[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 1200 Introduced in Senate (IS)]







108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                S. 1200

To provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the 
                        National Forest System.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                              June 5, 2003

 Ms. Cantwell (for herself, Mr. Warner, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Chafee, Mrs. 
 Clinton, Mr. Harkin, and Mr. Hollings) introduced the following bill; 
   which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                           Natural Resources

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the 
                        National Forest System.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Roadless Area Conservation Act of 
2003''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) In General.--Congress finds that--
            (1) there is a compelling need to establish national 
        protection for inventoried roadless areas of the National 
        Forest System in order to protect the unique social and 
        ecological values of those irreplaceable resources;
            (2) roadless areas protect healthy watersheds and their 
        numerous benefits, such as--
                    (A) protecting downstream communities from floods 
                and tempering the effects of drought;
                    (B) ensuring a supply of clean water for domestic, 
                agricultural, and industrial uses;
                    (C) helping maintain abundant and healthy fish and 
                wildlife populations and habitats;
                    (D) providing the setting for many forms of outdoor 
                recreation; and
                    (E) providing drinking water to millions of 
                citizens from the more than 354 municipal watersheds 
                found on roadless areas;
            (3) maintaining roadless areas in a relatively undisturbed 
        condition--
                    (A) saves downstream communities millions of 
                dollars in water filtration costs; and
                    (B) is crucial to preserve the flow of affordable, 
                clean water to a growing population;
            (4) the protection of roadless areas can maintain 
        biological strongholds and refuges for many imperiled species 
        by halting the ongoing fragmentation of the landscape into 
        smaller and smaller parcels of land divided by road corridors;
            (5) roadless areas conserve native biodiversity by serving 
        as a bulwark against the spread of nonnative invasive species;
            (6) roadless areas provide unparalleled opportunities for 
        hiking, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, hunting, 
        fishing, cross-country skiing, canoeing, mountain-biking, and 
        similar activities:
            (7) while roadless areas may have many wilderness-like 
        attributes, unlike wilderness areas, the use of mechanized 
        means of travel is allowed in many roadless areas;
            (8) roadless areas contain many sites sacred to Native 
        Americans and other groups that use roadless areas for 
        spiritual and religious retreats;
            (9) from the inception of Federal land management, it has 
        been the mission of the Forest Service and other agencies to 
        manage the National Forest System for the dual purposes of 
        resource extraction and conservation;
            (10) consistent with that dual mission, this Act--
                    (A) protects social and ecological values, while 
                allowing for many multiple uses of inventoried roadless 
                areas; and
                    (B) does not impose any limitations on the use of, 
                or access to, private, State, or National Forest System 
                land outside inventoried roadless areas;
            (11) establishing a consistent national policy for the 
        protection of inventoried roadless areas--
                    (A) ensures that the considerable long-term 
                ecological and economic benefits of protecting roadless 
                areas for future generations are properly considered;
                    (B) diminishes the likelihood of controversy at the 
                project level; and
                    (C) enables the Forest Service to focus on the 
                economic and environmental benefits of reducing 
                hazardous fuel buildups in already roaded portions of 
                the landscape;
            (12) the National Fire Plan indicates that fires are almost 
        twice as likely to occur in roaded areas as in roadless areas, 
        because roadless areas are generally located further away from 
        communities and are harder to access;
            (13) the report entitled ``Protecting People and Sustaining 
        Resources in Fire-Adapted Ecosystems--A Cohesive Strategy'' (65 
        Fed. Reg. 67480) advocates a higher priority for fuel reduction 
        on land that is near communities and readily accessible 
        municipal watersheds;
            (14) the Forest Service has an enormous backlog of 
        maintenance needs for the existing 386,000 mile road system of 
        the Forest Service that will cost millions of dollars to 
        eliminate;
            (15) no State or private land owner would continue to build 
        new roads in the face of such an enormous backlog;
            (16) failure to maintain forest roads--
                    (A) limits public access; and
                    (B) causes degradation of water quality and 
                wildlife and fish habitat; and
            (17) protection of roadless areas--
                    (A) will impact less than 0.5 percent of the 
