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108th Congress                                            Rept. 108-397
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     Part 1

======================================================================



 
      SOUTHWEST FOREST HEALTH AND WILDFIRE PREVENTION ACT OF 2003

                                _______
                                

 November 21, 2003.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Pombo, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2696]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 2696) 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, having considered the 
same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend 
that the bill as amended do pass.

  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire 
Prevention Act of 2003''.

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, degraded forests in 
        the interior West that have lost their resilience may 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 associated 
        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 subdominant 
        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) 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;
          (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), 
        advocated 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, 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 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, 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--
                  (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, especially restoration 
                treatments; and
                  (C) to design, implement, monitor and regularly 
                revise 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 
                in--
                          (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' Association;
          (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 West.

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;
                  (B) treats management actions as experiments;
                  (C) acknowledges the complexity of these systems and 
                scientific uncertainty; and
                  (D) uses the resulting new knowledge 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) 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 
        Utah.
          (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 
                agency.
          (7) Restoration.--The term ``restoration'' means a process 
        undertaken to return an ecosystem or habitat toward--
                  (A) the original 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 
        ecosystems.
          (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.

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 
        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--
                  (A) the State of Arizona, to be located at Northern 
                Arizona University;
                  (B) the State of New Mexico; 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.

SEC. 6. COOPERATION BETWEEN INSTITUTES AND FEDERAL AGENCIES.

  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 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 Institutes;
          (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, 
                interagency personal 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.

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 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; and
          (2) to determine the extent to which each Institute has 
        implemented its duties under section 5(c);
          (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.

SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  (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.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2696 is 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 from the 
interior West.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Research shows that the trend towards large, severe and 
frequent forest fires will continue without large-scale action. 
Seventy-three million acres in the Intermountain West are 
vulnerable to catastrophic fire. Intense fires of this 
magnitude are symptoms of unhealthy forests. Many forest fuel 
reduction treatments fail to restore unhealthy forests and 
therefore will not provide effective, long-term protection 
against unnatural wildfire.
    Forest restoration and fuel reduction treatments should be 
applied at the scale required to reduce unnatural wildfires. 
The quality of treatments must be improved to accomplish long-
term fire risk reduction and fix the underlying problem of 
degraded forest health. To achieve the quality of treatments 
required to reverse the trend in unnatural wildfires, 
treatments must start with solid science and be developed to 
meet the practical needs of managers. H.R. 2696 would 
facilitate this research.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2696 was introduced on July 10, 2003, by Congressman 
Rick Renzi (R-AZ). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Resources and additionally to the Committee on Agriculture. 
Within the Committee on Resources, the bill was referred to the 
Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. On September 24, 
2003, the Full Committee met to consider the legislation. The 
Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health was discharged from 
further consideration of the bill by unanimous consent. Mr. 
Renzi offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute 
incorporating changes recommended by the U.S. Forest Service 
and the Minority Members of the Committee clarifying 
definitions and intent. The amendment was adopted by unanimous 
consent. The bill as amended was then ordered favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous consent.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is 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 from the 
interior West.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                Washington, DC, September 30, 2003.
Hon. Richard W. Pombo,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2696, the 
Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2003.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Megan 
Carroll and Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                      Elizabeth M. Robinson
                               (For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2696--Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2003

    Summary: H.R. 2696 would authorize the appropriation of $15 
million a year for the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 
and provide assistance to three research institutes. Those 
institutes would develop strategies to reduce the risk of 
wildfires and enhance the health of forests in certain western 
states. CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $4 
million in 2004 and $72 million over the 2004-2008 period, 
assuming appropriation of the specified amounts. The bill would 
not affect direct spending or revenues.
    H.R. 2696 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments. The bill would authorize federal funds to 
establish and fund research institutes that could be located at 
state universities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. 
Participation by these states would be voluntary.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: For this 
estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 2696 will be enacted near the 
start of fiscal year 2004 and that authorized amounts will be 
provided as specified in the bill. Estimates of outlays are 
based on historical spending patterns for similar activities. 
The estimated budgetary impact of H.R. 2696 is shown in the 
following table. The costs of this legislation fall within 
budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2004     2005     2006     2007     2008
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization Level................................................       15       15       15       15       15
Estimated Outlays..................................................        4       11       20       20       17
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 2696 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments. The bill would authorize federal funds to 
establish and fund institutes that could be located at state 
universities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. 
Participation by these states would be voluntary:
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Megan Carroll and 
Deborah Reis; Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: 
Marjorie Miller; and Impact on the Private Sector: Cecil 
McPherson.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                     U.S. House of Representatives,
                                   Committeee on Resources,
                                   Washington, DC, October 9, 2003.
Hon. Sherwood Boehlert,
Chairman, Committee on Science,
House of Representatives, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, 
        D.C. 20515
    Dear Mr. Chairman: I request your assistance in expediting 
the consideration of H.R. 2696, the Southwest Forest Health and 
Wildfire Prevention Act, authored by our colleague Rick Renzi. 
He introduced the bill on July 10, 2003, when it was referred 
to the Committee on Resources and additionally to the Committee 
on Agriculture. The Committee on Resources ordered the bill 
favorably reported with amendments on September 24, 2003, by 
unanimous consent. I have forwarded a copy of this reported 
text to your staff. Based on discussions with the 
Parliamentarian, I agree that the Committee on Science would 
receive a sequential referral of this bill.
    Because of the limited number of days remaining in the 
first session of the 108th Congress and the importance of this 
bill to the wildfire-ravaged Western United States, I ask you 
not to exercise your right to a sequential referral of the bill 
so that it can be scheduled before adjournment. Of course, by 
agreeing to this request, you are not waiving jurisdiction over 
the bill, nor is this action to be construed as a precedent for 
other, similar legislation. In addition, I would support a 
request from the Committee on Science to be represented on any 
conference on H.R. 2696 or a companion Senate bill, should one 
become necessary. Finally, I would include this letter and any 
response you might have in the Committee on Resources bill 
report on H.R. 2696.
    Thank you for your consideration of my request and the 
cooperation shown by you and Michael Bloomquist of your 
Committee staff.
            Sincerely,
                                          Richard W. Pombo,
                                                          Chairman.
                                ------                                

