Summary: H.R.4899 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (10/06/1992)

Northwest Forests Management, Planning, Productivity Improvement, and Protection Act - Title I: Old-Growth Forests - Subtitle A: Old-Growth Forest Reserve - Establishes the Old-Growth Forest Reserve (the Reserve) with the following primary purposes: (1) protect ecologically-significant old-growth forests; (2) maintain and enhance areas that would contribute to northern spotted owl (owl) and other animal and plant species associated with old-growth forests; and (3) protect riparian areas and other areas of special ecological significance.

Provides that, during an interim period, the Reserve shall consist of certain Federal lands and interests in owl forests, which are specified national forests of the National Forest System (NFS) and specified districts of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in the States of California, Oregon, and Washington. Provides that, following the interim period, the Reserve shall consist of such areas designated as part of the Reserve under the land and resource management plans (LRMPs), applicable to the owl forests, which are completed or revised as required by this Act. Excludes from the Reserve lands within the Bornite Project Area of the Opal Creek Special Management Area in the Detroit Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture (with NFS jurisdiction) and the Secretary of the Interior (with BLM jurisdiction) to prepare a map and legal description of the lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary concerned that are included in: (1) the Reserve; (2) the owl forests but not in the Reserve, including the specifically excluded Bornite Project Area; and (3) the Opal Creek Special Management Area. Requires such maps and legal descriptions to be filed with specified congressional committees and to be available for public inspection in the Offices of the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of BLM.

Sets forth restrictions on changes to the boundaries of the Reserve during the interim period and the five-year period following the interim period. Requires that any later boundary changes be made as part of the amendment or revision of the LRMP for the owl forest involved.

Sets forth interim period management guidelines for the Reserve. Declares the primary purpose of any management activity to be the same as the primary purposes described in the establishment of the Reserve. Directs the Secretary concerned to: (1) permit management activities consistent with such primary purpose (such as fire suppression and presuppression, noncommercial silvicultural treatments of young stands, restoration of aquatic habitats, and research); and (2) manage Reserve lands that do not meet the definition of old-growth forest, or are damaged by fire or other natural causes, in order to regenerate old-growth forest there.

Prohibits timber harvesting in the Reserve, except: (1) the minimum necessary to protect the Reserve from an insect or disease epidemic or for public safety; (2) precommercial thinning to regenerate old-growth forests; (3) salvage or sanitation harvesting of timber substantially damaged by fire, windthrow, or other catastrophe or in imminent danger from insect or disease attack, unless such harvesting would be detrimental to a threatened or endangered species or inconsistent with the purposes for which the Reserve is established; and (4) under special rules for watershed areas.

Withdraws Federal lands in the Reserve from: (1) disposition under the public land laws; (2) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws of the United States; (3) operation of the mineral leasing laws of the United States; and (4) operation of the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970.

Sets forth requirements relating to: (1) structures, recreation, and access; and (2) hunting, trapping, and fishing.

Sets forth special rules for watershed areas. Directs the Secretary concerned to prepare a watershed and riparian area restoration plan for watershed areas of the Reserve. Requires such plan to be consistent with recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) and to include specified measures. Requires management of such watershed areas consistent with such plan and, if timber is offered for sale, area control on a rotation age of 180 years and the 50-11-40 rule.

Provides for permanent management of the Reserve. Requires, following termination of the interim period, that the portion of the Reserve in an owl forest be managed in accordance with the applicable LRMP.

Directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior (the Secretaries) to establish a joint research and monitoring program for the owl forests, regarding old-growth forests and the status and long-term outlook for their associated animal and plan species. Requires program operation within six months after SAP report recommendations. Sets forth various requirements for the research and monitoring components of such program. Requires a report to the Congress on such research and monitoring activities, five years after enactment of this Act and biennially thereafter. Allows on-going and new research studies and related activities on owl forests to be conducted by the Forest Service or its cooperators or grantees in the Reserve if these are consistent with SAP recommendations.

