[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
H.R. 5744, CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRE PREVENTION ACT OF 2012; H.R. 5960,
DEPLETING RISK FROM INSECT INFESTATION, SOIL EROSION, AND CATASTROPHIC
FIRE ACT OF 2012; AND H.R. 6089, HEALTHY FOREST MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2012
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS
AND PUBLIC LANDS
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
Friday, July 20, 2012
Serial No. 112-121
Printed for the use of the Committee on Natural Resources
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.fdsys.gov
Committee address: http://naturalresources.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
DOC HASTINGS, WA, Chairman
EDWARD J. MARKEY, MA, Ranking Democratic Member
Don Young, AK Dale E. Kildee, MI
John J. Duncan, Jr., TN Peter A. DeFazio, OR
Louie Gohmert, TX Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, AS
Rob Bishop, UT Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ
Doug Lamborn, CO Grace F. Napolitano, CA
Robert J. Wittman, VA Rush D. Holt, NJ
Paul C. Broun, GA Raul M. Grijalva, AZ
John Fleming, LA Madeleine Z. Bordallo, GU
Mike Coffman, CO Jim Costa, CA
Tom McClintock, CA Dan Boren, OK
Glenn Thompson, PA Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan,
Jeff Denham, CA CNMI
Dan Benishek, MI Martin Heinrich, NM
David Rivera, FL Ben Ray Lujan, NM
Jeff Duncan, SC Betty Sutton, OH
Scott R. Tipton, CO Niki Tsongas, MA
Paul A. Gosar, AZ Pedro R. Pierluisi, PR
Raul R. Labrador, ID John Garamendi, CA
Kristi L. Noem, SD Colleen W. Hanabusa, HI
Steve Southerland II, FL Paul Tonko, NY
Bill Flores, TX Vacancy
Andy Harris, MD
Jeffrey M. Landry, LA
Jon Runyan, NJ
Bill Johnson, OH
Mark Amodei, NV
Todd Young, Chief of Staff
Lisa Pittman, Chief Counsel
Jeffrey Duncan, Democratic Staff Director
David Watkins, Democratic Chief Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS
ROB BISHOP, UT, Chairman
RAUL M. GRIJALVA, AZ, Ranking Democratic Member
Don Young, AK Dale E. Kildee, MI
John J. Duncan, Jr., TN Peter A. DeFazio, OR
Doug Lamborn, CO Rush D. Holt, NJ
Paul C. Broun, GA Martin Heinrich, NM
Mike Coffman, CO Betty Sutton, OH
Tom McClintock, CA Niki Tsongas, MA
David Rivera, FL John Garamendi, CA
Scott R. Tipton, CO Vacancy
Raul R. Labrador, ID Edward J. Markey, MA, ex officio
Kristi L. Noem, SD
Mark Amodei, NV
Doc Hastings, WA, ex officio
Hearing held on Friday, July 20, 2012............................ 1
Statement of Members:
Bishop, Hon. Rob, a Representative in Congress from the State
of Utah.................................................... 1
Prepared statement of.................................... 2
Coffman, Hon. Mike, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Colorado, Prepared statement of................... 68
Gosar, Hon. Paul A., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Arizona........................................... 3
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744.......................... 5
Markey, Hon. Edward J., a Representative in Congress from the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.............................. 45
Prepared statement on H.R. 5960.......................... 47
Sablan, Hon. Gregorio Kilili Camacho, a Delegate in Congress
from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands...... 3
Tipton, Hon. Scott R., a Representative in Congress from the
State of Colorado, Oral statement on H.R. 6089............. 6
Statement of Witnesses:
Cook, David, Pulbic Land Rancher and NCBA Federal Lands Vice
Chair, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Public Lands
Council & Cattle Growers Association....................... 50
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744.......................... 52
Gibbs, Hon. Dan, Commissioner, Summit County, Colorado....... 19
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089. 21
Jankovsky, Hon. Tom, Commissioner, Garfield County, Colorado. 31
Prepared statement on H.R. 6089.......................... 32
Kashdan, Hank, Legislative Director, National Association of
Forest Service Retirees.................................... 33
Prepared statement on H.R. 6089.......................... 35
Roberson, Ed, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and
Planning, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089. 15
Romm, Joseph, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center For American
Progress Action Fund....................................... 24
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089. 25
Shamley, John Doyel, Natural Resource Coordinator, Apache
County, Arizona, and CEO, Veritas Research Consulting...... 48
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744.......................... 50
Wagner, Mary, Associate Chief, Forest Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture.................................. 8
Prepared statement on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089. 10
LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON H.R. 5744, TO ADDRESS THE FOREST
