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Forest Fire Hoax

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  September 6, 1996
  	The summer wild fire season has brought a renewed round of
  propaganda from the forest products industry regarding the 
  alleged link between the present fires and supposedly insufficient 
  salvage logging on the national forests and Bureau of Land 
  Management lands in the past.  All of this bluster is, of course, 
  being used to defend the need for and propriety of the Emergency 
  Salvage Timber Sale Program set up by the "salvage" or "lawless 
  logging" rider which was attached to the 1995 Recissions Act.  
  As the November election approaches, the controversial issues 
  surrounding the passage and implementation of the rider will likely
  receive renewed attention from the candiates, media, and public.  
  The approaching expiration of the rider at the end of the calendar 
  year will doubtless see renewed congressional attention to the 
  efforts in the Senate to extend or institutionalize some or all of 
  the provisions of the rider as well.  The use of salvage logging 
  to reduce the threat of fires will certainly remain a favorite 
  talking point of rider proponents.
  	The Congressional Research Service, or CRS, has completed 
  several reports concerning the issue of using salvage logging to 
  manage fuel load in forests.  The conclusions reached in the CRS 
  reports, combined with the reputation of the CRS as solidly 
  non-partisan and professional, call into question the claims of 
  salvage logging proponents regarding fire control.  Two of these 
  reports are included below.
  	Additional CRS reports can be found on the web at 
  <http://www.cnie.org/nle/>.  Another excellent report on fire 
  and forest health can be found on the Southwest Center for 
  Biodiversity web page at 
     Congressional Research Service
     Reportfor Congress
  Forest Fires and Forest Health
     Ross W. Gorte
     Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
     Environmentand Natural Resources Policy Division
     95-511 ENR
     Updated July 14, 1995
     Interest in fuel management, to reduce fire control costs and damages,
     has beenrenewed with the numerous, destructive wildfires spread across
     the West duringthe summer of 1994. Fuel management is often linked to
     forest health, sincemajor forest health concerns include excess
     biomass (i.e., fuelloadings) and catastrophic fires. Several tools,
     such as prescribed burning andsalvage timber sales, can address these
     problems, but the extent of the problemand the cost of needed
     treatments are genera lly unknown. Fuel management maywell reduce fire
     control costs and damages, but the evidence is largelyanecdotal, with
     few documented estimates of the decline in control costs and/ordamages
     associated with fuel treatments. Finally, the roles and
     responsibilitiesof the Federal and State governments in fire
     protection may be subject tofurther debate.
     The 1994 fire season saw numerous large wildfires, with the deaths of
     severalfirefighters and the destruction of many structures. Many
     observers suggestedthat the extent and severity of the fires was
     largely due to the poor health ofthe national forests of the West.(1)
     These observers argue that activities toimprove forest health by
     reducing fuel loadings will also reduce fire controlcosts and fire
     damages. This report describes fuel management and its benefitsfor
     controlling wildfires and for reducing fire damages, and discusses
     therelative roles and responsibilities of the Federal and State
     governments inwildfire protection.(2)
     The Forest Service began moving into fuel management in the 1960s, to
     reduce thenet cost of wildfires to society. Although numerous
     techniques can be used, oneof the most common is prescribed burning --
     intentionally setting fires withinestablished control boundaries under
     prescribed conditions to burn the existingfuels when and where the
     fire can be contained. Occasionally, weather conditionschange, and
     prescribed fires escape, causing unanticipated damages; for
     example,the Mack Lake fire in Michigan in May 1980 was a prescribed
     fire that escapedand killed one person and destroyed 44 homes and
     buildings.(3) Despite theobvious risks, however, prescribed burning
     can be an efficient tool for reducingsmall-diameter fuels at or near
     ground level.
     Salvage timber operations can also be used to reduce fuel loadings.