Designates lands in the Detroit Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon as the Opal Creek Special Management Area. Sets forth standards and guidelines for the management of such area by the Secretary of Agriculture. Requires the Secretary to: (1) prohibit timber harvesting, except for subsistence use of dead and downed timber for firewood and other uses in research and educational facilities there or under a special use permit; (2) permit non-motorized recreation not in conflict with old-growth forest research; (3) prohibit construction of new roads, except that roads, structures, and utilities shall be allowed to serve activities conducted outside the Reserve pursuant to special use permits issued before enactment of this Act; and (4) allow continuation of special use permits, subject to their own terms, regarding such area in existence on the date of enactment of this Act. Directs the Secretary to promote nondestructive research regarding old-growth forests, conduct educational programs for the public regarding such forests, and preserve historic assets in the area. Authorizes the Secretary to support nonprofit organization management of a private inholding held by such organization in the area if such organization agrees to comply with such standards and guidelines.

Requires each Secretary concerned to: (1) conduct an inventory of non-Federal lands and interests in lands, including severed mineral estates, within Reserve boundaries; (2) pursue a land consolidation program to acquire lands and interests in lands identified in the inventory that would be suitable for inclusion in the Reserve, through exchange of Federal lands and interests in lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary concerned; and (3) report annually on such land consolidation program to specified congressional committees.

Subtitle B: Scientific Advisory Panel - Directs the Secretaries to jointly establish a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to advise them on establishing, managing, and protecting the Reserve, managing, and protecting the Reserve, managing associated resources, and related research and monitoring.

Sets forth requirements for SAP membership, including specified numbers of candidates nominated by the National Academy of Sciences and by the Chairs of various congressional committees and specified areas of expertise of such candidates.

Sets forth SAP review, recommendations, and reporting functions.

Terminates SAP four years after enactment of this Act, but provides for SAP reestablishment if the Secretaries determine that new scientific information regarding the needs of old-growth forests or associated animal and plant species requires changes in the permanent management guidelines for, or the boundaries of, the Reserve.

Subsection C: Management of Non-Reserve Lands in the Northern Spotted Owl Forests - Establishes an interim timber sale program. Makes subtitle: (1) applicable only with respect to Federal lands and interests in lands that are in owl forests, but that are not included in the Reserve, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, or other areas designated for special management by law; and (2) operable with respect to an owl forest during the interim period.

Sets forth timber sale guidelines under such program, including specified guidelines for NFS lands and BLM lands, and watershed and fish habitat guidelines.

Sets forth timber sale program planning procedures, including requirements for: (1) the Secretaries to jointly coordinate development of timber sales under such program by convening a regional conference with specified participants who are to receive all available planning documents and projections; and (2) the Secretary concerned to publish annual notice and, based on comments received, revise such timber sale program and sales such Secretary considers necessary.

Sets forth requirements for such interim program management standards and guidelines, including the Secretaries' proposals, SAP recommendations, public comment, review, and publication of final standards and guidelines.

Sets forth a special rule for such timber sales to be offered during FY 1992 and 1993.

Provides that this subtitle constitutes additional planning guidance and requirements regarding such lands, so that activities consistent with this subtitle, other applicable law, and existing LRLMPs may be carried out prior to completion or revision of LRMPs under subtitle E.

Subtitle D: Miscellaneous Provisions Related to Northern Spotted Owl Forests - Declares that nothing in this title shall prohibit or unduly restrict the ability of the Secretary concerned or a community to manage lands in owl forests for water quality protection and water supply purposes.

Requires the Secretaries to jointly report to the Congress every three months on implementation of this title, and to consult SAP in preparing such reports.

Directs the Secretary concerned to establish experimental areas in owl forests for alternative timber harvest methods and ecosystem restoration projects. Requires that such scientific research in such areas be with the participation of a recognized research institution. Requires that such experimental areas consist of lands that are in an owl forest but that are not included in the Reserve, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, or other areas designated for special management by law. Requires each experimental area to be at least 1,500 acres, not necessarily contiguous. Sets forth required elements of such research. Allows additional experimental forests and ranges.

Subtitle E: Revision or Completion of Plans for Northern Spotted Owl Forests - Requires the Secretary concerned, within three years after enactment of this Act, to complete or revise LRMPs for owl forests, to incorporate and reflect the establishment of the Reserve and those timber sale program guidelines that may result from the establishment of a long-term strategy for protection of old-growth forests and associated animal and plant species. Authorizes such Secretary, as part of such completion or revision, to add or delete areas or change boundaries of the Reserve included in that owl forest. Requires that any alternatives prepared by such Secretary for such a boundary change include one option consistent with the SAP preferred alternative. Requires the Secretary, in such completion or revision, to review SAP recommendations and to explain any inconsistencies between plan changes or revisions and such recommendations. Requires such completion or revision to be made in accordance with procedural requirements under applicable law.

