Since initiating the Forest Products Modernization effort in June 2017, we have collaboratively reviewed the forest products delivery system. We collected feedback and ideas from over 150 partners, including industry, and over 1,000 agency employees, resulting in over one hundred modernization actions added to our project pipeline.
We solicited ideas from solution teams made up of district, forest, regional, and Washington Office employees and more broadly through a dedicated FPM email address, a virtual suggestion box, and a series of virtual feedback sessions. About two-thirds of the modernization actions generated are either complete or underway. These actions are yielding results. Since 2016, we:
- Increased capacity and institutional knowledge by training over 2,300 employees in 20 forest management-related courses and hiring 300 employees through focused Pathways recruiting events.
- Increased digital technology use for timber cruising to nearly 90 percent by providing digital equipment, software, and training to all regions. Digital technologies, when compared to traditional methods (pen, paper, compass and traversing), increase data quality and reduce time spent in the field by roughly 30 percent.
- Increased number of timber sale contracts awarded using designation by prescription (DXP) from 5 to 55. DXP reduces both time spent in the field on sale layout and the cost of tree-marking paint, saving the agency roughly $70 per acre in sale layout costs.
- Increased timber volume awarded using Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) from 22 to 89 million board feet in 2018. Using GNA and stewardship contracts increases capacity to sell timber, allowing states and other entities to prepare, sell, and administer sales on National Forest System lands.
- Increased timber sale acres treated, and acres treated to reduce fire risk by 20 percent, and sold 3.2 billion board feet in FY2018—the first time we exceeded 3 billion board feet in 20 years. We achieved this partly through use of new tools and authorities granted by Congress, and largely through employees working longer and harder to make it happen. We will continue to expand use of new tools, processes, and authorities to manage workloads and ensure employee well-being.
It’s no longer business as usual. We anticipate more improvements as we update our directives, streamline contracts, appraisals, and databases, and fully implement improved business practices. More details on key accomplishments and benefits are in the table below.
Table 1: Primary Accomplishments to Date: FY2017-2018
|Established forest management training website and calendar. Offered updated and new courses (e.g. DxP, stewardship contracting, GNA agreements, national advanced silviculture program, basic sale administration and timber sale preparation)||We reached over 2,000 students with these improved training approaches in 2017-2018. These courses address skill gaps and expand knowledge across the workforce for how to apply new authorities|
|Initiated a new timber sale administrator academy||Improved sale administrator skills through an assigned mentor and on-the-ground experience administering sales with different logging systems|
|Initiated a series of logging systems training courses||Increased awareness and knowledge regarding different logging systems for a variety of employees, to better understand capabilities and limitations; improved timber feasibility analyses when designing timber sales|
|Hired 300 field employees through focused Pathways recruitment at Society of American Foresters conferences and other events. Brought on over 40 mentors in timber and silviculture through the ACES program||Increased workforce capacity in the forester and forestry technician series and improved on-the-job mentorship for new employees|
|Changed agency policy to allow re-certifying experienced timber cruisers every 2 years instead of annually||Streamlined annual recertification process to be more cost effective and still meet quality standards|
|Piloted the use of timber sale preparation tools and techniques with partners (e.g. virtual boundaries, LiDAR for resource assessments, deck scaling) and produced guide books||Reduced costs (digital approaches allow 40 acres to be designated per day instead of 5 acres). Improved safety, reduced time in the field, and increased data accuracy|
|Purchased over a half million dollars in data recorders, lasers, and tablets for timber cruising, updated software, and increased training||Improved data collection and processing speed and accuracy, more efficient cruising methods, and increased safety of crews in measuring trees|
|Business Change and Policy|
|Increased use of Good Neighbor Authorities, stewardship agreements and use of DxP techniques||DxP reduces time in preparing a timber sale ($70/acre); GNA expands ability to treat more acres by leveraging state, and tribal capacity|
|Developed a market-based appraisal system and decision tree (a tool to identify the most efficiency appraisal method)||Better assessment of low value markets and decreased time to complete an appraisal for low value material|
|Changed agency policy to allow a 30 percent sampling error for cruising instead of a 20 percent sampling error for scaled sales over $120,000||Decreased field sampling while still developing a reasonable estimate of volume for scaled sales. Saves field time and decreases safety risks for crews cruising in difficult terrain/hazardous conditions|
|Established national minimum rates for all species and products in non-stewardship sales at $0.25 per CCF or equivalent. Encouraged use of new ‘best tool decision tree’ and ‘appraisal decision tree’ to help select the most appropriate contract and appraisal process to use||Aid the sale of low value material (low grade, low quality, or material with a lengthy distance to market) to meet management objectives, improve forest conditions, and reduce no bid restoration projects|
|Expanded Knutsen-Vandenberg Authority, the assessment rate for Permanent and Trust funds, and provided implementation direction||Added flexibility in the use of KV authority and collected timber sale receipts so these funds can be used outside the sale area to meet resource management objectives|