Text: S.Hrg. 109-826 — H.R. 4200--THE FOREST EMERGENCY RECOVERY AND RESEARCH ACT
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[Senate Hearing 109-826]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 109-826
H.R. 4200--THE FOREST EMERGENCY RECOVERY AND RESEARCH ACT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FORESTRY, CONSERVATION, AND RURAL REVITALIZATION
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE,
NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
AUGUST 2, 2006
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Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
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COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia, Chairman
RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana TOM HARKIN, Iowa
THAD COCHRAN, Mississippi PATRICK J. LEAHY, Vermont
MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky KENT CONRAD, North Dakota
PAT ROBERTS, Kansas MAX BAUCUS, Montana
JAMES M. TALENT, Missouri BLANCHE L. LINCOLN, Arkansas
CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming DEBBIE A. STABENOW, Michigan
RICK SANTORUM, Pennsylvania E. BENJAMIN NELSON, Nebraska
NORM COLEMAN, Minnesota MARK DAYTON, Minnesota
MICHEAL D. CRAPO, Idaho KEN SALAZAR, Colorado
CHARLES E. GRASSLEY, Iowa
Martha Scott Poindexter, Majority Staff Director
David L. Johnson, Majority Chief Counsel
Vernie Hubert, Majority Deputy Chief Counsel
Robert E. Sturm, Chief Clerk
Mark Halverson, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
H.R. 4200--The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act........ 1
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY SENATORS
Crapo, Hon. Mike, a U.S. Senator from Idaho...................... 1
Coleman, Hon. Norm, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota................ 12
Lincoln, Hon. Blanche L., a U.S. Senator from Arkansas........... 8
Salazar, Hon. Ken, a U.S. Senator from Colorado.................. 10
Rey, Hon. Mark, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and
Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture.................... 4
Scarlett, Hon. Lynn, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the
Crouch, Jim, Executive Director, Ouachita Timber Purchasers
Group, Russellville, Arkansas.................................. 22
Kupillas, Sue, Executive Director, Communities for Healthy
Ringo, Charlie, Oregon State Senator, Beaverton, Oregon.......... 24
Thompson, Alan, Commissioner, Ravalli County, Montana, on behalf
of the National Association of Counties........................ 19
Helms, John A., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Forestry, University
of California, Berkeley, on behalf of the Society of American
Karr, Jim, Ph.D., Ecologist and Professor Emeritus, University of
Washington, Seattle, Washington................................ 34
Krepps, Robert L., St. Louis County Commissioner, Duluth,
MacSwords, Leah W., Director and State Forester, Kentucky
Division of Forestry, on behalf of the National Association of
State Foresters................................................ 38
Crouch, Jim.................................................. 48
Helms, John A................................................ 53
Karr, Jim.................................................... 61
Krepps, Robert L............................................. 66
Kupillas, Sue................................................ 70
MacSwords, Leah W............................................ 76
Rey, Hon. Mark............................................... 80
Ringo, Charlie............................................... 85
Scarlett, Hon. Lynn.......................................... 87
Thompson, Alan............................................... 91
H.R. 4200--THE FOREST EMERGENCY RECOVERY AND RESEARCH ACT
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9 a.m., in
Room SR-328A, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Mike Crapo,
Chairman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Crapo, Coleman, Lincoln, Daytan, and
STATEMENT OF HON. MIKE CRAPO, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF
Senator Crapo. The hearing will come to order. This is the
Senate Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural
Revitalization, holding its hearing regarding H.R. 4200, the
Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act. I want to thank
everybody for being here today to discuss H.R. 4200, and I
would especially like to thank our Deputy Secretary, Lynn
Scarlett, and Under Secretary Mark Rey, and all the other
witnesses, many of whom have traveled great distances and gone
to a lot of work to be here. I want to thank everybody for
taking the time to be here and provide your testimony for this
H.R. 4200 is a bipartisan bill introduced by
Representatives Greg Walden and Bryan Baird and co-sponsored by
146 of their House colleagues. It was passed by the House of
Representatives on May 17. The legislation is a product of 2
years of work to identify and address obstacles to forest
recovery following catastrophic events.
3 years ago, this committee worked in a bipartisan fashion
to pass the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, and many of you
here today were here then to help make that a success. I was
pleased to work closely with the subcommittee ranking member,
Senator Blanche Lincoln, to see that that bill was enacted.
With millions of acres of Federal land at high risk of
catastrophic fire, prolonged drought affecting many States
across the Nation, and the potential for hurricanes and storms,
the Healthy Forest Restoration Act has provided Federal land
managers with the tools necessary to improve the health of
forests and rangelands. Progress is being made. Work is under
way to limit the risk on our Federal lands.
However, as work is being done additional storms and fires
and other natural events are contributing to the backlog of
more than one million acres of national forests in need of
reforestation. For instance, the National Inter-Agency Fire
Center is currently reporting large fires in Arizona,
California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North
Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah,
Washington, and Wyoming. These fires are destroying property,
degrading air and water quality, damaging fish and wildlife
habitat, and threatening lives and communities.
I recognize the important and valuable role that fire plays
in our ecosystem. However, in many cases we are not talking
about normal healthy ecosystems. The fires that are a result of
unnatural fuel loads do tremendous damage to our forests and
with the current state of our forests this is all too often.
However, this legislation is about more than forest fires.
It is about what happens when the last flame from a forest fire
is extinguished. It is about what happens after a tornado, such
as the tornado that tore a 12-mile swath through Idaho's
Payette National Forest in June, impacting nearly 5,000 acres
of public land and private forested land. It is about what
happens after hurricanes knock vast stretches of forest land.
It is about what happens after insects infest forests,
threatening neighboring communities.
This legislation is about restoration and ensuring that
Federal land managers can respond in a timely manner when
disaster strikes to limit the impact on neighboring
communities. The legislation is about planning ahead. It seems
to me that it is just common sense to be as prepared as
possible to respond quickly and effectively when a catastrophe
While we cannot always predict the specifics of natural
disasters, we can be prepared with recovery plans when disaster
strikes. An important aspect of this legislation is that it
provides for that kind of forward planning by providing for the
establishment of pre-approved management practices.
The legislation also strengthens research by requiring
forest health partnerships with colleges and universities when
establishing post-catastrophe research projects and requiring
development of independent third party peer-reviewed research
The bottom line is that failure to bring a forest back to a
healthy condition after a catastrophe can leave the forest more
susceptible to additional fire, pest outbreaks, and threaten
families and wildlife that live in and or around our natural
Today we are going to hear from witnesses representing the
administration, local stakeholders, the environmental
community, the private industry, scientists, and foresters. All
of our witnesses have a valuable perspective to share as we
look to provide our Federal land managers with the tools
necessary to ensure timely recovery from catastrophic events. I
know the committee is going to find this information presented
very helpful as we move forward to consider this legislation.
With that, I am going to move on to our first panel. Let me
remind not only our first panel, but all of our witnesses, that
you have been notified to try to keep your remarks to 5
minutes, and we have a little clock in front of you to help you
do so. I almost always jokingly say in my case my 5 minutes is
gone before what I have to say is done. Please be assured that
the reason we have the 5-minute rule is so that we can have a
good give and take in questions and answers, and if you do not
have the opportunity to finish your statement during your
initial presentation you will certainly have an opportunity to
make your points in the question and answer period. So please
try to pay attention to the clock.
For those like me occasionally who forget to pay attention
to the clock, if it starts running over too much I will just
lightly tap the gavel to remind you to take a glance at it.
With that, we have with us today, as I indicated, in our
first panel Lynn Scarlett, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S.
Department of the Interior, and Mark Rey, the Under Secretary
for Natural Resources and Environment of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. We will start with you, Ms. Scarlett.
STATEMENT OF HON. LYNN SCARLETT, DEPUTY SECRETARY, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Ms. Scarlett. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the
opportunity to discuss the Forest Emergency Recovery and
Research Act. The administration and the Congress have provided
Federal land managers with tools to improve health of public
forests and rangelands. As you noted in your remarks, these
tools are making a difference. Together, the Forest Service and
Interior's agencies have reduced hazardous fuels since 2001 on
over 17 million acres of public and tribal lands.
However, when fire, drought, insect epidemics, or other
catastrophic events occur on public lands, procedural delays
under current laws still prevent timely implementation of
recovery and restoration activities. H.R. 4200 would provide
tools to expedite recovery and restoration activities. To date
this year, over five million acres have burned. Much of these
acres would benefit from post-fire restoration actions in a
Post-fire situations often require a rapid coordinated
response to assure effective recovery and restoration efforts.
Current authorities and procedures make coordinated
decisionmaking among Federal, State, and local land managers
difficult. For example, the Bureau of Land Management missed an
opportunity to coordinate salvage and restoration activities
with an adjacent landowner in the area burned by the Timbered
Rock Fire in 2002 in Oregon. The adjacent landowner moved ahead
immediately with salvaging and within 1 year had salvaged and
replanted all 9,000 acres of burned land. Because of the
procedural requirements to salvage and replant on Federal
lands, most of the Bureau of Land Management portion of the
burned area was not salvaged, although a portion was eventually
Provisions of H.R. 4200 would increase the likelihood of
effective restoration on a landscape or watershed basis. The
bill establishes a process for pre-approved management
practices that may be implemented immediately after
catastrophic events to recover economic value of timber as well
as undertake reforestation and revegetation.
The need for this authority is acute on Bureau of Land
Management rangelands as well as forests and woodlands. For
example, after the 67,000 acre Jackie Butte Fire near Vale,
Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management proposed a 33,000-acre
emergency stabilization rehabilitation project to drill and
seed the site to reestablish sagebrush steppe. The project met
with protests, appeals, and delays to the point that fall
seeding windows were missed. Though some 28,000 acres were
eventually seeded due to light snowpack in the winter, the
rehabilitation benefits were significantly less than had we
been able to do that project in a timely fashion.
H.R. 4200 would replace some current BLM planning and
program operations for post-catastrophic event recovery and
restoration with a new system of pre-approved management
practices for events affecting 1,000 or more acres of Federal
land. The list and use of pre-approved management practices
meet the NEPA requirements. By authorizing rapid responses to
prevent the loss of deteriorating timber resources after a
catastrophic event, H.R. 4200 strives to make post-fire
landscape and community economic recovery a priority. The
administration strongly supports these goals.
Fuels projects and post-fire recovery can produce
significant amounts of small diameter woody materials. Better
coordinated technical support, investment, and incentives can
enhance development of infrastructure and help new technologies
that make profitable use of forest and rangeland resources
available at the advent of emergency salvage and recovery
H.R. 4200 also addresses one of the Department's most
vexing problems, the inability to implement recovery actions on
fire-damaged lands despite agency compliance with current laws.
In cases such as the Timbered Rock Fire, the environmental
impact statement was developed with extensive public
participation in the NEPA process and included a peer-reviewed
science research component. Nonetheless, subsequent litigation
resulted in BLM being prohibited from conducting many of the
proposed restoration activities, including salvage logging of
17 million board-feet of dead and dying timber worth about $1.3
In the BLM's portion of the Biscuit Fire in Oregon, where
the Bureau proposed to harvest 2.4 million board-feet of dead
and dying timber worth about $124,000, a judge recently lifted
restrictions on harvest of post-fire materials. Unfortunately,
in the years during which the BLM has been responding to
litigation the timber has deteriorated to the point that it is
almost unsalvageable. In the last 2 years it has lost 75
percent of its value.
While the administration strongly supports the House
version of H.R. 4200, we do continue to have some concerns
about the spending provisions of Title 4. We welcome the
opportunity to work with the committee to address any of these
concerns, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Scarlett can be found on
page 87 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARK REY, UNDER SECRETARY FOR NATURAL
RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. Rey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
inviting me to talk with you today about H.R. 4200. The
administration strongly supports Congressional enactment of
H.R. 4200 and I will submit the administration's statement of
policy issued during House consideration of the measure for the
record of this hearing.
President Bush recognized the need to restore our Nation's
public forests and rangelands to long-term health with the
introduction of the Healthy Forests Initiative. The President
directed the Federal agencies under Under Secretary Scarlett
and my jurisdiction to develop tools to allow Federal land
managers to restore hazardous fuels conditions in a timely
The Congress passed legislation that allowed for long-term
stewardship contracts to implement management goals, including
fuel reduction projects. This committee was instrumental in
enacting the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, which is
helping to address severe forest health conditions in a
While we now have tools to assist us in treating forests
and grasslands to recapture healthy conditions before a
catastrophe occurs, we still have the need for similar tools to
help us recover and restore areas after catastrophic events,
such as wildfires, hurricanes, or tornadoes and other wind
events, and ice storms and insect and disease infestations have
So far this year, wildland fires have burned over 5.6
million acres on Federal, State, and private lands throughout
the Nation and destroyed over 1700 structures. Last summer
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast destroyed
cities, tragically took many lives, and disrupted millions of
others. These storms also caused moderate to severe damage to
about 20 million acres of woodlands, including private, State,
and Federal ownerships, across the Gulf States from Texas to
Along with causing physical damage, Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita have adversely impacted many ecosystem functions and
processes that create conditions for attack by invasive
species. Invasive insects and diseases pose great risks to
America's forests and have risen to catastrophic levels over
the recent past. 20 million ash trees have been killed already
by the emerald ash borer in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois,
Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia. The non-native hemlock woolly
adelgid is currently affecting over half of the native range of
hemlock species. Sudden oak death has the potential to affect
susceptible oaks in most of the eastern United States. In
Colorado and Wyoming alone, bark beetles have killed trees
covering 1.7 million acres, and across the western United
States there are currently 6.6 million acres similarly
These are some of the examples of the scope of the
challenges to our research managers and we are using our
current authorities to address these matters. However, we
believe H.R. 4200 would provide some additional innovative
authorities to improve the ability of the Secretary to promptly
implement recovery treatments in response to catastrophic
events affecting Federal lands. While these treatments include
the removal of dead and damaged trees, the bill covers the
entire spectrum of resource needs. Reforestation treatments,
road and trail rehabilitation, and infrastructure repair are
among other commonly critical aspects of post-disturbance
recovery covered by the bill.