HEALTH, PUBLIC SAFETY, AND WILDLIFE HABITAT THREAT PRESENTED BY
THE RISK OF WILDFIRE, INCLUDING CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRE, ON
NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM LANDS AND PUBLIC LANDS MANAGED BY THE
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT BY REQUIRING THE SECRETARY OF
AGRICULTURE AND THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO EXPEDITE
FOREST MANAGEMENT PROJECTS RELATING TO HAZARDOUS FUELS
REDUCTION, FOREST HEALTH, AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND FOR
OTHER PURPOSES. ``CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRE PREVENTION ACT OF
2012''; H.R. 5960, TO AMEND THE HEALTHY FORESTS RESTORATION ACT
OF 2003 TO IMPROVE THE RESPONSE TO INSECT INFESTATIONS AND
RELATED DISEASES AND TO CHANGE THE FUNDING SOURCE FOR THE
HEALTHY FORESTS RESERVE PROGRAM, TO CODIFY THE STEWARDSHIP END
RESULT CONTRACTING AND GOOD NEIGHBOR AUTHORITIES, AND TO AMEND
THE EMERGENCY WATERSHED PROTECTION PROGRAM TO IMPROVE POST FIRE
REHABILITATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. ``DEPLETING RISK FROM
INSECT INFESTATION, SOIL EROSION, AND CATASTROPHIC FIRE ACT OF
2012''; AND H.R. 6089, TO ADDRESS THE BARK BEETLE EPIDEMIC,
DROUGHT, DETERIORATING FOREST HEALTH CONDITIONS, AND HIGH RISK
OF WILDFIRES ON NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM LAND AND LAND UNDER THE
JURISDICTION OF THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED
STATES BY EXPANDING AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED IN THE HEALTHY
FOREST RESTORATION ACT OF 2003 TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY MEASURES
FOR HIGH-RISK AREAS IDENTIFIED BY SUCH STATES, TO MAKE
PERMANENT FOREST SERVICE AND BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT GOOD-NEIGHBOR COOPERATION WITH STATES TO
REDUCE WILDFIRE RISKS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. ``HEALTHY FOREST
MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2012.''
Friday, July 20, 2012
U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
Committee on Natural Resources
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:10 a.m., in
Room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Rob Bishop
[Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Bishop, Lamborn, Tipton, Noem,
Holt and Markey.
Also present: Representatives Sablan, Gosar, and Gardner.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. ROB BISHOP, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. Bishop. This hearing will come to order. The Chairman
notes the presence of a quorum that is here on the Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands meeting here today
to hear testimony on three bills that are within our
jurisdiction and deal with the significant issue of our
national forests and public lands on how to prevent
catastrophic wildfires from happening in the future since we
are not doing a very good job with our present methods of
stopping them in the present time.
Under the rules of this Committee, the remarks are limited
to the Ranking Member and the Chairman. I ask unanimous consent
to include any other Members' opening statement in the record
if they are submitted to the clerk by the end of today. And
hearing no objections.
I also ask unanimous consent for any Member who wishes to
join us on the dais to participate in our meeting today. And
once again, without hearing any dissent, that will be the case.
I realize that we are in a cramped situation as far as time
is concerned, that some of you have flights that you need to
make this morning. I also recognize that we have brought people
in from across the country, so I appreciate them coming to the
hearing. So therefore, my opening statement I am just going to
submit for the record. We can move forward.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bishop follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Rob Bishop, Chairman,
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
Today we are hearing three bills that aim to bring much-needed
solutions to a slow-moving train wreck that has overtaken our public
Decades of failed polices and hands-off management of our forests
have left the majority of these lands in an unnatural, and unhealthy
state. What was once a valuable asset that provided raw material for a
growing and prosperous nation, clean water, recreation and numerous
other benefits has deteriorated into an extreme liability to western
communities and the environment.
It is time for a paradigm shift in restoring our landscape so that
national forests can once again meet the purposes for which they were
established. For decades we've witnessed the problem and have known the
solution. While some try to convolute and distract from the debate for
their radical agendas, the solution is simple--we need to remove the
volume of fuels that these forests are adding to themselves at a rate
of 30% each year. The Native Americans used fire, modern man used
forest management; the federal government removed both and now nature
is in the process of replacing them with its own scorched earth policy.