                national timber supply; and
                    (B) will have a negligible impact on oil and gas 
                production since--
                            (i) the entire National Forest System 
                        provides only approximately 0.4 percent of the 
                        quantity of oil and gas that is produced in the 
                        United States; and
                            (ii) roadless areas provide only a fraction 
                        of the quantity of oil and gas that is produced 
                        in the National Forest System.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to provide, within the 
context of multiple-use management, lasting protection for inventoried 
roadless areas within the National Forest System.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Classified road.--
                    (A) In general.--The term ``classified road'' means 
                a road wholly or partially within, or adjacent to, 
                National Forest System land that is determined to be 
                needed for long-term motor vehicle access.
                    (B) Inclusions.--The term ``classified road'' 
                includes a State road, a county road, a privately owned 
                road, a National Forest System road, and any other road 
                authorized by the Forest Service.
            (2) Inventoried roadless area.--The term ``inventoried 
        roadless area'' means an area identified in the set of 
        inventoried roadless area maps contained in the document 
        entitled ``Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation, Final 
        Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2,'' dated November 
        2000, which is on file at the national headquarters office of 
        the Forest Service, or any subsequent update or revision of 
        those maps.
            (3) Responsible official.--The term ``responsible 
        official'' means the Forest Service line officer or employee 
        with the authority and responsibility to make decisions 
        regarding protection and management of inventoried roadless 
        areas under this Act.
            (4) Road.--The term ``road'' means a motor vehicle 
        travelway over 50 inches wide, unless designated and managed as 
        a trail.
            (5) Road construction.--The term ``road construction'' 
        means activity that results in the addition of classified road 
        or temporary road miles.
            (6) Road improvement.--The term ``road improvement'' means 
        activity that results in--
                    (A) an increase of the traffic service level of an 
                existing road;
                    (B) expansion of the capacity of the road; or
                    (C) a change in the original design function of the 
                road.
            (7) Roadless area characteristics.--The term ``roadless 
        area characteristics'' means resources or features that are 
        often present in and characterize inventoried roadless areas, 
        including--
                    (A) high quality or undisturbed soil, water, and 
                air;
                    (B) sources of public drinking water;
                    (C) diversity of plant and animal communities;
                    (D) habitat for--
                            (i) threatened, endangered, candidate, or 
                        sensitive species, and species proposed for 
                        listing, under the Endangered Species Act of 
                        1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and
                            (ii) species dependent on large, 
                        undisturbed areas of land;
                    (E) primitive, semiprimitive nonmotorized, and 
                semiprimitive motorized classes of dispersed 
                recreation;
                    (F) reference landscapes;
                    (G) natural appearing landscapes with high scenic 
                quality;
                    (H) traditional cultural properties and sacred 
                sites; and
                    (I) other locally identified unique 
                characteristics.
            (8) Road maintenance.--The term ``road maintenance'' means 
        ongoing upkeep of a road necessary to retain or restore the 
        road in accordance with approved road management objectives.
            (9) Road realignment.--The term ``road realignment'' means 
        an activity that results in--
                    (A) a new location of all or part of an existing 
                road; and
                    (B) treatment of the old roadway.
            (10) Road reconstruction.--The term ``road reconstruction'' 
        means an activity that results in improvement, or realignment, 
        of an existing classified road.
            (11) Temporary road.--The term ``temporary road'' means a 
        road that is--
                    (A) authorized by contract, permit, lease, other 
                written authorization, or emergency operation; and
                    (B) not intended to be part of the forest 
                transportation system and not necessary for long-term 
                resource management.
            (12) Unclassified road.--The term ``unclassified road'' 
        means a road on National Forest System land that is not managed 
        as part of the forest transportation system, such as--
                    (A) an unplanned road, abandoned travelway, or off-
                road vehicle track that has not been designated and 
                managed as a trail; and
                    (B) a road that was once under permit or other 
                authorization and was not decommissioned on the 
                termination of the authorization.

