Summary: S.879 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.879. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (04/06/2017)

National Forest Ecosystem Improvement Act of 2017

This bill directs the Forest Service to prioritize and carry out ecosystem restoration projects on National Forest System (NFS) land to accomplish one or more of the objectives specified in this bill, which include restoring terrestrial habitat, carrying out a needed timber stand improvement, reducing the risk or extent of insect or disease infestation, or reducing wildland fire severity potential.

The Forest Service may not carry out an ecosystem restoration project on any area of NFS land in the National Wilderness Preservation System or on which removal of vegetation is prohibited by law.

The Forest Service must accomplish restoration treatments throughout the NFS on 1 million acres using certain mechanical treatment methods and on another 1 million acres using prescribed fire.

The Forest Service shall prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 for each ecosystem restoration project that accomplishes objectives of this bill.

The Forest Service shall study and describe in each ecosystem restoration project both the proposed action and a no-action alternative.

The Forest Service shall establish an arbitration program as an alternative dispute resolution process in lieu of judicial review for specified types of ecosystem restoration projects.

A categorical exclusion is made available to the Forest Service for certain forest management activities in order to: (1) expedite specified critical response actions, (2) expedite salvage operations in response to catastrophic events, and (3) meet forest plan goals for early successional forests.

For each forest management activity covered by a categorical exclusion granted by this bill, the Forest Service shall satisfy the interagency consultation obligations under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 by achieving compliance with certain alternative consultation procedures established by federal regulation.