Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (05/17/2006)

Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act - Title I: Response to Catastrophic Events on Federal Lands (Sec. 101) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to National Forest System (NFS) land or the Secretary of the Interior with respect to public lands (the Secretary concerned) to develop specified research protocols for conducting and evaluating the effectiveness of a catastrophic event recovery project and emergency stabilization treatments undertaken as part of a burned area emergency response to increase the long-term benefits of management activities and to decrease the short-term impacts of such management activities. Subjects the research protocols developed and any subsequent modification of such protocols to peer review. Requires submission of the research protocols to Congress.

Allows the Secretary concerned, in accordance with the research protocols, to conduct one or more research projects in an area of land damaged by a catastrophic event. Permits the development of: (1) a proposed research project as part of a catastrophic event recovery proposal; or (2) a research project independently of the recovery proposal during the catastrophic event recovery in response to changing conditions in the area damaged by the catastrophic event.

Requires public access to research protocols and project results.

Requires the Secretary concerned, in developing and using the research protocols, to enter into cooperative agreements with institutions of higher education to form forest health partnerships to utilize such institutions' abilities to address the catastrophic event recovery of forested land. Permits a forest health partnership to be aligned with the current network of Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units.

(Sec. 102) Requires the Secretary concerned in response to a catastrophic event affecting 1,000 acres or more of federal land, and permits the Secretary concerned in response to a catastrophic event affecting than 250 acres of federal land but less than 1,000 acres, to conduct a catastrophic event recovery evaluation (recovery evaluation) of the damaged federal land. Specifies the times for commencement and completion of such required and discretionary recovery evaluations. Permits extension of the deadline for completion for a recovery evaluation on a case-by-case basis when additional time is necessary. Permits only a single extension to be provided for any recovery evaluation and requires the extension to not be longer than 60 days after the date on which the evaluation was otherwise required to be completed. Enumerates the elements that shall be prepared in the conduct of a recovery evaluation for an area of federal land damaged by a catastrophic event, including a recovery proposal.

Requires determinations of whether or not: (1) any pre-approved management practices that should be immediately implemented; and (2) any recovery or research project contained in the recovery proposal should be developed and carried out using the emergency procedures authorized by section 105 of this Act. Instructs the Secretary concerned to consult with the Council on Environmental Quality, but states that the determination remains in the sole discretion of the Secretary.

Requires the Secretary concerned, in order to conduct the recovery evaluation of an area of federal land damaged by a catastrophic event, to use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach that ensures the integrated use of appropriate natural and social sciences.

Permits the combination of the preparation of a recovery evaluation of federal land with the preparation of a landscape assessment for nonfederal land in the vicinity of the damaged federal land prepared pursuant to subtitle B of title II of this Act or the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.

Instructs the Secretary concerned, during preparation of a recovery evaluation for an area of federal land damaged by a catastrophic event involving wildfire, to consider post-fire management recommendations contained in any community wildfire protection plan addressing the damaged federal land.

Requires public notice of: (1) recovery evaluations (including recovery proposals); and (2) public meetings conducted in connection with recovery evaluations and the availability of preliminary analyses or documents prepared as part of each recovery evaluation.

(Sec. 103) Requires the Secretary concerned to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and applicable laws and regulations in designing and conducting recovery projects and research projects. Deems specified activities concerning the preparation and use of pre-approved management practices required by this Act and the use of emergency procedures provided under this Act to satisfy certain requirements of the Act and its implementing regulations.

(Sec. 104) Directs such Secretary concerned to prepare, using required notice and comment rules, a list of pre-approved management practices, by forest type or plant association group, that may be immediately implemented as part of recovery projects or research projects. Subjects a management practice to peer review. Requires the results of such peer reviews to be made available to the public during the comment period. Permits amendment or revision of the list as necessary.

Prohibits the use of pre-approved management practices for specified road construction and timber harvesting activities.

Permits the Secretary concerned to use specified emergency consultative procedures in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act in the case of a proposed use of a pre-approved management practice included on the list. Requires, at the conclusion of the consultation, the issuance of a specified statement for any incidental taking that may occur while using such practice. Sets forth requirements for: (1) additional consultation; (2) the decision document; (3) implementation of such practice immediately after issuance of the decision; and (4) third-party monitoring. Allows compliance with any applicable requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to proceed simultaneously with the implementation of a pre-approved management practice.

(Sec. 105) Provides that, if the Secretary concerned determines to utilize the emergency procedures under section 102 of this Act to conduct a recovery project or research project such Secretary need not study, develop, or describe more than the proposed agency action and the alternative of no action in designing that project for which the emergency procedures are utilized.