     The TimberSalvage Sale Fund is a self-financing, permanently
     appropriated special account,with receipts from designated salvage
     sales deposited into the account for usein preparing and administering
     future salvage sales (and for road constructionassociated with those
     salvage sales).(4) To the extent that salvage sales removewoody
     materials from the forest, they can be considered fuel
     managementactivities. Furthermore, they can be legitimate tools for
     achieving desiredforest health conditions.(5) However, because they
     have to be sold, salvagesales must focus at least partially on
     removing merchantable wood, and reducingfuel loadings or achieving
     desired forest conditions could be compromised. At aminimum, salvage
     sales are insufficient to fulfill the latter goals. Inaddition,
     salvage sales can be costly to the U.S. Treasury; they often cost
     morethan the revenues they can generate, because timber quality is
     lower andoperating costs for the buyers are higher.
     Other tools for reducing fuel loadings also exist. Pruning,
     precommercialthinning, and mechanical or chemical release can reduce
     live biomass and make itmore susceptible to elimination, naturally
     (through decomposition or wildfire)or in prescribed fires. However,
     these tools are less commonly used because oftheir relatively high
     Finally, the possible extent of fuel management and forest health
     activities islargely undefined. To date, the discussions of prescribed
     burning, salvagesales, and other fuel management or forest health
     activities have identifiedneither the acreage needing treatment nor
     the likely treatment costs. Treatmentcosts probably range from less
     than $100 to more than $1,000 per acre; "average"costs may be about
     $250 per acre. If 10 percent of the National Forest Systemlands in the
     coterminous western States -- about 14 million acres -- weretreated,
     total treatment costs would be $3.5 billion, roughly equal to
     theannual Forest Service budget. However, these "guesstimates" are
     verycoarse; needed treatments might cost less than $1 billion or more
     than $10billion, and could be spread over a decade or more.
     In general, when wildfires occur, the fire organization swings into
     full gear totry to stop them. For several years, beginning in the late
     1970s, the ForestService and the National Park Service had "prescribed
     natural fire''policies. In wilderness areas and Park System units with
     fire management plans,wildfires burning within prescribed situations
     were monitored, rather thanaggressively suppressed. (These policies
     have been colloquially known as "let-burn"policies.) In recognition of
     the financial and environmental costs of totalfire suppression, these
     policies permitted the use of wildfires to achieve thegoals of
     prescribed fires. Following the Yellowstone fires in 1988, however,
     theuse of prescribed natural fire was halted. While one can question
     whether theprescriptions were sufficiently responsive to burning
     conditions (fuel moisture,precipitation, dry lightning, winds, etc.),
     the termination of prescribednatural fire policies may have been an
     overreaction to the public sentiment.
     The public outcry over the fires in Yellowstone and during the summer
     of 1994is, in part, a result of the belief that all wildfires can be
     controlled. Thisbelief is widespread, internally as well as among the
     public, because of ourgeneral success in controlling structural fires
     in urban and suburban areas andbecause all wildfires eventually go
     out. However, most fire experts agree that,because of fuel types and
     loadings, topography, and temporary weather conditions(lasting a few
     hours to several weeks), some fires simply cannot be stopped andsome
     cannot even be influenced. Substantial funds are spent on efforts
     tosuppress what are uncontrollable wildfires. Such efforts contribute
     to thebelief in our ability to stop all wildfires, and lead the public
     to believe thatdamages from wildfires only occur because of the
     Government has been inefficientand ineffective .
     The desire to control all wildfires has also led to a belief that
     fast,aggressive control efforts are efficient, because fires that are
     stopped whilesmall will not become the large, damaging, fearsome fires
     that are so expensiveto control. The belief in efficiency of fast,
     aggressive fire control wasembodied in the 10-acre and 10:00 a.m.
     policies of the 1930s.(6) However, only afraction of fire ignitions
     ever become catastrophic fires, even without firesuppression. These
     10-acre and 10:00 a.m. policies were terminated in the late1970s,
     because research documented that the policies led to organization
     sizeand efforts that far outweighed the benefits of fire control.
