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Calendar No. 529
105th Congress Report
2d Session 105-292
GRANITE WATERSHED ENHANCEMENT AND PROTECTION ACT OF 1998
August 25, 1998.--Ordered to be printed
Filed under authority of the order of the Senate of July 31, 1998
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2886]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the Act (H.R. 2886) to provide for a demonstration
project in the Stanislaus National Forest, California, under
which a private contractor will perform multiple resource
management activities for that unit of the National Forest
System, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon
with an amendment and recommends that the Act, as amended, do
The amendment is as follows:
On page 2, line 23, strike ``prescribed burns.'' and insert
in lieu thereof the following: ``prescribed burns in the
H.R. 2886, as ordered reported, would authorize the
Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a demonstration project in
the Granite watershed in the Stanislaus National Forest,
California, under which a private contractor will perform
multiple resource management activities for a portion of that
unit of the National Forest System.
background and need
H.R. 2886, the Granite Watershed Enhancement and Protection
Act of 1998, would permit the Forest Service to implement an
innovative process to develop and carry out a comprehensive
land management contract for the Granite watershed area, in the
Stanislaus National Forest, California. The plan was developed
by the Forest Service, together with local elected officials,
forestry professionals and environmental advocates to improve
forest health and water quality.
In 1973, catastrophic fire burned approximately 17,000
acres in the Stanislaus National Forest. Following the fire,
re-planting did occur. However, due to budgetary limits,
further restoration did not occur. This lack of management has
resulted in poor water quality and an excess fuel load.
H.R. 2886 allows the Forest Service to assign a group of
multiple resource activities in the Granite watershed to a
single contractor. Existing Federal contracting authority
prohibits the Forest Service from offering a contract that
bundles multiple resource activities. For example, if an area
is in need of thinning,prescribed burning, and water quality
monitoring, each of these would require separate contracts. Authorizing
a single contractor to provide more than one service will eliminate
duplication of effort by Forest Service staff, reduce unnecessary
paperwork, and decrease preparation costs.
H.R. 2996 was introduced on November 7, 1997, by
Congressman John Doolittle (R-CA). The bill was referred to the
Committee on Resources, and within the Committee to the
Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. On March 24, 1998,
the Subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 2886. On April 29,
1998, the Committee on Resources reported H.R. 2886, as
amended, to the House of Representatives by voice vote. H.R.
2886 passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on May
The Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management held
a hearing on July 22, 1998. At the business meeting on July 29,
1998, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered
H.R. 2886, as amended, favorably reported.
committee recommendation and tabulation of votes
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on July 29, 1998, by unanimous voice vote
of a quorum present recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 2886,
if amended as described herein.
The Committee amended H.R. 2886 to clarify that all of the
resource management activities conducted by a private
contractor pursuant to this bill will take place only within
the Granite watershed area.
Section 1 entitles the Act the ``Granite Watershed
Enhancement and protection Act of 1998.''
Section 2(a) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to
enter into a five year contract with a private contractor to
perform multiple resource management activities on Federal
lands in the Granite watershed, consisting of approximately
8,000 acres, within the Stanislaus National Forest, California.
Subsection (b) specifies the types of resource management
activities that can be performed under the contract, including:
(1) reduction of forest fuel loads through precommercial and
commercial thinning and prescribed burns in the Granite
watershed; (2) monitoring of ecosystem health and water quality
in the Granite watershed; (3) monitoring of the presence of
wildlife and the effect of the management activities on
wildlife presence; and (4) other resource management activities
as the Secretary considers appropriate to demonstrate enhanced
ecosystem health and water quality in the Granite watershed.
Subsection (c) requires that all resource management
activities performed under the contract be consistent with
applicable Federal law and the standards and guidelines set
forth in the California Spotted Own Sierran Province
InterimGuidelines or the subsequently issued final guidelines,
whichever is in effect.
Paragraph (d)(1) authorizes the source of funds that may be
used to provide for the resource management activities to be
performed under the contract, including: (1) funds appropriated
to carry out his section; (2) funds specifically provided to
the Forest Service to implement projects to demonstrate
enhanced water quality and protect aquatic and upland
resources; (3) excess funds that are allocated for the
administration and management of the Stanislaus National
Forest; (4) hazardous fuels reduction funds allocated for
Region 5 of the Forest Service; and (5) a contract provision
allowing the cost of performing authorized management
activities, such as thinning, described in subsection (b) to be
offset by the values owed to the United States for any forest
products removed from the Granite watershed.
Paragraph (2) prohibits the use of appropriated funds, to
carry out the contract, from any other unit of the National
Forest System to carry out the contract.
Paragraph (3) directs that any transfer of funds under
paragraph (1) must be reviewed by the Commission on
Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the
Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.
Subsection (e) authorizes the Secretary to accept and use
funds provided by the State of California to assist in the
implementation of the contract.
Subsection (f) requires the Secretary, not later than
February 28 of each year during the term of the contract, to
submit a report to Congress describing the resource management
activities performed under the contract. This subsection also
states that the report should include the source and amount of
funds used to carry out the contract, and the resource
management activities to be performed under the contract during
the calendar year in which the report is submitted.
Subsection (g) clarifies that all Federal environmental
laws apply to the contract.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, July 30, 1998.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2886, the Granite
Watershed Enhancement and Protection Act of 1998.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Victoria V.
Heid (for federal costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state and
June E. O'Neill, Director.
