirable species. Chemical repellents and protective barriers are used to protect seedlings from animal damage. These practices are successful in varying degrees, but they are consistent in one aspect: they are expensive compared to reforestation costs on sites without problems. Costs for site preparation, planting, and seedling protection ranged from about $100 to over $400 per acre. These costs were based on one attempt at reforestation. Often, first efforts failed, and the land managers had to decide whether to abandon the reforestation effort or try again and face the same uncertainty as before. Many of them had no guidelines of how much they could or would be willing to spend to reforest their lands. Responses ranged from, "We'll spend whatever it takes," to some specific dollar limit the land manager had determined, either analytically or arbitrarily. That some economic guidelines for reforestation would be useful was evident. Objectives in Developing the Guidelines The primary audience for these guidelines is the forest land manager. Results, however, also should be useful for others in timber business analysis and forest economics research. The objective sought in developing guidelines is to answer the question: "Given a particular forest land ownership situation, what can the forest manager afford to spend to reforest the land?" Results are not prescriptions of what a land manager should do. They are only guidelines of what he can do if he identifies with the situation described. The key to usefulness of the guidelines is the ownership situation. A representative range of several variables is used to define ownership situations.
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