     The preferred technique to evaluate the economics of fire control, and
     of fuelmanagement, is known as "least-cost-plus-loss."(7) This
     approach, inessence, asserts that fire control is only justified by
     the damage prevented.Little or no fire control is economically
     justified for wildfires that are doinglittle or no damage (the
     underlying idea for the prescribed natural firepolicies) or for
     wildfires that cannot be controlled (because no damage can
     beprevented). Similarly, fuel management is justified only when the
     treatmentcosts are less than the benefits, either in reduced control
     expenditures or inreduced damages. (See below.) Proponents of forest
     health activities oftenassert that reduced fuel loadings can reduce
     fire control costs and damages.This assertion is logical, and is
     supported by some anecdotal evidence. However,there appears to be very
     little research documentation of widespread firecontrol savings from
     fuel treatment, which is essential to demonstrate the meritof forest
     health activities for fire control savings.
     Wildfires can damage lands and resources. Timber is burned, although
     some may besalvageable. Existing forage, for livestock and wildlife,
     is destroyed. Thereduced vegetation can increase erosion; in severe
     situations, such as southernCalifornia, the result can be mudslides
     when the wet season returns. And burnedareas are not pretty.
     The damages of wildfires on lands and resources are often overstated,
     for tworeasons. First, fires are patchy, leaving unburned areas within
     the fireperimeter. Thus, reports of acres burned, typically calculated
     from theperimeter, overstate the actual acres burned by 10 to 50
     percent, depending onthe local vegetative, weather, and other
     Damages are also usually overstated, because fires do not destroy
     every livingthing within the burned areas. Mature conifers often
     survive even when theirentire crowns are scorched; a few species,
     notably lodgepole pine and jack pine,are serotinous -- their cones
     will only open and spread their seeds when theyhave been exposed to
     the heat of a wildfire. Grasses and other plants are oftenbenefitted
     by wildfire, because fire quickly decomposes organic matter into
     itsmineral components (a process that, in the arid West, may require
     years ordecades without fire), and the flush of nutrients accelerates
     plant growth for afew growing seasons. Few animals are killed by even
     the most severe wildfires;rather, many animals seek out burned sites
     for the newly available minerals andfor the flush of plant growth. And
     erosion is typically far worse along the firecontrol lines than from
     the broad burned areas. The recognition of theseecological benefits
     from fire was a major factor in the end of the 10-acre and10:00 a.m.
     policies and their replacement with fuel management and prescribedfire
     (natural and otherwise).
     Nonetheless, the net damages from wildfires are generally greater when
     firesburn more intensely. Thus, lower fuel loadings may reduce the net
     damages causedby wildfires. Proponents argue that forest health
     activities to reduce fuelloadings also reduce wildfire damages. Again,
     this assertion is logical, and issupported by some anecdotal evidence,
     but there appears to be very littleresearch documenting widespread
     reduction in wildfire damages from fueltreatment. Such evidence is
     critical, however, to justify of forest healthactivities from lower
     fire damages.
     Finally, it should be noted that emergency rehabilitation occurs on
     many of thelarge, severe wildfires. While emergency activities can
     prove beneficial,especially for erosion control, they may inhibit the
     restoration of naturalecological processes. In particular, grasses are
     often seeded in severely burnedareas. However, the quick-growing
     grasses typically used may not be native tothe area, and some grasses
     suppress tree seedling establishment and growth.Thus, while solving
     some environmental problems, emergency rehabilitation maycause other
     The Federal Government clearly has a responsibility for fire
     protection on theFederal lands. The responsibility for protecting
     homes and structures on privatelands in and around the Federal lands,
     however, is less clear. In general, theStates are responsible for fire
     protection on non-federal lands, althoughcooperative agreements may
     shift those responsibilities (especially when arealignment is
     efficient). It may be appropriate to maintain some separation,because
     of structures on non-federal lands and the differences
     betweenstructural fires and wildfires. (Structural firefighters use
     differenttechniques and face different hazards from wildfire fighters,
     but basic Federalfirefighting courses focus on fighting wildfires.)
