Text: H.R.2696 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 108-317 (10/05/2004)

[108th Congress Public Law 317]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ317.108]

[[Page 1203]]


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Public Law 108-317
108th Congress

                                 An Act

 To establish Institutes to demonstrate and promote the use of adaptive 
 ecosystem management to reduce the risk of wildfires, and restore the 
 health of fire-adapted forest and woodland ecosystems of the interior 
              West. <<NOTE: Oct. 5, 2004 -  [H.R. 2696]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Southwest Forest Health and 
Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004. Arizona. New Mexico.>> assembled,

SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 16 USC 6701 note.>> SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire 
Prevention Act of 2004''.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 16 USC 6701.>> 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 
            (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) 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;
            (9) 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

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        from uncontrollable wildfire becomes widespread, with 8 years 
        having already elapsed since the assessment;
            (10) healthy forest and woodland ecosystems--
                    (A) reduce the risk of wildfire to forests and 
                    (B) improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity;
                    (C) increase tree, grass, forb, and shrub 
                    (D) enhance watershed values;
                    (E) improve the environment; and
                    (F) provide a basis in some areas for economically 
                and environmentally sustainable uses;
            (11) sustaining the long-term ecological and economic health 
        of interior West forests and woodland, and their associated 
        human communities requires preventing severe wildfires before 
        the wildfires occur and permitting natural, low-intensity ground 
            (12) more natural fire regimes cannot be accomplished 
        without the reduction of excess fuels and thinning of 
        subdominant trees (which fuels and trees may be of commercial 
            (13) 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) improve the ecological integrity and resilience 
                of these systems;
                    (E) reduce rehabilitation costs;
                    (F) reduce loss of critical habitat; and
                    (G) protect forests for future generations;
            (14) although landscape scale restoration is needed to 
        effectively reverse degradation, scientific understanding of 
        landscape scale treatments is limited;
            (15) rigorous, objective, understandable, and applied 
        scientific information is needed for--
                    (A) the design, implementation, monitoring, and 
                adaptation of landscape scale restoration treatments and 
                improvement of wildfire management;
                    (B) the environmental review process; and
                    (C) affected entities that collaborate in the 
                development and implementation of wildfire treatment.

SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 16 USC 6702.>> PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are--
            (1) to enhance the capacity to develop, transfer, apply, 
        monitor, and regularly update practical science-based forest 
        restoration treatments that will reduce the risk of severe 
        wildfires, and improve the health of dry forest and woodland 
        ecosystems in the interior West;
            (2) to synthesize and adapt scientific findings from 
        conventional research programs to the implementation of forest 
        and woodland restoration on a landscape scale;
            (3) to facilitate the transfer of interdisciplinary 
        knowledge required to understand the socioeconomic and 
        environmental impacts of wildfire on ecosystems and landscapes;
            (4) to require the Institutes established under this Act to 
        collaborate with Federal agencies--

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                    (A) to use ecological restoration treatments to 
                reverse declining forest health and reduce the risk of 
                severe wildfires across the forest landscape; and
                    (B) to design, implement, monitor, and regularly 
                revise representative wildfire treatments based on the 
                use of adaptive ecosystem management;
            (5) to assist land managers in--
                    (A) treating acres with restoration-based 
                applications; and
                    (B) using 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 
                          (i) the National Fire Plan;
                          (ii) the report entitled ``Protecting People 
                      and Sustaining Resources in Fire-Adapted 
                      Ecosystems-A Cohesive Strategy'' (65 Fed. Reg. 
                      67480); and
                          (iii) the report entitled ``10-Year 
                      Comprehensive Strategy: A Collaborative Approach 
                      for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities 
                      and the Environment'' of the Western Governors' 
            (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; and
            (7) to assist Federal and non-Federal land managers in 
        providing information to the public on the role of fire and fire 
        management in dry forest and woodland ecosystems in the interior 

SEC. 4. <<NOTE: 16 USC 6703.>> DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Adaptive ecosystem management.--
                    (A) Definition.--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--
                          (i) is based on scientific findings and the 
                      needs of society;
                          (ii) treats management actions as experiments;
                          (iii) acknowledges the complexity of these 
                      systems and scientific uncertainty; and
                          (iv) uses the resulting new knowledge to 
                      modify future management methods and policy.
                    (B) Clarification.--This paragraph shall not define 
                the term ``adaptive ecosystem management'' for the 
                purposes of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources 
                Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).
            (2) Affected entities.--The term ``affected entities'' 
                    (A) land managers;
                    (B) stakeholders;
                    (C) concerned citizens; and
                    (D) the States of the interior West, including 
                political subdivisions of the States.

