Text: H.R.5309 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)

There is one version of the bill.

Bill text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (07/26/2002)


Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this legislative text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF or HTML/XML.




[Congressional Bills 107th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 5309 Introduced in House (IH)]







107th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 5309

 To authorize the Regional Foresters to exempt tree-thinning projects, 
  which are necessary to prevent the occurrence of wildfire likely to 
cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem, from laws that give rise to 
      legal causes of action that delay or prevent such projects.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 26, 2002

   Mr. Shadegg (for himself, Mr. Hansen, Mr. McInnis, Mr. Flake, Mr. 
   Schaffer, Mr. Gibbons, Mr. Herger, Mrs. Cubin, Mr. Kingston, Mr. 
  Hoekstra, Mr. Doolittle, Mr. Hefley, Mr. Tancredo, Mr. DeMint, Mr. 
  Bryant, Mr. Peterson of Pennsylvania, Mr. Hayworth, and Mr. Cannon) 
 introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on 
   Agriculture, and in addition to the Committee on Resources, for a 
 period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for 
consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the 
                          committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To authorize the Regional Foresters to exempt tree-thinning projects, 
  which are necessary to prevent the occurrence of wildfire likely to 
cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem, from laws that give rise to 
      legal causes of action that delay or prevent such projects.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Wildfire Prevention and Forest 
Health Protection Act of 2002''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) National Forest System lands in the United States are 
        in poor ecological health and in grave danger of catastrophic 
        wildfires because of high fuel loads.
            (2) The poor condition of these National Forest System 
        lands is evidenced by the fact that, in the first seven months 
        of 2002, 51,669 wildfires have devastated over 3,800,000 
        forested acres, including 999,000 acres in Alaska, 628,000 
        acres in Arizona, 378,000 acres in Colorado, 298,000 acres in 
        New Mexico, 290,000 acres in Oregon, 229,000 in acres in Utah, 
        and 169,000 acres in California.
            (3) It has been scientifically established that reducing 
        fuel loads by thinning trees improves forest ecological health 
        and reduces the risk of catastrophic crown fires.
            (4) Trees damaged by fire are more susceptible to insect 
        infestation than healthy undamaged trees, and experts agree 
        that fire damaged trees must be removed to improve forest 
        health and that such removal must occur within six to twelve 
        months if the fire damaged trees are to have any commercial 
        value.
            (5) Under current Federal law, forest management projects 
        designed to reduce fuel loads are subject to challenge and 
        appeal by groups and individuals.
            (6) In a report issued in July 2002, the Forest Service 
        found that 48 percent of projects involving mechanical tree 
        thinning on National Forest System lands have been subject to 
        challenge and appeal and that the extra decision-making 
        analysis forced by these appeals ``added significantly to time 
        required but did not materially improve the proposed action''.
            (7) The Forest Service further found that ``In spite of the 
        agency's best efforts, individuals or organizations opposed to 
        the projects filed appeals and/or filed suit to stop the 
        projects.''.
            (8) Use of existing administrative and legal processes to 
        address the fire danger in the United States will not enable 
        the Forest Service to take the immediate action necessary to 
        reduce fuel loads to both improve forest ecological health and 
        prevent the occurrence of wildfires likely to cause extreme 
        harm to the forest ecosystem.

SEC. 3. REGIONAL FORESTER AUTHORITY TO EXEMPT WILDFIRE PREVENTION TREE-
              THINNING PROJECTS FROM CERTAIN LAWS.

    (a) Exemption Authority.--Due to the extraordinary wildfire threat 
present on National Forest System lands in the Forest Service Regions, 
the Regional Forester for a Forest Service Region may exempt a Forest 
Service project described in subsection (b) from any provision of law 
including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the National Forest Management Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and the project shall proceed immediately and 
to completion. In addition, the project shall not be subject to the 
notice, comment, and appeal requirements of section 322 of Public Law 
102-381 (commonly known as the Appeals Reform Act; 16 U.S.C. 1612 note) 
or to judicial review by any court of the United States.
    (b) Covered Projects.--A Forest Service project referred to in 
subsection (a) is a project that involves the removal of trees on 
National Forest System lands managed by the Regional Forester that the 
Regional Forester finds, on the basis of the best scientific 
information available--
            (1) are located in an area with a high fuel load, and a 
        significant possibility exists that a crown fire could occur 
        which would cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem; or
            (2) are dead or severely damaged from fire.
    (c) Certification.--The Regional Forester shall certify the 
findings made under subsection (b) to the Chief of the Forest Service 
and the Congress.

SEC. 4. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY.

    The Constitutional authority on which this Act rests is the 
authority of Congress to make all laws which shall be necessary and 
proper, as enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, as well as the authority of Congress to make all needful 
rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property 
belonging to the United States, as enumerated in Article IV, Section 3 
of the United States Constitution.
                                 <all>