     Furthermore, the Forest Service has a cooperative fire protection
     program withinits State and Private Forestry branch.. This includes:
     [1] financial andtechnical assistance to State and other governmental
     organizations; [2]equipment loans of excess Federal personal property;
     and [3] cooperative firepreven-tion to provide a nationwide fire
     prevention program through publicservice advertising, education,
     partnerships, and other efforts. FY1994appropriations for cooperative
     fire protection were $17.1 million, but thebudget request for FY1995
     was only $3.7 million, because President Clinton hasproposed
     eliminating the financial assistance program (as was proposed
     severaltimes by Presidents Reagan and Bush).(8)
     Another question is about the relative priorities in wildfire
     suppression.Assuming that the fires can be controlled, should Federal
     firefighting decisionsinclude values at risk on adjoining or
     surrounded non-federal lands? If so, thisis effectively Federal fire
     protection for certain private lands and structures.If not, the
     Federal Government may be liable for damages to private lands
     andstructures from wildfires originating on the Federal lands --
     essentiallyfree Federal fire insurance. In either case, it raises the
     question of whetherFederal responsibility warrants Federal regulation
     -- if the Federal governmentis responsible for fire protection and/or
     insurance, then regulating buildingmaterials, site clearing and
     planting, road construction and access, etc. mightbe appropriate to
     constrain Federal costs.
     l. It is widely accepted that livestock grazing, timber harvesting,
     and firesuppression over the past century have led to unnatural
     conditions -- excessivebiomass (too many trees and dead woody
     material) and altered species mix -- inthe pine forests of the West;
     these condi-tions make the forests moresusceptible to drought, insect
     and disease epidemics, and other forest-widecatastrophes (including
     large wildfires).
     2. For a brief history of Forest Service fire policy and of wildfire
     economics,see: Julie K. Gorte and Ross W. Gorte. Application of
     Economic Techniques toFire Management -- A Status Review and
     Evaluation. Gen.Tech. Rept. INT-53. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service,
     1979. (Hereafter referred toas Gorte and Gorte, Economics of Fire
     3. See: Albert J. Simard, Donald A. Haines, Richard W. Blank, and John
     S.Frost. The Mach Lake Fire. Gen. Tech. Rept. NC-83. St. Paul, MN:
     USDAForest Service, 1983.
     4. Sillce 1988, the Forest Service has been directed by Congress to
     share 25percent of its salvage sale receipts with the States. Since
     100 percent ofreceipts are deposited in the Salvage Fund, the
     receipt-sharing paymentseffectively require transfers from other
     (non-salvage) timber sales. Thisreduces timber sale receipts deposited
     in the U.S. Treasury, and thus coststaxpayers.
     5. See: U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
     SalvageTimber Sales and Forest Health. by Ross W. Gorte. CRS Report
     for CongressNo. 95-364 ENR. Washington, DC: March 10, 1995. 6 pp.
     6. The 10-acre policy was that all fires should be controlled before
     theyreached 10 acres in size; the 10:00 a.m. policy was that, for
     fires exceeding 10acres, efforts should focus on control before the
     next burning period began (at10:00 a.m.).
     7. See: Gorte and Gorte, Economics of Fire Management.
     8. The FY1996 budget request for Cooperative Lands-Fire Management is
     $17.6million, slightly greater than the FY1994 appropriations.
     Congressional Research Service
     Report for Congress
  Forest Health: Overview
     Ross W. Gorte
     Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
     Environment andNatural Resources Policy Division
     April 28, 1995
     95-548 ENR
     The pine ecosystems in the intermountain West are considered by many
     to beunhealthy. While the data are inconclusive, studies show at least
     localizedproblems of timber mortality and dense stands of small trees,
     including a shiftaway from the fire- and drought-resistant pines in
     mixed conifer stands. Theattention has been on the western national
     forests, but not through thecomprehensive land management planning
     processes of the Forest Service and theBureau of Land Management.
     Rather, efforts have focused on authorizing andfunding forest health
     activities -- salvage timber sales, prescribed burning,and other
     timber stand activities -- in bills introduced and discussed in
     thepast three Congresses.
