Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
104th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 2d Session                                                     104-321
_______________________________________________________________________


 
       FEDERAL LANDS FOREST HEALTH PROTECTION AND RESTORATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                 July 16,  1996.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 391]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 391) to authorize and direct the 
Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to undertake 
activities to halt and reverse the decline in forest health on 
Federal lands, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon with an amendment and an 
amendment to the title and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    1. Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in 
lieu thereof the following:

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Federal Lands Forest Health 
Protection and Restoration Act.''

SEC. 2. PURPOSES AND DEFINITIONS.

    (a) Purposes.--(1) The purposes of this Act are to arrest the 
dramatic decline in forest health on Federal lands and restore forest 
health to a condition capable of supporting and sustaining the uses of 
those lands within the lands' historic ranges of variability; safeguard 
human life, property, and communities on and near the Federal lands, 
particularly in wildland/urban interface areas; protect air and water 
quality, wildlife, recreation and visual values, and other forest 
resources of the Federal lands placed at risk by declining forest 
health; restore, maintain or enhance the integrity of ecosystems, 
watersheds, and habitats on the Federal lands damaged or placed at risk 
by declining forest health; protect existing Federal investments in the 
forest resources of the Federal lands, and future Federal, State, and 
local revenues from those lands that otherwise will be foregone if 
forest health trends continue; and provide opportunities to accomplish 
similar purposes on adjacent non-Federal lands with similar forest 
health conditions.
    (2) Congress recognizes that the management of the Federal lands 
has been characterized by large cyclical variations in fire suppression 
policies, timber harvesting levels, and the attention paid to commodity 
and non-commodity values. The inconsistent management of the Federal 
lands is not in the long-term interest of the nation. Management of the 
Federal lands should be conducted through the enactment of authorizing 
legislation, and through the faithful implementation of that 
legislation by the Executive Branch.
    (3) It is the purpose of this authorizing legislation to manage the 
Federal lands in a more consistent manner by establishing a rational 
system for selecting and implementing forest health activities to 
provide a long-term approach to addressing forest health concerns.
    (b) Definitons.--As used in this Act, the term--
          (1) ``Federal lands'' means--
                  (A) public lands as defined in section 103(e) of the 
                Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 
                U.S.C. 1702(e));
                  (B) lands within the National Forest System as 
                defined in section 11(a) of the Forest and Rangeland 
                Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 
                1609(a)); and
                  (C) lands within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, 
                as redesignated by section 303(4) of the Alaska 
                National Interest Lands Conservation Act (94 Stat. 
                2391, 16 U.S.C. 668dd note);
          (2) ``forest health management activity'' means any thinning, 
        salvage, timber stand improvement, reforestation, prescribed 
        burning (including natural ignition) or other fuels management, 
        insect or disease control, riparian or other habitat 
        improvement, soil stabilization or other water quality 
        improvement, or other activity, the purpose of which is to meet 
        one or more of the objectives set forth in section 3(a)(1)(C);
          (3) ``land management plan'' means--
                  (A) with respect to federal lands administered by the 
                Secretary of the Interior, a land use plan prepared by 
                the Bureau of Land Management pursuant to section 202 
                of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 
                (43 U.S.C. 1712), or other multiple-use plan currently 
                in effect;
                  (B) with respect to federal lands administered by the 
                Secretary of Agriculture, a land and resource 
                management plan (or, if no final plan is currently in 
                effect, a draft land and resource management plan) 
                prepared by the Forest Service pursuant to section 6 of 
                the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning 
                Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1604);
                  (C) a comprehensive conservation plan for the Kenai 
                National Wildlife Refuge pursuant to section 304(g) of 
                the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (94 
                Stat. 2394), and a determination of compatibility with 
                the purpose for which the Refuge was established 
                pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System 
                Administration Act and
          (4) ``Secretary'' means--
                  (A) with respect to Federal lands described in 
                subparagraphs (A) and (C) of paragraph (1), the 
                Secretary of the Interior, or, except for section 6, 
                the Secretary's designee; and
                  (B) with respect to Federal lands described in 
                paragraph (1)(B), the Secretary of Agriculture, or, 
                except for section 6, the Secretary's designee.

SEC. 3. DESIGNATION OF AREAS AND SELECTION AND AUTHORIZATION OF 
                    ACTIVITIES.