H.R. 4200 would also support the recovery of non-Federal
lands damaged by catastrophic events and would provide similar
authority for Forest Service experimental forests.
The Department strongly supports the goals of the
legislation and its intent to get recovery actions accomplished
promptly, while focusing on maintaining sound environmental
decisionmaking and public involvement. We urge rapid Senate
consideration and enactment of the measure.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rey can be found on page 80
in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much, Mr. Rey.
I will ask questions first and then as I turn to our
colleagues who have joined us, we will give you an opportunity
if you want to make an opening statement at that time, and then
you can proceed with questions.
First I have a couple questions for both of you together
and I encourage both of you to respond. The first question is
what are the current impediments to active recovery and
reforestation on the Forest Service and BLM lands?
Ms. Scarlett. Yes, Senator. As I mentioned in my testimony,
we are continuing to face litigation, protests, appeals, and
other actions when we try to move rapidly forward with our
post-catastrophe restoration activities. As I indicated, in the
Biscuit Fire, in its wake, that brought us to 2 years to 3
years after the actual event occurred before we could get in
and do constructive work. That is one example, but we face that
across the landscape in many instances.
Mr. Rey. I think even in more perfect situations, where
there are not appeals or litigation, the case law that is
already developed concerning the kind of analysis and the depth
of analysis that is required makes many projects' timeframe not
susceptible to rapid recovery of these systems. So the burden
of existing case law, particularly the kinds and scope of
analysis required by NEPA, is an impediment to moving very
quickly. We are, within the landowning community, the Federal
Government is by far the slowest actor in recovering from a
Senator Crapo. When Senator Lincoln and I joined forces a
few years back to bring the Healthy Forest Restoration Act
forward, these same kinds of issues were presented and we
developed an approach to addressing them in that act. I
understand that that act had limited parameters in terms of its
applicability, but has the approach taken in the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act worked to address these kinds of issues?
Mr. Rey. It has worked very well to address these kinds of
issues in situations involving actions that are preventative in
nature, and that is its major thrust, providing us expedited
authorities in some respect similar to those in this
legislation for 20 million acres of Federal land to do
preventative work. What we are talking about in this situation,
in this legislation, is what we do after a catastrophe has
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
The GAO report released on Monday highlights the need for
better prioritization of recovery projects. Does this act help
address the need for that by mandating post-event evaluations?
Ms. Scarlett. I would suggest that this act would be a
significant advance with respect to our ability to set
priorities with restoration activities. It does ask that we do
a post-catastrophe evaluation, work also with community
wildfire protection planning processes to integrate our
identification of restoration priorities with neighboring
communities and adjacent lands. So I would suggest that it will
be a significant help in that regard.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
In your testimony, Mr. Rey, particularly your testimony,
you indicate that the debate over salvage logging is carried on
without the benefit of a lot of effective science, scientific
information. One of the emphases of H.R. 4200 is to improve
forest restoration and recovery science. Do you believe that
the provisions of the act in the area of science are effective
or will be effective?
Mr. Rey. I think the act rightfully encourages the
development of additional data to apply what we know in a more
site specific sense. The big problem with the debate as it is
being carried out today is that it exists at a very general
level, with some parties saying that salvage is good and some
parties saying salvage is bad as sort of a categoric statement.
The truth lies closer to when is it good and when is it bad,
based on what you are trying to accomplish in the site specific
circumstances associated with the disaster that you are
I think what this bill does is provide some mechanisms
forest report us to generate additional data to answer those
kinds of questions on a more site specific basis.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Another one for you, Mr. Rey. There is a lot of debate
right now over the environmental effects of logging after a
fire. Could you please speak to this argument or this issue,
but particularly I am looking at the comparison of the
potential negative effects that some have identified versus the
negative effects of taking no action at all.
Mr. Rey. We will submit for the record a synthesis of the
existing research on that question that was produced by the
Forest Service's research establishment. But I think that the
short answer is that in many cases, not all, but in many cases,
active recovery can restore a forest system faster than
allowing nature to take its course, and that we do know enough
in many cases to apply that knowledge to assist that recovery
That is quite apart from whether it makes sense to get some
value from trees that have already been killed by a fire or a
natural catastrophe. Putting that question aside, the simple
issue of does active management assist more rapid recovery, the
answer is yes in many instances, but not all, and the important
thing is to look at the site specific circumstances to decide
whether this is an issue, an area where that will happen.
Now, bringing in the question of should we put to use trees
that have been killed by some natural catastrophe, a fire or an
insect epidemic, it seems to me that that is the essence of
conservation, because the alternative is to simply allow the
material to go to waste, and I do not think that is a very
conservationist point of view.
Senator Crapo. I just have one last question and I would
encourage each of you to respond. Critics have claimed that
this legislation lifts the Endangered Species Act and NEPA
protections in order to speed up logging after a natural
disaster. Does the legislation do that? Does this legislation
require logging? Or, well, just could you respond to those
Ms. Scarlett. Mr. Chairman, the act specifically addresses
ESA provisions as well as NEPA provisions. In the pre-approved
management elements that the secretaries of the respective
agencies would put forth, there are public comment
opportunities that are deemed in the act to be consistent with
meeting NEPA requirements. With respect to the Endangered
Species Act also, the act specifically sets forth that the
activities would conform to the existing requirements under ESA
for emergency actions. So I would suggest that the act is fully
consistent with our fulfilling those responsibilities as well
as our forest health responsibilities.
Mr. Rey. In fact, the provisions of the act dealing with
NEPA are virtually identical to the provisions in the Healthy
Forest Restoration Act. And those same charges were levied 3
years ago when this committee was considering the Healthy
Forest Restoration Act. Indeed, it was asserted that if the
committee enacted the Healthy Forest Restoration Act the world
as we know it would come to an end and the sky would certainly
be on the ground, and none of that has happened in the ensuing
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
I will turn next to our ranking member, Senator Blanche
Lincoln. Blanche, thank you and welcome here today.
STATEMENT OF HON. BLANCHE L. LINCOLN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM
Senator Lincoln. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is certainly a
pleasure to be here with you again this morning to take up
another issue that falls under our jurisdiction in the
subcommittee. As always, I very much appreciate the chairman's
strong leadership in this committee. He does a tremendous job
in making sure that we are paying attention to the things that
we need to, and I think holding this hearing today is evidence
Before I have any brief remarks, I also want to thank the
panelists for their participation. I am particularly pleased to
have before the subcommittee today Mr. Jim Crouch of
Russellville, Arkansas. Jim is a tremendous help to me and my
staff on forestry issues, with many years of experience in the
field, and we are very proud to have his testimony here today
and I look forward to him sharing with the subcommittee on the
I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly
thank Under Secretary Mark Rey. He has on more than one
occasion taken the time to sit down with me and my staff to
answer some of our questions and to listen to what our views
and concerns are, and I just want to say how much I very much
appreciate the generosity of your time and your attention when
we have these issues before us, and we look forward to working
with you on this.
As many of you know, I have worked closely with Senator
Crapo and certainly others in the committee to craft the
bipartisan Healthy Forest Restoration Act several years ago. In
my view, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act takes necessary
steps to ensure that we can address the many problems that are
affecting our Nation's forests, both on public and private
forest lands, in the Southeast, the southern areas, the western
forests, and throughout both the hardwood and the pine
I do firmly believe that if we value our forests, and I
certainly do--I grew up with one of the smallest and yet one of
the probably premier hardwood natural forests, national
forests, in my back yard, in the middle of the Arkansas Delta.
But if we can conserve our woodland resources, if we can
preserve their natural beauty, and if we want to ensure that
the natural bounty of our forest land is available for future
generations, then it is important that we actively manage those
lands and those resources with a very careful eye toward their
With that national forest in my back yard growing up, I
never will forget looking at the age and the quality of those
hardwoods and then being told by my father that 100 years ago
it had just been pasture land. So without a doubt the
management of forests and taking an eye to that is critically
We are here today to discuss a bill that provides new tools
for our forest managers to more swiftly salvage timber and
conduct reforestation activities in our national forests
following some catastrophic events, events such as the
wildfires that are currently wreaking havoc in so many of our
western States. But also there are tornadoes, there are ice
storms, there is insect infestation that commonly plagues
eastern forests in States like my home State in Arkansas.
I understand that we are going to hear a diversity of
viewpoints on this bill from our panelists this morning and I
certainly appreciate that. I think we all believe that that is
tremendously helpful to us in coming about and bringing to the
table the right combinations of solutions and ideas that we
need to make our forest across this great land the best that it
So I look forward to the testimony. I have got just a few
questions, Mr. Chairman, and I will pass it over to others here
Secretary Rey, are the savings from what we are talking
about here in our Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act
adequate to cover the treatment of the additional acreage that
would have been left to nature to heal, I guess I am looking at
the resources that we really need. I know that you had
mentioned earlier that letting those things waste is not in the
best interest of conservation. But do we have the resources
there? And if not, where will the money come from?
I have got some concerns that the bill would allow the
limited resources for active forest management, particularly on
our eastern forests, to be diverted to post-fire salvage
projects in western forests. Obviously, the forests are so much
larger out West than what we have. We may not have the volume,
but we do feel like we have the important task in the East of
preserving the forests that we do have.
Mr. Rey. I think the bill will have the effect of reducing
significantly the costs of post-catastrophic recovery projects
and that will allow us to do more as we approach these
catastrophes, wherever they occur. I think one of the benefits
of the bill is the geographically evenhanded way it addresses
forest and rangeland catastrophes, with a particular emphasis
on insect and disease epidemics, which are becoming more and
more a problem in the East, particularly now in the Midwest,
with invasive species like the emerald ash borer and the Asian
So I think there is a real opportunity in this bill to get
a lot more done than we are currently doing in responding to
those kinds of epidemics, as well as responding to wildfires.
Senator Lincoln. Are there any real specifics that you have
in terms of how it would reduce the cost?
Mr. Rey. I would say, based on our experience with the
Healthy Forest Restoration Act and using the somewhat similar
tools that that has provided, on larger projects we are seeing
cost reductions of about 30 to 40 percent.
Senator Lincoln. Would either of you like to comment or
give us some ideas of what would be included in a set of pre-
approved management practices and how you might arrive at those
practices? You have talked about how they would be beneficial
and how they would be consistent with what already exists in
terms of management practices.
Mr. Rey. I think the way that we would arrive at those
practices is pretty clearly specified in the bill, in that it
requires a notice and comment rulemaking as well as a peer
review for scientific integrity. What I think you will see in
those lists of management practices is practices associated
with specific kinds of catastrophes in individual forest types.
So you will not necessarily see the same list of practices for
dealing with a southern pine beetle epidemic in Arkansas as you
would necessarily seeing--as you would with a wildfire recovery
in central Idaho.
So they will be fairly--I think they will be fairly
specific to the forest and rangeland type involved.
Ms. Scarlett. If I could just add one element to that, the
act specifically sets forth that we would undertake these
recovery and restoration activities pursuant to the existing
land use plans and the land use planning objectives that we
already have set forth. So the management tools selected would
be those most germane to achieving those on-the-land healthy
outcomes that are set forth in our land use plan.
Senator Lincoln. So more complementary of what already
exists, as well as specific, because the specifics is important
to me, as you know, in the case of the insect infestation like
we saw with the red oak borer in Arkansas. So that would be
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much. I want to also say how
much a pleasure it is to work with you, Blanche. We always talk
about our history, but we seem to sit on the same committees
and we seem to like each other and get things done on a
bipartisan basis. So it is good to work with you.
STATEMENT OF HON. KEN SALAZAR, A U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO
Senator Salazar. Thank you very much, Senator Crapo and
Senator Lincoln, for holding this hearing, and thank you to
Mark Rey and to Lynn Scarlett also for being here this morning.
Let me say that, with respect to House of Representatives
Bill 4200, the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, I am
open to looking at how we can do things better on the ground
after we have a catastrophe and we are responding to how we
best recover from it and how we clean it up. If there are ways
by which we can improve by changing the law, we certainly ought
to be open to them, and I appreciate the initiative of you
coming forward with ideas that need to be reviewed.
I wanted to go back, though, to an issue that is very near
and dear to my heart, that both of you have heard me talk
about. That is what we are doing under the current authorities
and the current funding streams with respect to the beetle
infestation that we see in many places around the country, and
here specifically for me in Colorado, where the 1.5 million
acres that you referred to, Under Secretary Rey, are something
that I see and hear about every day and something that concerns
When I look at what might happen yet this summer, this
fall, or in the next year, I can see hundreds of thousands of
acres of our national forests going ablaze and continuing to
see the spread of the bark beetle throughout the western part
of Colorado. About 2 weeks ago someone reported to us that they
had seen the first of the bark beetles flying throughout the
forest. Well, those bark beetles are now searching out their
new habitats and soon we will see some of those large acreages
that are now green start becoming red and part of the forest
My question to you, which is one that I am going to
continue harping on, is why are we not providing the funding
that is needed for us to be able to do the treatment with
respect to many of these acres of land that have already been
approved by the NEPA process? I think that we have had about
280,000 acres of treatments that have already been NEPA-
approved. We have another 235,000 acres in the pipeline that
have been NEPA-approved. But it seems like it is the funding
problem that is keeping us from addressing the treatment of
So I would like you to respond to that if you could, Mr.
