Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law (12/03/2003)

Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 - Title I: Hazardous Fuels Reduction on Federal Land - (Sec. 102) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture, with respect to National Forest System lands, and the Secretary of the Interior, with respect to public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, to plan and conduct hazardous fuel reduction projects (fuel projects) on specified types of Federal lands, including on certain lands that contain threatened and endangered species habitat. Directs the Secretary concerned to fully maintain, or contribute toward the restoration of, the structure and composition of old growth stands according to the pre-fire suppression old growth conditions characteristic of the forest type, taking into account the contribution of the stand to landscape fire adaptation and watershed health, and retaining the large trees contributing to old growth structure.

Directs the Secretary concerned to: (1) establish in certain areas a multiparty monitoring, evaluation, and accountability process to assess ecological and social effects of authorized fuel projects; (2) track, by the degree of severity, acres burned by large wildfires; and (3) develop a process for monitoring the need for maintenance of treated areas, over time, to preserve the forest health benefits achieved.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary concerned to give priority to fuel projects that provide for the protection of communities and watersheds.

(Sec. 104) Requires the Secretary concerned to: (1) plan and conduct fuel projects in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other applicable laws; (2) analyze alternative options to proposed agency actions, with exceptions for projects in wildland-urban interface areas; and (3) facilitate collaboration among State and local governments, Indian tribes, and interested persons during the preparation of each fuel project in a manner consistent with standards in the Western Governors Association's wildfire management strategy.

(Sec. 105) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to issue interim and final regulations establishing a process that shall serve as the sole means by which an eligible individual shall be able to seek administrative review regarding a fuel project on Forest Service land.

(Sec. 106) Sets forth special requirements regarding judicial review of fuel projects in U.S. district courts, including injunctive relief.

(Sec. 107) States that nothing in this title shall be construed to affect the use by the Secretary concerned of authorities other than this Act to conduct a fuel project on Federal lands.

(Sec. 108) Authorizes appropriations.

Title II: Biomass - (Sec. 201) Amends the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 to expand certain research by developing new tools for land managers, including tools to estimate the cost to deliver varying quantities of wood to a particular location.

(Sec. 202) Amends the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to allow the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service and in collaboration with eligible institutions, to: (1) accelerate adoption of biomass technologies; (2) create community-based enterprises; and (3) establish small-scale business enterprises to make use of biomass. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 203) Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to persons that own or operate facilities that use biomass for wood-based products or other commercial purposes to offset the costs incurred to purchase biomass. Authorizes appropriations.

Title III: Watershed Forestry Assistance - (Sec. 302) Amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to permit the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service (and, where appropriate, through the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service), to provide assistance to State foresters and State officials, or to Cooperative Extension officials at land grant colleges and universities and specified institutions, for the purpose of expanding State forest capacities and activities to address watershed issues on non-Federal forested lands and potentially forested lands. Directs the Secretary to: (1) develop, with relevant parties, a program of technical assistance to protect water quality; and (2) establish a watershed forestry cost-share program. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 303) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service, to provide assistance to Indian tribes for the purpose of expanding tribal stewardship capacities through tribal forestry best management practices to improve watershed health. Authorizes appropriations.

Title IV: Insect Infestations and Related Diseases - (Sec. 403) Directs the Secretary concerned to establish an accelerated program to plan, conduct, and promote comprehensive and systematic information gathering on forest-damaging insects and associated diseases.

(Sec. 404) Allows the Secretary concerned to conduct applied silvicultural assessments on Federal lands that are infested with forest-damaging insects or that are at risk of such infestation.

(Sec. 405) States that the authority provided to each Secretary in this title is supplemental to, and not in lieu of, any authority provided to the Secretaries in any other law.

(Sec. 406) Authorizes appropriations.

Title V: Healthy Forests Reserve Program - (Sec. 501) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the healthy forests reserve program (the program) within the Forest Service for the purpose of restoring and enhancing forest ecosystems to promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species as well as improve biodiversity and enhance carbon sequestration.

(Sec. 502) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination with the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, to designate rare forest ecosystems to be eligible for the program. Sets forth eligibility criteria (for private lands). Specifies that lands may be enrolled pursuant to: (1) a 10-year cost-share agreement; (2) a 30-year easement; or (3) a long-term easement with a buyback option.

(Sec. 503) Subjects lands enrolled in the program to a restoration plan, which shall be developed jointly by the land owner and the Secretary of Agriculture.

(Sec. 504) Sets forth the payment structures for the various methods of enrollment in the program.

(Sec. 505) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to provide landowners with the technical assistance necessary to comply with the terms of plans under the program.

(Sec. 506) Directs the Secretary of the Interior to provide safe harbor under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to landowners who enroll land in the program when such enrollment will result in a net conservation benefit for listed, candidate, or other species.

(Sec. 508) Authorizes appropriations.

Title VI: Miscellaneous - (Sec. 601) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture: (1) to carry out a program to inventory and monitor forest stands and potential forest stands in the National Forest System and (with the consent of the owners) on private forest land; and (2) in carrying out such program, to address issues such as the early detection and assessment of environmental threats and to develop an early warning system for potential catastrophic environmental threats to forests. Authorizes appropriations.