    (a) General Direction.--(1) The Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture are each directed to review the forest health 
conditions on the Federal lands and--
          (A) identify on or before March 1 of each year, those areas 
        on the Federal lands on which the forest health conditions 
        described in subsection (b) exist; and
          (B) subsequent to the identification of areas under paragraph 
        (A), and in accordance with the priorities prescribed in 
        subsection (b)(3), designate in a timely fashion as forest 
        health emergency areas or forest health high risk areas those 
        areas on the Federal lands on which the forest health 
        conditions described in subsection (b) exist; and
          (C) select and authorize the proposed forest health 
        management activities to be undertaken in such areas in order 
        to--
                  (i) arrest the decline of forest health and restore 
                forest health to a condition capable of supporting and 
                sustaining the uses of such areas within the historic 
                ranges of variability of such areas or as determined in 
                the applicable land management plan or plans;
                  (ii) safeguard human life, property, and communities 
                on and near the Federal lands, particularly in 
                wildland/urban interface areas;
                  (iii) protect the various forest resources of the 
                Federal lands placed at risk by the forest health 
                conditions, including air and water quality, wildlife, 
                and recreation and visual values;
                  (iv) restore, maintain or enhance the integrity of 
                ecosystems, watersheds, and habitats damaged or placed 
                at risk by the forest health conditions; or
                  (v) protect existing Federal investments in the 
                forest resources of the Federal lands, and future 
                Federal, State, and local revenues that otherwise will 
                be foregone.
    (2) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (1), each 
Secretary shall designate a forest health emergency area or a forest 
health high risk area and select and authorize a forest health 
management activity or activities where the forest health conditions 
described in subsection (b) of this section exist for any area of 
Federal lands of more than 500 acres on which a wildfire or 
catastrophic event occurs, within 120 days of the termination of the 
wildfire or catastrophic event.
    (3) Prior to designating a forest health emergency area or a forest 
health high risk area pursuant to this subsection, the Secretary 
concerned shall consult with the head of the forestry agency in the 
State in which such area is located.
    (b) Forest Health Emergency and High Risk Areas.--(1) An area of 
the Federal lands shall be designated as a forest health emergency area 
pursuant to subsection (a) if the Secretary concerned finds that--
          (i) forests on such lands have experienced disturbances from 
        wildfires, insect infestations, disease, or other natural 
        causes that have caused more than 50 percent of the trees to be 
        dead or to exhibit physical evidence of imminent mortality, and 
        will suffer further environmental degradation, such as soil 
        erosion, stream damage, or habitat loss; and
          (ii) implementation of one or more forest health management 
        activities on such lands is likely to reduce or eliminate such 
        degradation.
    (2) An area of the Federal lands shall be designated as a forest 
health high risk area pursuant to subsection (a) if the Secretary 
concerned finds that--
          (A) the forest structure, function, or composition on such 
        lands has been so altered by human or natural causes as to 
        increase substantially the risk of insect infestation, disease, 
        or wildlife and the consequent risks of significant ecosystem, 
        watershed, or habitat damage or loss of life or property; and
          (B) implementation of one or more forest health management 
        activities on such lands is likely to reduce or eliminate such 
        risks.
    (3) Each Secretary shall accord priority in the designation of 
forest health emergency areas and forest health high risk areas to--
          (A) wildland/urban interface areas where the Secretary 
        determines human life and property are threatened by wildfire 
        from the affected Federal lands; or
          (B) areas where the Secretary determines the need to reduce 
        or eliminate the degradation or risk specified in paragraph (1) 
        or paragraph (2) is the greatest.
    (c) Forest Health Management Activities.--(1) The forest health 
management activity or activities selected and authorized for each 
forest health emergency area or forest health high risk area pursuant 
to subsection (a) shall be those activities which the Secretary 
determines are designed to address the specific site conditions of the 
areas with the combination of management practices, treatment, and 
protection needed to meet the objectives set forth in subsection 
(a)(l)(C).
    (2) The generation of revenues should not be the primary 
consideration of any forest health management activity selected and 
authorized pursuant to subsection (a).
    (3) The Secretary concerned shall publish a schedule for 
initiating, completing, and monitoring the forest health management 
activity or activities in each forest health emergency area or forest 
health high risk area in the document containing the Secretary's final 
decision designating the area and selecting and authorizing the 
activity or activities pursuant to subsection (a).
    (4) The Whenever the harvest of live trees is expected to occur in 
a forest health management activity, the Secretary concerned shall 
provide in the document containing the Secretary's final decision 
selection and authorizing such activity pursuant to subsection (a) a 
statement of whether justification as to why the removal of live trees 
is necessary to meet one or more of the objectives set forth in 
subsection (a)(1)(C).
    (d) Effect on Existing Salvage Authorities.--Except as provided in 
section 11 of this Act, nothing in this Act shall affect or limit any 
existing authority of the Secretary to undertake forest health 
management or timber salvage activities on federal lands.
    (e) Petition Process.--In addition to the requirements of 
subsection (a)A(1), after March 1 of the first full year following the 
date of enactment of this Act, any interested person may petition 
either Secretary to designate a specific area of lands comprising not 
less than 500 acres in size within the Secretary's jurisdiction as a 
forest health emergency area or high risk area pursuant to this 
subsection. The petition shall contain detailed description of the 
boundaries of the area and the reasons why the petitioner believes the 
conditions set forth in subsection (b)(1)(A)(i) or subsection (b)(2)(A) 
exist in such area. The Secretary to which the petition is submitted 
shall, within 45 days of the date of submission of the petition, make a 
decision whether the designation sought by the petitioner is warranted 
and provide to the petitioner a written statement of the decision and 
the reasons therefore. If the Secretary determines that the designation 
is warranted, the Secretary shall publish a notice in the Federal 
Register pursuant to section 4(a). A decision that a designation is not 
warranted shall not be subject to administrative appeals or judicial 
review.

SEC. 4. EXPEDITED PROCEDURES FOR THE DECISION TO DESIGNATE AN AREA AND 
                    SELECT AND AUTHORIZE ACTIVITIES.