     Many of the forests in the intermountain West - from the Black Hills
     of SouthDakota to the Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas, and from the
     Canadian border toArizona and New Mexico - are dominated by pines,
     especially Ponderosa, Westernwhite, and lodgepole pines. The pine
     ecosystems of the West are considered bymany to be in unnatural and
     unhealthy conditions, with excessive numbers oftrees and excessive
     tree mortality, leading to insect and disease epidemics andto
     increased risk of catastrophic fire.(l)
     Timber mortality in the intermountain West has risen since 1976 -- in
     total,per acre, and as a percent of inventory.(2) Timber mortality
     (per acre and as apercent of inventory) is often higher on the
     national forests than on othertimberlands. However, mortality on the
     national forests of the intermountainWest appears to be no worse than
     on other timberlands -- timber mortality in1991 was higher than in
     1976 in nearly all regions for all landowner classes.Furthermore,
     timber mortality per acre is higher in the Pacific Coast
     States(Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California), because the
     remaining denseold-growth stands have high mortality rates; timber
     mortality is a greaterpercentage of inventory in the Eastern regions
     (Northeast, North Central,Southeast, and South Central), because
     conifers have relatively short lifespansin the humid Eastern climates.
     Despite the lack of comprehensive data showing abnormal timber
     mortality in theintermountain West, the forests could still be
     unhealthy. The Forest Servicedata are based on periodic inventories,
     typically on a 10-year cycle; thus, the1991 data are, on average, at
     least 5 years old. If timber mortality in theintermountain West has
     risen because of the drought that began in the early1980s, the data
     might not yet reflect that increase. There are two other foresthealth
     problems that would probably not be reflected in the
     comprehensivetimber data. One is excessive numbers of small trees,
     with little or no netgrowth, due to stand stagnation without
     mortality; this could be a particularproblem for the Ponderosa and
     lodgepole pines, which are well adapted for dryand infertile
     conditions. The other problem, fuel buildups, is more likely inthe
     intermountain West, because the arid conditions slow the decomposition
     ofthe wood.
     The forest health problem of the intermountain region has been
     developing overa long period, although the deterioration of the
     forests may have beenaccelerated by the past decade of drought. The
     problem began with livestockovergrazing in the Western pine forests in
     the 1800s; this reduced vegetativecompetition for the trees,
     especially from the grasses, some of which inhibittree regeneration
     and growth. The problem has been exacerbated by logging,both before
     and since the national forests were established, that has
     emphasizedcutting the large-diameter old-growth pines, and leaving the
     smaller trees andthe other species (particularly the true firs).
     However, the most significantcause may have been fire suppression over
     the past 75 years that virtuallyeliminated the natural cycle of
     frequent fires. These anthropogenic factorshave altered the Western
     pine forests. The pure pine forests (pure beingdefined by foresters as
     more than 80 percent of the trees in one species) haveseen substantial
     increases in fuels and in seedlings and saplings.Historically,
     frequent, low-intensity fires in the Ponderosa pine forestsreduced the
     fuels and killed many of the seedlings and saplings. According to
     arecent study in northern Arizona, the Coconino National Forest
     averaged 23trees per acre prior to settlement, but now has 851 trees
     per acre.(3) Thefrequency of stand replacement fires in lodgepole pine
     forests has alsodeclined, leading to more trees and more fuels per
     acre than occurred prior to1900.
     The mixed conifer forests have been similarly altered, with
     substantialincreases in the number of small diameter trees and in the
     quantity of woodyfuel. However, the species composition of these
     forests has also changed, withmuch more Douglas-fir and true fir than
     existed 150 years ago. This is theresult of logging the high value
     species (the inland Douglas-fir subspecies isnot nearly as valuable as
     the subspecies that grows along the coast and in theCascades) and of
     suppressing the low intensity fires (because pines are lesssusceptible
     to damage from fire). Furthermore, the Douglas-fir and true
     firsrequire more water than the pines, and thus the stress of the
     decade-longdrought has increased their susceptibility to insect and
     disease attack, andpossibly set the stage for epidemics.