                     U.S. House of Representatives,
                                      Committee on Science,
                                  Washington, DC, October 14, 2003.
Hon. Richard W. Pombo,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, 
        DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your October 9, 2003 
letter concerning H.R. 2696, the Southwest Forest Health and 
Wildfire Prevention Act. As you state in your letter, the 
Parliamentarian agreed that the Committee on Science would 
receive a sequential referral of this bill.
    Recognizing your wish that the House of Representatives 
consider the bill as soon as possible, I will not exercise the 
Committee's right to a referral of H.R. 2696. Of course, 
waiving the Committee's right to a referral in this case does 
not waive the Committee's jurisdiction over any provision in 
H.R. 2696 or similar provisions in other bills.
    I appreciate and accept your offer to support a request 
from the Committee on Science to be represented on any 
conference on H.R. 2696 or a companion bill, should one become 
necessary. Further, please include a copy of our exchange of 
letters on this matter in the Committee Report on H.R. 2696 and 
the Congressional Record during floor consideration of H.R. 
2696.
    Thank you for your consideration regarding this matter.
            Sincerely,
                                      Sherwood L. Boehlert,
                                                          Chairman.
                                ------                                

                     U.S. House of Representatives,
                                    Committee on Resources,
                                 Washington, DC, November 21, 2003.
Hon. Bob Goodlatte,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture,
House of Representatives, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, 
        DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: I request your assistance in expediting 
the consideration of H.R. 2696, the Southwest Forest Health and 
Wildfire Prevention Act, authored by our colleague Rick Renzi. 
Mr. Renzi introduced the bill on July 10, 2003, when it was 
referred to the Committee on Resources and additionally to the 
Committee on Agriculture. The Committee on Resources ordered 
the bill favorably reported with amendments on September 24, 
2003, by unanimous consent. I have forwarded a copy of this 
reported text to your staff. I understand that there were some 
initial questions regarding some of the bill language but that 
our staffs have been able to work out a text which addresses 
your concerns. It would be my intention to ask that this text 
be scheduled for Floor consideration.
    Because of the limited number of days remaining in the 
first session of the 108th Congress and the importance of this 
bill to the wildfire-ravaged Western United States, I ask you 
not to insist on your additional referral of the bill and allow 
the Committee on Agriculture to be discharged so that H.R. 2696 
can be voted on before adjournment. Of course, by agreeing to 
this request, you are not waiving jurisdiction over the bill, 
nor is this action to be construed as a precedent for other, 
similar legislation. In addition, I would support a request 
from the Committee on Agriculture to be represented on any 
conference on H.R. 2696 or a companion Senate bill, should one 
become necessary. Finally, I would include this letter and any 
response you might have in the Committee on Resources bill 
report on H.R. 2696.
    Thank you for your consideration of my request. I 
appreciate our continued excellent working relationship on 
healthy forest issues and look forward to working with you to 
see H.R. 2696 enacted soon.
            Sincerely,
                                          Richard W. Pombo,
                                                          Chairman.
                                ------                                

                     U.S. House of Representatives,
                                  Committee on Agriculture,
                                 Washington, DC, November 21, 2003.
Hon. Richard Pombo,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for forwarding a copy of the 
reported text of H.R. 2696 to my office. As you have noted, our 
committee has been able to come to an agreement about the text 
of this legislation. Mr. Renzi is the author of H.R. 2696, 
which establishes 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.
    As you are aware, the Committee on Agriculture received an 
additional referral of this legislation on those provisions of 
H.R. 2696 that fall within this Committee's jurisdiction. 
However, after conferring with Chairman Gutknecht of the 
Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, 
and Forestry, I will be glad to waive further consideration of 
this measure so as to allow its timely consideration by the 
entire House of Representatives during this remainder of this 
legislative year.
    This action is not intended to waive this Committee's 
jurisdiction over this matter for all purposes, and in the 
event a conference with the Senate is requested in this matter, 
I would ask you to support the Committee on Agriculture request 
to be represented.
    Thank you very much for your courtesy in this matter and I 
look forward to continued cooperation between our Committees as 
well deal with these issues in the future.
            Sincerely,
                                             Bob Goodlatte,
                                                          Chairman.