    (a) Notice.--(1) Each Secretary shall publish in the Federal 
Register notice of the prospective decision to designate a forest 
health emergency area or forest health high risk area and select and 
authorize a forest health management activity or activities therefore 
pursuant to section 3.
    (2) The notice shall--
          (A) set forth the location of the affected area;
          (B) describe the forest health conditions in such area;
          (C) provide the reasons for proposing to designate such area; 
        and
          (D) contain a brief description of the forest health 
        management activity or activities which the Secretary proposes 
        to select for such area.
    (b) Public Comment.--The Secretary concerned shall provide a period 
of 30 days from the date of publication of draft environmental 
documents required by subsection (d)(1) of this section for submission 
of public comment on the prospective decision pursuant to section 3. 
The Secretary may hold a hearing on such decision during the comment 
period.
    (c) Agency Response.--(1) The Secretary concerned shall respond in 
writing to any public comment received pursuant to subsection (b) in 
the document containing the Secretary's final decision.
    (d) Compliance With Certain Laws.--(1) Prior to the identification 
of the first list of areas pursuant to section 3(a)(1)(A) of this Act, 
the Secretary concerned shall, with the assistance of the Council on 
Environmental Quality, provide expedited procedures to prepare the 
documentation pursuant to section 102(2) required for a decision 
designating a forest health emergency or high risk area and selecting 
and authorizing a forest health management activity or activities 
therefor pursuant to section 3(a): Provided, That in no instance 
involving the designation of a forest health emergency area shall the 
time necessary for the preparation of such final documents exceed 120 
days from the date of notice of proposed designation or initiation of 
such preparation, whichever is earlier. Existing regulations and 
Council on Environmental Quality guidelines shall be modified as 
necessary to conform to this time period.
    (2) No documentation pursuant to section 102(2) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 shall be required for the 
identification of areas pursuant to section 3(a)(1)(A) or for decisions 
pursuant to section 3 for forest health management activities which:
          (A) remove 250,000 board feet or less of merchantable wood 
        products or salvage 1,000,000 board feet or less of 
        merchantable wood products; and
          (B) require one mile or less of standard road construction; 
        and
          (C) assure regeneration of harvested or salvaged areas, where 
        required.
    (3) The Secretary, as defined in section 2(b)(4) of this Act, shall 
consult or confer with the appropriate agency pursuant to section 
7(a)(2) or section 7(a)(4) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 
U.S.C. 1536(a) (2) or (4)) on a decision designating a forest health 
emergency area or forest health high risk area and selecting and 
authorizing a forest health management activity or activities therefor 
pursuant to section 3(a) only if such Secretary determines that such 
decision is likely to significantly and adversely affect a species 
determined or proposed to be an endangered species or a threatened 
species pursuant to section 4(a) of such Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)). Such 
consultation or conferencing shall be concluded within 90 days of the 
publication of the Federal Register notice of the prospective decision 
pursuant to subsection (a). The Secretary, as defined in section 3(15) 
of such Act (16 U.S.C. 1523(15)), shall accord priority to consultation 
or conferencing on a decision pursuant to section 3(a) over any other 
agency actions submitted to such Secretary for consultation or 
conferencing. The Secretary as defined in section 2(b)(4) of this act 
shall not consult in fulfilling the requirements of section 3(a)(1)(A) 
of this act.
    (4) The documents prepared pursuant to section 102(2) of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)) and under 
the provisions of this subsection must be reviewed by the Secretary 
concerned at least every three years. If the Secretary concerned 
determines that conditions in the area designated have significantly 
changed and are not reflected in the existing documents, appropriate 
supplements or new documents shall be prepared pursuant to the 
requirements of this subsection: Provided, That any forest health 
management activities already underway pursuant to a decision of the 
Secretary under Section 3(a) of this Act shall not be suspended, 
halted, or otherwise enjoined, except at the sole discretion of the 
Secretary concerned, during the development of supplements or new 
documents pursuant to the subsection.
    (e) Administrative Review.--(1) Any decision of a Secretary 
pursuant to section 3 which includes designation of a forest health 
emergency area, or the selection of forest health management activities 
pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section, shall be a final agency 
action and shall not be subject to administrative review.
    (2) Administrative review of any decision by a Secretary pursuant 
to section 3 which includes designation of a forest health high risk 
area shall be governed by applicable existing statutory or regulatory 
administrative appeal requirements, including, for Federal lands 
described in section 2(b)(1)(B), the administrative appeal provisions 
of section 322 of the Fiscal year 1993 Interior and Related Agencies 
Appropriation Act (106 Stat. 1419): Provided, That no extension of the 
30-day period for disposition of the appeal authorized by subsection 
(d)(3) of such section 322 may be granted, and subsection (d)(4) of 
such section 322 shall apply at the conclusion of the 3-day period.
    (f) Judicial Review.--(1) Any decision by a Secretary pursuant to 
section 3 to designate a forest health emergency area or forest health 
high risk area and to select and authorize a forest health management 
activity or activities therefor shall be subject to judicial review 
only by the United States District Court for the District in which the 
affected Federal lands are located.
    (2)(A) Any action brought pursuant to this subsection shall be 
filed not later than 45 days after the date of publication of the final 
decision of the Secretary or, for those decisions for which 
administrative review is available and undertaken, 30 days after the 
publication of the decision on review.
    (B) Any appeal from the final decision of a District Court in an 
action brought pursuant to this subsection shall be filed not later 
than 30 days after the date of the decision.
    (3) Administrative stays may be imposed during, and shall not be 
extended beyond, the periods provided in paragraph (2) for filing and 
appealing actions brought pursuant to this subsection.
    (4)(A) In an action brought pursuant to this subsection, the 
District Court is encouraged to render a final decision not later than 
90 days after the date of the filing of the action when the action 
concerns a forest health emergency area, or 120 days after the date of 
filing of the action when the action concerns a forest health high risk 
area.
    (B) In any appeal of an action brought pursuant to this subsection, 
the Court of Appeals is encouraged to render a final decision on the 
appeal not later than 90 days after the date of the filing of the 
appeal when the action concerns a forest health emergency area, or 120 
days after the date of filing of the appeal when the action concerns a 
forest health high risk area.

SEC. 5. EXCLUDED LANDS AND ACTIVITIES.

    (a) Neither Secretary may select, authorize, or undertake pursuant 
to this Act any forest health management activity on any Federal lands 
located within--
          (1) any unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System;
          (2) any roadless area designated by the Congress for 
        wilderness study;
          (3) any roadless area recommended by the Bureau of Land 
        Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, or Forest Service for 
        wilderness designation; or
          (4) any other area in which implementation of the specific 
        forest health management activity for any purpose is prohibited 
        by law or a court order, or by an applicable land management 
        plan, unless the plan is amended to permit the activity to 
        occur in accordance with section 202 of the Federal Land Policy 
        and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1712) or section 6 of the 
        Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning act of 1974 
        (16 U.S.C. 1604).
    (b) Any forest health management activity which (i) is a salvage 
timber sale as defined under subsection (a)(4), or a timber sale 
described in subsection (d) and has a decision notice or record of 
decision completed prior to the date set forth in subsection (j), of 
section 2001 of P.L. 104-19 (109 Stat. 194), or (ii) is a timber sale 
contract identified in subsection (k) of such section, shall be 
conducted under the authority, and in accordance with the applicable 
provisions, of such section and not be subject to this Act.

SEC. 6. FOREST HEALTH REPORTS.

    (a) Annual Report.--(1) The Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture shall each prepare an Annual Forest Health 
Report which shall provide, for the Federal lands within the 
Secretary's jurisdiction,--
          (A) identification of the total area of forest health 
        emergency areas and forest health high risk areas designated 
        pursuant to section 3 in each unit of the Federal lands during 
        the previous fiscal year and the forest health conditions 
        thereof;
          (B) identification of areas which are not designated as 
        forest health emergency areas or forest health high risk areas 
        and which have adverse forest health conditions equal to or 
        more severe than the designated areas, and a discussion of the 
        reasons of the Secretary for not designating such areas as 
        forest health emergency areas or forest health high risk areas 
        pursuant to section 3;
          (C) a summary of all forest health management activities 
        undertaken in designated forest health emergency areas or 
        forest health high risk areas in the previous fiscal year;
          (D) a discussion of any significant delays encountered in the 
        previous fiscal year and likely to occur in the present fiscal 
        year in meeting the schedules established pursuant to section 
        3(c)(3) for initiating, accomplishing, and monitoring forest 
        health management activities in designated forest health 
        emergency areas or forest health high risk areas, the reasons 
        for such delays, and any specific steps which the Secretary has 
        directed to be taken to ensure timely adherence to the 
        established schedules or any changes in such schedules which 
        the Secretary has made;
          (E) identification of any forest health emergency areas and 
        forest health high risk areas which no longer require forest 
        health management activities pursuant to this Act and from 
        which the Secretary shall remove the emergency area of high 
        risk area designations by publication of notice in the Federal 
        Register no later than 60 days after submission of the report 
        pursuant to paragraph (2).
    (2) For the Forest Service the report required by paragraph (1) 
shall be completed and accompany the Annual Report of the Forest 
Service in the first fiscal year after the full fiscal year following 
the date of enactment of this Act and shall cover conditions and 
activities during the previous fiscal year. For the Bureau of Land 
Management, the report required by paragraph (1) shall be completed not 
later than April 1 of each year beginning in the first fiscal year 
after the full fiscal year following the date of enactment of this Act 
and shall cover conditions and activities during the previous fiscal 
year.
    (b) Four Year Report.--(1) The Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture shall each prepare at the end of each period 
of four full fiscal years after the date of enactment of this Act a 
Comprehensive Forest Health Report to evaluate forest health conditions 
on the Federal lands within the Secretary's jurisdiction.
    (2) Each report required by paragraph (1) shall provide, for the 
Federal lands within the Secretary's jurisdiction,--
          (A) qualitative and quantitative data on forest health;
          (B) an assessment of the factors generally responsible for 
        forest health problems;
          (C) the judgment of the Secretary on the status of and trend 
        in forest health;
          (D) maps generally disclosing the status of forest health;
          (E) a summary of the estimated impacts, in terms of changed 
        conditions or risks, resulting from forest health management 
        activities undertaken pursuant to this Act;
          (F) a report on the timeliness, effectiveness and cost of 
        such forest health management activities; and
          (G) a description of additional authorities, if any, needed 
        to carry out the purposes of this Act.
    (c) Submission of Reports to Congress.--The Secretary of the 
Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall submit the reports 
required by this section to the Chairs and ranking members of the 
Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Agriculture, Nutrition, and 
Forestry Committee of the Senate and the Resources Committee and 
Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives.

