[United States Statutes at Large, Volume 118, 108th Congress, 2nd Session]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

118 STAT. 1204

Public Law 108-317
108th Congress

An Act


 
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. NOTE: Oct. 5, 2004 -  [H.R. 2696]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress NOTE: Southwest Forest Health and
Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004. Arizona. New Mexico. assembled,

SECTION 1. NOTE: 16 USC 6701 note. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire
Prevention Act of 2004''.

SEC. 2. NOTE: 16 USC 6701. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that--
(1) there is an increasing threat of wildfire to millions of
acres of forest land and rangeland throughout the United States;
(2) forest land and rangeland are degraded as a direct
consequence of land management practices, including practices to
control and prevent wildfires and the failure to harvest
subdominant trees from overstocked stands that disrupt the
occurrence of frequent low-intensity fires that have
periodically removed flammable undergrowth;
(3) at least 39,000,000 acres of land of the National Forest
System in the interior West are at high risk of wildfire;
(4) an average of 95 percent of the expenditures by the
Forest Service for wildfire suppression during fiscal years 1990
through 1994 were made to suppress wildfires in the interior
West;
(5) the number, size, and severity of wildfires in the
interior West are increasing;
(6) of the timberland in National Forests in the States of
Arizona and New Mexico, 59 percent of such land in Arizona, and
56 percent of such land in New Mexico, has an average diameter
of 9 to 12 inches diameter at breast height;
(7) the population of the interior West grew twice as fast
as the national average during the 1990s;
(8) catastrophic wildfires--
(A) endanger homes and communities;
(B) damage and destroy watersheds and soils; and
(C) pose a serious threat to the habitat of
threatened and endangered species;
(9) a 1994 assessment of forest health in the interior West
estimated that only a 15- to 30-year window of opportunity
exists for effective management intervention before damage

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118 STAT. 1205

from uncontrollable wildfire becomes widespread, with 8 years
having already elapsed since the assessment;
(10) healthy forest and woodland ecosystems--
(A) reduce the risk of wildfire to forests and
communities;
(B) improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity;
(C) increase tree, grass, forb, and shrub
productivity;
(D) enhance watershed values;
(E) improve the environment; and
(F) provide a basis in some areas for economically
and environmentally sustainable uses;
(11) sustaining the long-term ecological and economic health
of interior West forests and woodland, and their associated
human communities requires preventing severe wildfires before
the wildfires occur and permitting natural, low-intensity ground
fires;
(12) more natural fire regimes cannot be accomplished
without the reduction of excess fuels and thinning of
subdominant trees (which fuels and trees may be of commercial
value);
(13) ecologically based forest and woodland ecosystem
restoration on a landscape scale will--
(A) improve long-term community protection;
(B) minimize the need for wildfire suppression;
(C) improve resource values;
(D) improve the ecological integrity and resilience
of these systems;
(E) reduce rehabilitation costs;
(F) reduce loss of critical habitat; and
(G) protect forests for future generations;
(14) although landscape scale restoration is needed to
effectively reverse degradation, scientific understanding of
landscape scale treatments is limited;
(15) rigorous, objective, understandable, and applied
scientific information is needed for--
(A) the design, implementation, monitoring, and
adaptation of landscape scale restoration treatments and
improvement of wildfire management;
(B) the environmental review process; and
(C) affected entities that collaborate in the
development and implementation of wildfire treatment.

SEC. 3. NOTE: 16 USC 6702. PURPOSES.

The purposes of this Act are--
(1) to enhance the capacity to develop, transfer, apply,
monitor, and regularly update practical science-based forest
restoration treatments that will reduce the risk of severe
wildfires, and improve the health of dry forest and woodland
ecosystems in the interior West;
(2) to synthesize and adapt scientific findings from
conventional research programs to the implementation of forest
and woodland restoration on a landscape scale;
(3) to facilitate the transfer of interdisciplinary
knowledge required to understand the socioeconomic and
environmental impacts of wildfire on ecosystems and landscapes;
(4) to require the Institutes established under this Act to
collaborate with Federal agencies--

