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IB10076 - Public (BLM) Lands and National Forests (pdf)

14-Jun-2002; Ross Gorte, Carol Vincent; 19 p.

Update: H.R. 2114, to limit presidential designation of national monuments and amend the monument designation process, is on the House calendar. DOI agencies have begun to develop management plans for many of the monuments created by President Clinton. The Bush Administration is considering designating a monument in Utah and selling Governors Island, including Governors Island National Monument, for a nominal fee. The wildfire season has begun earlier than is normal, and to date more fires and more acres have burned than during the severe 2000 fire season. In his FY2003 budget, President Bush proposed continuing most of the fire management programs expanded by President Clinton, with total fire funding of $2.11 billion, but supplemental firefighting money is expected to be needed in the next few weeks. President Bush proposed making the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program permanent, and bills to do so have been introduced. The Administration has sought public comment on amending rules to prohibit developments in Forest Service roadless areas, but final rules are not complete; H.R. 4865, to protect roadless areas, has been introduced.

Abstract: The 107th Congress is addressing issues related to the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the national forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service (FS). A key issue is how to balance the protection and development of these lands. Other questions relate to which lands the government should own, and the adequacy of funds and programs for agencies to acquire and protect lands. A related focus is authority for collecting fees for land use. National Monuments and the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to establish national monuments on federal lands. The Administration is reviewing the monument actions of President Clinton. Congress is considering legislation to limit the authority of the President, amend particular monuments, and generally prohibit spending funds for energy leasing activities within monuments. Roadless Areas of the National Forest System. The Clinton Administration issued rules that restrict road construction and timber cutting in 58.5 million acres of roadless areas in the National Forest System. The Bush Administration delayed implementation, then chose to let the rules take effect. However, a U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on May 10 postponing implementation. The Administration chose not to appeal, and has asked for public comment on whether and how to amend the rules. Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. Congress is considering adding areas to the National Wilderness System. BLM and FS recommendations for specific areas are pending before Congress. Because some have been pending for years, Congress may address €release€ of lands not designated back to multiple use or otherwise address management of wilderness study areas. Wildfire Protection. The threat of catastrophic wildfires seems to have become more severe. The 106 th Congress substantially increased funding for agency wildfire management. The FY2002 appropriations continue higher funding for most fire programs. Questions for the 107 th Congress include whether to authorize new forest health programs for BLM or FS lands. Energy and Minerals. The Administration and Congress are examining whether to increase access to federal lands for energy and mineral development, and H.R. 4 has passed the House. A second issue is whether to clarify the General Mining Law of 1872 regarding the number and size of millsites per mining claim. A third issue is the adequacy of, and need for, the Clinton Administration€s revised hardrock mining regulations. Federal Land Acquisition. Debate is focused on funds for land acquisition, protection, and restoration, and H.R. 701 has been ordered reported from committee. Questions remain as to whether to make permanent the appropriations for land acquisition, and which lands the federal agencies should acquire. Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. The €Fee Demo€ program was created to allow land management agencies to test the feasibility of generating revenues for self-financing through new fees. The Bush Administration proposed extending the program, and the House approved an extension. The Administration, House, and Senate also support program changes, which vary. 
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* These CRS reports were produced by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress providing nonpartisan research reports to members of the House and Senate. The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has made these reports available to the public at large, but the Congressional Research Service is not affiliated with the NCSE or the National Library for the Environment (NLE). This web site is not endorsed by or associated with the Congressional Research Service. The material contained in the CRS reports does not necessarily express the views of NCSE, its supporters, or sponsors. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. NCSE disclaims all warranties, either express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall NCSE be liable for any damages.