SEC. 7. BUDGET DISCLOSURES.

    Begining with the fiscal budget for the first full fiscal year 
following the date of enactment of this Act, requests presented by the 
President to the Congress governing activities of the Bureau of Land 
Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, or Forest Service shall 
summarize the information and the current forest health situation on 
Federal lands and report on costs incurred and revenues generated 
through forest health management activities conducted pursuant to this 
Act, and express in qualitative and quantitative terms the extent to 
which the projected activities under the budget fully achieve the 
purposes, and implement the provisions, of this Act. The revenues 
generated by forest health management activities conducted pursuant to 
this Act and not distributed to State or local governments pursuant to 
other law shall be displayed as offsetting Federal costs in current and 
future fiscal years.

SEC. 8. SPECIAL FUNDS.

    (a) Bureau of Land Management.--The Secretary of the Interior shall 
maintain a special fund established pursuant to Public Law 102-381, 
which shall be derived from the Federal share of moneys received from 
the disposal of salvage timber from all lands administered by the 
Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, and which shall 
be available, without further appropriation, for the purpose of 
planning and preparing of salvage timber for disposal, the 
administration of salvage timber sales, and subsequent site preparation 
and reforestation, and forest health enhancement activities, including, 
but not limited to, prescribed burning (including natural ignition) or 
other fuel, site preparation, tree planting, protection of seedlings 
from animals and other environmental elements, release from competing 
vegetation, and stand thinning.
    (b) Forest Service--All funds received from the disposal of salvage 
timber from lands within the National Forest System may be credited to 
the Forest Service Permanent Appropriations to be expended for timber 
salvage sales from any national forest, and for timber sales 
preparation to replace sales lost to fire or other causes, and sales 
preparation to replace sales inventory on the shelf for any national 
forest to a level sufficient to maintain new sales availability equal 
to a rolling five-year average of the total sales offerings, and for 
design, engineering, and supervision of construction of roads lost to 
fire or other causes associated with the timber sales programs 
described above, for watershed assessment activities, and for forest 
health enhancement activities, including, but not limited to, 
prescribed burning (including natural ignition) or other fuel 
management, site preparation, tree planting, protection of seedlings 
from animals and other environmental elements, release from competing 
vegetation, and stand thinning.
    (c) Payments to Local Governments.--Moneys received from the 
disposal of salvage timber pursuant this section shall be considered as 
money received for purposes of computing and distributing payments to 
State or local governments under other law concerning the distribution 
of revenues derived from timber resources from the affected lands.

SEC. 9. ASSISTANCE TO OWNERS OF ADJACENT NONINDUSTRIAL PRIVATE FOREST 
                    LANDS.

    [Language to be provided by counsel of the Committee on 
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.]

SEC. 10 FOREST HEALTH CREDITS IN TIMBER SALE.

    (a) Authority To Issue Forest Health Credits.--(1) The Secretary of 
agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior are each authorized to 
require, as a condition of the sale of timber or other forest products 
from the Federal lands under the Secretary's jurisdiction, that the 
purchaser undertake a forest health management activity or activities 
which--
          (A) are selected and authorized pursuant to section 3; and
          (B) address effects of the operation of the sale or past 
        sales of timer or other forest products or involve vegetation 
        management within the area of the sale or the area in which 
        such efforts are located.
    (2) A condition described in paragraph (1) may be included in a 
contract for the sale of timber or other forest products only when the 
Secretary determines that--
          (A) the land management objectives of the forest health 
        management activity or activities can be accomplished most 
        efficiently when performed as part of the sale contract; and
          (B) it is unlikely that the forest health management activity 
        or activities would be performed except under the authority of 
        this section.
    (3) The term of any sale contract with a condition described in 
paragraph (4) shall not exceed 3 years.
    (b) Financing and Supplemental Funding.--(1) Financing of the 
forest health management activity or activities in a sale contract 
authorized by subsection (a) shall be accomplished by including 
provisions in the contract for amortization of the cost of such 
activity or activities through issuance of forest health credits to the 
purchaser which offset such cost against the purchaser's payment for 
the timber or other forest products.
    (2) Appropriated funds may be used to assist the forest health 
management activity or activities in a sale contract authorized by 
subsection (a) if such funds are provided by the resource function or 
functions that directly benefit from the performance of the activity or 
activities. Such funds must be available from the annual appropriation 
of the benefited function or functions during the fiscal year in which 
the sale is offered. The amount to be paid for each health management 
activity shall be included in the prospectus and published in the 
advertisement, for the sale contract.
    (c) determining Forest Health Credits.--Prior to the advertisement 
of a sale authorized by subsection (a), the Secretary concerned shall 
determine the amount of forest health credits to be allocated to each 
forest health management activity to be performed by the purchaser 
under the contract. A description of the forest health management 
activity to be performed by the purchaser under the contract. A 
description of the forest health management activity or activities to 
be performed by the purchaser, and amount of the forest health credits 
allocated to each activity, shall be included in the prospectus, and 
published in the advertisement, for the sale.
    (d) Transfer of Forest Health Credits.--Each Secretary may permit 
the transfer of unused forest health credits from one sale authorized 
by subsection (a) to another such sale held by the same purchaser if 
such other applies to Federal lands that are under the jurisdiction of 
such Secretary and located in the same state as the original sale.
    (e) Existing Procedures.--To the extend feasible, in preparing, 
awarding, and administering sales authorized by subsection (a), each 
Secretary shall adhere to the procedures and requirements developed by 
the Forest Service for timber sales requiring road construction by 
timber purchasers pursuant to section 4(2) of the National Forest Roads 
and Trails Act (16 U.S.C. 535(2)). Nothing in this section shall be 
deemed to require or authorize any alteration in the procedures or 
requirements for timber sales under such section 4(2) including the 
applicable provisions of the small business set-aside program and 
procedure for calculating payments to counties of a portion of timber 
sale receipts.
    (f) Termination of Authority.--The authority to offer sales of 
timber and other forest products pursuant to this section shall 
terminate five years after the date of enactment of this Act. Any sale 
contract issued under the authority of subsection (a) and if effect at 
the end of such five year period shall remain in effect under its terms 
thereafter.