Mr. Rey. We have some acres that are NEPA-approved, that
are still awaiting funding. But I do not think, with all due
respect, that that is the major impediment to proceeding on
some of this recovery work. I think the major impediment to
proceeding with some of it is the unit costs associated with
getting the NEPA work done and getting the other analytical
work done is consuming a substantial amount of resources. Bills
like H.R. 4200 give us a real opportunity to reduce those costs
and to, by reducing those costs, transfer more money into
getting that work actually applied and finished on the ground.
This is a budget environment which is very challenging, but
the fact is that our fiscal year 2007 request for this kind of
on-the-ground work is the largest budget request that any
President has made of any Congress since the previous one we
made, which was itself a record, and the one before that, which
is a record.
So we are devoting a substantial amount of money to this
work as a Presidential priority. But we are still spending in
some areas--and the Colorado Front Range is not our highest
cost area, but it is a pretty high-cost area. But in our
highest cost areas we are spending upwards of $3,000 an acre to
get this work done. At that rate, there is never--there is no
prospect for us ever to get ahead of things like pandemics of
bark beetles. We have to reduce that rate substantially in some
cases, not so much in Colorado, but substantially in other
areas, before we are going to get ahead of this problem. This
bill does that.
Ms. Scarlett. Senator, I would like to, if I could, just
add one thing. Of the 400,000-plus acres in northern Colorado
infested by the beetle, about 10 percent of those are BLM
lands, and I am pleased to say that what we have done is to
shift money at the Washington office level to Colorado to
supplement what would have been the Colorado State office
funding to address those issues. So we are putting resources
into Colorado, recognizing that challenge.
Mr. Rey. As are we, but again it is a very big problem.
Senator Salazar. I appreciate that.
Will we have another round with these two witnesses?
Senator Crapo. We certainly can.
Senator Salazar. Let me just make a comment on this and I
have some other questions that I want to ask. While it seems to
me that there may be changes in the law that can be made, Mr.
Rey, to expedite what we are trying to do with respect to
dealing with these infestations and these fire emergencies that
we see throughout the West. The fact of the matter is that I
think money is still a huge problem. I think when you look at
the fact that in Colorado you have 283,000 acres that are ready
to be treated, if we look at the average of the last several
years we are going to treat 50 to 80,000 acres in Colorado.
That is a huge gap. That is almost 200,000 acres that are not
I think we just need to be straightforward and direct with
the people and communities who are affected, and that is that
there is not the resources available to go and treat these vast
swaths of bark beetle-infected forests in our State, and that
really necessitates, it seems to me, two things. One, we need
to have the money in order to be able to deal with the problem.
We just need to say that that is a reality. Second, if there
are changes that we need to make in the law, some of which you
might have suggested here, we ought to look at those if we can
do this thing in a less expensive way.
But I do not think we can escape the reality here that one
of our major problems is that we just do not have the money to
be able to go out and deal with these huge swaths of
infestation that we see throughout the West. When we talk about
1.5 million acres in Colorado that have been infested by the
bark beetle and we know how bark beetle is spreading throughout
those western States, we have a catastrophe on our hands and we
need to be smart about it, both in terms of the money that we
put behind it as well as creating the kind of legal framework
that will help us address the issue.
Mr. Rey. I think we are in agreement on both counts.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. NORM COLEMAN, A U.S. SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA
Senator Coleman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank both
you and the ranking member for holding this important
subcommittee hearing on the Forest Emergency Recovery and
Research Act. I will note that I have to preside over the
Senate at 10 o'clock. I am going to miss the third panel, where
we are going to have St. Louis County Commissioner, Land
Commissioner, Robert Krepps, here. So I apologize for that, but
duty will beckon.
I have a fuller written statement, Mr. Chairman, that I
would like to have entered into the record.
Senator Crapo. Without objection.
Senator Coleman. And just if I can, just make a couple
observations. I think quite often folks think about forest
issues as a western issue, but you can see from this committee
certainly it is a southern issue and it is a Minnesota issue.
We have got two national forests that span 5.8 million acres
across northern Minnesota.
Consideration of this bill is particularly important and
timely for me. We have got two wildfires right now that are
currently burning. That is what those pictures are, in the
Boundary Waters Canoe Area located in the Superior National
Forest. These fires started in mid-July, have burned nearly
34,000 acres. We have had some rain in the last couple of days,
which has been helpful, but we are thinking that these fires
could burn for the rest of the season.
We had blowdown in 1999 that had straight-line winds in
excess of 90 miles an hour, that caused severe flooding,
damaged more than 600 square miles of Superior National Forest.
In 2002 our forest mortality exceeded net growth and the spruce
budworm infestations resulted in the death of one-third of the
balsam fir in Minnesota.
So we have got challenges, as we do around the rest of the
country. I thought we made a start with Healthy Forest
Restoration. I think this is now the next step and we have to
get there. I am proud to be a co-author with Senator Smith on
the Forests for Future Generations Act, I think under the next
phase here. So these are all living systems. We have got to
restore, we have got to manage and protect them. I think we
share that commitment, and it affects broad areas of America.
So I am pleased to be here at this hearing today. Mr. Rey,
it is always a pleasure to have you in front of this committee.
Ms. Scarlett, it is great to have you here.
Just in reference to fires, could the two fires--it may be
too hypothetical. Could these have been prevented or at least
minimized if further recovery actions were taken following the
1999 blowdown? That is one of the big complaints of folks back
home, that we did not do recovery then and now we have this
I guess the second part of this would be, how are the fires
affecting adjacent land that is not Federal land and is that an
area of concern?
Mr. Rey. I think the fires that you are experiencing now
could have been minimized. I doubt that they could have been
prevented. Some portion of the blowdown was in wilderness and
we would not normally have treated that. We did go to CEQ to
get alternative arrangements under the existing regulations to
treat the areas that we did treat. As a consequence of the
treatments that we did do, we were able to get the Cavity Lake
Fire to lay down for us and we were able to protect the
dwellings and the structures around the Gunflint Trail.
I think the important thing is that, had H.R. 4200 existed
when the blowdown occurred in 2000, we would not have had to go
through the additional process of getting alternative
arrangements from CEQ and the treatments that were done would
likely--would certainly have been faster and would likely have
been more extensive, given the authorities in this legislation.
So I think it would have had a material effect on reducing
the size and the intensity of these fires. But the Boundary
Waters Area is not dissimilar to a lot of western forests. It
is a fire-dominated system. In fact, some of the Forest
Service's earliest research on the effect and periodicity of
fire in forest systems was done in northern Minnesota by Myron
Heinzelman, a Minnesotan who had a long research career with
the Forest Service.
Senator Coleman. If I can then follow up, FERRA requires
thorough environmental review, which is critically important,
full evaluation of environmental effects of catastrophe event
recovery, a lot of important protections. It is a key component
of this proposal that I support. The question I have is, could
the legislation be implemented to protect the environment
without slowing what is intended to be a speedy emergency
forest mitigation process? Either witness.
Ms. Scarlett. Senator, I think that is precisely what the
bill does strive to do, by allowing us--with two components:
first, a research component that allows us to better understand
how we can achieve the land health outcomes that we are seeking
and yet by doing that be able to implement those more
expeditiously and more routinely. But second, I think the act
in addition will allow us to get in there and undertake these
actions, undertake them consistent with our environmental--our
Endangered Species Act requirements, the National Environmental
Policy Act requirements, water quality requirements.
None of the provisions would absolve us from those
responsibilities. They would rather allow us to address those
responsibilities in an expedited fashion.
Senator Coleman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
I have concluded my questions and so we will start a second
round, if any of the rest of you would like to ask further
Senator Lincoln. Just one quick question. Are the
provisions in 4200, H.R. 4200, are there any in there that
would require the Forest Service or the BLM to leave certain
legacy stands for habitat and ecosystem restoration?
Ms. Scarlett. Yes, Senator, there are. Our land use plans
actually already specify the retaining of legacy stands and so
forth, and the act specifies that the actions we undertake in
recovery and restoration would link to those requirements in
the land use plans. There are additional provisions beyond that
that specifically suggest if those land use plans do not have
such provisions that we would give special attention to
ensuring that such legacy stands remain as we develop the plans
Senator Lincoln. So if those specific requirements were not
included in existing forest land use plans, you would still
have to, is that correct?
Ms. Scarlett. That is my understanding as I read the bill.
Mr. Rey. Per the requirements of section 109 of the bill.
Senator Lincoln. Thank you very much.
Thanks, The Chairman.
Senator Crapo. Senator Salazar.
Senator Salazar. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Let me ask you a question with respect to the site specific
actions that you would take. I guess my question would be on
pre-approved management practices, how specific will they be
for the Forest Service and DOI in preparing them? Let me give
you a specific example, the Hayman Fire in Colorado, 135
million acres burned. If this bill were to become law and it
were to be implemented by your agencies and you are looking at
how you respond to an area like the Hayman Fire, those 135,000
acres in those four counties, would there be an environmental
analysis with respect to how you move forward to dealing with
those 135,000 acres that would be specific to Hayman or would
instead what you would do is to look at other forests that are
in similar ecological zones and elevations and say, well, this
is the program then that would apply to the Hayman Fire?
Mr. Rey. I think the short answer is the bill would require
both. We would develop pre-approved management practices for
mid-elevation ponderosa pine systems, which is largely what
burned in the Hayman fire, and then in the development of a
catastrophic recovery project, per Title 1 of this legislation,
there would be some more individual analysis associated with
that particular instance.
Senator Salazar. Spin that out for me just a little bit,
Mark, in terms of what you would look at with respect to the
site specific analysis?
Mr. Rey. I think what you would look at in the individual
project analysis is the size of the incident, the intensity of
the fire over various parts of the incident, any specifics
about the watershed. If there are threatened or endangered
species in that particular locale, that would be part of the
project level analysis as well, because that would not
necessarily be covered in the development of the pre-approved
Senator Salazar. What do you think the timeframe would be
to come up with that plan once you have a catastrophe like
Mr. Rey. I think the bill requires that it be developed
within 60 days and that would be our objective, to try and do
it within 60 days.
Senator Salazar. Do you think that is sufficient time to do
the analysis to make sure that we are doing the right thing on
Mr. Rey. I think so. I think one of the advantages you have
here is you have already developed some of the preapproved
management tools and then you are doing an individual analysis,
which you can do more quickly, to evaluate how you would use
those tools in a specific instance, what restrictions you would
place on them and that sort of thing.
So I think this has the prospect of cutting our turnaround
time for one of these kinds of projects probably by about
Senator Salazar. Ms. Scarlett, do you have any comment?
Ms. Scarlett. I do not know that I can add to that. The
idea I think of the act is that we would begin with the
preapproved management arrangements or elements, having
researched them, having known that they are effective applied
to certain kinds of categories of circumstances, but then using
that as a foundation off which we tier additional information
at that site specific level.
I think Mark is right, I think the timeframes set forth in
the act would be sufficient to do that tiering down to the
specific level at the site.
Senator Salazar. Thank you very much.
Mr. Rey, Under Secretary Rey, I want to ask you a question
concerning the management of our forests in Colorado, and that
is with respect to the Gunnison, the Uncompahgre, and the Mesa,
the so-called GMUG forest plan. The plan had been put together
for those three forests covers a time span of about 4 years,
about 3 million acres involved in those 3 forests. We were
supposed to see the plans published by USDA last week some time
and my understanding is they were pulled from the shelf.
It is a tremendous concern to me and to our community in
Colorado as to why that happened, and I was hoping this morning
that you could help me shed some light on that.
Mr. Rey. Sure, I would be happy to give you a briefing on
where we are at with that. First let me say that the forest
supervisor, who you by the way stole from Senator Lincoln,
Charles Richmond, who used to be the supervisor on the
Ouachita, has done an outstanding job of involving local
interests in the development of that plan. So there appears to
be a substantial amount of local support for the plan. That is
the good news.
Now, the less good news is that as the plan came forward
and we did the standard quality control review that we do on
every draft plan before we put it out for public comment, we
discovered a couple of problems. Problem one is the issue
associated with what is required of us now to comply with the
2005 Energy Policy Act, and in particular with regard to the
GMUG we are obliged to do an assessment of compliant and super-
compliant coals and the availability of those resources as part
of a land and resource management plan revision. It was not
clear that that was done adequately, and this was one of the
first plans with significant energy resources associated with
it that has come forward since the enactment of the Energy
That is a fairly minor problem. What the forests agreed to
do is to supplement the record with an analysis of those
resources and we do not think that will take more than a couple
The larger problem is a little more complex and will take a
little longer to address. In our 2005 planning regulations we
gave forests the opportunity to do plan revisions using a
categorical exclusion from NEPA, provided that the decisions
that they are making in those plan revisions fit within that
categorical exclusion. They are allowed to do more and make
more decisions in the plan, but if they do then they are going
to engender a higher level of NEPA analysis as part of the
obligation of revising the plan.
As we looked at the plan, it appeared to us that it would
not fit as it was written under that categorical exclusion. So
we told the region and the forest, you have two options. You
can either scale back some of the decisions that are being made
if you want to avail yourself of that categorical exclusion and
use the 2005 regulations; or if you want to do a more fulsome
plan with a larger range of decisions, then you have to do
either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact
Last night the forest responded to us and said they would
prefer to use the 2005 regulations and to fit their plan
squarely within the categorical exclusion for more detailed
NEPA analysis that we have provided. In order to make those
modifications, that is in order to comply with the National
Environmental Policy Act, it is going to take them until about
November 15 to make those changes.