SEC. 4. PROHIBITION ON ROAD CONSTRUCTION AND ROAD RECONSTRUCTION IN 
              INVENTORIED ROADLESS AREAS.

    (a) Prohibition.--Except as provided in subsection (b), road 
construction and road reconstruction may not take place in an 
inventoried roadless area of the National Forest System.
    (b) Exceptions.--Road construction and road reconstruction may take 
place, including through the use of appropriated funds, in an 
inventoried roadless area of the National Forest System if the 
responsible official determines that--
            (1) a road is needed to protect public health and safety in 
        a case of an imminent threat of flood, fire, or other 
        catastrophic event that, without intervention, would cause the 
        loss of life or property;
            (2) a road is needed to conduct--
                    (A) a response action under the Comprehensive 
                Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
                of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.); or
                    (B) a natural resource restoration action under--
                            (i) that Act;
                            (ii) section 311 of the Federal Water 
                        Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1321); or
                            (iii) the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 
                        U.S.C. 2701 et seq.);
            (3) a road is needed pursuant to a reserved or outstanding 
        right, or as provided for by law or treaty;
            (4) a road realignment is needed--
                    (A) to prevent irreparable resource damage that 
                arises from the design, location, use, or deterioration 
                of a classified road that cannot be mitigated by road 
                maintenance; and
                    (B) to provide for essential public or private 
                access, natural resource management, or public health 
                or safety;
            (5) road reconstruction is needed to implement a road 
        safety improvement project on a classified road determined to 
        be hazardous on the basis of accident experience or accident 
        potential with respect to the road;
            (6)(A) a Federal-aid highway project authorized under title 
        23, United States Code, is--
                    (i) in the public interest; or
                    (ii) consistent with the purposes for which the 
                land was reserved or acquired; and
            (B) no other reasonable and prudent alternative to the 
        project exists; or
            (7)(A) a road is needed in conjunction with--
                    (i) the continuation, extension, or renewal of a 
                mineral lease on land that is under lease by the 
                Secretary of the Interior as of January 12, 2001; or
                    (ii) the issuance of a new lease issued immediately 
                on expiration of an existing lease described in clause 
                (i);
            (B) road construction or road reconstruction under this 
        paragraph will be conducted in a manner that--
                    (i) minimizes the effects on surface resources;
                    (ii) prevents unnecessary or unreasonable surface 
                disturbance; and
                    (iii) complies with all applicable laws (including 
                regulations), lease requirements, and land and resource 
                management plan directives; and
            (C) a road constructed or reconstructed under this 
        paragraph will be removed on the earlier of--
                    (i) the date on which the road is no longer needed 
                for the purposes of the lease; or
                    (ii) the date of termination or expiration of the 
                lease.
    (c) Road Maintenance.--A classified road in an inventoried roadless 
area may be maintained.

SEC. 5. PROHIBITION ON TIMBER CUTTING, SALE, OR REMOVAL IN INVENTORIED 
              ROADLESS AREAS.

    (a) Prohibition.--Except as provided in subsection (b), timber may 
not be cut, sold, or removed in an inventoried roadless area of the 
National Forest System.
    (b) Exceptions.--Timber may be cut, sold, or removed in an 
inventoried roadless area if the responsible official determines that 
the cutting, sale, or removal of the timber is expected to be 
infrequent and--
            (1) the cutting, sale, or removal of generally small 
        diameter timber--
                    (A) will improve or maintain 1 or more roadless 
                area characteristics; and
                    (B) is needed--
                            (i) to improve habitat for threatened, 
                        endagered, candidate, or sensitive species, and 
                        species proposed for listing, under the 
                        Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 
                        et seq.); or
                            (ii) to maintain or restore the 
                        characteristics of ecosystem composition and 
                        structure, such as to reduce the risk of 
                        uncharacteristic wildfire effects, within the 
                        range of variability that would be expected to 
                        occur under a natural disturbance regime of the 
                        current climatic period;
            (2) the cutting, sale, or removal of timber is incidental 
        to the implementation of a management activity not otherwise 
        prohibited by this Act;
            (3) the cutting, sale, or removal of timber is needed and 
        appropriate for personal or administrative use, in accordance 
        with part 223 of title 36, Code of Federal Regulations; or
            (4) roadless characteristics have been substantially 
        altered in a portion of an inventoried roadless area as a 
        result of the construction of a classified road and subsequent 
        timber harvest, if--
                    (A) the road construction and subsequent timber 
                harvest occurred after the area was designated an 
                inventoried roadless area and before January 12, 2001; 
                and
                    (B) timber is cut, sold, or removed only in the 
                substantially altered portion of the inventoried 
                roadless area.

SEC. 6. SCOPE AND APPLICABILITY.

    (a) Effect.--This Act does not--
            (1) revoke, suspend, or modify any permit, contract, or 
        other legal instrument authorizing the occupancy and use of 
        National Forest System land issued or entered into before 
        January 12, 2001;
            (2) compel the amendment or revision of any land and 
        resource management plan;
            (3) revoke, suspend, or modify any decision concerning any 
        project or activity made before January 12, 2001; or
            (4) apply to road construction, reconstruction, or the 
        cutting, sale, or removal of timber in an inventoried roadless 
        area of the Tongass National Forest if a notice of availability 
        of a draft environmental impact statement for such activity has 
        been published in the Federal Register before January 12, 2001.
    (b) Limitation on Revision.--The prohibitions and restrictions 
established in this Act are not subject to reconsideration, revision, 
or rescission in any subsequent project decision or amendment or 
revision to any land and resource management plan carried out in 
accordance with section 6 of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable 
Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1604).
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