Directs the Secretaries to jointly convene a regional conference to coordinate revision or completion of LRMPs for owl forests, including inviting specified participants. Requires such conference to be convened: (1) at least once before preparation of plan alternatives (in order to get conference advice); and (2) before issuance of any final draft plans (so that the conference may comment upon the selected revisions).

Requires the Secretary concerned to provide opportunities for public participation in revision or completion of each LRMP involving an owl forest. Requires such participation to be afforded: (1) during early stages of plan development; (2) after drafting plan alternatives but before selection of a preferred alternative; (3) immediately after issuance of the draft plan; and (4) after public comments and review of the draft plan but before issuance of the final plan.

Requires the Secretaries, respectively, to establish citizen advisory boards for each owl forest under their respective jurisdiction.

Title II: Economic Assistance and Forest Productivity Programs - Revises provisions relating to payments for counties. Increases the portion of funds which are received from each national forest designated as an owl forest and which are to be provided to counties for schools and roads under certain formulas under specified Federal laws. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to recommend to the Congress a stable, predictable, and long-term payment formula to accomplish the purposes of such Acts for such forests. Sets forth a formula for payments with respect to the Sierra Forests. Amends specified Federal law relating to the revested Oregon and California Railroad to provide that counties in the revested lands are to be paid 50 percent of income foregone (based on the product of the volume of timber foregone for the fiscal year and the average of the average stumpage prices for timber sold in western Oregon by the BLM in such fiscal year and the preceding four years). Provides a formula, also under such law, for additional payments to counties from the fund for Coos Bay Wagon Road grant lands.

Provides for economic adjustment for timber-dependent communities and for wood products and timber employees, by developing an organizational structure and program to: (1) provide grants and benefit payments to communities and employees economically dependent on owl forests and adversely impacted by a declining timber supply; and (2) promote economic diversification for such communities and employees. Establishes a special economic fund in the Treasury, consisting of five percent of the Federal portion of all monies received each fiscal year from the sale of timber and other forest products from lands managed by the Forest Service and the BLM lands, effective for six full fiscal years after enactment of this Act. Establishes: (1) a Timber Economic Adjustment Commission (the Commission) to carry out such program; and (2) a Timber Economic Adjustment Advisory Panel with which the Commission must consult. Provides for Federal and State nominees as Commission members, and State nominees as Panel members. Directs the Commission to make economic adjustment grants and benefit payments from the special fund to: (1) eligible communities, to assist in achieving economic diversity and diminish dependency on forest products from old-growth forests in owl forests; and (2) eligible employees, for short-term and long-term retraining and adjustment assistance, supplemental unemployment benefits and extended income maintenance and health care insurance for those in training or education programs, and defraying job search and relocation expenses. Sets forth eligibility requirements for forest-dependent communities and for employees dependent on the forest industry. Requires the Commission to consult with the Secretaries of Agriculture, the Interior, Labor, and Commerce, and SAP, in determining whether a community is economically dependent on an owl forest. Directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior (the Secretaries) to provide specified information to the Commission regarding any Federal action in managing an owl forest that may have a substantial local or regional impact on employment. Directs the Commission to report to the Congress and the Governors of the States of California, Oregon, and Washington, on its accomplishments, and on economic conditions of communities and employment in the region where owl forests are located, with recommendations. Requires such report to be submitted not later than six months before the Commission's termination. Terminates the Commission and the Advisory Panel at the end of the sixth full fiscal year beginning after enactment of this Act.

Provides for a special forest productivity initiative. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture, within one year after enactment of this Act, to establish such special initiative to improve productivity of timber and nontimber resources of Federal, State, county, and private lands in those counties that include communities identified as eligible for grants or other assistance under this special initiative. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to consult with the Secretary of the Interior in establishing and carrying out this initiative. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to identify those forested lands in the counties that would benefit from restoration and enhancement work under the initiative. Requires that specified identification criteria be included. Requires the initiative to include certain components. Requires development of restoration and productivity enhancement plans. Directs the Secretaries to jointly develop a hiring preference program to maximize employment opportunities for displaced employees dependent on the forest industry, in carrying out such special initiative.

Amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to require that a specified minimum amount from funds under such Act be made available for assistance in California, Oregon, and Washington for planning, reforestation, and timber stand improvement practices to further second growth management of timber resources to offset the expected decline in timber harvests as a result of listing the northern spotted owl as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Requires such assistance to be concentrated in those counties containing owl forests specified under this Act.

Amends the Knutson-Vandenberg Act to remove a limitation of reforestation activities to sale areas. Makes certain reforestation provisions of such Act applicable to BLM lands.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to expand efforts under the State and Private Forestry Program of the Forest Service to improve mill efficiency for the purpose of creating job opportunities. Requires such efforts to include specified types of efforts.

Amends the National Forest-Dependent Rural Communities Economic Diversification Act of 1990 to revise the definition of rural community to: (1) require that included counties or similar local governments be classified as non-metropolitan (rather than have a specified maximum population); and (2) include unincorporated areas represented by nonprofit corporations organized under State law for the purpose of promoting broad-based economic development within the appropriate county or similar unit of local government.

Title III: Miscellaneous Provisions - Directs the President to establish a Sierra Forests Resources Committee (the Committee), within three months after enactment of this Act, consisting of members appointed by the President from a list submitted by the National Academy of Sciences. Requires the ten members to be from ten specified scientific specialties. Defines Sierra Forests as national lands included in specified national forests (as well as a portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit) within the State of California. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary), in consultation with the Committee, to appoint a Committee Director who has knowledge and expertise relating to old-growth forests, associated animal and plant species, and related forest management issues. Terminates the Committee two years after the date on which all its members have been initially appointed.

Directs the Committee, within six months after such initial appointment date, to report (six-month report) to the Secretary, with recommendations for the Secretary and the Congress, including: (1) means of sustaining old-growth forest ecosystems in the Sierra Forests, possibly by establishment of a Reserve System or by designation of Reserves, Study Areas, or Watershed Areas; (2) management guidelines for interim protection; (3) maps; (4) quantification of effect of management guidelines for unreserved lands; (5) watershed identification and management guidelines; (6) threatened and endangered species; (7) risk assessment; and (8) maintenance of industry. Directs the Committee, by December 31, 1994, to report (two-year report) to the Secretary, with recommendations for the Secretary and the Congress, including: (1) identification of factors contributing to decline; (2) inventory of species; and (3) a comprehensive, long-term, ecosystem-based plan to restore the health of the Sierra Forests, including recommendations with respect to specified factors and measures. Requires that a draft of such two-year report be submitted to the National Academy of Sciences for technical peer review prior to submission to the Secretary.

Directs the Secretary, within 90 days of its receipt, to implement the recommendations contained in the six-month report. Provides that such recommendations shall cease to be effective on December 31, 1996. Directs the Secretary, to manage the Sierra Forests in a specified manner during an interim protection period. Provides that such management directives shall not apply to timber sales prepared in accordance with the Mediated Settlement Agreement for the Sequoia National Forest. Allows the Secretary, with the Committee's consent, to permit timber harvesting necessary for: (1) protecting the forest from an insect or disease epidemic; (2) public safety; or (3) removing timber damaged by fire or other natural clauses.

Requires such six-month and two-year reports to also be submitted to specified congressional committees.

Provides that the interim management recommendations shall remain in effect until December 31, 1996, unless the Congress enacts legislation removing them earlier.

Prohibits these provisions regarding the Sierra Forests from being construed to afford a lesser standard of protection than would otherwise be required by any other provision of law, rule, regulation, or forest plan.

Directs the Committee to coordinate the development of recommendations and activities for the Sierra Forests with similar efforts by Federal agencies and the State of California, including specified projects, assessments, recommendations, and activities.

Sets forth a grandfather clause, whereby nothing in this Act shall affect the operation of any timber sale contract entered into, or interfere with any activity for which a special use permit has been issued and not revoked, before the enactment of this Act (subject to the terms of the sale contract or permit).

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish at least two forest fire research centers at institutions of higher education which have expertise in natural resource development and are near other Federal natural resource, forest management, and land management agencies. Requires at lease one of the centers to be in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, or Nevada. Requires at least one other to be in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, or New Mexico. Requires such centers to conduct integrative, interdisciplinary research regarding forest fire prevention and management.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out this Act. Requires SAP costs to be borne equally by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture.

Designates Dewey Peak as "Phil's Peak," in honor of the late Phil Johnson who was instrumental in establishing the William O. Douglas and Norse Peak Wilderness Area.