I am relatively certain that they will be able to get that
done. When they do, the plan will then go out for public review
and comment as it would in any other case.
So two issues: one, compliance with the Energy Policy Act
of 2005; and the second, compliance with the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. In both cases I think they
are on a path to make those changes so that they can be in
compliance with both statutes and the public will have a plan
to look at about mid-November.
Senator Salazar. Mr. Chairman, I know my time is up, but
could I just pursue this for just a couple more minutes?
Mr. Rey, I appreciate the briefing and appreciate the fact
that you are taking more time and we will have another plan for
public review by the 15th of November. I would only say that,
with respect to the GMUG plan, it is an incredibly important
three set of forests for my State. It covers the area above
Grand Junction up into the Gunnison and the Uncompahgre River
Basin. When we think about 3 million acres of our national
forest land, which we consider to be our crown jewel, I am
concerned because of the fact that there was so much of an
effort that was made in Colorado to make sure that the public
support that you talked about at the beginning of your comments
was in fact there, that you had the communities that were
affected in these three forests saying this is a good plan that
we have created together in collaboration with the Forest
Then it seemed like at the last minute before it was
approved that the Forest Service decided, well, we are going to
pull it off the table to address these issues. I can only tell
you that I will be watching closely, as I am sure my
constituents in Colorado will be watching closely, as you go
through those revisions leading up to the November 15th
publication of the plans.
I think for all of us who sit on this subcommittee our
forests are our crown jewels of our State and we need to make
sure that we do not do things with these long-term management
plans that are going to diminish the sustainability of the
forests. When I think about a 15-year plan, I can think about a
4 or 5-year timeframe, but when I think about 15 years that is
a very, very long time. So we just have to make sure that we
get it right.
I look forward to staying in touch with your office and I
ask you to stay in touch with us as you move forward with this
Mr. Rey. We would be happy to do that. For better or for
worse, the GMUG has always been a pioneer. It was one of the
first forest plans produced under the 1976 National Forest
Management Act. It was appealed and later litigated and now it
is one of the first forest plans being revised per the 2005
planning regulations and in the aftermath of Congressional
enactment of the Energy Policy Act.
I have read some of the editorial coverage which seems to
suggest that there is some conspiracy afoot. I can only make
two observations on that score. One, if there was a conspiracy
we probably would have waited to hatch it when the plan was
going final, not when it was going to go out for public review,
since obviously it is going to be transparent and everybody is
going to have their shot at it. Second, as a personal insight,
I have found that you can explain most instances of our
sometimes confusing behavior by simple mistakes, without
needing to find a conspiracy to explain it. So those would be
my observations on that score.
Senator Salazar. I look forward to staying in close touch
with you on it. I will tell you that on the rumor mill there
were meetings supposedly taking place over the weekend in high-
level offices in Colorado as Washington officials and Colorado
Forest Service officials were making decisions about what kinds
of revisions were going to be made, and that they were
dramatically different from what had been proposed in the
earlier version of the plan.
So I think that the sooner that you make the statement that
you made here today, that you have a plan to move forward, to
look at these two issues, with a date certain of November 15 to
come up with a new plan, it will help, maybe not eliminate, but
it will help at least clarify what it is that the Forest
Service is doing with the GMUG.
Thank you very much. I have taken more than enough time on
this issue and I appreciate your indulgence in letting me have
this conversation. Thank you very much.
Mr. Rey. Not to belabor that, but the forest supervisor is
contacting the local communities today to explain his decision
and how he wants to proceed to remedy the problems with the
Senator Salazar. Good move.
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much, and I want to thank Mr.
Rey and Ms. Scarlett, thank both of you for your attendance
here and for your continued assistance to this subcommittee as
we work on these critical issues.
We will excuse the first panel now and call up the second
panel. While the second panel is coming up, I will introduce
them. Our second panel consists of: Alan Thompson, who is the--
I am going to say these names wrong--Ravalli County
Commissioner from Montana; Sue Kupillas--and if I got your name
wrong I apologize--who is with Communities for Healthy Forests;
Jim Crouch with the Ouachita Timber Purchasers Group; and
Charlie Ringo, an Oregon State Senator.
Once again, I would like to welcome this panel here with us
and thank you all for your preparation and for the information
and wisdom that you are going to bring to our panel, to our
committee today. We will go through the testimony of the panel
in the order that I introduced you, which means we will start
with you, Mr. Thompson. I would again remind each of you to try
to remember to pay attention to the clock so we will have time
for the Senators to ask questions and engage in some dialog.
STATEMENT OF ALAN THOMPSON, COMMISSIONER, RAVALLI COUNTY,
MONTANA, ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES
Mr. Thompson. Good morning, Mr. Crapo, and Ranking Member
Lincoln, members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the
opportunity and the honor of testifying before you this
morning. My name is Alan Thompson. I am a County Commissioner
from Ravalli County in western Montana. I am also proud to
represent the Montana Association of Counties on the Public
Lands Steering Committee of the National Association of
Counties, and it is on NACO's behalf that I appear today.
I would like to speak to you today about a series of tragic
incidents in our valley. Almost exactly to this day 6 years
ago, lightning strikes started 78 fires in our valley that
ultimately consumed 307,000 acres of Federal land and 49,000
acres of State and private lands. Landscapes, homes, and lives
were destroyed in the summer of 2000 in our valley. That was
the first tragedy and my written testimony records the
statistics and facts of how it affected the Federal lands and
the citizens in our county.
What I would like to speak to you today is about the second
tragedy. While State and private lands began immediately to
clean up their properties and salvage dead and dying timber,
the Federal lands sat in limbo. When the dust settled from the
lawsuits and the negotiations, we were able to salvage 4
percent of the 1.2 billion, with a ``b'', board-feet of timber
that was destroyed in the fires of 2000 on the Federal lands.
Our county leads the State of Montana in the building of
log homes. Yet with all the dead trees that were standing in
our forests, local companies have had to purchase house logs
from other counties, States, and from Canada. Since the
restoration work was not done promptly, in the ensuing years we
have seen mudslides from unstable slopes that have closed a
Federal highway, county roads, and devastated ranchers' lands.
Trees that were not cut and utilized now endanger hikers,
hunters, and recreational forest users. Many trees have blown
over, exposing their roots and allowing the fragile soils to
run off and impact our streams and the world-class fishery of
the Bitterroot River.
As late as the 1980's, we had sawmills in our valley and a
vibrant economy. When Federal land management policy changed,
our valley changed and we no longer had the mills, we no longer
had the vibrant economy, we no longer had the good-paying jobs.
We are told now to look to tourism to sustain our economy. Yet
with the runoff from burnt lands silt has impacted our
fisheries, specifically endangering the threatened bull trout
and the west slope cutthroat. What was once beautiful mountain
vistas is now scarred landscape that very few tourists are
interested in experiencing.
I am sure that many of you have seen this particular
picture of the elk in the river. This is the Bitterroot River
and the fires, back in the fires of 2000. Not only human lives
are impacted, but also wildlife and fishery. The cost to fight
the fires in our valley was $54 million and much of that
expense could have been recovered if there had been a Federal
policy that would have expedited the salvage while the timber
had some value.
I believe H.R. 4200 holds great promise to improve the
response time and I encourage you to adopt a similar Senate
version of this bill.
Second, we in the county were disappointed when elected
officials had no say-so in the settlement. Citizens in our
county should be represented in any settlement that directly
affects our lives. Elected officials should have been given
standing to speak on their behalf.
Finally, I believe there should be a policy that requires
the posting of a bond when a lawsuit is filed. If the belief is
so strong that something wrong has been done, then there should
be the will to back the suit with more than just the cost of
I would like to invite members of the subcommittee to visit
our county, see for yourselves the difference between the State
lands that was burned and the Federal lands, the restoration
work that has taken place in the ensuing years. You can see on
the ground the difference, what that landscape looks like at
Again, thank you for listening. I appreciate your ongoing
efforts and the opportunity to be here this morning.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Thompson can be found on
page 91 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much, Mr. Thompson.
Ms. Kupillas. Did I pronounce your name right?
STATEMENT OF SUE KUPILLAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITIES FOR
Ms. Kupillas. ``Kue-PILL-us.''
Senator Crapo. ``Kue-PILL-us,'' thank you. You may begin.
Ms. Kupillas. Good morning, Chairman Crapo and Senator
Lincoln and Senator Salazar. My name is Sue Kupillas. I am
Executive Director for a nonprofit organization, Communities
for Healthy Forests, based in Roseburg, Oregon. Communities for
Healthy Forests' mission is to realize the prompt restoration
and recovery of the conifer forests in the aftermath of fire
and other catastrophic events, ensuring the presence and
vitality of forest lands for future generations.
We are an organization of community members, liberal and
conservative, Republican and Democrat, who have come together
around the common interests of the need to restore forests that
have been devastated by catastrophic events. CHF was founded
because this group of community leaders recognizes there are
serious impediments to restoring forests in a timely manner.
Communities for Healthy Forests is proud to support the
Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act because the key
principle underlying FERRA is the need to move quickly to
restore forests, key watersheds, and wildlife habitats. Under
current Federal law the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management face an almost insurmountable amount of analysis,
red tape, and bureaucratic steps following a catastrophic
event. While Federal forests suffer crippling delay in the
process, tribal, State, and private forest land managers move
forward with recovery and reforestation projects much sooner
following these catastrophic events.
One of the best examples of successful forest restoration
can be found in my home State of Oregon. Beginning in 1933, a
series of four catastrophic wildfires burned over 350,000 acres
of forest land now known as the Tillamook Burn. The people of
the State of Oregon approved a measure to initiate a massive
restoration effort to recover economic value from the burned
timber, protect watersheds from erosion, and reforest the
barrel landscape by seeding and planting young seedlings.
As a result of these efforts, what was formerly known as
the Tillamook Burn became the Tillamook State Forest. Since
then the forest has returned over $2 billion in the form of
revenue for county governments and needed rural jobs and
schools. Most importantly, the forest now provides immeasurable
benefits in terms of fish and wildlife habitat, clean water and
open spaces for the enjoyment of Oregonians and people all over
Today's vibrant Tillamook Forest is a testament to the
benefits of taking swift action to successfully restore and
rehabilitate a forest ravaged by catastrophic wildfire. The
values of this forest--the values this forest provides are now
cherished by many, so much so that environmental activists
recently ran an unsuccessful ballot measure to restrict forest
management activities on half the forest.
Mr. Chairman, this is just one example, and there are many
others included in my testimony that serve as real-world proof
of the benefits of taking swift action following catastrophic
The need for legislation hits close to home for me. Right
in my back yard is the 2002 Biscuit Fire, which burned almost
500,000 acres. While approximately 178,000 acres are
Congressionally withdrawn as wilderness and not appropriate for
recovery, almost 322,000 acres were in need of restoration
activities. Of this amount, 312,000 acres remain untreated
today due to the effects of delays, appeals, and litigation.
After almost 4 years, less than 3 percent of the total Biscuit
Fire area has been restored in any way. Federal courts have
ultimately dismissed all lawsuits on the Biscuit. However,
after almost 4 years much of the value of the dead trees is
lost, so there is little incentive or money to undertake
further restoration activities.
These posters are aerial shots of the Biscuit Fire from a
helicopter trip I took last September. Just 2 weeks ago coming
back from a raft trip, I drove through the Biscuit Fire area
and it looks much the same--miles and miles of dead standing
Another vivid picture can be witnessed at Mount St.
Helen's, which I visited in June of this year, where private
lands were restored and Federal lands were not. Weyerhauser's
private industrial land was salvaged and replanted following
the 1980 eruption and harvesting and thinning of those trees is
now taking place. Federal land is still a moonscape with a few
While we have practical experience in reforestation and
some research, we still need further research to continue to
improve our success with restoration. FERRA has a research
component that will do just that by providing guaranteed
funding for ongoing research and monitoring from proceeds from
harvesting this valuable resource. The restoration of forests
issue should not be controversial. Oregonians understand and
support restoration, as shown by two polls completed in Oregon
in 2005. 76 percent of the people believe forests should be
restored, including clearing dead trees and replanting
While CHF supports FERRA and believes that it is a good
piece of legislation, today's hearing in the Senate provides an
opportunity to begin incorporating provisions from other
legislative proposals that have been introduced in this body
dealing with forest restoration.
I would like to thank Chairman Mike Crapo and members of
the Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural
Revitalization for holding this important hearing and starting
these discussions on this critical issue. I believe you have a
unique opportunity to build upon FERRA by developing and
passing bipartisan common sense legislation here in the 109th
I appreciate this opportunity to testify and would answer
any questions you have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kupillas can be found on
page 70 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much, Ms. Kupillas.
STATEMENT OF JIM CROUCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OUACHITA TIMBER
PURCHASERS GROUP, RUSSELLVILLE, ARKANSAS
Mr. Crouch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lincoln,
Senator Salazar. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
My testimony is on behalf of the Ouachita Timber Purchasers
Group, the Ozark-St. Francis Renewable Resource Council, and
the Lake States Federal Timber Purchasers Committee. These
folks buy wood from the national forests to feed their mills.
Their operations range in size from mom and pop to global
operations with thousands of employees.
Today national forest managers are faced with almost
insurmountable challenges from unhealthy forests, catastrophic
events, a hostile stakeholder minority that opposes active
forest management, and budgets that are woefully inadequate.
FERRA will help break this gridlock for catastrophic events.
The spectacular forest fires and insect and disease
outbreaks that we see on the evening news are symptoms of
deeper underlying problems in the forests. These events are
rooted in the near-custodial management that the agency has
practiced in recent decades. Without aggressive active
management, nature ultimately harvests the forests. I strongly
support active management as the first critical step in
achieving health forests.
