H.R.5086 - Wildfire Prevention Act of 2002107th Congress (2001-2002)
|Sponsor:||Rep. Hayworth, J. D. [R-AZ-6] (Introduced 07/10/2002)|
|Committees:||House - Resources; Agriculture|
|Latest Action:||07/15/2002 Executive Comment Requested from Interior, USDA. (All Actions)|
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Text: H.R.5086 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Bill Information (Except Text)
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Introduced in House (07/10/2002)
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[Congressional Bills 107th Congress] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] [H.R. 5086 Introduced in House (IH)] 107th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 5086 To establish Institutes to conduct research on the prevention of, and restoration from, wildfires in forest and woodland ecosystems of the interior West. _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES July 10, 2002 Mr. Hayworth (for himself, Mr. Udall of Colorado, Mr. McInnis, Mr. Stump, Mr. Schaffer, Mr. Kolbe, Mr. Tancredo, and Mrs. Wilson of New Mexico) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Agriculture, 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 _______________________________________________________________________ A BILL To establish Institutes to conduct research on the prevention of, and restoration from, wildfires in forest and woodland ecosystems of the interior West. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Wildfire Prevention Act of 2002''. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. Congress finds that-- (1) there is an increasing threat of wildfire to millions of acres of forest land and rangeland throughout the United States; (2) forest land and rangeland are degraded as a direct consequence of land management practices (including practices to control and prevent wildfires and the failure to harvest subdominant trees from overstocked stands) that disrupt the occurrence of frequent low-intensity fires that have periodically removed flammable undergrowth; (3) at least 39,000,000 acres of land of the National Forest System in the interior West are at high risk of wildfire; (4) an average of 95 percent of the expenditures by the Forest Service for wildfire suppression during fiscal years 1990 through 1994 were made to suppress wildfires in the interior West; (5) the number, size, and severity of wildfires in the interior West are increasing; (6) of the timberland in National Forests in the States of Arizona and New Mexico, 59 percent of such land in Arizona, and 56 percent of such land in New Mexico, has an average diameter of 9 to 12 inches diameter at breast height; (7) the population of the interior West grew twice as fast as the national average during the 1990s; (8) efforts to prioritize forests and communities for wildfire risk reduction have been inconsistent and insufficient and have resulted in funding to areas that are not prone to severe wildfires; (9) catastrophic wildfires-- (A) endanger homes and communities; (B) damage and destroy watersheds and soils; and (C) pose a serious threat to the habitat of threatened and endangered species; (10) a 1994 assessment of forest health in the interior West estimated that only a 15- to 30-year window of opportunity exists for effective management intervention before damage from uncontrollable wildfire becomes widespread, with 8 years having already elapsed since the assessment; (11) following a catastrophic wildfire, certain forests in the interior West do not return to their former grandeur; (12) healthy forest and woodland ecosystems-- (A) reduce the risk of wildfire to forests and communities; (B) improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity; (C) increase tree, grass, forb, and shrub productivity; (D) enhance watershed values; (E) improve the environment; and (F) provide a basis in some areas for economically and environmentally sustainable uses; (13) sustaining the long-term ecological and economic health of interior West forests and woodland, and their dependent human communities, requires preventing severe wildfires before the wildfires occur and permitting natural, low-intensity ground fires; (14) more natural fire regimes cannot be accomplished without the reduction of excess fuels and thinning of subdorminant trees (which fuels and trees may be of commercial value); (15) ecologically-based forest and woodland ecosystem restoration on a landscape scale will-- (A) improve long-term community protection; (B) minimize the need for wildfire suppression; (C) improve resource values; (D) reduce rehabilitation costs; (E) reduce loss of critical habitat; and (F) protect forests for future generations; (16) although the National Fire Plan, and the report entitled ``Protecting People and Sustaining Resources in Fire- Adapted Ecosystems--A Cohesive Strategy'' (65 Fed. Reg. 67480), advocate a shift in wildfire policy from suppression to prevention (including restoration and hazardous fuels reduction), Federal land managers are not dedicating sufficient attention and financial resources to restoration activities that simultaneously restore forest health and reduce the risk of severe wildfire; (17) although landscape scale restoration is needed to effectively reverse degradation, scientific understanding of landscape scale treatments is limited; (18) the Federal wildfire research program is funded at approximately \1/3\ of the amount that is required to address emerging wildfire problems, resulting in the lack of a cohesive strategy to address the threat of catastrophic wildfires; and (19) rigorous, understandable, and applied scientific information is needed for-- (A) the design, implementation, and adaptation of landscape scale restoration treatments and improvement of wildfire management technology; (B) the environmental review process; and (C) affected entities that collaborate in the development and implementation of wildfire treatment. SEC. 3. PURPOSES. The purposes of this Act are-- (1) to enhance the capacity to develop, transfer, apply, and monitor practical science-based forest restoration treatments that will reduce the risk of severe wildfires, and improve forest and woodland health, in the interior West; (2) to develop the practical scientific knowledge required to implement forest and woodland restoration on a landscape scale; (3) to develop the interdisciplinary knowledge required to understand the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of wildfire control on ecosystems and landscapes; (4) to require Federal agencies-- (A) to use ecological restoration treatments to reverse declining forest health and reduce the risk of severe wildfires across the forest landscape; (B) to ensure that sufficient funds are dedicated to wildfire prevention activities, including restoration treatments; and (C) to monitor and use wildfire treatments based on the use of adaptive ecosystem management; (5) to develop, transfer, and assist land managers in treating acres with restoration-based treatments and use new management technologies (including the transfer of understandable information, assistance with environmental review, and field and classroom training and collaboration) to accomplish the goals identified in-- (A) the National Fire Plan; (B) the report entitled ``Protecting People and Sustaining Resources in Fire-Adapted Ecosystems--A Cohesive Strategy'' (65 Fed. Reg. 67480); and (C) the report entitled ``10-Year Comprehensive Strategy: A Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment'' of the Western Governors' Association; and (6) to provide technical assistance to collaborative efforts by affected entities to develop, implement, and monitor adaptive ecosystem management restoration treatments that are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible. SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS. In this Act: (1) Adaptive ecosystem management.