H.R. 2886--Granite Watershed Enhancement and Protection Act of 1998
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2886 would have no
significant impact on the federal budget. Because the act would
increase direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply,
but we estimate the increase would total only about $200,000.
This act would impose no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The state of California and local governments in the state
might choose to share in the cost of this project, but their
involvement would be voluntary.
H.R. 2886 would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to
enter into a five-year contract with a single private
contractor to perform multiple management activities on federal
land in the Stanislaus National Forest in California and to
fund that contract using receipts from forest products removed
by the contractor, as well as funds provided by the state of
California and appropriated funds.
The U.S. Forest Service is planning to conduct the Granite
Watershed Project on an area known as the Granite Burn over the
next five years. Work to be performed under the contract will
include timber stand thinning, brush removal, road closures and
maintenance, and other land management work. According to the
Forest Service, outlays to implement the project will total
about $5 million over the 1999-2003 period. The agency plans to
conduct the project, including the timber stand thinning, under
current law using appropriated funds. (The agency has applied
for a grant from the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, a consortium of
federal and state agencies, to partially fund the project, but
that grant may or may not be awarded.)
Enacting H.R. 2886 would allow the agency to pay for a
portion of the project using offsetting receipts generated from
the project's timber standing thinning. The Forest Service
expects the thinning to generate offsetting receipts of
approximately $200,000 in fiscal year 1999. Based on
information from the Forest Service, CBO estimates that
enacting H.R. 2886 would increase direct spending outlays by
$200,000 in fiscal year 1999. Because the act would allow the
Forest Service to use the receipts to pay for the project,
enacting the legislation could either decrease discretionary
outlays by about $200,000 or allow the agency to fund
additional work, depending on how the Forest Service implements
the project. CBO estimates that other provisions in the act
would have no net effect on the federal budget.
On May 11, 1998, CBO prepared a cost estimate for H.R.
2886, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Resources
on April 29, 1998. This version of H.R. 2886 is virtually
identical to the House version, and the estimated costs are the
The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Victoria V.
Heid (for federal costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state and
local impact). This estimate was approved by Paul N. Van de
Water, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
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
carrying out H.R. 2886.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little if any additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of H.R. 2886.
On July 29, 1998, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested executive comment from the Department of
Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget on H.R.
2886. These legislative reports were not available at the time
this report was filed. When the requested reports become
available, the Chairman will request that they be printed in
the Congressional Record for the advice of the Senate. The
testimony provided by the Forest Service at the Subcommittee
Statement of Gloria Manning, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest
Systems, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Gloria
Manning, Associate Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems. I
am pleased to be here to share the Administration's view on
H.R. 2886, which would allow the Secretary to contract with a
single source to implement the Granite Watershed Enhancement
The Administration supports H.R. 2886, Stanislaus National
Forest Demonstration Project.
h.r. 2886 to provide for a demonstration project on the stanislaus
national forest, california
H.R. 2886 would allow the Secretary to contract with a
single source to implement the Granite Watershed Enhancement
Project. The Administration supports the bill.
In 1973, 17,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest
burned in a catastrophic wildfire known as the Granite Burn.
H.R. 2886 provides support to the Granite Watershed Enhancement
Project which is a unique partnership to restore a fire-damaged
ecosystem and reduce the future risk of fire. Forest Service
officials from the regional and local level have joined
together in working with local elected officials, private
forestry professionals, and environmental groups to develop a
project that will improve both the overall condition of the
Granite watershed and the health of the surrounding forest. The
Granite project is supported by the Regional Council of Rural
Counties, the California Forestry Association, and the
administrative leadership of the Bay-Delta CALFED process, a
joint federal-state Bay-Delta Recovery program.
The collaborative planning efforts for the Project have
drawn a broad array of partners together including county and
state governments, the City of San Francisco, irrigation
districts, environmental groups, industry groups and the
scientific and academic communities. Partnership commitments
have been made to further Project planning and implementation
including additional funding resources, comparable work on
adjacent private property, and intensive and comprehensive
scientific and academic monitoring assistance both on- and off-
The Granite Project calls for multiple resource monitoring,
timber stand thinning, riparian restoration, meadow
revegetation, road maintenance, and road obliteration to
protect watershed values and reduce wildfire hazards. These
efforts are designed to protect the project area from large
wildfires, restore hydrologic function in meadows and streams,
and to reduce stream sedimentation. Long term monitoring is a
critical component of the project and will include water
quality, habitat quality, and critical species population
The bill had been modified from the introduced version. It
now includes a technical amendment allowing the Secretary to
enter into a contract that provides for the exchange of goods
and services. This modification improves the opportunity to
leverage federal funds through partnerships and provides a more
timely and cost-effective response to the specific forest
health situation in Granite Creek.
The advantage offered to the public by this project is that
public scoping has developed clear desired future conditions
for the watershed, as well as some potential alternative means
of attaining those conditions. A benchmark assessment of the
ecosystem and forest health is underway. Therefore, if a
stewardship contract is the vehicle chosen to implement a
decision, the Forest Supervisor can include specific and, in
some cases, quantitative environmental goals. Ecosystem
improvements can and will be measured and resource inventories
will be completed prior to implementation. Budgetary impacts of
using a single contract that exchanges goods for services in
this case would be minimal, since the costs and foregone
revenues would be known ahead of time and there is opportunity
for significant contract competition.
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 H.R. 2886, as