[Senate Report 108-252]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 469
108th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     108-252


                 March 29, 2004.--Ordered to be printed


   Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2696]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the Act (H.R. 2696) to establish Institutes to 
demonstrate and promote the use of adaptive ecosystem 
management to reduce the risk of wildfires, and restore the 
health of fire-adapted forest and woodland ecosystems of the 
interior West, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommends that the Act do pass.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of H.R. 2696 is to establish institutes to 
demonstrate and promote the use of adaptive ecosystem 
management and collaborative processes to reduce the risk of 
wildfires, and restore the health of fire-adapted forest and 
woodland ecosystems in the interior West.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Research shows a trend towards large, severe, and frequent 
wildfires in the dry forests and woodland ecosystems of the 
interior West. This trend is a symptom of unhealthy forests, 
and there is a significant focus on conducting hazardous fuel 
reduction treatments to reduce the risk of severe wildfire and 
to restore the health of these forests. However, the science 
behind these treatments is limited and still evolving, and it 
is not always readily available to and utilized by land 
managers. As a result, many forest fuel reduction treatments 
fail to restore these unhealthy forests and effectively reduce 
the risk of unnatural wildfire.
    The quality of treatments must be improved to accomplish 
long-term fire risk reduction and restore forest health. 
Treatments should start with solid science and proceed with 
adaptive ecosystem management. They also should be developed to 
meet the practical needs of managers. To do so, more financial 
resources, collaboration, and outreach is necessary. H.R. 2969 
would facilitate these efforts.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.R. 2696 was introduced on July 10, 2003, by 
Representatives Renzi, Hawarth, Kolbe, McInnis, Pearce, and 
Trancredo. Congressman Udall is a cosponsor. The Committee on 
Resources reported the bill with an amendment in the nature of 
a substitute by unanimous consent on November 21, 2003. On 
February 24, 2004, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 
2696 as amended, by a voice vote. A companion measure, S. 32, 
was introduced by Senators Kyl, Allard, Bingaman, Campbell, and 
Domenici on January 7, 2003. Senators Jeffords and McCain are 
co-sponsors. The Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests held 
a hearing on S. 32 on February 27, 2003. S. Hrg. 108-10. The 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered H.R. 2696 
favorably reported without an amendment on March 10, 2004.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an 
open business session on March 10, 2004, by a unanimous voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title.
    Section 2 sets forth findings, and is self-explanatory.
    Section 3 provides purposes of the measure. Section 3 
incorporates changes requested by the Administration and House 
members to emphasize the need to synthesize and adopt 
scientific findings from conventional research, to facilitate 
the transfer of interdisciplinary knowledge, and for the 
institutes to collaborate with the federal agencies and assist 
federal and non-federal land managers in providing information 
to the public.
    Section 4 defines terms used in the legislation. Section 4 
incorporates changes requested by the Administration and House 
members, including: more complete definitions of ``adaptive 
ecosystem management'' and ``restoration'', and definitions for 
``subdominant trees'', ``overstocked stands'', ``resilience'' 
and ``dry forest and woodland ecosystem''. Dry forest and 
woodland ecosystems include dry forests dominated by Ponderosa 
Pine and associated woodland types include interior Ponderosa 
Pine, Pinyon-Juniper, Arizona Cypress, and interior Douglas-fir 
(commonly referred to as low elevation dry mixed conifer).
    Section 5 directs the Secretary of Agriculture, in 
consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, to establish 
three institutes to promote the use of adaptive ecosystem 
management to reduce the risk of wildlife and restore the 
health of dry forests and woodland ecosystems in the interior 
West. The institutes are to be located at Northern Arizona 
University in Flagstaff, Arizona; at New Mexico Highlands 
University in Las Vegas, New Mexico; and in the State of 
Colorado. This section establishes the duties and 
qualifications of the institutes, requires annual work plans, 
and authorizes the establishment of additional institutes in 
the future. Section 5 incorporates changes requested by the 
Administration, including a list of specific duties of the 
    Section 6 requires the Secretary of Agriculture, in 
consultation with the Secretary of the Interior to provide 
financial and technical assistance to the institutes to carry 
out the duties of the institutes, to the extent that funds are 
appropriated. The Secretary is directed to encourage Federal 
agencies to use, on a cooperative basis, the information and 
expertise provided by the institutes. The Secretary is 
authorized to accept funds from other Federal agencies, and 
support and encourage educational opportunities. Additionally, 
the Secretaries are authorized to promulgate regulations to 
carry out the legislation.
    Section 7 directs the Secretary of Agriculture, in 
consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, to complete a 
detailed evaluation of each institute five years after the date 
of enactment of this legislation and every 5 years thereafter. 
If the Secretary determines that an institute does not qualify 
for further Federal assistance, then no further funding shall 
be provided to the institute until such time as the 
qualifications of the institute are reestablished to the 
satisfaction of the Secretaries. Section 7 incorporates changes 
requested by the Administration and House members, including a 
description of the specific activities to be evaluated.
    Section 8 authorizes $15,000,000 per year for 
implementation of the Act and incorporates the Administration's 
suggestion that no funds authorized under the Act may be used 
to construct facilities.