--The term ``adaptive ecosystem management'' means a natural resource management process under which planning, implementation, monitoring, research, evaluation, and incorporation of new knowledge are combined into a management approach that is-- (A) based on scientific findings and the needs of society; and (B) used to modify future management methods and policy. (2) Affected entities.--The term ``affected entities'' includes-- (A) land managers; (B) stakeholders; (C) concerned citizens; and (D) the States of the interior West, including political subdivisions of the States. (3) Institute.--The term ``Institute'' means an Institute established under section 5(a). (4) Interior west.--The term ``interior West'' means the States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. (5) Land manager.-- (A) In general.--The term ``land manager'' means a person or entity that practices or guides natural resource management. (B) Inclusions.--The term ``land manager'' includes a Federal, State, local, or tribal land management agency. (6) Restoration.--The term ``restoration'' means a process undertaken to return an ecosystem or habitat toward-- (A) the original condition of the ecosystem or habitat; or (B) a condition that supports a related species, natural function, or ecological process (including a low intensity fire). (7) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service. (8) Secretaries.--The term ``Secretaries'' means-- (A) the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service; and (B) the Secretary of the Interior. (9) Stakeholder.--The term ``stakeholder'' means any person interested in or affected by management of forest or woodland ecosystems. (10) States.--The term ``States'' means-- (A) the State of Arizona; (B) the State of New Mexico; and (C) the State of Colorado. SEC. 5. ESTABLISHMENT OF INSTITUTES. (a) In General.--The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, shall-- (1) not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, establish 3 Institutes to promote the use of adaptive ecosystem management to reduce the risk of wildfires, and improve the health of forest and woodland ecosystems, in the interior West; and (2) provide assistance to the Institutes to promote the use of adaptive ecosystem management in accordance with paragraph (1). (b) Location.-- (1) Existing institutes.--The Secretary may designate an institute in existence on the date of enactment of this Act to serve as an Institute established under this Act. (2) States.--Of the Institutes established under this Act, the Secretary shall establish 1 Institute in each of the States of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. (c) Duties.--Each Institute shall-- (1) plan, conduct, or promote research on the use of adaptive ecosystem management to reduce the risk of wildfires, and improve the health of forest and woodland ecosystems, in the interior West, including-- (A) research that assists in providing information on the use of adaptive ecosystem management practices to affected entities; and (B) research that will be useful in the development and implementation of practical, science-based, ecological restoration treatments for forest and woodland ecosystems affected by wildfires; and (2) provide the results of research described in paragraph (1) to affected entities. (d) Cooperation.--To increase and accelerate efforts to restore forest ecosystem health and abate unnatural and unwanted wildfires in the interior West, each Institute shall cooperate with-- (1) researchers at colleges and universities in the States that have a demonstrated capability to conduct research described in subsection (c); and (2) other organizations and entities in the interior West (such as the Western Governors' Association). (e) Annual Work Plans.--As a condition of the receipt of funds made available under this Act, for each fiscal year, each Institute shall submit to the Secretary, for review by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, an annual work plan that includes assurances, satisfactory to the Secretaries, that the proposed work of the Institute will serve the informational needs of affected entities. SEC. 6. COOPERATION BETWEEN INSTITUTES AND FEDERAL AGENCIES. In carrying out this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior-- (1) shall ensure that adequate financial and technical assistance is provided to the Institutes to enable the Institutes to carry out the purposes of the Institutes under section 5, including prevention activities and ecological restoration for wildfires and affected ecosystems; (2) shall use information and expertise provided by the Institutes; (3) shall encourage Federal agencies to use, on a cooperative basis, information and expertise provided by the Institutes; (4) shall encourage cooperation and coordination between Federal programs relating to-- (A) ecological restoration; (B) wildfire risk reduction; and (C) wildfire management technologies; (5) notwithstanding chapter 63 of title 31, United States Code, may-- (A) enter into contracts, cooperative agreements, interagency personal agreements to carry out this Act; and (B) carry out other transactions under this Act; (6) may accept funds from other Federal agencies to supplement or fully fund grants made, and contracts entered into, by the Secretaries; (7) may support a program of internships for qualified individuals at the undergraduate and graduate levels to carry out the educational and training objectives of this Act; (8) shall encourage professional education and public information activities relating to the purposes of this Act; and (9) may promulgate such regulations as the Secretaries determine are necessary to carry out this Act. SEC. 7. MONITORING AND EVALUATION. (a) In General.--Not later than 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 5 years thereafter, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Interior, shall complete and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a detailed evaluation of the programs and activities of each Institute-- (1) to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that the research, communication tools, and information transfer activities of each Institute meet the needs of affected entities; and (2) to determine whether continued provision of Federal assistance to each Institute is warranted. (b) Termination of Assistance.--If, as a result of an evaluation under subsection (a), the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, determines that an Institute does not qualify for further Federal assistance under this Act, the Institute shall receive no further Federal assistance under this Act until such time as the qualifications of the Institute are reestablished to the satisfaction of the Secretaries. SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS. There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act $15,000,000 for each fiscal year. <all>