SEC. 11. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    The provisions of this Act shall take effect on the date of 
enactment of this Act. No decision or action required or authorized by 
this Act shall be delayed pending promulgation of any regulation to 
implement this Act. Effective, January 1, 1997, the provisions of Sec. 
2001 of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act are repealed and, 
except as provided under Section 5(b) of this Act, any subsequent 
timber salvage sales on federal lands shall be carried out in 
accordance with the provisions of this Act and other applicable laws.

SEC. 12. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There are authorized to be appropriated in fiscal 1997 through 2007 
such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.

    2. Amend the title so as to read:

    To authorize and direct the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Agriculture to undertake certain activities to halt and reverse 
the decline in forest health on Federal lands, and for other 
purposes.

                         purpose of the measure

    The purpose of S. 391 as amended by the substitute is to 
authorize and direct the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Agriculture to undertake certain activities to halt and reverse 
the decline in forest health on federal lands, and for other 
purposes.

                          background and need

    The ``Federal Lands Forest Health Protection and 
Restoration Act'' recognizes the decline of forest health on 
Federal forest lands and the large backlog of salvage from 
trees that were burned in the last few severe fire seasons or 
are dead and dying from severe insect infestations and disease. 
The bill provides authorization for appropriations for 
expedited preparation and implementation of forest health 
protection and restoration activities of federal lands for a 
10-year period.
    S. 391 as amended require the Secretaries of the Interior 
and Agriculture to identify forest health emergency areas and 
high risk areas on, and select and approve forest health 
management activities for, Forest Service and Bureau of Land 
Management lands, other than lands within: wilderness areas; 
roadless areas designated by Congress for study; or recommended 
by the land management agencies, for wilderness designation; 
and lands on which forest health management activities are 
prohibited by land management plans. ``Forest health emergency 
areas'' are defined as areas where more than 50% of the trees 
are dead or exhibiting physical evidence of imminent mortality. 
``Forest health high risk areas'' are areas where the risk of 
insect infestation, disease, or wildfire has increase 
substantially and can be reduced or eliminated by forest health 
management activities. ``Forest health management activities'' 
econmpass a wide array of projects including reforestation, 
prescribed burning, insect and disease control, riparian zone 
and habitat improvement, water quality improvement, and 
thinning and salvage activities. The bill establishes the 
purpose of forest health management activities to be the 
restoration of forest health in the designated areas to a 
condition that supports land uses within the historic range of 
variability as identified by the applicable land management 
plan.

                          legislative history

    The Senate Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land 
Management held a hearings on S. 391 as introduced on March 1, 
1995 in Washington, D.C.
    At a business meeting on June 19, 1996, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 391 reported as an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute.

           committee recommendations and tabulation of votes

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on June 19, 1996 by a voice vote of a quorum 
present recommended that the Senate pass S. 391 as amended as 
described herein.

                      section by section analysis

Section 2--Purpose and definition

    The basic purpose of S. 391 is to provide the Federal land 
management agencies with an urgent mandate, and authority to 
adapt flexible and expedited decisionmaking procedures, to 
address the forest health problem. This section also provides 
definitions of affected, forest health management activities, 
and applicable land management plans. The bill applies to three 
categories of Federal lands: (1) lands managed by the Secretary 
of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); 
(2) lands in the National Forest System managed by the 
Secretary of Agriculture through the Forest Service; and (3) 
lands within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Section 3--Designation of areas and selection and authorization of 
        activities

    This section mandates, and provides authorization for 
appropriations for, expedited preparation and implementation of 
certain forest health protection and restoration activities on 
federal land during fiscal years 1997 through 2007.
    Section 3(a) requires the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Agriculture to review, on at least an annual basis, the forest 
health conditions on the Federal lands. During the reviews, and 
at any other time between reviews when conditions warrant, or 
within 120 days of any wildfire which covers more than 500 
acres, the Secretaries are directed both to designate specific 
areas of the Federal lands as forest health emergency areas or 
forest health high risk areas and to select and authorize 
forest health management activities to be undertaken in those 
areas. The designation of forest health emergency or high risk 
areas is made in consultation with the heads of the forestry 
agencies in the States in which the areas are located.
    Section 3(b) provides that the criteria for designating a 
``forest health emergency area'' are that more than 50 percent 
of the trees in the area must be dead or exhibiting physical 
evidence of imminent mortality, and that further environmental 
degradation from declining forest health can be reduced or 
eliminated by implementation of forest health management 
activities. A ``forest health high risk area'' is to be 
designated whenever alteration of the forest structure, 
function, or composition has increased substantially the risk 
of insect infestation, disease, or wildfire, and the risk can 
be reduced or eliminated by implementation of forest health 
management activities. Priority in designating forest health 
emergency and high risk areas is to be given to: (1) wildland/
urban interface areas where human life and property are 
threatened by wildfire; and (2) areas where the need to reduce 
or eliminate environmental degradation from, or the risk of, 
insect infestation, disease, or wildfire is the greatest.
    Section 3(c) provides a non-exclusive list of forest health 
management activities that may be authorized in forest health 
emergency and high risk areas, including thinning, salvage, 
stand improvement, reforestation, prescribed burning/fuels 
management, insect/disease control, riparian/habitat 
improvement, and soil stabilization or other water quality 
improvement activities. The activities should be designed to 
restore forest health to a condition sufficient to sustain and 
support the uses of the forest health emergency or high risk 
area within its historic range of variability as identified in 
the applicable land management plan. No forest health 
management activity should have the generation of revenues as 
its primary consideration. Whenever the selected activity 
contemplates removal of live trees, the BLM, Forest Service, or 
Fish and Wildlife Service must provide a statement of whether 
such removal is necessary to meet the bill's objectives.
    Under the provisions of Section 3(d), at any time after the 
Secretaries have made their first year's review and area 
designations, interested persons may petition for the 
designation of forest health emergency or high risk areas of 
500 acres or more. The bill requires the Secretary who receives 
a petition to make a decision whether the petition in warranted 
within 45 days of the submission. If the Secretary finds a 
petition is warranted, he still may give a different 
designation to, or draw different boundaries for, an area than 
is requested in the petition. To ensure that the petition 
process does not become unwieldy or too contentious, the bill 
bars administrative appeals and judicial review of any finding 
that a petition is unwarranted or any designation of an area 
different than that proposed in the petition.