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118 STAT. 1206

(A) to use ecological restoration treatments to
reverse declining forest health and reduce the risk of
severe wildfires across the forest landscape; and
(B) to design, implement, monitor, and regularly
revise representative wildfire treatments based on the
use of adaptive ecosystem management;
(5) to assist land managers in--
(A) treating acres with restoration-based
applications; and
(B) using new management technologies (including the
transfer of understandable information, assistance with
environmental review, and field and classroom training
and collaboration) to accomplish the goals identified
in--
(i) the National Fire Plan;
(ii) the report entitled ``Protecting People
and Sustaining Resources in Fire-Adapted
Ecosystems-A Cohesive Strategy'' (65 Fed. Reg.
67480); and
(iii) the report entitled ``10-Year
Comprehensive Strategy: A Collaborative Approach
for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities
and the Environment'' of the Western Governors'
Association;
(6) to provide technical assistance to collaborative efforts
by affected entities to develop, implement, and monitor adaptive
ecosystem management restoration treatments that are
ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially
responsible; and
(7) to assist Federal and non-Federal land managers in
providing information to the public on the role of fire and fire
management in dry forest and woodland ecosystems in the interior
West.

SEC. 4. NOTE: 16 USC 6703. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:
(1) Adaptive ecosystem management.--
(A) Definition.--The term ``adaptive ecosystem
management'' means a natural resource management process
under which planning, implementation, monitoring,
research, evaluation, and incorporation of new knowledge
are combined into a management approach that--
(i) is based on scientific findings and the
needs of society;
(ii) treats management actions as experiments;
(iii) acknowledges the complexity of these
systems and scientific uncertainty; and
(iv) uses the resulting new knowledge to
modify future management methods and policy.
(B) Clarification.--This paragraph shall not define
the term ``adaptive ecosystem management'' for the
purposes of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources
Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.).
(2) Affected entities.--The term ``affected entities''
includes--
(A) land managers;
(B) stakeholders;
(C) concerned citizens; and
(D) the States of the interior West, including
political subdivisions of the States.

[[Page 1207]]
118 STAT. 1207

(3) Dry forest and woodland ecosystem.--The term ``dry
forest and woodland ecosystem'' means an ecosystem that is
dominated by ponderosa pines and associated dry forest and
woodland types.
(4) Institute.--The term ``Institute'' means an Institute
established under section 5(a).
(5) Interior west.--The term ``interior West'' means the
States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and
Utah.
(6) Land manager.--
(A) In general.--The term ``land manager'' means a
person or entity that practices or guides natural
resource management.
(B) Inclusions.--The term ``land manager'' includes
a Federal, State, local, or tribal land management
agency.
(7) Restoration.--The term ``restoration'' means a process
undertaken to move an ecosystem or habitat toward--
(A) a sustainable structure of the ecosystem or
habitat; or
(B) a condition that supports a natural complement
of species, natural function, or ecological process
(such as a low-intensity fire).
(8) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary
of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service.
(9) Secretaries.--The term ``Secretaries'' means--
(A) the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the
Chief of the Forest Service; and
(B) the Secretary of the Interior.
(10) Stakeholder.--The term ``stakeholder'' means any person
interested in or affected by management of forest or woodland
ecosystems.
(11) Subdominant trees.--Are trees that occur underneath the
canopy or extend into the canopy but are smaller and less
vigorous than dominant trees.
(12) Overstocked stands.--Where the number of trees per acre
exceeds the natural carrying capacity of the site.
(13) Resilience.--The ability of a system to absorb
disturbance without being pushed into a different, possibly less
desirable stable state.

SEC. 5. NOTE: 16 USC 6704. ESTABLISHMENT OF INSTITUTES.

(a) In General.--The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary
of the Interior, shall--
(1) NOTE: Deadline. not later than 180 days after the
date of enactment of this Act, establish Institutes to promote
the use of adaptive ecosystem management to reduce the risk of
wildfires, and restore the health of forest and woodland
ecosystems, in the interior West; and
(2) provide assistance to the Institutes to promote the use
of collaborative processes and adaptive ecosystem management in
accordance with paragraph (1).

(b) Location.--
(1) Existing institutes.--The Secretary may designate an
institute in existence on the date of enactment of this Act to
serve as an Institute established under this Act.
(2) States.--Of the Institutes established under this Act,
the Secretary shall establish 1 Institute in each of--

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118 STAT. 1208

(A) the State of Arizona, to be located at Northern
Arizona University;
(B) the State of New Mexico, to be located at New
Mexico Highlands University, while engaging the full
resources of the consortium of universities represented
in the Institute of Natural Resource Analysis and
Management (INRAM); and
(C) the State of Colorado.