    The following estimate of the costs of this measure has 
been provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 17, 2004.
Hon. Pete V. Domenici,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2696, the 
Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Megan 
                                       Doulgas Holtz-Eakin,

H.R. 2696--Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004

    Summary: H.R. 2696 would authorize the appropriation of $15 
million a year for the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 
and provide assistance to three research institutes. Those 
institutes would develop strategies to reduce the risk of 
wildfires and enhance the health of forests in certain western 
states. CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would 
cost $2 million in 2004 and $86 million over the 2004-2009 
period, assuming appropriation of the specified amounts. H.R. 
2696 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
    H.R. 2696 contains no governmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: For this 
estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 2696 will be enacted in fiscal 
year 2004 and that authorized amounts will be appropriated each 
year as specified in the legislation. Estimates of outlays are 
based on historical spending patterns for similar activities. 
The estimated budgetary impact of H.R. 2696 is shown in the 
following table. The costs of this legislation fall within 
budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

                                                                  By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                              2004     2005     2006     2007     2008     2009
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 Authorization Level.......................................       15       15       15       15       15       15
Estimated Outlays.........................................        2       10       20       21       18       15

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 2696 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments. The act would authorize the appropriation 
of federal funds to establish and fund research institutes that 
could be located at state universities in Arizona, New Mexico, 
and Colorado. Participation by these states would be voluntary.
    Previous CBO estimate: On September 30, 2003, CBO 
transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 2696 as ordered reported 
by the House Committee on Resources on September 24, 2003. The 
two versions of this legislation are identical. Differences in 
our estimates of outlays reflect a change in the assumed 
enactment date.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Megan Carroll; Impact 
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie Miller; and 
Impact on the Private Sector: Selena Caldera.
    Estimate approved by: Robert A. Sunshine, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.


    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out H.R. 2696.
    The bill is not a regulator measure in the sense of 
imposing Government-established standards or significant 
economic responsibilities on private individuals and 
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of H.R. 2696.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    On March 11, 2004, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of 
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting 
forth executive views on H.R. 2696. These reports had not been 
received at the time the report on H.R. 2696 was filed. When 
the report becomes available, the Chairman will request that 
they be printed in the Congressional Record for the advice of 
the Senate. The testimony provided by the Department of 
Agriculture at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 32 follows:

 Statement of Jim Reaves, Director, Vegetation Management & Protection 
          Research, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture

    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to appear before you today. I am Jim Reaves, 
Director, Vegetation Management & Protection Research. With me 
today is David Cleaves, National Program Leader for Fire 
Systems Research. I would like to present the Administration's 
views on S. 32--the Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire 
Prevention Act of 2003 and S. 278--the Mount Naomi Wilderness 
Boundary Adjustment Act.
S. 32--The Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2003
    S. 32 would establish three institutes in the interior West 
that would promote the use of adaptive ecosystem management to 
reduce the risk of wildfires and improve the health of forest 
and woodland ecosystems. We support the intent of S. 32 to 
institutionalize research on adaptive management processes and 
ensure that sound scientific research products reach, and are 
utilized by, land managers in the field. We have some concerns 
regarding how the bill is currently drafted and would like to 
work with the sponsors on modifications to the bill. We commend 
Senator Kyl and the other sponsors of this bill for recognizing 
the importance of research needs in this area.
    A trend that has become increasingly apparent during the 
last few years is that wildland fires, especially in the West, 
are becoming larger and burning hotter. These fires are 
increasingly more difficult to control and cause much more 
environmental damage. During the 2002 fire season nearly 73,000 
fires burned 7.2 million ares and damaged or destroyed 3,000 
structures. While most of this fire damage was in the West, the 
potential for significant property losses and resource impacts 
from wildland fire and degradation of forest health occurs in 
many other areas of the country. The issues and problems of 
fire and fuel management are truly national in scope.
    In addition to the direct damage caused by wildfires, 
harmful non-indigenous plant species such as cheatgrass invade 
burned over areas, predispose them to even greater fire risk, 
and threaten healthy ecosystems and biological diversity. 
Forests where fire has been excluded are also at increased risk 
from insect and disease infestations; and can experience 
significant shifts in composition away from the most desirable 
tree species for wood products or wildfire.
    We agree with S. 32 that meeting these challenges 
effectively and efficiently requires a solid foundation in 
scientific knowledge and the ability to rapidly convert new 
scientific insights into technology and tools. We also agree 
that more research attention should be given to fire and forest 
health, not only in the interior West, but also throughout the 