Section 4--Expedited procedures for the decision to designate an area 
        and select and authorize activities

    This section embodies the recognition that forest health-
related decisions must be made swiftly. This is because dead 
and dying trees must be salvaged quickly before they 
deteriorate too greatly to have commercial value, and lands 
suffering severe forest health problems must be stabilized and 
replanted quickly before they suffer from erosion and other 
environmental damage.
    Therefore, Section 4(a)-(c) mandates expedited procedures 
for making, and considering challenges to, the decisions to 
designate forest health emergency and high risk areas and to 
authorize forest health management activities. The expedited 
decision procedures are discussed in paragraph (a). Paragraph 
(b) summarizes the expedited procedures for considering 
administrative and judicial challenges to the decision. A 30-
day public comment period is to be provided by a Federal 
Register notice of the proposed decision. The bill also 
authorizes a hearing on the proposed decision. Paragraph (c) 
mandates that the final decision must respond to the public 
comments received.
    Section 4(d) establishes that the documentation required by 
the National Environmental Policy Act (``NEPA'') on a decision 
to designate an emergency area must be completed within 120 
days. Furthermore, the bill directs the two Secretaries to 
establish categorical exclusions from any NEPA requirements for 
certain activities in both forest health emergency areas and 
high risk areas based on the extent of merchantable wood 
products removed (250,000 board feet of green timber or 
1,000,000 board feet of salvage), length of road constructed 
(one mile or less), and assurance of regeneration.
    Consultation or conferencing on any area designation and 
activities decision with the Fish and Wildlife Service or 
National Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species 
Act (``ESA'') is to be triggered only if the Secretary 
concerned determines that the decision is likely to 
significantly and adversely affect a species (rather than the 
``may affect'' standard currently applied by regulation). The 
FWS and NMFS are directed to give priority to conferencing and 
consultation for activities conducted under this Act.
    Section 4(e) specifies that the decision to designate, and 
authorize activities for, a forest health emergency area is a 
final agency action not subject to administrative review; 
opponents can go immediately to court to challenge the 
decision. On the other hand, the decision to designate a forest 
health high risk area is subject to administrative review. That 
review is governed by existing statutes and regulations, 
including, in the case of National Forest System lands, the 
procedures and deadlines established in the FY 1993 Interior 
and Related Agencies Appropriation Act (except that the Act's 
authority to extend, and the Forest Service rule's automatic 
extension of, the 30-day period for a final appeal decision for 
another 15 days does not apply to reviews of these decisions).
    Section 4(f) specifies that any lawsuit challenging an area 
designation and activities authorization decision may be filed 
only in the U.S. District Court for the District in which the 
affected Federal lands are located and only within 45 days of 
the date of the final agency decision (or, if the lands 
involved are designated as a high risk area and an 
administrative review is taken, 30 days after the appeal 
decision). Any appeal of a district court decision also must be 
filed within 30 days.

Section 5--Excluded land and activities

    Excepted from application of the bill are any lands which 
are located within: (1) any wilderness area in the National 
Wilderness Preservation system; (2) any area on which the 
specific forest health management activity is prohibited for 
any purpose by law or by a BLM or Forest Service land 
management plan; (3) any roadless area designated for 
wilderness study by Congress or recommended for wilderness 
designation by the BLM or Forest Service; and (4) any area in 
which implementation of a specific forest health management 
activity is prohibited by law, court order, or management plan. 
The bill also does not apply to salvage sales and other sales 
covered by section 2001 of the Fiscal Year 1995 Rescission Act 
(P.L. 104-19).

Section 6--Forest health reports

    This section requires the two Secretaries to file 
separately with Congress annual reports evaluating forest 
health on the Federal lands.
    Section 6(b) also requires each Secretary to prepare a more 
comprehensive report on forest health conditions on Federal 
lands at least every four years. Among other items, this report 
is to include the Secretary's evaluation of forest health 
status and trends and the effectiveness of forest health 
management activities undertaken pursuant to the Act. Each 
Secretary's 4-year report also must include an estimate of 
funding needs in future years and describe any additional 
statutory authority that might be needed to accomplish the 
purposes of the Act.

Section 7--Budget disclosures

    This section requires the president's annual budget 
submission to Congress concerning BLM, Forest Service, and Fish 
and Wildlife Service activities to explain the extent to which 
the budget will fully achieve the purposes, and implement the 
provisions, of the bill. The budget submission must report on 
the revenues generated by forest health management activities 
conducted under the bill and display those revenues as 
offsetting federal costs in current and future fiscal years.

Section 8--Special funds

    This section expands the uses that can be made of revenues 
from salvage sales deposited in the special funds established 
for the Forest Service and BLM to include forest health 
management activities.

Section 9--Assistance to owners of adjacent nonindustrial private 
        forest lands

    This section may be added during Agriculture Committee 
consideration of the bill.

Section 10--Forest health credits in timber sales

    This section authorizes, on five years pilot basis, the 
Secretaries to require, as a condition of the sale of salvage-
timber, that the purchaser undertakes forest health management 
activities. The cost of these activities will be credited 
against the cost of the timber.

Section 11--Effective date

    This section makes clear that the bill is to be effective 
immediately upon enactment and implementation is not to await 
any rulemaking the Secretaries choose to conduct.

Section 12--Authorization of appropriations

    Section 12 authorizes appropriations for eleven years--
fiscal years 1997 through 2007.

                   cost and regulatory considerations

    The Congressional Budget Office estimate of the costs of 
this measure has been requested but was not received at the 
time the report was filed. When the report is available, the 
Chairman will request that it be printed in the Congressional 
Record for the advice of the Senate.

                      regulatory impact evaluation

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
implementing S. 391. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    There are additional paperwork requirements for the Forest 
Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

                        executive communication

    On March 15, 1996, Senator Murkowski requested the views of 
the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the 
Interior on a March 11, 1996 Staff Draft of S. 391. The 
responses follow:

                         Department of Agriculture,
                                   Office of the Secretary,
                                      Washington, DC, May 13, 1996.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: This is in reply to your request for the 
views of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding in the 
proposed substitute to S. 391, a bill ``to authorize and direct 
the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to undertake 
certain activities to halt and reverse the decline in forest 
health on Federal lands, and for other purposes.''
    USDA opposes this draft substitute. While USDA strongly 
supports improving forest health, we believe the procedures in 
this draft substitute would undermine efforts in this area by: 
in certain instances, taking away the public's right and 
opportunity to question a Government agency's decision; 
detracting from the effective administration of the endangered 
Species Act; and establishing unacceptable new and costly 
administrative processes which would delay implementing on-the-
ground forest health work.