This is the fourth hearing this subcommittee has held on this issue
within the last year, and the response has been the same--we need to
get back to the business of managing our lands.
Some like to argue that the problem is funding. Obviously the
hardworking and dedicated land managers on the ground are not going to
implement forest management for free. Yet funding does nothing to undo
the Gordian knot of regulation, conflicting mandates, and obstruction
that former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth self-diagnosed as
Again, this is not a new issue, and not a new solution. We need to
thin the trees. We do not need more ``experiments'' or more ``pilots''
to tell us what the problem is. We simply need to provide land managers
the direction, flexibility, and encouragement to work with affected
communities and stakeholders and get back into the forest.
I'm encouraged that two of our colleagues from areas that have been
tragic victims of these conditions have worked on legislation to do
just that, and restore management to the landscape. I thank Mr. Tipton
and Mr. Gosar for their hard work, as well as Ranking Member Markey for
his recognition of the need for a more active approach to our forest
resources than has occurred under current mismanagement of the federal
estate. I thank our witnesses for joining us and look forward to their
Mr. Bishop. Does Ranking Member Sablan have an opening
STATEMENT OF THE HON. GREGORIO KILILI CAMACHO SABLAN, A
DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
Mr. Sablan. Well, I just wanted to say good morning and
thank everyone for joining us today, and welcome our witnesses
also, especially those who have been wildland firefighters. We
respect and thank you for your dedication.
Mr. Chairman, to be brief, I yield back my time.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you.
All right. We will start with our first group of witnesses
who will talk. And we will talk about the first three bills
that are here, and it will be the sponsors of that. So,
Representative Gosar, I notice that you are here. We recognize
you first to talk about H.R. 5744. Mr. Markey, if he appears,
would then talk about H.R. 5960. And then, Mr. Tipton, if you
would go through H.R. 6089. Once again, you have 5 minutes.
Representative Gosar, go for it.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PAUL A. GOSAR, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Dr. Gosar. Well, first thank you, Chairman Bishop, for
holding today's hearing and for cosponsoring the bill, the
Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012, or H.R. 5744.
First, my thoughts and prayers continue to go out to our
constituents who have suffered from catastrophic wildfires. I
would also like to express my appreciation to all the men and
women working to protect the lives and property of our
I have a slideshow on the screen now to show some of the
devastating impacts of these fires. The district I represent,
Arizona's First Congressional District, is one of the largest
congressional districts in the country, encompassing 8 of
Arizona's 13 rural counties. It contains over 37 million acres
of land administered by the Federal Government, including over
9 million acres of the United States Forest Service. That
acreage includes most of the Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, the
Prescott, Tonto and Kaibab National Forests.
Last year our communities were victims to some of the
largest forest fires in recorded history. The Wallow Fire grew
to over 800 square miles over just a few weeks, charring in its
wake some of the most treasured parts of our Ponderosa pine
country. The Horseshoe fire, the Murphy Complex, the Stanley
fire and the Monument fire blackened another 200,000 acres.
This year's fire season has not been much better. Over 900
fires have charred nearly 6,000 square miles in Arizona,
California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah, and
over 50,000 of those acres are in Arizona alone.
It is clear that the process of planning, studying,
consulting, litigating, appealing and collaborating are failing
us in our forests. The frequency of fires and the magnitude of
the acreage burned have increased markedly since 1990. The five
largest wildfires in my State's history, the Rodeo in 2002, the
Cave Creek in 2005, the Willow in 2004, and the Aspen in 2003,
and now the Wallow Fire, have all occurred in the last 10
years. Prior to 1990, the largest fire was the Carrizo fire in
1970, which burned just 57,000 acres.
Our ecosystems are suffocating. Where we once had 10 to 25
trees per acre, we now have hundreds. Roughly 80 million acres
of forests across the West are overgrown and ripe for
catastrophic wildfire, according to the Landfire multiagency
database. Our forests have been mismanaged for a long time, and
it is way past due to change our strategy. The current Federal
system continues to prioritize fighting fires. Although we need
to suppress fires, it is never going to go away, but we must
shift priority toward a proactive management. We simply cannot
afford to do otherwise.
Catastrophic wildfires are difficult to control and cost
the Federal Government millions of dollars in immediate fire
response and many millions more in restoration and
rehabilitation. The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, a
State and Federal Government partnership, estimates the costs
are 2 to 30 times the reported suppression costs. Last year the
Forest Service spent a record total of $48 million on burned
area recovery work; $25 million has already been spent to
prepare for the immediate aftermath of this year's wildfires,
putting the U.S. Forest Service on track for another possible
record year of spending on burned area recovery efforts.
