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Feinstein-Wyden Bill To Sell-Out National Forests

by Feinstein-Wyden Saturday, Sep. 21, 2002 at 9:00 AM

The final Feinstein-Wyden bill authorizing a massive timber giveaway under the guise of "fuel reduction" in our national forests is in. While lying to her constituents that the proposed bill would only target non-native species for fuel reduction, her final draft allows for millions of acres of timber to be logged. Furthermore, it exempts such projects from environmental review and other requirements specified in the National Environmental Policy Act. By terrorizing the public with overblown fears of wildfire, our county's last public forests are again at risk.

The following is the final Feinstein-Wyden bill authorizing a massive timber giveaway under the guise of "fuel reduction" in our national forests is in. While lying to her constituents that the proposed bill would only target non-native species for fuel reduction, her final draft allows for millions of acres of timber to be logged. Furthermore, it exempts such projects from environmental review and other requirements specified in the National Environmental Policy Act. By terrorizing the public with overblown fears of wildfire, our county's last public forests are again at risk. Protect our forests for our children's future: oppose Feinstein-Wyden's S.2708.

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

Final draft

AMENDMENT NO._____ Calendar NO. 478

Purpose: To expedite procedures for hazardous fuels reduction activities and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES-107TH Cong., 2nd Sess.

S. 2708

Making appropriations for the Department of the Interior and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003, and for other purposes.

AMENDMENT intended to be proposed by

Viz:

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

"SEC. ____

(a) FINDINGS: Congress finds that:

1) In 2002 approximately six and one half million acres of forest lands in the U.S. have burned, 21 people have lost their lives, and 3079 structures have been destroyed. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have spent more than $1 billion fighting these fires.

2) 73 million acres of public lands are classified as Class 3 fire risks. This includes 23 million acres that are in strategic areas designated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior for emergency treatment to withstand catastrophic fire.

3) The Forest management policy of fire suppression has resulted in an accumulation of fuel load, dead and dying trees, and non-native species that create fuel ladders which allow fires to reach the crowns of large old trees and cause catastrophic fire.

4) The U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior should immediately undertake an emergency program to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.

(b) IN GENERAL.- The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior shall conduct immediately and to completion projects consistent with the Implementation Plan for the 10-year Comprehensive Strategy for a Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment, (the 10 year study) dated May 2002, developed pursuant to the Conference Report to the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001 (House Report 106-646) to reduce hazardous fuels on lands in condition class 3 as defined in the 10-year study. Any project carried out pursuant to this section shall be consistent with the applicable forest plan, resource management plan, or other applicable agency plans.

(c) PRIORITY.- In implementing projects under this section, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior shall give highest priority to fire risk condition class 3 lands in-

(1) wildland urban interface areas;

(2) municipal watersheds; or

(3) forested or rangeland areas affected by disease, insect infestation or wind throw or areas subject to catastrophic reburn.

(d) ACREAGE LIMITATION.- In implementing this section, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior shall treat an aggregate area of not more than 7 million acres of federal land.

(e) PROCESS.- The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior shall jointly develop a collaborative process with interested parties consistent with the Implementation Plan described in subsection (b) for the selection of projects carried out under this section consistent with subsection (c). Such collaborative process may be the process set forth in title II of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, Public Law 106-393.

(f) ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS.-

(1) REVIEW.- Projects implemented pursuant to sub-section (g) shall not be subject to appeal requirements of the Appeals Reform Act (section 322 of Public Law 102-381) or Department of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeal. Nothing in this section will affect projects begun prior to enactment of this Act.

(2) REGULATIONS.- The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, as appropriate, may promulgate such regulations as are necessary to implement this section.

(g) CATEGORICAL EXCLUSIONS.- (1) Subject to paragraph (2), until September 30, 2003, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior may categorically exclude a proposed hazardous fuels reduction action from documentation in an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment if the proposed hazardous fuels reduction action is located on lands identified as fire risk condition class 3 as determined by the Forest Service and the Department of Interior and pursuant to scientific mapping surveys. For each project the Forest Service shall remove no more than 250,000 board feet of merchantable wood products or no more than 1,000,000 board feet of merchantable salvage and assure regeneration of harvested or salvaged areas.

(2) Scoping is required on all actions proposed pursuant to this sub-section.

(h) CONCLUSIVE PRESUMPTION.- Within one-half mile of any community, hazardous fuels reduction actions authorized by subsection (g) are conclusively determined to be categorically excluded from further analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of the Interior as appropriate need not make any findings as to whether the projects individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment.

(i) EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES.- For all projects implemented pursuant to this section, if there are extraordinary circumstances, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior shall follow agency procedures related to categorical exclusions and extraordinary circumstances.

(j) LIMITATIONS.- In implementing projects under this section that reduce the risk of unnaturally intense wildfires, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior -

(1) shall not construct new roads in inventoried roadless areas as part of any project implemented pursuant to this section; and

(2) shall maintain an ecologically sufficient number of old and large trees appropriate for each ecosystem type and shall focus on thinning from below for all projects implemented pursuant to this section.

(k) HAZARDOUS FUELS REDUCTION FUNDING FOCUS. - (1) Of funds expended for projects conducted pursuant to this section, at least 70% shall be expended on projects within one-half mile of any community or within municipal watersheds identified in resource management or forest plans.

(2) The Secretaries shall submit a report to Congress within 24 months after the date of enactment of this Act which shall include any information pertaining to any barriers that prevent projects from moving forward.

(3) The Secretaries shall establish a multiparty monitoring process in order to assess a representative sampling of the projects implemented pursuant to this section.

(4) Funds to implement this subsection shall be derived from hazardous fuels reduction funds.

(l) DURATION OF INJUNCTION- Any temporary injunctive relief granted regarding a project undertaken pursuant to this section shall be limited to 60 days, with authority to renew each temporary injunction without limitation. For each injunctive renewal the parties shall present the court with updates on the status of the project. Nothing in this section shall change the standards of judicial review for any action brought under this section.

(m) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Appeals Reform Act (section 322 of Public Law 102-381), the Secretary of Agriculture may require persons filing administrative appeals to hazardous fuels reduction projects to demonstrate that the appellant has specifically raised the issue for which review is sought prior to the close of the notice and comment period.

(n) Nothing in this section shall affect projects begun prior to enactment of this Act or affect authorities otherwise granted to the Secretaries under existing law.

(o) Quincy Library Group Initiative

(1) Congress reaffirms its original intent that the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act of 1998 be implemented.

(2) Congress hereby extends the expiration of the Quincy Library Group Act by five years.


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