         1. public participation in the decisionmaking process

    The bill requires USDA to designate and choose activities 
for areas identified as forest health emergency areas and high 
risk areas. While these prospective decisions are not exempt 
from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation and 
a shortened public comment period, section 4(e)(1) exempts the 
final decisions involving emergency areas from appeal under the 
Forest Service's present administrative review procedures. 
Moreover, the public will not be able to question or appeal 
final decisions designating non-excluded roadless areas as 
forest health emergency areas. Finally, decisions on areas and 
activities which would qualify for categorical exclusion under 
section 4(d)(2) are not only exempt from NEPA review, but also 
from administrative appeal by the public.
    USDA does not support the elimination of the public's right 
to appeal a Government agency's decisions, particularly with 
regard to the public's land. The elimination of this right will 
mean the public's only recourse will be through the court 
system. USDA believes that the people of this country should 
have access to our Government without first having to sue it.
    For designating forest health emergency areas and 
activities within those areas, the bill only allows 120 days 
from the time of announcement in the Federal Register to the 
final decision. Within the 120 days, a 30-day public comment 
period is to occur as well. In cases where proposed areas and 
activities have significant impacts, 120 days may not allow for 
enough analysis and public input. Moreover, because no appeals 
are allowed for emergency areas and activities, more activities 
may go to court than if the bill provided the Forest Service 
discretion to grant more time for analysis and comment and 
provided the public an appeal process.

            2. administration of the endangered species act

    I am also concerned about the new thresholds for section 7 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation that would be 
established in section 4(d)(3) of the draft substitute. Under 
section 4(d)(3) of the draft substitute, USDA would consult or 
confer with the appropriate agency under section 7 only when it 
determines that a proposed action is likely to ``significantly 
and adversely'' affect a proposed or listed species. Impacts to 
critical habitat would not trigger section 7 consultation. This 
changes current regulatory consultation requirements and would 
mean informal consultation would no longer be required on ``may 
affect'' determinations nor formal consultation on ``likely to 
adversely affect'' determinations (unless they were also 
significant). In many instances, activities such as grazing, 
mining, and recreation will occur within designated emergency 
and high risk areas where forest health activities are also 
underway. Applying different section 7 consultation standards 
to activities within the same area, as this draft substitute 
proposes, will lead to confusion, delays in project 
implementation, and, most likely, litigation.

                     3. added process and paperwork

    Given the Committee's criticism of the extensive forest 
planning and NEPA processes, I am surprised by the draft 
substitute's numerous new processes that would be layered on 
top of existing processes. In all, the Forest Service has 
identified at least four new processes: the annual 
identification and designation processes, the new Federal 
Register notice requirements, and the petition process.
    The annual identification process of emergency and high 
risk area, layered on top of the existing forest planning 
process, adds to the complexity and cost of administering 
forest health activities on National Forest System lands with 
no discernible benefits. As the Department presently interprets 
the draft substitute, the designation and selection of all 
activities for areas would actually require more NEPA review 
than is presently the case. This runs counter to the goals of 
the Administration to streamline and expedite the NEPA process. 
The Forest Service presently notifies the public of proposed 
activities as part of its NEPA scoping process; therefore, the 
draft substitute's Federal Register notification process is 
unnecessary. The petition process of section 3(e), which allows 
any interested person to petition the Department to designate a 
specific area of land as a forest health emergency or high risk 
area, would result in numerous unwarranted petitions to which 
the Forest Service would have to respond in writing. Nothing 
now precludes private citizens from requesting the Forest 
Service to undertake forest health activities in certain areas. 
Therefore, this section simply adds unnecessary process and 
costs, and will divert personnel from undertaking on-the-ground 
forest health work.
    In short, any time savings acquired by eliminating the 
appeals process for emergency and categorically excluded areas 
would certainly be lost, if not exceeded, by complying with 
these new procedural requirements. The current process, with 
appeals, would be far preferable than all of these additional 
layers which, in fact, would result in more delays in 
implementing forest health activities. The unnecessary added 
requirements would increase the cost and delay implementation 
of forest health activities and take personnel away from on-
the-ground activities.

           4. extension of the 1995 rescissions timber rider

    USDA strongly opposes the changes that would be made by 
section 5(b) of the substitute bill, as currently written, to 
section 2001 of P.L. 104-19 (timber rider to the Rescissions 
Act).
    Timber sales authorized under the Rescissions Act 
(subsection (b) (salvage sales) and subsection (d) (Option 9 
sales)) would continue under the authority of P.L. 104-19 if a 
decision on a sale was made before the expiration date of 
section 2001--December 31, 1996. Currently P.L. 104-19 
continues salvage sales and Option 9 sales under the authority 
of the Rescissions Act only if the sale is offered before the 
expiration date. The language in the draft substitute would 
allow more sales to continue under the Rescissions Act after 
December 31, 1996, than under the present Rescissions Act. This 
is completely unacceptable to USDA.

                 5. Funding of forest health activities

    Although sections 8 and 10 attempt to provide flexibility 
to use a variety of funds and mechanisms to finance forest 
health projects, USDA does not believe these approaches are 
workable. Fluctuation in the timber salvage market leads to 
high variability in the timber sale receipts collected for 
salvage. Therefore, USDA could not rely on a set level of 
receipts to be used for forest health projects and could not 
know with certainty which activities would be covered from 
funds available.
    Increased expenditures for forest health activities and 
green timber sale preparation without a concurrent increase in 
revenues would result in a decrease of funds in the Salvage 
Sale Fund that could reduce USDA's capability to maintain the 
salvage sale program or its ability to deposit residual 
receipts to the National Forest Fund. These factors--
unpredictable levels of receipts and increased expenditures to 
finance forest health projects--would lead to insufficient cash 
in the National Forest Fund to make payments to States and are 
also subject to ``pay-as-you-go'' scoring.

                       6. Reporting requirements

    The reporting requirements in sections 6 and 7 would also 
increase costs. These requirements are burdensome and, in some 
cases, duplicate information provided in other Forest Service 
reports including the explanatory notes for the President's 
Budget submittals. I recognize and support the importance of 
monitoring the condition of the National Forests and the need 
to keep the Congress informed on this important issue, but 
believe this can be done in a more cost efficient way that does 
not duplicate current efforts.
    Notwithstanding our concerns, we welcome the opportunity to 
work with the committee to achieve our mutual goal of improving 
forest health in this country.
    The Office of Management and Budget advises that there is 
no objection to the presentation of this report from the 
standpoint of the Administration's program.
            Sincerely,
                                           Dan Glickman, Secretary.
                                ------                                

                             The Secretary of the Interior,
                                    Washington, DC, April 24, 1996.
Hon. Frank Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: I understand the Committee on Energy and 
Natural Resources plans to mark up S. 391, the Federal Lands 
Forest Health Protection and Restoration Act, at the 
Committee's meeting on April 24, 1996. The revised version of 
S. 391 would set in place a 10-year authorization for expedited 
salvage and certain green sale after the expiration of the 
Rescissions Act. Although the Bureau of Land Management 
testified in support of some of the provisions of S. 391 at the 
Committee's March 1, 1995, hearing, we believe the revised 
bill's emphasis on new bureaucratic processes will impede the 
Department's effort to improve forest health on the public 
lands. The Department therefore opposes passage of S. 391.