                         current fire research

    Congress recognized the need for scientific information and 
tools to support fuel and fire management programs and 
established the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) in 1998. The 
JFSP is a partnership of six federal wildland management and 
research organizations represented by a 10-member Governing 
Board that oversees and manages the program. Since its 
inception the JFSP has partnered with 45 universities and 
funded 178 research projects in 43 states, Puerto Rico, and the 
District of Columbia.
    Beginning in 2001, additional research funds were made 
available through the National Fire Plan. National Fire Plan 
research, led by 78 research teams in the Forest Service 
regional research stations addresses firefighting, fuels 
management, restoration and rehabilitation, and community 
preparedness to directly support the goals of the Ten-Year 
Comprehensive Fire Strategy. The NFP-funded research teams 
support research in all 50 states, including 329 cooperative 
studies with 56 universities, non-government organizations, and 
private sector partners across the country. In addition to 
university partnerships, both the JFSP and the NFP are working 
with State and local agencies, not-for-profit groups such as 
Tall Timbers Research Station and The Nature Conservancy, as 
well as several for-profit companies. More than one third of 
the NFP funding in the first two years of the program has been 
invested with universities and other partners.
    Research conducted under both the JFSP and the NFP 
addresses national and regional priorities and receives 
national level oversight to ensure coordination and 
applicability of products. Funds are allocated competitively 
with the involvement of fire managers and other users in the 
determination of needs and the selection of projects. 
Accountability is assured through annual progress and 
accomplishment reports. The strength of the two programs is 
their ability to design their research with the help of 
managers in the agencies and to deliver research results and 
tools through established training programs and other 
    S. 32 focuses on the problem of fire research in a portion 
of the interior West. However, wildland fire risks and forest 
health concerns are national in scale and growing in size and 
complexity. We agree that many problems need to be addressed on 
a regional basis. We also believe that the scarcity of funding 
for fire research relative to the problem demands a national 
perspective and national oversight. In particular, the measure 
appears to create an expectation that affected agencies will be 
required to provide allocations to the centers without regard 
to overall budgetary constraints, and lead to a further 
diluting of scarce fire research funding. Oversight and 
coordination are necessary to assure that critical diversity of 
scientific talent and critical funding masses be directed at 
problems for protection of all regions and minimize disruptions 
to other ongoing research endeavors.


    We think S. 32 should not only address the problem of fire 
in the interior West, but also address this issue nationwide. 
This approach would enhance existing collaborative efforts to 
investigate and develop management tools that would enable 
public and private land managers to manage fires and prevent 
the spread of invasive species throughout the Nation.
    Some changes we recommend for S. 32 include:
           Clarify the definition of adaptive 
        management and the scope of work of the centers 
        relating to forest and rangeland ecosystems research;
           Ensure that research comports with criteria 
        related to quality, relevance and performance;
           Participate in meeting national needs on 
        complex problems and permit the Departments latitude in 
        the identification of the optimal locations for the 
        establishment of the centers created under this bill;
           Provide federal research and land manager 
        oversight of the program, including setting of 
        priorities and direction, to lead to selection of 
        projects and products that are awarded on a merit-based 
        competitive, and peer reviewed process;
           Ensure accountability through ongoing 
        monitoring and periodic evaluation of funded 
           Build on existing fire research and 
        technology transfer capacity to avoid unnecessary 
        duplication of efforts and resources;
           Improve coordination of existing federal, 
        state, university, and private research capacity, and 
        establish non-federal cost-share requirements; and
           Utilize and improve existing authorities for 
        centers of excellence such as Cooperative Ecosystem 
        Studies Unit program and the granting programs of the 
        Cooperative States Research, Education, and Extension 
    We would like to work with the Subcommittee as it further 
considers S. 32.
S. 278--Mount Naomi Wilderness Boundary Adjustment Act
    The Department supports S. 278, a bill that would adjust 
the boundary of the Mount Naomi Wilderness in the Wasatch-Cache 
National Forest in Utah. We believe the boundary adjustment 
will create a higher level of wilderness value by improving the 
area's solitude, scenery, and pristine qualities. We supported 
similar legislation that was considered during the 107th 
    The boundary adjustment would exclude approximately 31 
acres of land currently part of the Mount Naomi Wilderness and, 
subject to with valid existing rights, would add 31 acres to 
the wilderness area. The bill also requires the Secretary to 
manage the 31 additional acres pursuant to the Utah Wilderness 
Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-428).
    This adjustment would allow for the alignment of the 
Bonneville Shoreline trail, which is a multi-county 
recreational trail. The trail is designed predominately for 
heavy non-motorized use, which does not conform to use a 
wilderness trail. The boundary adjustment would also eliminate 
the need for a power line easement within the wilderness area, 
which is also a non-conforming use.
    This concludes my statement and we look forward to working 
with the Subcommittee. I would be happy to answer any questions 
you may have.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the Act H.R. 2696 as 
ordered reported.