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Weyerhaeuser Company

Letter from Frederick Benson to Jon Kessler

1100 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 530
Washington, DC 20036
Tel (202) 293 7222
Fax (202) 293 2955

March 27, 1996

Mr. Jon Kessler, XL Director
Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Regulatory Reinvention Pilot Projects
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
West Tower 1013, Mail Code 2111
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Mr. Kessler:

Tuesday's Washington Post carried an AP wire service story mentioning Weyerhaeuser in connection with an investigation of timber theft from national forests.

The allegations contained within this article are serious and we take them in that vein. A thorough review is being conducted, and we will inform you of the results.

Attached is our initial response to this article. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.


Frederick S. Benson, III
Vice President



A March 25, 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times accuses the US Forest Service of obstructing investigations into allegations that millions of dollars of timber were illegally harvested from national forests in Oregon and Northern California. Although the 24-page report prepared by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Government Accountability Project does not name Weyerhaeuser, the story claims individual investigators have done so.

Weyerhaeuser takes these allegations very seriously and is doing its own internal review.

The report refers to an investigation known as "Rodeo", which related to events in southern Oregon and Northern California. We do not know what the Rodeo investigation covers; however, we are aware of two investigations by the USFS in the early 1990s. Here are the facts of those investigations based on what we know right know:

1. Weyerhaeuser purchased the Jade Watt timber sale in southern Oregon. This purchase was the subject of a 1992 USFS investigation. Local managers were informed that an investigation of this sale was pending. In the process of harvesting the timber, some other trees needed to be removed for safety or other operational reasons. This is standard practice for this type of harvest operation. The investigation focused on the harvesting of these other trees.

Generally, contracts of this nature require advance permission for harvesting these "cutaway" trees, but it is standard practice to workout these arrangements between harvesting crews and USFS on-the-ground personnel.

We believe the total volume harvested from this sale was accurately reported to the USFS and was paid in full. We heard nothing further from the USFS until 1994 when we received a bill from the USFS charging us double the stumpage price for a portion of these trees. We paid this bill, there has been no legal action, and we assumed the matter was closed.

2. The second investigation covered the Ball timber salvage sale. In any salvage operation, some small, green trees of non-commercial value are typically interspersed among the dead or dying timber. Inevitably, some of these are damaged or destroyed during the harvest process. These small trees are left in the woods and no commercial value is realized. The harvesting of these small, non-commercial trees may have been the purpose of that investigation. We have heard nothing more about this investigation.

3. We know nothing about other incidents alleged in the report, including the scaling and export allegations.

In summary, Weyerhaeuser cooperated fully with a USFS task force when charges similar to some of those included in the report were investigated in the early 1990s. No legal actions resulted from that investigation.

Our policy is simple: we operate legally and ethically at all times, and obey all laws and regulations.

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