Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (10/02/1992)

Montana National Forest Management Act of 1992 - Designates certain lands in Montana as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System (System).

Directs: (1) the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to file maps and legal descriptions of each wilderness area so designated with specified congressional committees; (2) that such maps and descriptions be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the Chief of the Forest Service and at the office of the Regional Forester of the Northern Region; and (3) that each area so designated be administered by the Secretary, subject to valid existing rights.

Expresses the intent of the Congress that: (1) such designation will not lead to the creation of protective perimeters or buffer zones around wilderness areas; and (2) nonwilderness activities or uses seen or heard from within a wilderness area shall not, of itself, preclude such activities or uses up to the boundary of the wilderness area.

Sets forth provisions with respect to: (1) the grazing of livestock; (2) State fish and game authority; (3) hunting; (4) the installation and maintenance of, and access to, hydrological, meteorological, or climatological collection devices and facilities; and (5) water rights.

Designates certain special management areas for purposes of conserving, protecting, and enhancing scenic, fish and wildlife, biological, educational, and recreational values. Directs the Secretary to: (1) file maps for such areas with specified congressional committees; and (2) administer areas designated so as to achieve the purposes of their designation and in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable to the National Forest System (NFS), with exceptions.

Withdraws all federally-owned lands within the areas so designated from all forms of entry, appropriation, and disposal under the mining and public land laws, and disposition under the geothermal and mineral leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights. Prohibits commercial timber harvesting in the areas so designated, with exceptions: (1) where the Secretary deems it necessary in the event of fire, infestation of insects, or disease; (2) regarding fuel wood, post, and pole gathering; and (3) with respect to such harvesting in the Hyalite National Recreation and Education Area if compatible with the purposes of its designation.

Permits the use of motorized equipment and the grazing of livestock under specified circumstances.

Directs: (1) the Secretary to manage the Mount Helena and Hyalite National Education and Recreation Areas with a focus on education; (2) that all management activities be conducted in a way that provides the public with an opportunity to become better informed about natural resource protection and management; (3) that designated special management areas be administered as components of the national forests wherein they are located; (4) that specified land and resource management plans for the affected national forests emphasize achieving the purposes for which the areas are designated; and (5) that the provisions of the national forest land and resources management plan, relating to each area so designated also be available to the public in a document separate from the rest of the forest plan.

Designates specified lands in the Custer National Forest, the Gallatin National Forest, the Lewis and Clark National Forest, and the Lolo National Forest as wilderness study areas.

Deletes certain lands in the Beaverhead National Forest from the West Pioneers Wilderness Study Area.

Withdraws federally-owned lands in the Badger-Two Medicine Area from all forms of entry, appropriation, and disposal under the mining and public land laws and from disposition under the geothermal and mineral leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights, including rights held by the Blackfeet Nation under existing treaties and statute. Directs the Secretary to manage such Area so as to protect its wilderness qualities. Specifies that: (1) nothing in this Act precludes the gathering of timber by the Blackfeet Tribe in exercise of valid treaty rights within such Area; and (2) with respect to oil and gas leases on Federal lands within such Area, no disturbance shall be permitted pursuant to such leases until the Congress determines otherwise, and the term of any such lease subject to the limitations imposed by this Act shall be extended for a period of time equal to the term that such limitation remains in effect.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) conduct a review of such Area; (2) establish a committee composed of one representative each from the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the Blackfeet Tribal traditionalists, and the National Park Service, as well as at least one representative of the various concerned user groups (including proportional representation for environmental and industry groups) to regularly advise the Secretary during the preparation of the report and submit its findings to the Congress; (3) give special consideration to the religious, wilderness, and wildlife uses of the Area, including any treaties with the Blackfeet Nation; and (4) establish a process to provide information to the Tribe and interested public about options for future designation of such Area.

Authorizes the Secretary, pursuant to an agreement between the Secretary and subsidiaries of Burlington Resources, Incorporated (the company), to acquire mineral interests owned by the company underlying specified surface lands owned by the United States in the Clearwater-Monture and Gallatin Area in exchange for federally owned mineral interests of approximately equal value.

Specifies that: (1) mineral interests so conveyed by the United States shall underlie lands the surface of which were owned by the company or its predecessor on September 16, 1987 (but if there are not sufficient federally owned mineral interests of approximately equal value underlying such lands, the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior may identify for exchange any other federally owned mineral interest in land in Montana of which the surface estate is in private ownership); and (2) the execution and performance of an exchange agreement and the taking of other actions pursuant to such provisions shall not be deemed a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the environment under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, nor shall they require the preparation of an environmental assessment under this Act.