[[Page 118 STAT. 1207]]

            (3) Dry forest and woodland ecosystem.--The term ``dry 
        forest and woodland ecosystem'' means an ecosystem that is 
        dominated by ponderosa pines and associated dry forest and 
        woodland types.
            (4) Institute.--The term ``Institute'' means an Institute 
        established under section 5(a).
            (5) Interior west.--The term ``interior West'' means the 
        States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and 
            (6) 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 
            (7) Restoration.--The term ``restoration'' means a process 
        undertaken to move an ecosystem or habitat toward--
                    (A) a sustainable structure of the ecosystem or 
                habitat; or
                    (B) a condition that supports a natural complement 
                of species, natural function, or ecological process 
                (such as a low-intensity fire).
            (8) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service.
            (9) 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.
            (10) Stakeholder.--The term ``stakeholder'' means any person 
        interested in or affected by management of forest or woodland 
            (11) Subdominant trees.--Are trees that occur underneath the 
        canopy or extend into the canopy but are smaller and less 
        vigorous than dominant trees.
            (12) Overstocked stands.--Where the number of trees per acre 
        exceeds the natural carrying capacity of the site.
            (13) Resilience.--The ability of a system to absorb 
        disturbance without being pushed into a different, possibly less 
        desirable stable state.


    (a) In General.--The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary 
of the Interior, shall--
            (1) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> not later than 180 days after the 
        date of enactment of this Act, establish Institutes to promote 
        the use of adaptive ecosystem management to reduce the risk of 
        wildfires, and restore the health of forest and woodland 
        ecosystems, in the interior West; and
            (2) provide assistance to the Institutes to promote the use 
        of collaborative processes and 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--

[[Page 118 STAT. 1208]]

                    (A) the State of Arizona, to be located at Northern 
                Arizona University;
                    (B) the State of New Mexico, to be located at New 
                Mexico Highlands University, while engaging the full 
                resources of the consortium of universities represented 
                in the Institute of Natural Resource Analysis and 
                Management (INRAM); and
                    (C) the State of Colorado.

    (c) Duties.--Each Institute shall--
            (1) develop, conduct research on, transfer, promote, and 
        monitor restoration-based hazardous fuel reduction treatments to 
        reduce the risk of severe wildfires and improve the health of 
        dry forest and woodland ecosystems in the interior West;
            (2) synthesize and adapt scientific findings from 
        conventional research to implement restoration-based hazardous 
        fuel reduction treatments on a landscape scale using an adaptive 
        ecosystem management framework;
            (3) translate for and transfer to affected entities any 
        scientific and interdisciplinary knowledge about restoration-
        based hazardous fuel reduction treatments;
            (4) assist affected entities with the design of adaptive 
        management approaches (including monitoring) for the 
        implementation of restoration-based hazardous fuel reduction 
        treatments; and
            (5) provide peer-reviewed annual reports.

    (d) Qualifications.--Each Institute shall--
            (1) develop and demonstrate capabilities in the natural, 
        physical, social, and policy sciences; and
            (2) explicitly integrate those disciplines in the 
        performance of the duties listed in subsection (c).

    (e) Cooperation.--Each Institute may cooperate with--
            (1) researchers and cooperative extension programs at 
        colleges, community colleges, and universities in the States of 
        Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado 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).

    (f) Annual Work Plans.--As a condition of the receipt of funds made 
available under this Act, for each fiscal year, each Institute shall 
develop in consultation with 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.
    (g) Establishment of Additional Institutes.--If after 2 years after 
the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary finds that the 
Institute model established at the locations named in subsection (b)(2) 
would be constructive for other interior West States, the Secretary may 
establish 1 institute in each of those States.


    In carrying out this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the 
Secretary of the Interior--
            (1) to the extent that funds are appropriated for the 
        purpose, shall provide financial and technical assistance to the

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        Institutes to carry out the duties of the Institutes under 
        section 5;
            (2) shall encourage Federal agencies to use, on a 
        cooperative basis, information and expertise provided by the 
            (3) shall encourage cooperation and coordination between 
        Federal programs relating to--
                    (A) ecological restoration;
                    (B) wildfire risk reduction; and
                    (C) wildfire management technologies;
            (4) notwithstanding chapter 63 of title 31, United States 
        Code, may--
                    (A) enter into contracts, cooperative agreements, 
                and interagency personnel agreements to carry out this 
                Act; and
                    (B) carry out other transactions under this Act;
            (5) may accept funds from other Federal agencies to 
        supplement or fully fund grants made, and contracts entered 
        into, by the Secretaries;
            (6) 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;
            (7) shall encourage professional education and public 
        information activities relating to the purposes of this Act; and
            (8) may promulgate such regulations as the Secretaries 
        determine are necessary to carry out this Act.


    (a) In General.--Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> 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 the Interior, shall 
complete and submit to the Committee on Resources and the Committee on 
Agriculture of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate 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 are sufficient to achieve the 
        purposes of this Act, including--
                    (A) implementing active adaptive ecosystem 
                management practices at the landscape level;
                    (B) reducing unnecessary planning costs;
                    (C) avoiding duplicative and conflicting efforts;
                    (D) increasing public acceptance of active adaptive 
                ecosystem management practices; and
                    (E) achieving general satisfaction on the part of 
                affected entities;
            (2) to determine the extent to which each Institute has 
        implemented its duties under section 5(c); and
            (3) 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.

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    (a) In General.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
this Act $15,000,000 for each fiscal year.
    (b) Limitation.--No funds made available under subsection (a) shall 
be used to pay the costs of constructing any facilities.

    Approved October 5, 2004.


HOUSE REPORTS: No. 108-397, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Resources).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 108-252 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources).
            Feb. 24, considered and passed House.
            Sept. 15, considered and passed Senate.