     S. 391 creates an additional, Duplicative bureaucratic process

    S. 391 proposes to accomplish its goals by establishing an 
additional, duplicative bureaucratic process at the Secretarial 
level that goes directly against the Administration's ongoing 
efforts to simplify government and to reduce unnecessary 
regulations and ``red tape.'' These new procedural layers will 
create a costly, burdensome proliferation of reports and 
paperwork. S. 391 would require the land management agencies to 
devote tremendous amounts of time and resources to compliance 
with the newly-created bureaucratic processes rather than to 
accomplishment of on-the-ground health activities.
    S. 391 requires agencies to comply with six specified land 
management planning procedures, even though the procedures are 
similar to those already required under the Federal Land Policy 
and Management Act (FLPMA). For example, S. 391's requirement 
that the Secretary consult with the head of a State forestry 
department duplicates existing law under FLPMA. BLM's planning 
regulations already require that State officials be given the 
same comment periods as the public, and provide a process to 
follow if a Governor's review points out inconsistencies with 
State or local plans.
    In addition, S. 391 would establish a new open petition 
process requiring the Secretaries to accept, consider, and 
render decisions within 45 days on all petitions received from 
the public (including industry) to designate a particular 
forest area as in need of forest health treatments. When such 
petitions are added to the designations the Secretaries are 
required to make in the case of wildfires over 500 acres, it is 
conceivable that nationally, hundreds or even thousands of such 
areas would be designated annually. Acting on these petitions 
will be extremely costly, will require a tremendous commitment 
of staff and resources, and will impede agencies' efforts to 
focus on areas of utmost importance.

  S. 391 would effectively end the successful early-stage interagency 
                          consultation process

    The Department had elevated forest health and salvage 
issues to a high priority even before enactment of Sec. 2001, 
the ``Emergency Salvage Timber Sale'' provisions of P.L. 104-
19. The BLM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the 
Forest Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 
and the Environmental Protection Agency developed a streamlined 
process for consultation under section 7 of the Endangered 
Species Act that is currently working very successfully for 
salvage timber sales. Yet, instead of recognizing and building 
on the success of this early-stage consultation process, S. 391 
would effectively end consultations unless the proposed action 
meets a new, ambiguous standard, as discussed below. Also, by 
moving consultations to the end of the designation process, S. 
391 effectively eliminates the FWS and NMFS from their 
traditional role in determining whether an action is likely to 
adversely affect a proposed or listed species, or destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat.

       S. 391 does not require compliance with environmental laws

    S. 391 requires consultation under the Endangered Species 
Act only if the Secretary ``determines that such decision is 
likely to significantly and adversely affect a species 
determined or proposed to be an endangered species or a 
threatened species.'' This is a new standard and it is not 
defined in this bill or in statute. If this language is not 
dropped or revised, the ambiguities are likely to end up being 
resolved in court.
    S. 391 also waives the application of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to numerous decisions and 
activities. Sec. 4 of the bill requires the Secretary to review 
NEPA documentation and to update it every three years if 
necessary. In a change to the current laws, the language does 
not require the BLM to half or alter projects that are underway 
during the NEPA review and updating process, and it does not 
allow a court to force the BLM to halt or alter a project 
during this process. The Department opposes S. 391's mandate to 
continue projects during the review process even if new 
evidence suggests that the projects are potentially harmful to 
the environment.
    Finally, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska 
should not be included for forest health management activities 
under this bill. National Wildlife Refuge System lands are 
managed, first and foremost, for fish and wildlife, rather than 
to support or sustain commercial uses, such as timber 
harvesting. Such activities are allowable only when they are 
compatible with the refuge purpose.
    The Department remains strongly committed to the goal of 
enhancing forest health on the public lands. Congress provided 
the BLM with the Forest Ecosystem Health and Recovery Fund as 
part of P.L. 102-381, the Department of the Interior and 
Related Agencies Appropriation Act of 1993. The Federal share 
of receipts from salvage timber is deposited into the Fund for 
planning and offering other salvage sales and for reforestation 
of salvaged areas. This Fund enables the BLM to aggressively 
attack timber salvage and to accomplish associated 
reforestation activities. However, the Fund is very specific 
about how we can spend the money, and does not allow 
preventative measures such as thinnings, underburning or other 
treatments that can help maintain or improve the vigor of the 
forest. The BLM is examining the issue and looking at options 
for the possible expansion of the Fund's authority. We are 
ready to work with you to develop legislation that will both 
permit agencies to move ahead and on-the-ground forest health 
activities and avoid creation of a costly, burdensome, new 
bureaucratic process.
            Sincerely,
                                                     Bruce Babbitt.
                  ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF SENATOR BRADLEY

    As the Ranking Democratic Member on the Subcommittee on 
Forests and Public Land Management, I have been interested in 
the forest health issue for some time. Several months ago, 
Senator Craig and I agreed to begin negotiations to see if some 
common ground could be found on this very contentious issue. We 
have undertaken those negotiations in good faith and have made 
considerable progress. We have been joined in our efforts by a 
number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, both on 
and off the Committee. If we are able to reach a consensus 
among such a diverse and bi-partisan group, I am optimistic 
that a bill can be enacted this year.
    However, we have not yet reached a consensus, and I cannot 
support the bill as reported from the Committee. In my view, 
the version of the forest health legislation reported from the 
Committee is too expansive and would allow salvage timber sales 
in roadless and other sensitive areas; it weakens or overrides 
important environmental safeguards and procedures; and would 
limit the ability of the public to appeal important decisions 
of the Forest Service. Additionally, and most importantly in my 
opinion, the bill reported from the Committee does nothing to 
curb the harvesting of our nation's old growth forest reserves 
brought about as a result of the so-called ``salvage rider'' 
enacted as part of last year's rescissions bill. I have 
consistently stated that before we enact permanent forest 
health legislation, we need to ensure that the effects of this 
ill conceived appropriation's rider are minimized. I am hopeful 
that our negotiations will be successful. If they are not, 
however, I will strongly oppose S. 391 should it come before 
the Senate.

                                                      Bill Bradley.
                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the Act, S. 391 as 
reported.