     Many people are interested in improving forest health - for immediate
     and/orsustainable wood supplies, for reducing the risks of
     catastrophic wildfires,and/or for sustaining and protecting other
     outputs and values from the forests(e.g. water quality, recreation,
     and "naturalness"). The principalgoal of forest health improvement is
     to reduce biomass - small-diameter trees,dead or dying trees, and
     existing woody fuels; in mixed conifer forests,shifting the species
     mix back to pine dominance may also be a goal.
     Much of the attention on improving forest health has focused on the
     nationalforests in the intermountain West, where they account for 60
     percent of thetimber land.(4) At a forest or landscape level, this
     could be addressed throughnational forest planning. The Forest and
     Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, as amended by the
     National Forest Management Act of 1976 (NFMA),requires the Forest
     Service to prepare integrated, coordinated land andresource management
     plans for units of the National Forest System.(5) Theseplans are
     prepared using an interdisciplinary approach, "to achieveintegrated
     consideration of physical, biological, economic, and other
     sciences,"and with the public's participation, to assure that relevant
     concerns andissues are addressed. Furthermore, the plans are to be
     revised "from timeto time when . . . conditions in a unit have
     significantly changed, but atleast every 15 years." Many forests are
     beginning the process of revisingtheir plans, thus providing an
     opportunity to address forest health concerns inforest planning.
     Some have criticized forest planning as being unresponsive to
     currentproblems.(6) To date, efforts to direct the Forest Service to
     improve foresthealth have generally been external to the planning
     process. Proposals anddraft bills have either ignored national forest
     planning under NFMA, ordirected forest health decisions to override
     existing plans.
     Several tools exist for improving forest health. One of the most
     frequentlymentioned is salvage timber sales.(7) Salvage timber sales
     can be used toremove dead, dying, and threatened trees from the
     forest, and therefore can beuseful in reducing biomass and in
     controlling insect and disease infestations.However, since commercial
     interest reflects timber quality, salvage sales havelimited potential
     for reducing small-diameter trees, and much woody material(limbs and
     needles) is left on the site. Environmentalists are also
     concernedabout salvage sales, because little is known about the
     ecological consequencesof extensive salvage sale programs, and because
     inappropriate logging hascontributed to the current problem.
     Another common tool is prescribed burning. This is using fire
     (setintentionally or occurring naturally) under prescribed weather and
     fuelconditions to reduce the quantity of woody fuel on a site. It can
     be aneffective tool for converting organic matter to minerals, water,
     and carbondioxide (and other gases), but protecting air quality
     (particularly fromairborne particulates) often limits the timing,
     location, and amount ofprescribed burning that can occur. Prescribed
     burning is also a poor tool foreliminating small-diameter trees,
     because it is indiscriminate about which (ifany) trees remain, and can
     be a dangerous tool when weather conditionschanged.(8)
     Other forest management techniques can also be used to improve forest
     healthand reduce the risk of catastrophe fire. One activity is
     precommercialthinning, to cut down trees that are too small to have
     any commercial value.Release -- killing competing vegetation
     chemically or manually -- can reducetimber stand densities. Pruning
     can eliminate low-growing branches, thusremoving a "ladder" for fires
     to reach the crowns of the trees whileimproving the value of wood
     growth. Fertilization can accelerate tree growth,possibly overcoming
     stand stagnation. Planting mixed conifer sites with a mixof species
     can help reestablish the natural variation of native forests, bothon
     cleared sites and in stands with relatively low densities.
     Oftentimes, these various tools and techniques need to be used in
     combinationto achieve the desired goal -- salvage with mixed-species
     planting orprescribed burning after precommercial thinning, for
     example. Indeed, none ofthese approaches is sufficient to improve
     forest health alone; rather, acoordinated program combining relevant
     tools and techniques is probablynecessary to improve forest health in
     the pine ecosystems of the intermountainWest.