(c) Duties.--Each Institute shall--
(1) develop, conduct research on, transfer, promote, and
monitor restoration-based hazardous fuel reduction treatments to
reduce the risk of severe wildfires and improve the health of
dry forest and woodland ecosystems in the interior West;
(2) synthesize and adapt scientific findings from
conventional research to implement restoration-based hazardous
fuel reduction treatments on a landscape scale using an adaptive
ecosystem management framework;
(3) translate for and transfer to affected entities any
scientific and interdisciplinary knowledge about restoration-
based hazardous fuel reduction treatments;
(4) assist affected entities with the design of adaptive
management approaches (including monitoring) for the
implementation of restoration-based hazardous fuel reduction
treatments; and
(5) provide peer-reviewed annual reports.

(d) Qualifications.--Each Institute shall--
(1) develop and demonstrate capabilities in the natural,
physical, social, and policy sciences; and
(2) explicitly integrate those disciplines in the
performance of the duties listed in subsection (c).

(e) Cooperation.--Each Institute may cooperate with--
(1) researchers and cooperative extension programs at
colleges, community colleges, and universities in the States of
Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado that have a demonstrated
capability to conduct research described in subsection (c); and
(2) other organizations and entities in the interior West
(such as the Western Governors' Association).

(f) Annual Work Plans.--As a condition of the receipt of funds made
available under this Act, for each fiscal year, each Institute shall
develop in consultation with the Secretary, for review by the Secretary,
in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, an annual work plan
that includes assurances, satisfactory to the Secretaries, that the
proposed work of the Institute will serve the informational needs of
affected entities.
(g) Establishment of Additional Institutes.--If after 2 years after
the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary finds that the
Institute model established at the locations named in subsection (b)(2)
would be constructive for other interior West States, the Secretary may
establish 1 institute in each of those States.

SEC. 6. NOTE: 16 USC 6705. COOPERATION BETWEEN INSTITUTES AND
FEDERAL AGENCIES.

In carrying out this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the
Secretary of the Interior--
(1) to the extent that funds are appropriated for the
purpose, shall provide financial and technical assistance to the

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118 STAT. 1209

Institutes to carry out the duties of the Institutes under
section 5;
(2) shall encourage Federal agencies to use, on a
cooperative basis, information and expertise provided by the
Institutes;
(3) shall encourage cooperation and coordination between
Federal programs relating to--
(A) ecological restoration;
(B) wildfire risk reduction; and
(C) wildfire management technologies;
(4) notwithstanding chapter 63 of title 31, United States
Code, may--
(A) enter into contracts, cooperative agreements,
and interagency personnel agreements to carry out this
Act; and
(B) carry out other transactions under this Act;
(5) may accept funds from other Federal agencies to
supplement or fully fund grants made, and contracts entered
into, by the Secretaries;
(6) may support a program of internships for qualified
individuals at the undergraduate and graduate levels to carry
out the educational and training objectives of this Act;
(7) shall encourage professional education and public
information activities relating to the purposes of this Act; and
(8) may promulgate such regulations as the Secretaries
determine are necessary to carry out this Act.

SEC. 7. NOTE: 16 USC 6706. MONITORING AND EVALUATION.

(a) In General.--Not NOTE: Deadline. later than 5 years after
the date of enactment of this Act, and every 5 years thereafter, the
Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, shall
complete and submit to the Committee on Resources and the Committee on
Agriculture of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a detailed evaluation of the
programs and activities of each Institute--
(1) to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that the
research, communication tools, and information transfer
activities of each Institute are sufficient to achieve the
purposes of this Act, including--
(A) implementing active adaptive ecosystem
management practices at the landscape level;
(B) reducing unnecessary planning costs;
(C) avoiding duplicative and conflicting efforts;
(D) increasing public acceptance of active adaptive
ecosystem management practices; and
(E) achieving general satisfaction on the part of
affected entities;
(2) to determine the extent to which each Institute has
implemented its duties under section 5(c); and
(3) to determine whether continued provision of Federal
assistance to each Institute is warranted.

(b) Termination of Assistance.--If, as a result of an evaluation
under subsection (a), the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary
of the Interior, determines that an Institute does not qualify for
further Federal assistance under this Act, the Institute shall receive
no further Federal assistance under this Act until such time as the
qualifications of the Institute are reestablished to the satisfaction of
the Secretaries.

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118 STAT. 1210

SEC. 8. NOTE: 16 USC 6707. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

(a) In General.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out
this Act $15,000,000 for each fiscal year.
(b) Limitation.--No funds made available under subsection (a) shall
be used to pay the costs of constructing any facilities.

Approved October 5, 2004.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 2696:
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HOUSE REPORTS: No. 108-397, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Resources).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 108-252 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 149 (2004):
Feb. 24, considered and passed House.
Sept. 15, considered and passed Senate.