Summary: H.R.5541 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (07/09/2008)

Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act or FLAME Act - (Sec. 2) Establishes in the Treasury the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Fund (the Flame Fund).

Requires amounts in the Flame Fund to be made available to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretaries) to pay the costs of catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression activities that are separate from amounts annually appropriated for the predicted annual workload for such activities.

Authorizes appropriations for the Flame Fund. States the intent of Congress with respect to the expenditure of amounts appropriated to the Fund. Expresses the sense of Congress regarding the designation of certain appropriations as amounts necessary to meet emergency needs.

Instructs the Secretaries to notify specified congressional committees whenever only an estimated two months worth of funding remains in the Fund.

Provides for the transfer of unobligated wildland fire suppression funds into the Flame Fund.

Provides for amounts in the Flame Fund to be made available to the Secretaries only after such Secretaries issue a declaration that a wildland fire suppression activity is eligible for funding through the Fund. Sets forth the criteria upon which such a declaration shall be based.

Provides for the continuation of funding for anticipated and predicted wildland fire suppression activities within appropriate agency budgets. States that use of the additional funding made available through the Flame Fund is intended to supplement the budgeted and appropriated agency funding and is to be used only for purposes and in instances consistent with this section.

Provides that, all amounts in the Flame Fund and all funds appropriated for wildland fire suppression on federal land, must be obligated before the transfer of funds from non-fire accounts for wildland fire suppression.

Directs the Secretaries to establish an accounting and reporting system for the Flame Fund compatible with existing National Fire Plan reporting procedures.

Requires the Secretaries to annually report on the use of the funds from the Flame Fund, together with recommendations that the Secretaries may have to improve administrative control and oversight of the Fund. Requires such report to be made available to the public.

(Sec. 3) Requires the Secretaries to submit a report that contains a cohesive wildland fire management strategy, consistent with the recommendations of the Comptroller General.

Sets forth the elements of the strategy. Includes a system for ensuring that the highest priority fuels reduction projects are being funded first.

Ensures that owners of adjacent private land are notified before any prescribed fire is used on National Forest System land.

(Sec. 4) Directs the Secretaries to conduct a review, using independent panels, of each wild fire incident that incurs expenses exceeding $10 million, and to submit a report containing the results of each review conducted.

(Sec. 5) Directs the Secretaries to develop regional maps of communities most at risk of wildfire and in need of hazardous fuel treatment and maintenance.

Requires such maps to identify priority areas for hazardous fuels reduction projects, including: (1) at-risk communities in fire-prone areas of the wildland-urban interface; (2) watersheds and municipal drinking water sources; (3) emergency evacuation corridors; (4) electricity transmission corridors; and (5) low-capacity or low-income communities.

Authorizes the Secretaries to provide cost-share grants to fire-ready communities which may be used for: (1) education programs to raise awareness of homeowners and citizens about wildland fire protection practices, including FireWise or other similar programs; (2) training programs for local firefighters on wildland firefighting techniques and approaches; (3) equipment acquisition to facilitate wildland fire preparedness; and (4) implementation of a community wildfire protection plan.

Instructs the Secretaries, in developing any wildland fire cost-share agreement with a state forester or equivalent official, to encourage the state and local communities involved to become fire-ready communities.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out this section.