     Congress has addressed forest health legislation several times over
     the pastfew years. The first comprehensive bill, H.R. 4980 in the
     102nd Congress, theNational Forest Health Act of 1992, was introduced
     on April 9, 1992. After July1 hearings before the House Agriculture
     Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farmsand Energy, the bill was marked
     up and ordered reported, but a report wasnever filed, and Congress
     adjourned without further action on the bill. Severalbills were
     introduced in the 103rd Congress: H.R. 229, the National ForestHealth
     Act; S. 459, the Federal Forests Health Recovery Act of 1993; and
     S.2456, the Forest Health Act of 1994. However, no hearings were held
     on any ofthese bills.
     Following the severe wildfires in the intermountain West during the
     summer of1994, the Administration proposed the Western Forest Health
     Initiative.(9) Thisprogram is, essentially, an acceleration of current
     planned, funded projectsand of planned, unfunded projects, together
     with better coordination with theEnvironmental Protection Agency on
     monitoring, with the Fish and WildlifeService and the National Marine
     Fisheries Service on endangered and threatenedspecies consultations,
     with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, and withthe State
     Foresters. However, this program has also been criticized as being
     aweak response to the magnitude of the problem in the West.
     Two bills in the 104th Congress address forest health. One is the
     Federal LandsForest Health Protection and Restoration Act, S. 391. The
     bill would direct theSecretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior
     (1) review forest health conditions annually;
     (2) designate emergency and high risk areas, within defined standards;
     (3) select and publish a schedule of activities: (a) to arrest the
     decline andrestore forest health; (b) to safeguard human life and
     property; (c) to protectnatural resources; (d) to restore ecosystem
     integrity; and (e) to protectFederal investments and future revenues;
     (4) notify the public and respond to comments and challenges under
     The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Parks,
     Recreation, andRenewable Resources held a hearing on the bill on March
     1, 1995.
     The other bill is the Emergency Two-Year Salvage Timber Sale Program
     includedin the 1995 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations and
     Rescissions, H.R. 1158.This program would direct an increase in
     salvage timber sales, with expeditedprocedures for sale planning and
     analysis and for challenges to salvage sales.Versions have passed both
     the House and the Senate, with differences to beresolved in
     1. For a further discussion of this relationship, see: CRS Report No.
     95-511ENR, Forest Fires and Forest Health.
     2. Data on timber mortality, timber inventory, and timberland area are
     from:Douglas S. Powell, Joanne L. Faulkner, David R. Darr, Zhiliang
     Zhu, and DouglasMacCleery. Forest Resources of the United States,
     1992. Gen. Tech.Rept. RM-234. Ft. Collins, CO: U.S.D.A.Forest Service,
     Sept. 1993. 132 p.(Hereafter referred to as Forest Resources, 1992.)
     3. W.W. Covington and M.M. Moore. "Postsettlement Changes in Natural
     FireRegimes and Forest Structure: Ecological Restoration of Old-Growth
     PonderosaPine Forests." In: Assessing Forest Ecosystem Health in the
     InlandWest. [R. Neil Sampson and David L. Adams, eds.] New York, NY:
     FoodProducts Press, 1994. pp. 153-181.
     4. Forest Resources, 1992, p. 43.
     5 . Respectively: Act of Aug. 17, 1974, Pub.L. 93-378, 88 Stat. 476;
     and Actof Oct. 22, 1976, Pub.L. 94-588, 90 Stat. 2949. 16 U.S.C.
     6. See: U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Forest
     ServicePlanning: Accommodating Uses, Producing Outputs, and
     Sustaining Ecosystems.OTA-F-505. Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print.
     Off., Feb. 1992. 206 pp.
     7. For more information on this tool, see: CRS Report No. 95-364
     ENR,Salvage Timber Sales and Forest Health.
     8. A prescribed fire in Michigan in 1980 escaped when weather
     conditionschanged, killing one person and destroying 44 homes and
     buildings. See: AlbertJ. Simard, Donald A. Haines, Richard W. Blank,
     and John S. Frost. The MackLake Fire. Gen. Tech. Rept. NC-83. St.
     Paul, M N; U.S.D.A. Forest Service,Sept. 1983. 36 p.
     9. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, State and Private
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