Prohibits the use of emergency procedures under this Act for use for specified road construction and timber harvesting activities.

Permits the Secretary concerned to use specified emergency consultative procedures in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act in the case of a catastrophic recovery project or catastrophic event research project when emergency procedures are used. Requires, at the conclusion of the consultation, the issuance of a specified statement for any incidental taking that may occur. Sets forth requirements for: (1) additional consultation; (2) the decision document; (3) implementation of such practice immediately after issuance of the decision; and (4) third-party monitoring. Allows compliance with any applicable requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to proceed simultaneously with the design of a catastrophic event recovery project or catastrophic event research project, or part of such a project, for which emergency procedures are used.

(Sec. 106) Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate regulations to establish a predecisional administrative review process that will serve as the only means by which such Secretary will provide notice and solicit comments, and an individual can seek administrative review, regarding: (1) the proposed use of a pre-approved management practice on NFS land; and (2) a catastrophic recovery project or research project for which the emergency procedures under section 105 of this Act are used on NFS land.

Provides for judicial review with respect to the implementation of a pre-approved management practice or a recovery project or research project for which the applicable administrative review process has been exhausted.

(Sec. 107) Directs the Secretary concerned to standardize data collection procedures and clarify agency-wide guidance regarding reforestation in response to catastrophic events.

(Sec. 108) Sets forth provisions concerning the effects of this title on: (1) other authorities; (2) local contractors; and (3) advisory committees.

(Sec. 109) Provides standards for standing dead tree and downed wood retention in the planning and conducting of any catastrophic event recovery or research project. Prohibits such standards from applying if specified scientific guidelines provide more appropriate standing dead tree and downed wood retention guidelines. Allows the Secretary concerned to amend a land and resource management plan to incorporate standing dead tree and downed wood retention guidelines specific to forest type or plant association group.

Title II: Restoring Landscapes and Communities Impacted by Catastrophic Events - Subtitle A: Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 - ( Sec. 201) Allows the Secretary of Agriculture, at the request of an eligible entity, to cooperate with such eligible entity in the preparation of landscape assessment for nonfederal lands affected by a catastrophic event. Allows for the combining of the preparation of a landscape assessment with the preparation of a recovery evaluation regarding federal land in the vicinity of the damaged nonfederal land. Permits the Secretary, at the request of an eligible entity affected by a catastrophic event, to cooperate with such eligible entity in the preparation of a community wildfire protection plan or related plan.

Specifies the types of technical and financial cost-share assistance that may be provided to an eligible entity, including for implementation of special recovery projects identified in the landscape assessment or community wildfire protection plan, community assessment, or community action plan. Permits the use of additional funding sources from amounts appropriated to the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out provisions relating to forest health protection and rural fire prevention and control in order to provide assistance under this subtitle.

Subtitle B: Department of the Interior Assistance - (Sec. 211) Makes similar amendments with regard to the Department of the Interior.

Title III: Experimental Forests - (Sec. 302) Provides for the availability and use of pre-approved management practices and section 105 emergency procedures in National Forest experimental forests.

Title IV: General Provisions - (Sec. 401) States that, except as provided in this Act, the Secretary concerned is not required to promulgate regulations to implement this Act.

(Sec. 402) Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish separate special accounts in the Treasury for the Secretary concerned into which 10% of the gross proceeds derived from recovery projects and research projects shall be deposited in the accounts to be spent to: (1) develop the research protocols; (2) prepare and implement research projects; and (3) provide for monitoring.

(Sec. 403) Amends the Knutson-Vandenberg Act to: (1) allow the Secretary of Agriculture to use excess amounts from a special fund for coverage of the costs of tree planting, seed sowing, and forest improvement work to cover the costs of the activities under title I of this Act; and (2) provide that the excess amounts will not be needed for activities under that title during the fiscal year in which the transfer would be made.

Amends the National Forest Management Act to: (1) provide for monetary deposits by purchasers of salvage timber harvests on NFS lands to be used to cover the costs of activities of the Secretary of Agriculture under title I of this Act; and (2) provide for sums found to be in excess of the cost of accomplishing the purposes for which deposits of money are available under such provisions to be transferred to miscellaneous receipts in the Treasury.

Provides for immediate availability of money in a revolving fund derived from the disposal of salvage timber on lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cover the costs of BLM activities under title I of this Act.

(Sec. 404) Permits the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse the Secretary concerned for any assistance provided to nonfederal land damaged by a catastrophic event and that is also designated as a major disaster area by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Limits reimbursements to those activities authorized under such Act for which any such assistance is provided.