Let me share with you an example of what happens when the
agency relies on custodial management. You know the typical
sequence. Over several decades, the forests become too dense,
trees become too old, and during an extended drought period the
bugs multiply rapidly and destroy the forest or either fire
In the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, the red
oak borer, a one inch long beetle, has destroyed more than $1
billion worth of red oak since 1999. These borers have actually
killed 50 million trees on 300,000 acres of the Ozark National
Forest. Gone are the magnificent oak forests that provided an
abundance of oak lumber, crossties, and pallets, along with
huge acorn crops that fed bear, deer, turkey, and squirrels.
Thousands of tons of hardwood fuel remains to feed the
catastrophic fires of tomorrow. The scary thing about this
situation is it is not just a problem in Arkansas; it is a
problem in most States with national forests.
In a move to improve forest health and reduce the impacts
from catastrophic events, Congress passed the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act and the administration launched the Healthy
Forest Initiative. Most people support these efforts, but a
handful of folks who are opposed to active forest management
continue to appeal and litigate the agency's decisions. The
delays usually mean the usable wood will ruin and recovery
plans will stall. Sadly, since 2003 when HFRA was signed into
law the Federal Government has accomplished only a little over
77,000 acres out of the 20 million acres that they were
Here is an example of what happens without FERRA. The
Missionary Ridge Fire in southern Colorado burned about 70,000
acres. The Forest Service spent a year and thousands of dollars
doing an EIS to salvage 3 percent of the burned area. They were
stopped in court over surveys for the Abert squirrel
population. The Abert squirrel is a game species that is
routinely hunted by hunters in Colorado. Due to the length and
time required to prepare the bulletproof EIS and the delay
caused by appeals and litigation, the timber became basically
worthless and the project was abandoned. The snags and downed
timber was left for the next fire to burn.
In the Lake States and the South, where private, State, and
national forests are intermingled, we support the FERRA Title 2
language that encourages the Forest Service, communities, and
the State foresters to cooperatively develop landscape
assessments and to work together on recovery projects.
I have several suggestions that I believe could improve
FERRA. The first one is I believe the term ``burned area
emergency response'' needs change to ``area emergency
response.'' The definition of ``catastrophic events'' includes
not only fires, but insects and disease, storms and so forth.
I believe the requirement in section 101 for peer reviewed
research protocols is probably an overkill. I support the use
of effectiveness monitoring and adaptive management. One must
remember the Forest Service restored lands nobody wanted to the
condition that groups hammer on your doors asking you to
designate old cotton fields in the South as virgin wilderness.
In closing, I urge you to pass FERRA with the changes as
soon as possible and I would appreciate it if you would put
both the written and oral testimony in the record, and I would
be glad to answer any questions at the appropriate time. Thank
[The prepared statement of Mr. Crouch can be found on page
48 in the appendix.]
Senator Lincoln [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Crouch.
Certainly your written and oral testimony from all of you will
be included in the record.
The chairman excused himself for a few moments, so, Mr.
Ringo, if you will proceed, we will get to questioning.
STATEMENT OF CHARLIE RINGO, OREGON STATE SENATOR, BEAVERTON,
Mr. Ringo. Thank you very much. My name is Charlie Ringo. I
am a State Senator from Oregon. I represent the Portland,
Washington County area. It is a pleasure to be here this
morning, and I am going to strike a little bit of a different
note from the testimony you have heard so far.
About a month ago I had the pleasure of loading my kids in
the car and driving to Yellowstone National Park, and we got
there and we looked at the geysers and we looked at the buffalo
and we looked at the forest that had burned in 1988. There are
signs along the road in Yellowstone indicating where the great
conflagration had occurred. If you will remember, at the time
there were pictures similar to these you have seen today with
just amazing sheets of flames going up to the sky and the
devastation that looked like this. At the time a number of
scientists said: Look at this, this is devastated for
centuries; we have done this to our national park.
Now you go there--1988, not too long ago--and you see the
that trees are already recovering and it is very good habitat
and the ecology is rebounding, without any active management,
without any recovery efforts, without any rehabilitation plans.
The point is that all this testimony we have heard saying it is
absolutely necessary--it may be necessary in some cases, but it
certainly is not necessary in a lot of cases. We have to look
very carefully at the science to see what does the best science
say as to when active management is or is not called for. It is
not automatically called for. It certainly was not necessary in
Yellowstone National Park.
Now, I want to acknowledge that there is another important
objective in this bill besides forest recovery and that is
getting the benefit, the economic benefit out of the forest--
money for timber communities, jobs. Those are important
objectives and we have got to put that right on the table and
say that is something we have got to consider. You just cannot
But the other objective that is often set forth is this is
absolutely essential for forest recovery and for forest health.
Essentially it is saying you have got to cut the forest in
order to save the forest. I suggest to you that that is not
supported by the science.
Now, I have some exhibits that I would like to make
available to the committee members and talk a little bit about,
well, what is the best science concerning forest recovery. In
Oregon we have got Oregon State University. I grew up in that
college town of Cravallis. I am very fond of OSU. We had the
scandal earlier this year where there was a paper that was
accepted for publication in Science magazine by several grad
students. The lead author was Daniel Donato. The Donato paper
says that post-fire logging may impair the natural regeneration
of the forest. It is just one study. You need to look at it in
the context of lots of other studies and the entire body of
science. But that was a study nonetheless that would not
support this bill, at least the objective of this bill of
The reaction by the leadership of the College of Forestry
was very instructive. Rather than giving a claim to these grad
students for such an achievement of being published in a
prestigious journal, the leadership of OSU College of Forestry
attempted to interfere with its publication because it was not
convenient for the timber industry that helps fund the college
and because it might pose a threat to the legislation that is
on the table today.
Now, I obtained a number of emails from the College of
Forestry leadership that--the first one, the one that is right
on top, Senator, is from an Oregon State University vice
president to Dean Hal Salwasser, saying: ``Heads up. This issue
is coming. I am sure you will hear from your industry partners
and any nemesis we have in sustainability,'' essentially
imposing a judgment value of opposition to sustainability.
I do not want to go through all of these emails, but it
shows a very close coordination with industry representatives
and with government officials to put the right spin on this so
that it would not have an inconvenient impact for this
So where does that leave us? As a State Senator in Oregon,
I am a policymaker. You are policymakers. We have got to look
at our objectives. As I said earlier, one of the objectives
certainly is getting the economic benefit out of the forest.
The other objective that is often talked about is the, we
have got to do this for forest recovery. I suggest to you that
that is not supported by the science. There is some suggestion
that that is accomplished. There is many scientific
publications that say otherwise.
I want to just mention one thing. There are some examples
given and Ms. Kupillas referenced the Tillamook State Forest as
a wonderful example of active management, now we are enjoying
the benefits today. The Tillamook State Forest is a jewel in
Oregon. It is 350, 400,000 acres. Unfortunately, it has got
Swiss needle cast because it was replanted incorrectly. The
seedlings used were actually not from the Coast Range, and I
could go into a lot more detail about that.
The upshot and I guess the final message that I want to
leave with the committee is that the objective of recovering
our forests for ecological purposes must be science-based. It
must be science-based, and the science that is behind this bill
in that regard I believe is not credible and you have got to
look at it a lot closer.
Thank you very much and I would be interested in answering
Senator Crapo [presiding]. Thank you very much.
We will proceed with the questions at this point. My first
question, Ms. Kupillas, is to you. You indicated that in the
litigation that you referred to in your testimony, that
virtually all of the litigation was ultimately dismissed by the
Federal courts; is that correct?
Ms. Kupillas. That is correct, and that is on the Biscuit
Senator Crapo. On the Biscuit Fire.
Ms. Kupillas. Right.
Senator Crapo. But the litigation took approximately 4
years and during that time the value of the wood on the forest
Ms. Kupillas. I believe it was around 3 years, but yes,
there was significant degradation of the wood out there over a
Senator Crapo. Mr. Thompson, you compared post-fire
situations on State and private forests versus the national
forest land. I would like to tell you, I had a similar
experience as I first began learning more and more about
forests as I served on this committee and served in the Senate
and the House. I had an occasion once when we were doing a tour
of one of the forests in Idaho and touring a forest fire. The
fire burned right up to a certain line and then stopped
As we flew in the helicopter over that line, there was a
road there. I mentioned to the foresters that were with me, I
said: I did not realize that one road would stop a fire of that
size. They said: Oh, it was not the road that stopped the fire;
that road is the boundary line and the forest on the other side
of the road is State land, or it was either State or private
land, and it was managed differently and it did not--the fire
was not able to continue burning because the forest was in a
So I have observed that myself.
Could you compare the difference between the approaches
that we are talking about here on State and private land versus
Federal land management and what we need to seek to achieve at
the Federal level that we are not able to achieve at this
Mr. Thompson. The Sula State Forest exists in Ravalli
County. As you know, that is State trust land, and because of
the fires that came through in 2000 that land burned the same
as the Federal land. The fire did not stop at that boundary. As
you know, oftentimes fires create their own intensity, their
own winds, and so forth. So it came through and burned that
Immediately, State foresters came in, did a quick
environmental assessment on the damage that had been done, and
in the winter of 2000-2001, January and February, they were
able to harvest 60 million board-feet of timber off of that
land over the snow. No degradation of any property took place
at that time. The difference, at this time there is a stark
difference between what transpired. They were able to plant
vegetation, plant trees, put straw wattles in to stop the silt
from coming into our fisheries, stop some mudslides, etcetera.
Federal land did not.
Vast difference in the way that they look at the moment.
Mr. Ringo's comment saying that the science does not show that
FERRA would be beneficial, I would dispute that by saying come
out, walk the ground, look at the difference of getting in
immediately, harvesting, salvaging the dead and dying timber,
doing the restoration work that needs to be done, versus
letting it set, go through the court process, and what Ms.
Kupillas has talked about is exactly what happened in our
county. After all the lawsuits were finally done, we were able
to go in and do some work. Now all of that timber can possibly
be used for firewood.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Mr. Ringo, I agree with you that our forest management
should be based on good sound science. Is it your testimony
that the weight of the science in this case is against the kind
of forest management that is contemplated in this legislation?
Mr. Ringo. Senator Crapo, I believe that the weight of the
science indicates that post-fire logging operations will often
inhibit natural regeneration. One of the earlier witnesses said
you do need to look at it on a case by case basis and I think
that is right.
One of the things I mentioned--I think you had stepped out
of the room--was I drove across the upper part of your State to
go to Yellowstone Park this summer and we saw the regeneration
that has occurred in Yellowstone without any active management
at all. I think it is a remarkable example of natural recovery.
It is not always going to happen, but I think you have got to
look at the science very carefully, and there is a large body
of science that does indicate that natural regeneration is
actually preferable and will yield better results than active
Senator Crapo. Mr. Rey in his testimony, I think he is the
one you may have referred to who earlier said that there are
some cases where active management is not the right technique.
If I am reporting his testimony or paraphrasing it correctly,
he said there are many cases where it is. Do you agree with
that or are you saying that in all cases active management is
Mr. Ringo. No, I would not say that. And I would also
acknowledge that there is other objectives. I do think it is an
important objective to consider the economic benefit of quick
action. You cannot ignore the impact on the local treatment
communities and on jobs. You just cannot say those are not
relevant. Clearly they are.
My message to the committee, though, is that I believe the
public wants balanced management, and that is part of the
management. The other part that needs to be considered is what
is the real environmental impact, what is the real ecological
impact, and what does the science say about that.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Mr. Crouch, could you comment on the same general set of
issues? What does the science say in your opinion? Where is the
weight of the evidence here, if you will?
Mr. Crouch. Yes, sir. You know, the thing that comes to my
mind as I sat and listened, there is an awful lot of
commonality among what is being said and yet there is an awful
lot of difference when we finally see the actions that
different interests take.
I would suggest to you that the Forest Service has a
tremendous amount of science behind its decisions. I would
suggest to you that the Forest Service research is as good as
there is probably in the world when it comes to forestry. So we
need to be very careful that we do not kind of conclude that
maybe these activities that you see going on the ground or
these activities that are laid out in the land management
plans, the standards and the guides and so forth--they are
based on an awful lot of science, and I guess I would leave it
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Senator Lincoln. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Crouch, thanks again for being here, taking time to be
with us here today. In your prepared statement you had said
that additional funding may be needed to implement the recovery
plans. Maybe you might explain a little bit of that or go a
little further to let us know if you see existing funding
mechanisms as provided in the FERRA bill as a problem for
active management of forests that have not experienced as
frequent catastrophic events?
Again, in the South we do not necessarily have the volume
of forest fires and other. We do have tremendous volume of
insect infestation, ice, tornadoes, different types of natural
disasters, maybe in a smaller forest, but certainly just as
catastrophic. You might want to expand on that a little bit.
Mr. Crouch. The folks, Senator, that I represent very
strongly support FERRA. The thing that we are kind of looking
at is, as the Under Secretary said, we believe that FERRA will
substantially reduce the cost of the NEPA work, reduce the cost
of litigation, reduce the cost of appeals. We believe it will
therefore bring an awful lot more opportunity for recovery of
many of these fires that we have heard talked about, or insect,
disease problems, or Katrina type stuff, that has not been very
well restored in the past.
So what I am really saying is you have got a tremendous
number of acres that, for example, may need to be reforested
and those cost tremendous amounts of money. So what I am
suggesting is that the savings on the one hand from the
paperwork side, if you will, may not be nearly great enough to
take care of the additional acres that will be treated. So
while the mechanisms in this bill are OK, I suggest that they
probably will not produce adequate dollars.
