The Corps has long recognized the importance of forest management and has staffed positions for that purpose. Some of the initial work emphasized pulpwood thinnings to remove diseased or suppressed trees. Forest pest control efforts were largely directed at controlling insect infestations such as pine beetles. Later thinnings began to focus on removing poorly formed trees to allocate nutrients and moisture to the residual stand. The concept of basal area was developed in the 1950s and became a guideline for determining the best stand stocking levels. As a result of the Forest Cover Act, the multiple use concept and sustained yield became a greater focus in the 1960s and 1970s. In the last two decades, an ecosystem approach to forest management has increased in importance on public lands.
Up until the 1970s, the majority of thinning operations were conducted by small independent companies that often hauled shortwood. In the 1980s the timber industry moved away from shortwood harvesting to tree length logging for both pulpwood and sawtimber.
- 1902 Rivers and Harbors Act – Provided authorization for disposal of property including timber.
- 1956 Orders and Regulations, Para. 5212.18 provides authority to dispose of standing timber. For timber disposal that is not for new construction clearing or inundation, the District Engineer had authority for timber sales of $1,500 or less. Timber sales in excess of $1,500 required Chief of Engineers approval.
- 1960 Forest Cover Act PL 86-717 (16 USC 580m-580n) – Provides authority to manage timber resources for sustained yield as well as multiple use, including balancing multiple use requirements with other project purposes.
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