15 Feb 2008, 2:09pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

S. 2593 - The Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2008

On February 5th Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S. 2593, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2008. It is similar in some respects to the Pacific Northwest Forest Legacy Act suggested by Rep. Peter DeFazio in January [here], but Bingaman’s bill is also substantially different.

The full text of S. 2593 is [here]. An excerpt:

The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, shall establish a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to select and fund ecological restoration treatments for priority forest landscapes in accordance with applicable law.

(b) Eligibility Criteria- To be eligible for nomination under subsection (c), a collaborative forest landscape restoration proposal shall-

(1) be based on a landscape restoration strategy that-

(A) is complete or substantially complete;

(B) identifies and prioritizes ecological restoration treatments for a 10-year period across a landscape that is-

(i) at least 50,000 acres;

(ii) comprised primarily of forested National Forest System land, but may also include other Federal, State, tribal, or private land;

(iii) in need of active ecosystem restoration; and

(iv) accessible by existing or proposed wood-processing infrastructure at an appropriate scale to use woody biomass and small-diameter wood removed in ecological restoration treatments;

All analyses and comments are more than welcome, they are urgently needed. Please review and send us your thinking. Thank you.

15 Feb 2008, 3:49pm
by Mike

The exact same bill has been introduced in the House (by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands) as HR 5263.

16 Feb 2008, 1:23pm
by Mike

The bill(s) need (among other things) some program to analyze the historical (i.e. prior cultural) landscape conditions.

Restore means to return to some previous condition. That cannot be accomplished if the previous conditions are unknown.

Some effort has to made to elucidate reference conditions. It is clear to many of us that any and all reference conditions were greatly influenced by the human residents during the entire Holocene. That means anthropology, historical landscape geography, and paleo-ethno-ecology must be included in the package.

16 Feb 2008, 1:36pm
by Mike

In addition, a re-examination of the mission of the USFS must also be included. To what degree does S. 2593 comport with the Organic Act (OA), Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act (MU-SYA), National Forest Management Act (NFMA), etc.?

The bill cites the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which in turn cites the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (FRRRPA). Yet those laws conflict with S. 2593, in my non-legal opinion. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) also come into play.

If we don’t treat our old-growth stands, the old-growth trees will die. They are dying today, in stand-replacement fires, from bug infestations, and from fungal pathogens. That was the message Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin delivered in their testimony of Dec 13, 2007.

The other laws establish the mission of the USFS. To a great extent the de facto mission today is confused and disharmonious with all prior controlling laws. If S. 2593 is going to fix that problem (and it is necessary if the projects desired under S. 2593 are really going to happen), then the new bill must address the mission creep.

18 Feb 2008, 10:57am
by Forrest Grump

193 million acres, a bazillion of that in Class 3 and or 2, no mention of class status in the legislation. Never mind the scale is tiny…ten projects, 500,000 acres total of the entire land base. One big fire avoided…ten years from now?

Clearly, the Senate and their staffers lack a clue either of the nature or extent of the real problem. I say we kidnap them all sometime in August and apply them to the landscape with duct tape.

18 Feb 2008, 12:31pm
by Mike

FG - I’m working on modifications now, such as adding another zero or two to the project numbers. And removing the hidden landmines, of which there are many.

Whether our expert public input (yours and mine) into our own government is worth a hill of beans remains to be seen.

Not sure if duct tape is the right material. I suggest we get a rope, as in, “Get a rope.”

22 Feb 2008, 8:33pm
by dawnwolf

40 million dollars to create projects of 50,000 acres provides a maximum of $800 an acre for one project, or two projects (100,000 acres) at $400 an acre. Not much for all the fuss.

22 Feb 2008, 9:05pm
by Mike

We have worked out many of the kinks in S. 2593. Not quite ready yet for public review, but a modified bill is being discussed in the Members Forum.

At least 5 million acres a year should be restored, which would be 100 x 50,000. That’s one of the suggested changes.

True restoration pays for itself, but start up money is required to get things going. After a few years the program pays for itself.

23 Feb 2008, 7:21pm
by Ted S.

You have to wonder what it is going to take to receive any recognition from Congress of the magnitude of the problem with appeals and lawsuits that can stop vital projects like these.

It strikes me that the only, and I mean only, solution is for new laws (or revisions of existing) to re-level the playing field for “all projects that fall within the standards established by each Forest Plan EIS [Environmental Impact Statement].

Drop CEs and EAs [Categorical Exclusions and Environmental Analyses] and institute Reviews by Advisory Committees on a sampling basis to see if projects are in fact within S&Gs [Standards and Guidelines] set in Plans. Sampling intensity could be set by Advisory Boards, but their Findings would be final.

Advisory Boards could use existing rules for identifying who their members are. Eliminate challenges to EAs/CEs.

These instruments would only be used to present project proposals to Advisory Boards as part of a Forest’s Proposed Work Plan for each year.

In future years, as those projects are implemented on the ground, it will be a Review Committee from Advisory Board membership that would field review those projects for consistency with Forest Plan S&Gs, and document their Findings.

Projects found not meeting S&Gs would be required to be modified until they do, or dropped all together until the Forest gets their act together.

Other than for enviro-maniacs, this should provide sufficient public oversight.



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