Senator Lincoln. Well, that is so important, because that
is something up here that we deal with constantly, are the
resources that are needed to do all of the great ideas that we
try to bring together and balance up here in terms of
management and legislation that provides the tools out there.
But if the resources are not there to do it, it just becomes a
big ball of frustration for everybody, us as legislators and
certainly those that are out in the field to implement it.
So I think that is important. Under Secretary Rey did
mention that he thought that there were considerable savings
Mr. Crouch. I agree with that.
Senator Lincoln. Right. But without a doubt, ultimately it
is whether there is enough savings to be able to do what we
want to do and would additional resources be necessary, which
is something we have to consider here.
What on the ground--again, Mr. Crouch, what on the ground
benefits resulted from the active recovery on our Ouachita
National Forest following the ice storm in 2000? That was
devastating to us in Arkansas in December of 2000, the ice
storm that was tremendous really across the southern part and
the western part of the State. Kind of what negative effects
Mr. Crouch. You know, that is a real good question. We had
an ice storm about Christmas of that year that really destroyed
the timber on lots of acres. Estimates were there was probably
200 million board-feet on the ground. The Forest Service made
the decision to actively salvage as much of that as possible.
We went to CEQ and was given some alternative arrangements and
the Forest Service immediately began to expedite it, weighing
the timber, things that were quite different from what they
have traditionally done.
As a result of that, about 100 million board-feet was
harvested before the bugs began to ruin it. When you look at
the ground today that was harvested as compared to the grounds
that were not harvested, you see a much, much different forest.
The forest is beginning to regenerate. A lot of it, short-leaf
pine has been planted, as compared to the other acres where you
have got tremendous tons of fuel still on the ground, it is
drying out, it is drying up, and the ecosystem is beginning to
change in a lot of cases.
Basically, in Arkansas, as you know, we get maple and sweet
gum, stuff like that, back in catastrophic events. We typically
do not get back the pines that we look for economically. So we
do not have any question in our minds on many, many pieces of
ground that it is much, much better to institute active
management, salvage it, restore it. There are other cases,
obviously, steep slopes, things like that, where you should
One decision that was made on the Ouachita case was to stay
out of the streams, stay out of the streamside zones. So there
was a lot of acres left there that was not touched. Now the
biologists are saying we have got to go back in there, thin
that out somehow, so we can get the benefits we need for
wildlife, and so they are kind of going back and trying to
Senator Lincoln. Well, I think it is so important that
first and foremost, that everyone is engaged, and I know
through our forest initiatives, our landowners and others in
Arkansas, the best management practices and the other types of
efforts that are made to include everybody at the table in
making those decisions, and obviously the Forest Service as
well, has really been a tremendous benefit to recognizing, back
to the question that Senator Ringo was bringing up, and that is
when it is best to have a management plan and when it is not.
Having lived through that ice storm in 2000 and seeing the kind
of fuel that was left on the floor and then the repeated
droughts that we had after that, it was a terrible
I know that forest fires create these pictures that are so
horrific and you look at the results of an ice storm and it is
almost gorgeous. So it is hard for us in the South and areas
where we do see these types of situations to really bring about
the impact of what it has on our economy and on our ecosystems
in the forests that we enjoy for so many things.
So I just think really the idea that everybody comes to the
table and looks at what the circumstances are, what the
objectives are, in making sure that as we go through those
detailed plans that we think forward and think carefully about
the steps that we take, I think that is important.
Ms. Kupillas, in your testimony you referred to the social
and the community aspects of more timely forest regeneration.
Would you like to elaborate on that?
Ms. Kupillas. Yes, Senator Lincoln. The communities
surrounding these burned forests, the mills depend on a
consistent supply of wood. When we have dead standing timber
that seems available to supply these mills, then it seems
logical that we should be able to take out the timber and at
least maintain some of the jobs that are in these rural
I would like to respond also to a couple of statements that
Senator Ringo said if I could, please. On the Donato report,
Donato indicated that the regenerating trees were damaged after
3 years of delay, that the regenerated trees were damaged when
they went in to do some harvest. I would suggest that the
Donato research supports FERRA because FERRA says the essence
is to get in there early, before those little seedlings start
growing again, get in there early and harvest before that
happens, and therefore you would not have damage to the
I could give you many other examples, and it is in my
written testimony, of areas that have not been restored side by
side with areas that have on private or State lands. There are
many, many circumstances where restoration really should occur
and does not occur. But I think that there are many social and
economic effects. As we drive through the Biscuit, there are a
lot of tourism aspects. Dead standing slopes that are bare and
eroding now really do not attract the tourists.
This used to be a sea of green. I have flown over it when
this was mile after mile after mile of green forest.
Senator Lincoln. Is the tourism the only ramification? I
mean, what other--you spoke about the acres that were left
untreated in the Biscuit Fire, the lack of restoration. It has
affected the community, the neighboring community, through
tourism. Perhaps are there other things?
Ms. Kupillas. Well, the mills that really could put another
shift or two on should they have had the several billion board-
feet of timber available to them. There are local mills that
could have been on that had it been done early enough. But
after deterioration, after all the lawsuits had been dropped,
then most of those mills really cannot afford to go in there
and harvest dead trees that have deteriorated.
Senator Lincoln. Right.
Senator Ringo, you have mentioned, and I agree with Senator
Crapo, that we definitely want the use of sound science. We
have consistently said that in this committee. Whether it is
trade or reforestation or our industry areas, science is
To me, one of the issues that comes up most readily from
all of you is the timeliness of it. Of course, that issue also
falls back onto whether or not the resources are there to pull
the necessary groups together, to have the kind of research and
science necessary to make timely decisions. If you wait too
many years, seedlings have come up. Then you have the problem
of damaged restoration that is occurring naturally when you go
in too late to make the correct restoration that you would like
to do from a manual standpoint.
Do you have any comments? You referenced the Yellowstone an
awful lot. You might want to--and I do not know if there is a
different version or maybe you have some insight on why the
natural restoration in Yellowstone might have been different
than maybe some of the lack of restoration that has occurred on
Mount St. Helen's that Ms. Kupillas was referencing.
Mr. Ringo. Senator, I have gone hiking up on Mount St.
Helen's and I think there have been all kinds of pictures
showing remarkable natural restoration on St. Helen's as well.
Again, it can depend on what your management objective is. If
you are Weyerhauser, you want a big tree farm that is going to
grow as fast as possible so you can harvest them as fast as
possible. That is a different objective than saying you want an
ecologically balanced area that is good for habitat. It is a
I think we need areas with both objectives. But the second
objective, of a balanced environment, a balanced ecological
system, that will regenerate naturally and it is not
Weyerhauser's objective. So I do not think it is fair to look
at what Weyerhauser did in trying to restore a tree farm as
fast as possible and say, gee, that is the way we want all of
our forests to be.
Just as a point on the science, it is difficult. I think
there is lots of disagreements. A lot of it does depend on what
part of the country you are looking at. The Yellowstone is
different than the southern part of the United States, which is
different than the wet coastal ranges in Oregon.
Senator Crapo asked me about the weight of the evidence.
The problem I have with where this bill is going is I believe
that some of the science does rely on scientists that are
really working at the behest of the industry. That is
demonstrated through these emails from the College of Forestry,
where essentially the industry is spoon-feeding the leadership,
saying we want you to help us with our political problem,
please get some professors to come out with a report that says
At least the Daniel Donato report was independently peer
reviewed, which is really the mark of excellence in science.
This committee has relied on the report of Professor John
Sessions before with a study that was never independently peer
reviewed and said, well, that is the good science and that is
what we are going to rely on. I just suggest to you that the
studies from Professor Sessions really are done at the behest
of industry and that is why they should be given less
credibility. I hope we do not latch onto one scientist we
believe because we like that conclusion and because it is
Senator Lincoln. Well, I think the objective of the
committee is to certainly gather a wide variety in our panels
as well as in our science and the scientists that present it,
in order to make sure we come up with a balanced approach.
Just one last question for Mr. Thompson. You compared the
post-fire situations on State and private forests versus
national forest lands. Maybe you might go a bit further or in
more detail about the difference between the approaches and the
results that were there. That might be helpful to us in the
committee. You might want to share your views on the role for
research and certainly monitoring to validate some of the----
Mr. Thompson. Well, the approach obviously was that State
lands, being State trust lands, that money is used for
education. In the State of Montana we are having an education
crisis at the moment, trying to fund, as I am sure in your
State and many States are having the same problem.
Natural resource is one way that we can utilize funds for
education. When they went into the Sula State lands they were
able to harvest that timber, bring it off, and although we do
not have mills in our county to harvest it and utilize it, they
moved into Missoula County, some of the other counties north of
us, and were able to see some economic impact there.
Again, the land--we can talk about science all we want and
the approach and the way that it looks when you are all done
with it, but the best example is to come out on the land and
see the different approaches, look at the private land where
people have gone in and done the work that needed to be done.
It can be done in an economically friendly way and that is the
way the Sula State lands were done. Again, the timber was
harvested in the winter over the snow, over frozen ground.
Nothing was damaged.
The Federal lands again, ugly, straight stalks of black
trees sticking up, fallen over in some wind-blown areas, and so
I would like to make one comment on Mr. Ringo's last
comment about Yellowstone. As you are well aware, Yellowstone
sits partially in Montana, and I have been into that burned
area many times. Forests when they regenerate and regrow should
not look like wheat fields, and much of the area that has been
regenerated in Yellowstone looks like a wheat field. The trees
are so dense that even small rodents I think are going to have
a difficult time getting through. Large ungulates are going to
have a very difficult time in there--bison, elk, deer,
Again, we can look at it and say that area without any
approach by us doing any recovery has recovered itself. But I
think that we need to look at long-term and not short-term. Let
us wait a little bit and see what happens to Yellowstone in the
next few years. There may be another catastrophic event there.
It may be such that it burns so intense that there are
areas of the Bitterroot, there are areas of Yellowstone, that
have hydrophobic soils, that have been damaged down 10 to 12
inches and nothing is going to grow for a long time. You must
get in, break that soil up, break that hydrophobic surface up,
plant trees, do some restoration work. That has been done on
the Sula State lands, on many of the private lands, and not all
of the Federal lands.
Senator Lincoln. Well, we appreciate the panel. I am going
to turn it back over to the chairman if he has any further
questions. But just to say that certainly our objective here is
to look at the balance of all of the things we are trying to
achieve--without a doubt the conservation of the land, the
economics that can be used, the timeliness of what we need to
do in order to achieve those things, and most importantly
keeping healthy forests in our Nation.
With twin boys that are 10 years old who are with the
Scouts right now out in the forests at Scout camp this week, it
is very much an objective of mine that future generations will
have the benefit of enjoying the forests like I did in the
Ouachita and the St. Francis, the wonderful forests I was able
to grow up in.
So Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your leadership. I will
turn it back over to you and assure the panel that we will work
on a balanced approach.
Senator Crapo. Well, thank you very much.
Again, we thank this panel for your attendance and the
testimony you have provided today. We will excuse you and we
will call up our third panel. While the third panel is coming
up, I will introduce them as well. Our third panel consists of:
Dr. John Helms, who is Professor Emeritus of Forestry at the
University of California, Berkeley, who will be representing
the Society of American Foresters; Dr. Jim Karr, an Ecologist
and Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington; Mr.
Robert L. Krepps, St. Louis County Land Commissioner; and Leah
W. MacSwords, Director and State Forester of the Kentucky
Division of Forestry.
Senator Crapo. Again, we would like to welcome all of you
for the time and effort that you have put forward to help this
committee and to participate in this panel. I again remind each
of you to try to pay close attention to that clock as we move
Dr. Helms, we will begin with you.
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. HELMS, PH.D., PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF
FORESTRY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, ON BEHALF OF THE
SOCIETY OF AMERICAN FORESTERS
Dr. Helms. Thank you, Chairman Crapo, for the invitation to
provide testimony at this hearing. As you mentioned, my name is
John Helms and I am a Professor Emeritus from the University of
California, Berkeley. But I am here this morning to give
testimony on behalf of the Society of American Foresters. As I
am sure you are aware, the society has a membership of about
15,000 people, who represent a very broad range of expertise,
including forest managers, researchers of a variety of kinds
from geneticists through to economists and biologists, and also
What I would like to do first of all, however, is comment
that just prior to coming to the hearing, as you mentioned,
there is a fire occurring in northern California, and this is
rather significant because it is burning into a fire--an area
that previously burned in 2001. That area, which was national
forest land, was not salvaged due to process delays. They
attempted to sell some logs at about 2, 2-1/2 years after the
fire and no one bid on the sale.
Just 2 days ago, fire came over the ridge, into that area,
and completely eliminated all the standings, dead snags, all
the downed logs, for the second time damaged the watersheds,
and for the second time threatening the town of Weaverville. So
I think it is pertinent to your committee to appreciate that a
second fire only 5 years after the first can create a
significant amount of damage.
I would like to summarize my testimony by just a few
points. The first is that we are going to continue to have
catastrophes such as we have had in the past due to wildfire,
due to insects and disease, due to windstorm, and the question
is what should we do about these lands. Is the land better
served to let it proceed under natural conditions or should
there be active management?
Resolving this issue really depends on emphasis being
placed on identifying just what are the needs that are peculiar
to that particular fire, that particular situation. Undoubtedly
there will be mixes of responses that are appropriate. Some of
the areas should be left alone for natural regeneration and
recovery. Other areas a prudent land manager would want to
address the possibility of salvage harvesting, and there may be
other areas that would warrant some other kinds of restorative
Now, the areas that would benefit from salvage cutting, I
want to emphasize that it is essential that prompt action be
taken. We have abundant past experience. There is abundant peer
reviewed research since the 1930's that has shown, particularly
in areas that are relatively dry, that the burned areas rapidly
become dominated by shrubs. So the importance of promptness is
to get the slower growing conifers established before the areas
become covered with shrubs.
