ProQuest www.csa.com
 
About CSA Products Support & Training News and Events Contact Us
 
RefWorks
  
Discovery Guides Areas
>
>
>
>
>
 
  
e-Journal

  Environmental Policy Issues

Forest Issues
(Released January 1999)

 

Contact
 
Review Article

This month's topic is Forests.

The pine ecosystems in the intermountain West are considered by many to be unhealthy. Our first report is an introductory Congressional Research Service Report (CRS): Forest Health: Overview (March 27, 1998). This report addresses the localized problems of timber mortality and dense stands of small trees, including a shift away from the fire- and drought-resistant pines in mixed conifer stands. The comprehensive land management planning processes of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management were intended, in part, to address such issues, but to date, efforts by the agencies, the interest groups, and Congress have focused on separate authorities and funding for forest health activities -- salvage timber sales, prescribed burning, thinning, and other timber stand activities.

A summary of the salvage timber rider, which is actually the Emergency Salvage Timber Sale Program, is presented in the next report, The Salvage Timber Sale Rider: Overview and Policy Issues (June 24, 1996). This report also discusses the controversy of salvage timber sales as a useful tool in forest health management.

Forest roads provide access for using national forests, but are often opposed to prevent environmental damages, protect roadless areas, and avoid the cost of building and maintaining them. The last report, Forest Roads: Construction and Financing (July 16, 1997) reviews the legislative debate over forest road construction and financing.

© Copyright 1999, All Rights Reserved, CSA

CRS Reports

Forest Health: Overview

Summary

The pine ecosystems in the intermountain West are considered by many to be unhealthy. While the data are inconclusive, studies show at least localized problems of timber mortality and dense stands of small trees, including a shift away from the fire- and drought-resistant pines in mixed conifer stands. The comprehensive land management planning processes of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management were intended, in part, to address such issues, but to date, efforts by the agencies, the interest groups, and Congress have focused on separate authorities and funding for forest health activities -- salvage timber sales, prescribed burning, thinning, and other timber stand activities.

Go To Top

The Salvage Timber Sale Rider: Overview and Policy Issues

The Emergency Salvage Timber Sale Program

The salvage timber rider is actually the Emergency Salvage Timber Sale Program, enacted as 2001 of P.L. 104-19, the 1995 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act on July 27, 1995.(1) As enacted, the Emergency Program expires on December 31, 1996; after that date, new sales cannot use the procedures and protections of the Program, but existing contracts can be completed. The Program includes three groups of sales:

  • 2001(b), salvage timber sales, to remove trees that are dead, dying, or threatened by wildfire, insects, diseases, and other natural disasters;
  • 2001(d), sales on lands covered by Option 9, President Clinton's forest plan for the Pacific Northwest intended to resolve the lengthy injunction and litigation over spotted owl and old-growth forest protection; (2) and
  • 2001(k), sales on lands covered by "318'--old-growth sale contracts in the Pacific Northwest that were sold under 318 of the FY1990 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (P.L. 101-121) without regard to spotted owl habitat, but some of which were later halted to protect marbled murrelets (sea birds that nest in old-growth trees, listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1992) and for other environmental reasons.
The Emergency Program, under 2001(c)(1), also established expedited sale procedures for the salvage and Option 9 sales. (The 318 contracts were previously sold, and expedited sale procedures were, therefore, irrelevant.) These procedures have increased Forest Service and BLM discretion in determining when, where, and how much timber to sell by: (a) specifying the required documentation and processes under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the ESA; 0,) granting to each Secretary sole discretion in determining appropriate and feasible analysis of environmental effects and effects on ESA-listed species; and (c) allowing the use of existing documents.

Finally, the Emergency Program limited review of all three groups of sales. Under 2001(e), decisions on salvage and Option 9 sales are exempt from the administrative review and appeals processes. Judicial challenges are also severely constrained. Under 2001(f), challenges must be filed in the U.S district court where the affected Federal lands are located, within 15 days of the initial advertisement of the sale. Courts are directed to generally render final decisions within 45 days, and are prohibited from granting restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, or injunctions pending appeal. Furthermore, under 2001(i), documents, procedures, and operations of salvage and Option 9 sales are stated as meeting the requirements of NEPA, ESA, the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act, the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, "any compact, executive agreement, convention, treaty, and international agreement," and "all other applicable Federal environmental and natural resource laws." Finally, the 318 contracts were directed to be awarded and released "notwithstanding any other provision of law." Thus, most lawsuits to halt timber sales under the Emergency Program are essentially precluded.(3)

Go To Top

Forest Roads: Construction and Financing

Summary

Forest roads provide access for using national forests, but are often opposed to prevent environmental damages, protect roadless areas, and avoid the cost of building and maintaining them. New road construction has declined by 75% in the past decade, and road reconstruction has declined by half. However, the principal purpose of most roads is still for access to timber, and many feel that granting credits to timber purchasers for construction is a subsidy, proponents argue that the current system is efficient and effective. The Administration has proposed eliminating the credit system.

Go To Top