Timber sales are up slightly on the Allegheny National Forest in comparison to last year.
Tony Martoglio, Allegheny National Forest deputy ranger for the Bradford district, updated the Warren County Council of Governments on Wednesday about the program.
Martoglio explained that there will be 27 separate sales offered this year which means that the cut amount is "likely going to push over 36 million board feet."
At a target of 35 million, one of the factors that accounts for the increase is cutting related to oil and gas, which accounts for 13 to 14 percent of the total, he said.
"So all the marking was finished up last month for this year's offer," Martoglio said. "Ideally, (that would) happen in May and June." Part of the delay could be that the ANF is processing an increased number of oil and gas packages throughout the forest.
He said that, for sales made this year, they are hoping to hold the buyers to a three-year time frame during which to harvest.
Acting Forest Supervisor Clyde Thompson said it "kills forests to go up and down" in terms of the size of the annual cut. He said he has "been working to stabilize the program."
That includes a target around 35 million board feet next year as well as it "takes more than one year to prepare the sales," Thompson explained, requiring that the forest look "far enough (ahead) to keep the program stable, then to look to how to grow it."
Warren County Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said the estimated cut for next year, and the existing cut for this year, are not in line with the forest plan.
Thompson said the plan calls for 54 million but said that "assumes everything is going right. The question is how much do you get budgeted for. We're picking up in terms of our prescriptions, how many are cuttings verses harvests. Our objective would be 35 (million) without the oil and gas."
"That's one thing we've had an issue with the Forest Service," Vanco said.
Martoglio said the "difference between now and 10 years ago, the value of timber is one-fifth of what it was. (We're) trying to push it into a market that is not there."
He also raised concerns about the quality of the cherry on the forest not being what it used to be.
Those issues have led to the program "not putting the jobs out there it could be," he said. "We have some room to grow, capacity issues we need to deal with. There's many things that are affecting that offer to build and sustain a program. We need to start tackling them."