Alternatively, one can, instead of having shrub fields
there for perhaps 50 or so years, is to adopt some kind of
action that enables one to return that forest back to pre-burn
conditions in a much smaller frame of time.
Therefore we believe it is critically important for
Congress to establish a process as outlined in FERRA, that
involves immediate professional assessment, immediate
consideration of prompt action using best management practices
within the context of pre-approved plans. Again, I really want
to emphasize the importance of the promptness to prevent the
shrubs taking over the land.
I would like to perhaps illustrate with three posters here.
The area on the left is national forest land that has not been
salvaged. This is from a fire in 1992. The area on the right
shows rehabilitation through planting. The question is does the
area on the right that has planting enable the landscape to be
returned to pre-burn conditions quicker than if it was left
The second poster, which I am afraid, Chairman Crapo, you
cannot really see, shows an area that has been reforested
after, 45 years after the burn. The interesting thing about
that image is that it is a mixed conifer forest. The average
person would not expect that that was a planted forest. It
looks very natural.
The third one, behind you, is again a 45-year old area just
adjacent to this one that was replanted, which is still a
permanent brush field.
So I would like to thank you very much for your giving me
the opportunity to provide testimony and I will be very pleased
to address any questions you might have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Helms can be found on page
53 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF JIM KARR, PH.D., ECOLOGIST AND PROFESSOR EMERITUS,
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Dr. Karr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to be
here as you discuss the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research
Act. As you know, our Nation's forests provide vital natural
and cultural benefits for all Americans. What you may not know,
however, is that certain forms of disturbance play a vital role
in sustaining our forests. Although people see wildland fires,
wind and ice storms, and insect outbreaks as catastrophes
affecting Federal and non-Federal lands, over time such events
have in fact both created and helped sustain the character of
many regional ecosystems.
Unfortunately, H.R. 4200 does not acknowledge that these
disturbances play a constructive role. Rather the act is
founded on the premise that, quote, ``recovery treatments,''
end quote, are needed, quote, ``in response to catastrophic
events affecting lands,'' end quote.
I am especially dismayed that H.R. 4200 takes this view,
given that half a century of publicly funded research by
government and nongovernment scientists from a wide range of
disciplines has demonstrated the contrary. My remarks today are
based on my ecological research over 4 decades, particularly on
research over the past 12 years with a dozen scientists,
examining what happens when areas affected by natural
disturbances--notice I did not use the word ``catastrophe'';
natural disturbances--are left to regenerate on their own or
when humans intervene.
The first point I wish to make is that logging after
natural disturbances is not an ecosystem restoration tool. Such
logging damages forest landscapes, limiting populations of
species crucial to the maintenance of these landscapes by
impeding the natural processes that have long sustained these
ecosystems. A substantial body of evidence, some dating from
the early 20th century, demonstrates that post-disturbance
logging impairs the ability of forest ecosystems to recover
from natural disturbances.
Specifically, post-disturbance logging prevents or slows
natural recovery by slowing the establishment of plant and
animal populations and degrading streams. For example, the
dramatic physical changes in forest structure resulting from
hurricanes and insect infestations in New England do not
disrupt biogeochemical cycles or degrade water quality, but
post-disturbance logging increases nitrogen lost from those
landscapes and does degrade water quality.
Post-disturbance logging also threatens species listed
under the Endangered Species Act and places more species at
risk, making future listings a near certainty. Damage from
post-disturbance logging may consist of direct effects from
logging, such as increased mortality of trees and other
seedlings and damage to soils, or indirect effects of
activities associated with logging, such as more traffic on
existing roads, creation of new roads, or the spread of
These observations are not mere points in an abstract
scientific debate. They constitute an accumulation of on-the-
ground evidence that logging after disturbance harms rather
than helps the regeneration of forests. As one prominent forest
ecologist has put it, and I quote; ``Timber salvage is most
appropriately viewed as a tax on ecological recovery.'' End
The second point I wish to make is that recommendations
exist for how to avoid damage from post-disturbance treatments
and how to speed recovery of both terrestrial and aquatic
systems. Because time is limited, I cannot discuss these
recommendations in any detail. They are provided in my written
testimony. They note that maintenance of healthy systems will
limit the effects of natural disturbances, that post-
disturbance activity should be limited in many circumstances.
In the unusual circumstances when they are necessary, they must
be done within the framework of a carefully formulated,
scientifically rigorous program. As a tangent here, I would
like to note that science is not a monolith and the science
that we have heard people speak about today is not always the
same thing, although the same word is used.
This post-disturbance logging should not be done in a rush,
as happened following a major wind storm where, and I quote a
person doing the analysis of that, ``action was a substitute
for thought.'' Because the lessons of science are so clear on
this subject, more than 500 scientists from diverse
disciplines, institutions, and geographic areas have
acknowledged the ecological merits of the recommendations
outlined in my written testimony. I ask that this letter be put
into the hearing record with those 540-some signatures.
Senator Crapo. Without objection.
Dr. Karr. Yet I suggest that careful reading of H.R. 4200
reveals assumptions and language in the act that run counter to
most of these recommendations.
In closing, may I also suggest that, like all legislation
involving science, H.R. 4200 should be debated on its
scientific merits, not its politics. Rather than rush to
implement emergency treatments and risk undermining the
public's interest in healthy Federal lands, as H.R. 4200
appears to do, I respectfully urge this committee to examine
with great care the act's potentially irreversible
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today. I
shall be happy to take any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Karr can be found on page 61
in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you, Dr. Karr.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT L. KREPPS, ST. LOUIS COUNTY COMMISSIONER,
Mr. Krepps. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee: I am
pleased to provide testimony today on an important topic of
forest recovery and reforestation, specifically the Forest
Emergency Recovery and Research Act. My name is Bob Krepps and
I currently serve as the Land Commissioner for St. Louis
County, Minnesota. We manage 890,000 acres of county land,
including several thousand acres within the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area within the Superior National Forest.
I recently moved to Minnesota, having previously served as
the State forester in Missouri for 6 years, and I have been
engaged as a professional forester at the Federal, State, and
now county level for 39 years. Today I am here to relay a need
for action, action on the Nation's Federal lands after
catastrophes, natural events, that type thing, where currently
very little occurs.
I am not here to say that we need to do something on every
acre after an event. But if the professional forest managers in
the field, after public involvement and environmental analysis,
think some recovery actions are necessary, they should have the
processes and legal support to act quickly.
I would like to cite an example that Senator Coleman
referred to. On July 4, 1999, a very intense wind storm came
across northeastern Minnesota. It laid down basically 477,000
acres of forest land, primarily on the Superior National
Forest, primarily within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, but
albeit 477,000 acres of forest was blown down and laid on the
ground, which created a potential for intense burning fires.
8 years and 10 days later, a lightning storm came across
the same area in northeastern Minnesota and resulted in two
fires burning that are currently burning, as Senator Coleman
referred to, burning about 34,000 acres at a direct cost to
suppress and manage of $7.6 million as of 2 days ago.
I am not here to belabor the point of whether action should
be taken in the wilderness. I am here to talk about early and
prompt response to these type situations. Within St. Louis
County, within the county lands, we rapidly did an assessment.
We began the process of implementing projects and on the 7700
acres, more or less, of county land that was affected by the
blowdown, by September we had the first round of projects
available for implementation and in December we put the rest of
them up. To date we have recovery under way on nearly 5,000
acres of forest land that the county manages, and that includes
the harvest, removal of the fuel, and replanting.
It is important to note that St. Louis County Lands
Department manages our county lands to provide optimum returns,
while also aiming to ensure long-term sustained yields of
renewable resources and to provide protection for wildlife,
watersheds, and to provide for a diverse recreation resource.
St. Louis County also maintains dual certification by both
the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the International
Standards Organization. Included in these certifications is a
requirement to maintain environmental compliance with Federal,
State, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances, and we are
Having worked at the Federal, State, and county levels, I
would say that the level of environmental consideration at the
county level is at minimum equal to or exceeds the Federal
standards and certainly involves less process and allows us to
be more responsive.
I have several other examples that I would like to have
just entered into the record through my written testimony. In
summary, it is clear to me after witnessing these and other
forest catastrophes first-hand that Congressional action is
needed to better enable timely Federal response. When forest
managers are allowed to move forward with timely recovery and
reforest activities appropriate for the values and uses
associated with the forest, the forest can be restored in a
timely manner, sometimes much quicker than when left alone.
Congress needs to untie the Federal land managers' hands
from lengthy process and administrative hurdles to enable
Federal forest recovery. CEQ enabled this in the Superior
National Forest with the granting of alternative arrangements.
FERRA would accomplish similar objectives.
I strongly urge this committee to take action on FERRA and
strongly support it. There are other bills that have been
introduced as well within the Senate with options for
addressing this problem and I encourage you also to take a look
at these ideas and consider them as you move forward.
I guess in closing, Congress has an opportunity to provide
the support and tools for Federal forest managers to better
manage Federal forests. It is a tragedy that management of
these forests, a national treasure, has become a quagmire of
litigation, burdensome process, and court-driven
decisionmaking. Forest managers know what needs to be done and
they have incorporated science into their work through
evolution over careers. But they are shackled in their ability
to actually do the work needed.
I appeal to you here in Congress to clarify the laws,
streamline the process, and give Federal managers the tools
they need to bring the Federal forests back to being a national
treasure. Thank you for this opportunity. I will be happy to
answer any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Krepps can be found on page
66 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you, Mr. Krepps.
STATEMENT OF LEAH W. MacSWORDS, DIRECTOR AND STATE FORESTER,
KENTUCKY DIVISION OF FORESTRY, ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF STATE FORESTERS
Ms. MacSwords. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the
subcommittee, for this opportunity to testify today. I
represent the National Association of State Foresters. NASF
supports FERRA because it will speed the implementation of
recovery projects on Federal, State, and private lands and
authorize needed research. It reflects the landscape scale of
catastrophic events and recognizes that restoration work is
more effective when it is coordinated across all ownerships
through the use of assessments, restoration planning, and on-
the-ground activities, and it provides funding mechanisms for
restoration activities for private lands and communities.
In my written statement, I included examples from Kentucky,
Minnesota, and the Southeast to show how we must deal with
forest recovery at the landscape scale if we are to responsibly
care for the Nation's forest resources. Allow me to share with
you another example from Kentucky and submit additional
information for the record to demonstrate the importance of
this bill to the forests that are east of the Rockies.
On November 15, 2005, a tornado ripped through western
Kentucky and greatly impacted the Land Between the Lakes
National Recreation Area. It came across the northern end of
the LBL and damaged timber in two areas. In one area cleanup
efforts have been abandoned by the Forest Service due to
cultural resources there. Proposed restoration activities on
the other area, known as Tornado Alley, are under appeal and
the Forest Service has taken no action.
In my written statement I described an ice storm that
occurred in February 2003 which caused severe damage to
thousands of acres of Federal, State, and private owned forest
land in central and northeastern Kentucky. We were able to
harvest the damaged timber on the Tygarts State Forest in less
than 12 months. We would have finished that harvest sooner, but
we had a confirmed Indiana bat sighting, which required us to
obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and delay the harvest until winter to reduce
any possible impact on the bat.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service surveyed the damage on the
nearby Daniel Boone National Forest and determined a
restoration harvest was needed. They started the long process
that they have to go through and issued a finding of no
significant impact in February 1906. The first on-the-ground
work is finally expected to begin this month, 3-1/2 years after
the storm. But I understand that a lawsuit may soon be filed to
challenge the agency's decision. Timber buyers in Kentucky
doubt that the downed timber on the Daniel Boone will have much
value to them at this late date.
I have another example to present for the record. What
happened in Wisconsin mirrors what happened in Kentucky. A
severe wind storm swept through two counties in northern
Wisconsin in July 1999. Extensive areas of public and private
forest land and a portion of a national forest were impacted.
State, private, and non-Federal public agencies took quick
action. They completed most of the salvage as well as training
of fire personnel within 6 months.
By contrast, administrative and legal procedures kept the
Forest Service from awarding contracts for salvage until
January 1904, 4-1/2 years after the storm. By this time, much
of the timber value was lost and the fire danger remained
elevated for several years until the salvage harvest work was
Since the passage of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act,
the national forest staff have worked vigorously to complete
other salvage environmental assessments in 9 to 10 months as
long as there are no objections that can cause delays. Thus,
even under the best circumstances, with current authorities the
Forest Service cannot mitigate the summer storm damage until at
least one fire season has occurred and with continued high fire
danger and loss of more timber value.
NASF strongly supports the expedited process in this
legislation, which still requires Federal agencies to comply
with applicable land management plans, protect soil, water
quality, endangered species, and historic values, and provide
public notice and engagement. If we can act quickly on State
and other non-Federal lands and still protect the environment,
then Federal land managers should be able to follow suit.
The Forest Service and BLM must be able to deal with these
disasters quickly and effectively because these catastrophes do
not respect boundaries. We must work cooperatively across the
various levels of government.
We urge your support for the passage of the bill and I
thank you for the opportunity to testify. I would be happy to
answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Ms. MacSwords can be found on
page 76 in the appendix.]
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
Dr. Helms, I think I will start out with you. Do you know
of, either through the scientific literature or through your
own personal experience, do you know of ecological benefits
that come from recovery and reforestation activities? If so,
could you give us some explanation and further development of
Dr. Helms. My response would be my experience in California
in the 1950's and 60's. At that time California had about one
million acres of brush field and the Forest Service had a very
active program or initiated a very active program of what was
called brush field reclamation. Now, these brush fields were
probably 50 years old. They had been sequentially burned and
would remain in brush field.