Provides that a specified portion of the Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area shall no longer be subject to the requirement of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 pertaining to management in a manner that does not impair suitability for preservation as wilderness.

Transfers certain lands designated as wilderness under this Act which are administered by the Secretary of the Interior as public lands to the jurisdiction of the Secretary, to be added to and managed as part of the NFS. Modifies the boundaries of the adjacent National Forests to include such lands. Specifies that: (1) for purposes of provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, the boundaries of affected National Forests, as so modified, shall be considered to be the boundaries of such National Forests as if they were such boundaries as of January 1, 1965; and (2) money appropriated from the Land and Water Conservation Fund shall be available for the acquisition of lands, waters, and interests therein in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) undertake a Northern Rockies Ecosystem and Economics Study; and (2) establish an Advisory Panel to meet to review and comment on: the study plan; contractor, background, and interim reports, if any; and the final report.

Requires such Study to address: (1) the current ecological trends and conditions, and environmental sustainability, of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem; (2) the current contribution of commodity and non-commodity uses and output of natural resources to the local and regional economies; (3) the sustainable contribution of commodity and non-commodity uses and outputs of natural resources; (4) opportunities to improve environmental conditions that could permit an expansion of such sustainable contribution; and (5) recommendations on investments and practices for agencies responsible for natural resource management.

Establishes a schedule for review of the study plan by the Advisory Panel, and for submission of reports.

Redesignates the "Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness" as the "Rattlesnake National Education and Recreation Area and Wilderness."

Withdraws lands in the Gibson Reservoir Mineral Withdrawal Area from all forms of entry, appropriation, and disposal under the mining and public land laws, and disposition under the geothermal and mineral leasing laws.

Declares that it is the policy of the Congress that the Forest Service acquire and maintain reasonable public access to NFS lands in Montana.

Incorporates certain lands comprising the Great Bear Wilderness Area and the Scapegoat Wilderness Area in, and deems them to be a part of, the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Authorizes appropriations.

Directs that those NFS lands in Montana which were not designated as wilderness, special management, national recreation, or wilderness study areas by this Act be managed for multiple use in accordance with land and resource management plans developed pursuant to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, as amended by the National Forest Management Act of 1976, and other applicable law. Specifies that such areas need not be managed for the purpose of protecting their suitability for wilderness designation prior to or during revision of such plans. Sets forth provisions regarding plan revision and review.

Directs the Secretary (subject to specified requirements) to: (1) exchange specified lands with Plum Creek Timber, L.P. (Plum Creek); and (2) acquire certain lands and interests in land of Plum Creek in and adjacent to the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, the Scapegoat Wilderness Area, and other land in the Gallatin National Forest. Sets forth provisions with respect to: (1) easements; (2) maps; (3) the timing of the transaction; and (4) incorporation of lands conveyed to the United States into the national forests. Authorizes appropriations.

Sets forth provisions regarding quality of title to properties to be offered to the United States by Big Sky Lumber Company (Big Sky), its assignees, or successors in interest.

Prohibits the Plum Creek Land Exchange, Gallatin Area (described above) from being consummated by the Secretary until the Secretary or a qualified conservation entity, acting on its behalf for later disposition to the United States, has acquired (by purchase or option to acquire, or exchange) all of the Porcupine and Taylor Fork area properties for their fair market value, determined at the time of acquisition in accordance with appraisal standards acceptable to the Secretary by an appraiser acceptable to the Secretary and the owner. Authorizes appropriations. Authorizes the exchange, provided that any exchange of lands between Big Sky and the United States be for equal value.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) work diligently to assure that all lands within the Gallatin Range owned by Big Sky, its assignee, or successors in interest, not acquired, purchased, or exchanged pursuant to such provisions (with respect to the Plum Creek Land Exchange, Gallatin Area, and land consolidation involving the Porcupine area) are acquired by the United States through exchange or purchase; and (2) provide the Congress, within three years, recommendations designed to acquire by purchase or exchange Gallatin Area lands owned by Big Sky, subject to specified requirements.

Authorizes and directs the Secretary to acquire by purchase or exchange lands and interests in the Gallatin Area. Authorizes appropriations. Requires that any such exchange of lands between Big Sky and the United States be for equal value. Sets forth reporting requirements.