Text: H.Con.Res.406 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (09/22/2000)

[Congressional Bills 106th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Con. Res. 406 Introduced in House (IH)]

  2d Session
H. CON. RES. 406

   Expressing the sense of the Congress that Federal land management 
  agencies should immediately enact a cohesive strategy to reduce the 
 overabundance of forest fuels which places national resources at high 
                     risk of catastrophic wildfire.



                           September 22, 2000

   Mr. Radanovich (for himself, Mr. Cannon, Mrs. Chenoweth-Hage, Mr. 
 Condit, Mrs. Cubin, Mr. DeLay, Mr. Doolittle, Ms. Dunn, Mr. Gibbons, 
   Mr. Goode, Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Green of Wisconsin, Mr. Hansen, Mr. 
Hastings of Washington, Mr. Hayworth, Mr. Herger, Mr. Hill of Montana, 
Mr. Knollenberg, Mr. McInnis, Mr. Nethercutt, Mr. Ose, Mr. Peterson of 
  Pennsylvania, Mr. Pombo, Mr. Schaffer, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Skeen, Mr. 
Stump, Mr. Stupak, Mr. Taylor of North Carolina, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Thune, 
Mr. Turner, Mr. Walden of Oregon, Mrs. Wilson, and Mr. Young of Alaska) 
 submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to 
   the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committee on 
 Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, 
 in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the 
                jurisdiction of the committee concerned


                         CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

   Expressing the sense of the Congress that Federal land management 
  agencies should immediately enact a cohesive strategy to reduce the 
 overabundance of forest fuels which places national resources at high 
                     risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Whereas an April 1999 General Accounting Office report to the House of 
        Representatives, entitled ``Western National Forests: A Cohesive 
        Strategy is Needed to Address Catastrophic Wildfire Threats'' (GAO/RCED-
        99-65), states that ``[t]he most extensive and serious problem related 
        to the health of national forests in the interior West is the 
        overaccumulation of vegetation, which has caused an increasing number of 
        large, intense, uncontrollable, and catastrophically destructive 
Whereas an April 2000 United States Forest Service report, entitled ``Protecting 
        People and Sustaining Resources in Fire-Adapted Ecosystems: A Cohesive 
        Strategy'', in response to the 1999 General Accounting Office report, 
        confirms the previous report's conclusion and further warns that 
        ``[w]ithout increased restoration treatments . . . , wildfire 
        suppression costs, natural resource losses, private property losses, and 
        environmental damage are certain to escalate as fuels continue to 
        accumulate and more acres become high-risk'';
Whereas the United States Forest Service further acknowledges that 39 million 
        acres of national forest are at significant risk of catastrophic 
        wildfire and an additional 26 million acres will be at similar risk due 
        to increases in the mortality of trees and brush caused by insects and 
Whereas the National Research Council and the Federal Emergency Management 
        Agency have recognized that catastrophic wildfires, such as those in 
        California in 1993 and Florida in 1998, are among the defining United 
        States natural disasters of the 1990's;
Whereas catastrophic wildfires not only cause damage to the forests and other 
        lands, but place the lives of firefighters at risk and pose threats to 
        human health, personal property, sustainable ecosystems, and air and 
        water quality;
Whereas according to the National Fire Protection Association, wildland-urban 
        interface catastrophic wildfires destroyed 9,925 homes between 1985 and 
        1994, and burned six million acres of public lands nationwide in 1999 
        alone, equivalent to a 3-mile-wide swath from the District of Columbia 
        to Los Angeles, California;
Whereas the escaped Cerro Grande prescribed fire in May 2000, which consumed 
        48,000 acres and destroyed 400 homes with losses exceeding a billion 
        dollars in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the escaped Lowden prescribed 
        fire in 1999 that destroyed 23 homes in Lewiston, California, highlight 
        the unacceptable risks of using prescribed burning as the sole forest 
        fire management practice of Federal land management agencies;
Whereas as of September 14, 2000, more than 6.5 million acres have burned 
        nationwide this year, with several months left in the 2000 fire season;
Whereas high-risk forest fuel has accumulated in combination with reduced fire 
        response capability by Federal agencies during the 1990's, resulting in 
        catastrophic wildfires becoming more difficult and expensive to 
        extinguish, with a disproportionate burden being placed on State and 
        local resources, while the costs to fight these fires have increased by 
        150 percent between 1986 and 1994, and the costs of maintaining a 
        readiness force have increased by 70 percent between 1992 and 1997;
Whereas current planning efforts of the United States Forest Service, such as 
        the Sierra Nevada Framework, Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem 
        Management Project, the Roadless Initiative, and Federal monument 
        proclamations, rely primarily on extensive use of prescribed fires, 
        which will further exacerbate the risk of catastrophic wildfire on 
        Federal lands throughout the West; and
Whereas on September 9, 2000, the President released a report, entitled 
        ``Managing the Impact of Wildfires on Communities and the Environment, A 
        Report to the President in Response to the Wildfires of 2000'': Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), 
That it is the sense of the Congress that--
            (1) in the interest of protecting the integrity and 
        posterity of United States forest and wild lands, wildlife 
        habitat, watershed, air quality, human health and safety, and 
        private property, the United States Forest Service and other 
        Federal land management agencies should--
                    (A) immediately enact a cohesive strategy to reduce 
                the overabundance of forest fuels which place these 
                resources at high risk of catastrophic wildfire;
                    (B) utilize an appropriate mix of fire suppression 
                activities and management methodologies, including 
                selective thinning, selective harvesting, grazing, 
                control of insects and pathogens, the removal of 
                excessive ground fuels, and small-scale prescribed 
                burns, including increased private, local, and State 
                contracts for prefire treatments on Federal forest 
                lands; and
                    (C) pursue more effective fire suppression in 
                Federal forest lands through increased funding of 
                mutual aid agreements with professional State and local 
                public firefighting agencies; and
            (2) in the interest of forest protection and rural 
        community safety, the Departments of Agriculture and the 
        Interior immediately should prepare for public review a 
        national prescribed fire strategy for public lands that creates 
        a process for evaluation of worst case scenarios for risk of 
        escape and identifies alternatives that will achieve the land 
        management objectives while minimizing the risk and use of 
        prescribed fire, which strategy should be incorporated into any 
        regulatory land use planning programs that propose the use of 
        prescribed fire as a management practice.