So in response I would say one of the big success stories
in California has been to take what was almost a million acres
of brush field, some of which of course still is brush because
it was deemed best kept in that state, but the majority of the
area is now thriving forest and it looks for all the world like
natural forest. It is mixed species and mixed habitat and is a
real asset to the people of the State and the Nation.
Senator Crapo. Thank you very much.
Why is it sometimes necessary to actively recover forest
Dr. Helms. I think the two posters you have here illustrate
that. It depends upon in the public's interest how quickly do
you want to return the forest back to a pre-burn condition. If
you take no action, then the area will proceed through plant
succession in its normal time and this may take decades or even
50 years. That is perfectly fine, but when you have burns that
are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of acres,
particularly on dry sites, is this in the Nation's best
interest, to have these lands not returned quickly back into
the kind of form that might provide the variable values and
benefits that society wants?
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Dr. Karr, is it your testimony that reforestation
activities are never appropriate, that we should never engage
in active management in the face of a fire or any of these
infestations that we have been talking about today?
Dr. Karr. I think nothing should ever happen always or
should never happen. I agree with that point completely.
I think that much of the testimony that I have heard today
focused on getting the value out of the timber that was damaged
by the fire, the insect outbreak, storm damage. Value there was
crafted in the context of salable board-feet of wood. Often the
value that derives from leaving those pieces of wood on the
landscape exceeds or at least equals the value to be derived
from that harvest, because of protection of water quality,
because it will speed the succession or the redevelopment of a
complex forest ecosystem there, because it will retain the
populations of birds that are crucial in controlling
populations of pest outbreaks in the future.
If you go in and remove all of that wood, then you do not
have places for those populations of animals that might feed on
the pest insects to control their populations in the future.
There is a whole series of dimensions from water quality to
soil quality to complexity of plant and animal life that occurs
on these places, including downstream effects on communities as
far away as coastal ocean environments, that are influenced by
the nature of water quality and fish populations that are
sustained by these headwater streams and forested landscapes.
Senator Crapo. I noticed you said often that is the case.
Other witnesses have said that there are occasions when active
management should not be pursued, but that there are occasions
when it is the most appropriate approach. Would you agree with
that, that there are times when it should be done and times
when it should not? Or are you saying that we should not engage
in logging activities?
Dr. Karr. I am saying that the language in the bill
suggests to me that the framework and context and thinking
about how this bill will be implemented pretends that the
scientific information that includes these other dimensions of
consequences have not been brought to bear on the crafting of
the language in the bill.
If that is the case, and I believe it is the case, then it
is profoundly important that we incorporate the scientific
results that tell us about things other than board-feet
harvested as the only context of conservation, to use Mr. Rey's
term from earlier in the morning.
Senator Crapo. So if I--I want to be sure I understand you.
Your perception of what the bill says is that the only standard
to follow in developing the recovery plans is board-feet of
Dr. Karr. No, my perception is that whenever there is an
opportunity to have language crafted to suggest that we do not
know anything or that we have limited knowledge, that
diminishes, demeans, and in fact ignores or distorts the
knowledge that we do have. It does not bring the existing
knowledge to bear in an adequate way to protect the broader
public interest in the context of our forested landscape.
So let me give you a specific example. The hemlock woody
adelgid in New England is an introduced pest that is causing
problems. It was included in somebody's testimony today. There
is a paper just published, written by a forest ecologist from
Harvard University, that explores three alternatives as ways of
treating lands that are associated with the hemlock woody
One alternative is to go in and preemptively harvest
hemlocks to prevent the insect from contaminating the area.
Another one is to go in after the hemlock--the bug has gotten
in there and damaged the trees and removed them. Then the third
alternative was to do nothing post-disturbance. It turned out
that the worst thing that could happen in terms of water
quality effects and nitrogen loss from that landscape was the
preemptive. The second worst thing that could happen was the
The best thing to prevent degradation in water quality and
biogeochemical cycle consequences was to not do anything post-
disturbance. There are numerous examples of that kind of thing,
and I do not see that kind of major advance in understanding in
the last 20 years incorporated into the framework and language
of this bill.
Senator Crapo. In the letter that you submitted, which was
signed by the other scientists, one of the phrases in there is
it says that ``Neither ecological benefits nor economic
efficiency result from recovery actions.'' If that is the case,
then how do you explain all of the other examples we have had
from many other witnesses today and that this committee often
sees from witnesses of circumstances where the active
management has resulted in a much more vibrant and thriving
forest than the inactive management?
Dr. Karr. As a scientist, I have spent the last 40 years
trying to go beyond the simple view that my eyes give me by
exploring the multiple dimensions of various things that humans
do and the multiple dimensions of the way natural systems are
organized. I have repeatedly seen circumstances where on the
surface things look like they are improved by certain kinds of
actions, but when you develop the kind of analytical framework
and exploratory and monitoring contexts that I think are
important in these issues you understand dimensions that are
not obvious at that first level of sort of broad overview, as
can be seen and illustrated from the examples of people's
visions of things today.
I would submit that that Harvard example of the hemlock
woody adelgid is an excellent example of that. There are
nutrient cycling, biogeochemical consequences, and water
quality consequences that cannot be seen by the sort of
standard snapshots, pictures of what is going on. We need to be
more careful in understanding the multiple dimensions of these
In my reading of the scientific literature in the last 30
or 40 years and conversing with lots of people who have a great
deal more expertise about many of the dimensions of this than I
have, I see us ignoring lots of insights.
Senator Crapo. So if I understand--again, I want to be sure
I do--your major concern is that you do not think that the
legislation contemplates the thorough review of the entire
scientific data bank, if you will, in terms of the direction it
authorizes for the development of recovery plans?
Dr. Karr. Both what I see in the bill in terms of the
language and framework of how it will be implemented does not
give me confidence, and my experience in watching what happened
on the Biscuit Fire in Oregon leads me to believe that the sort
of standard operating procedures of the past will continue to
be used, as opposed to exploring, understanding, and
incorporating recent scientific advances in this discipline.
Senator Crapo. All right.
Mr. Krepps, what are the conditions today on the St. Louis
County lands that were actively recovered?
Mr. Krepps. Mr. Chairman, we have reforestation that has
occurred. Now, you have to recognize much of our land, about
half of the acres that were affected, were aspen stands. We
rely upon natural regeneration, sprouting, to go and get that
back. We have also reduced the fuel loads on those. So those
are 5 years headed toward recovery. We operate on a 60-year
rotation. That is what our planning horizon is and so we have
got that forest started back, where had we not went in and
reduced the fuel loading we most likely would have been subject
to wildfire as well.
The other half was pine, mixed conifers, and we went in and
replanted all of those with seed stock that comes from the
area. It is our seedling stock and it would be native seed or
native seedlings that grow back. They are on their way to
We are seeing a lot of benefit. I guess responding a little
bit to the question to Dr. Karr if I could, a lot of it is
going to come down to what the objectives of the land
management agency is. Our objectives are to optimize return to
the county and to maintain that product coming to industry, as
well as maintaining a healthy forest for the future. That is
our objective. Other agencies derive their objectives through
their line management plans.
Senator Crapo. Do you think, is it possible to manage
toward a return, but also achieve the objective of a healthy
Mr. Krepps. Very definitely, very definitely. I think we
are seeing it. We have had other catastrophic events--natural
events, I will acknowledge that--that within a short period of
time we have recovery. I have also seen other areas that no
action was taken and you have brush fields and less than ideal
So yes, recovery can occur. I have seen it many times in my
Senator Crapo. All right, thank you.
Ms. MacSwords, with the expedited procedures that are in
this legislation, do you believe that the Federal agencies will
still be able to protect the environment and recognize the
science that we have talked about today and assure that we do
not diminish the viability of our forests?
Ms. MacSwords. Yes, I believe that they will. State
agencies have been able to do restoration activities on State
lands and working with private landowners and protect the
environment. So I think with the expedited procedures that you
are going to have in this legislation, Federal land managers
should be able to follow suit.
Senator Crapo. That raises me--I will just toss this
question out to the entire panel. That raises to me a question,
because we do have experience with management at the State and
on private lands that has sought to achieve both objectives,
both a return from the timber as well as environmental
protection and assurance that we have healthy, strong, vibrant
forests for ourselves and our posterity.
I just pass this question out to the panel: Is that, is the
experience that we have had with the State and private land
management, evidence that those two objectives can be achieved?
Ms. MacSwords. Yes, I think you can see that across the
Nation. In our own case in Kentucky on the Tygarts State Forest
that I mentioned earlier, what we dealt with was an area that
we did the restoration harvesting. There was also an area that
was around a cave area, where we elected not to do restoration
harvesting. We were able to demonstrate that you would see
natural regeneration in both areas. You can look now over the
areas where we did our harvesting and the oaks are coming in.
So that is an example in my State. But I am aware of other
State foresters who have faced similar challenges and are
showing improved environmental benefits on the lands they
manage and with the private forest landowners that they must
I think one thing that I do not want to get lost in the
discussion of this legislation is, we focus on what will happen
on Federal lands, but this is important to private landowners
and State and local governments as well. Almost 93 percent of
the forest land in the State of Kentucky is owned by private
forest landowners. Very little Federal land compared to the
grand scheme of the amount of forests on the land.
What happens on private forest lands has the ability to
impact what happens on the national forest lands and vice
versa. Insects, diseases, disasters do not stop at the boundary
line. So it is important that we all be able to work together
to look at this landscape style management following any kind
of disaster, whether you call it a catastrophe or an ecological
burp in the system. You have got to be able to address it on a
wide-scale level and that is what is important about this piece
Senator Crapo. Anybody else want to jump in?
Dr. Helms. Mr. Chairman, I would encourage the committee to
take a look at the case examples that are available when you
look at the way in which different ownerships handle responses
to these kinds of major disturbances, because you can have
very, very on the ground case examples of just what different
approaches, how effective different approaches are.
I would just add that, in addition to State and private, I
suggest that the committee also look at tribal lands, because
in the West the land management objectives of the tribal
peoples include a high level of sensitivity to environmental
issues, and it would also be instructive for the committee to
see how they respond to these kinds of issues in which they
take active approaches to return the forest back to pre-burn
conditions in a very successful manner.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Anybody else want to?
Dr. Karr. Yes, I would just comment. I do not have
knowledge of many States, but I have watched the process in the
State of Washington and I am a little dismayed by the extent to
which forest harvests to funding for schools is over the long
term compromising the long-term ecological and other benefits
that can be derived from those State forest lands. We are in a
situation where the schools are in some sense liquidating the
natural capital in forest lands at a rate faster than it can be
sustained over the long term. That will both over the long term
damage the schools and damage the natural resources of the
Senator Crapo. So are the State-owned forests in
Washington, in the State of Washington--are you saying that
they are degrading?
Dr. Karr. I believe that that is a not unreasonable
conclusion based on some of the land management decisions and
so forth that are being made in the State of Washington, yes.
If I could expand on the other point that was made, I strongly
encourage looking at what counties, States, and various Federal
agencies are doing in light of these kinds of issues, because
it is something that has to be done across landscapes where
there is an interdigitation of ownership and so forth.
I think it is really very important to go beyond the sort
of veneer of those things and ask questions in each of those
cases, what are the goals and what are the consequences in the
many dimensions that are important in Federal land management
to protect the broad public interest. It is easy to find things
being done. It is harder to understand what the consequences in
their multiple dimensions of those decisions are.
Senator Crapo. Thank you.
Mr. Krepps, did you want to have the last word? I will let
you have the last word if you want it.
Mr. Krepps. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Many good points made
across the table. I guess from my perspective looking at the
objectives, looking at where we need to go, certainly I
understand the need for additional research, but I will also
say that the forestry profession, the natural resource
profession as a whole, has been evolving based on science since
the beginning of the century, of the last century. Certainly
there are still unanswered questions. We are always going to be
looking for that additional research.
We also have to factor in the social and economic factors
that we face on a daily basis within our communities and the
need to utilize a product that is beneficial to society and to
our economy in this country. As I said, we have a national
treasure here. Our forest is a treasure that needs to be cared
for and valued, and I believe we have diverted away from that
over the last few years and we need to get back to it.
Senator Crapo. Dr. Helms, you want the last word?
Dr. Helms. If I may. Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment
on the example provided by the Yellowstone burn, if I may.
Senator Crapo. Sure.
Dr. Helms. I would like the committee to understand that
there is considerable variability in the way in which different
forest types behave to fire. In the case of Yellowstone, the
predominant species is lodgepole pine and this species is a
pioneer species which the reproduction is enhanced by fire. In
fact, it requires fire for the cones to open. So it is no
surprise to ecologists to see that there is extremely rapid,
very dense regeneration following the burn from lodgepole pine.
But I would hesitate to extrapolate that situation into
other forest types.
Senator Crapo. Well, thank you.
There is never a lack of controversy in these kinds of
issues and these kinds of--this type of legislation. I
appreciate the time that not only this panel but all of our
witnesses today have put into helping us as a committee to
evaluate it. We all know that there are a lot of politics, but
there is also a lot of science and technological issues that we
need to address and understand as we move forward on major
legislation like this.
I assure you that this panel is going to very carefully
evaluate the information that you have provided. It is
possible--we will keep the record open for 5 days and it is
possible that you will receive questions from other Senators
who did not have an opportunity to make it to the hearing. We
encourage you to respond to those promptly. Then we will
carefully evaluate the information that you witnesses and
others provide to this committee as we move forward.
With that, this hearing is adjourned. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 11:34 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
August 2, 2006
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