So what is standing in the way of the proactive and
fiscally sustainable forest management? Bureaucratic red tape
is preventing us from participating in the stewardship of our
public lands, and the extortion tactics of some of the
environmental groups which have devastated the timber industry
and placed local ranchers' economic livelihood at risk.
That is why I introduced the Catastrophic Wildfire
Prevention Act of 2012. My bill authorizes the Forest Service
and the Department of the Interior to implement wildfire
prevention projects, including timber harvest and livestock
grazing in at-risk forests, along with threatened and
endangered species habitat, to focus on surface, ladder and
canopy fuels reduction activities. In other words, it
streamlines a review process, improves local coordination,
eliminates duplication, and sets firm timeframes to bring more
accountability to the process.
Forest thinning works. In eastern Arizona the areas that
were treated as part of the White Mountain Stewardship Project,
a contract designed to thin Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
and White Mountain Apache tribal lands, the areas managed
locally by the Apache Tribe in the State of Arizona were
properly cleared. Today there are still healthy trees with
burned underbrush. On lands that were untouched by thinning
practices, the majority of the U.S. Forest Service-administered
land in the State, fires left only scorched earth behind.
We simply need to make ecological restoration easier. This
commonsense approach has garnered strong bipartisan support.
This legislation has 32 cosponsors from 23 different States.
Additionally, Utah Senator Mike Lee has introduced companion
legislation in the Senate. Many of these supporters represent
States or congressional districts with large swaths of National
Forest land or Bureau of Land Management-administrated land;
not Massachusetts. In short, they are people directly in harm's
way, not safely tucked in a concrete jungle.
Thank you, Chairman Bishop, for your leadership on this
issue. And I look forward to the further Committee action on my
bill and other proposals that will restore the environment,
improve public safety, and save the taxpayers' dollars, and put
the people back to work.
I yield back.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, Representative Gosar.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Gosar follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Paul A. Gosar, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Arizona
I thank Chairman Bishop for holding today's hearing and for
cosponsoring my bill, the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012
First, my thoughts and prayers continue to go out to our
constituents who have suffered from catastrophic wildfire. I would also
like to express my appreciation to all of the men and women working to
protect the lives and property of our neighbors. I have a slideshow, on
the screen now, to show some of the devastating impacts these fires.
The district I represent--Arizona's First Congressional District--
is one of the largest Congressional districts in the county,
encompassing eight of Arizona's thirteen rural counties. It contains
over thirty-seven million acres of land administered by the federal
government, including over nine million acres of United States Forest
Service lands. That acreage includes much of Coconino, Apache-
Sitgreaves, Prescott, Tonto and Kaibab National Forests
Last year, our communities were victims to some of the largest
forest fires in recorded history. The Wallow Fire grew to over 800
square miles, over just a few short weeks, charring in its wake some of
the most treasured parts of our Ponderosa Pine country. The Horseshoe
Fire, the Murphy Complex, the Stanley Fire and the Monument Fire
blackened another 200,000+ acres. This year's fire season has not been
any better. Over 900 fires have charred nearly 6,000 square miles in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.
Over 50,000 of those acres are in Arizona alone.
It is clear that the process of planning, studying, consulting,
litigating, appealing, and collaborating are failing us and our
forests. The frequency of fires, and the magnitude of the acreage
burned, has increased markedly since 1990. The five largest wildfires
in my state's history, Rodeo in 2002, Cave Creek in 2005, Willow in
2004, Aspen in 2003, and now the Wallow Fire have all occurred in the
last ten years. Prior to 1990, the largest fire was the Carrizo fire in
1970 which burned just 57,000 acres.
Our ecosystems are suffocating. Where we once had 10 to 25 trees
per acre, we now have hundreds. Roughly 80 million acres of forests
across the West are overgrown and ripe for catastrophic wildfire,
according to the Landfire multiagency database. Our forests have been
mismanaged for a long time and it is way past due to change our
The current federal system continues to prioritize fighting fires.
Although the need to suppress fires is never going to go away, we must
shift priority towards pro-active management.
We simply cannot afford to do otherwise. Catastrophic wildfires are
difficult to control and cost the federal government millions of
dollars in immediate fire response and many millions more in
restoration and rehabilitation. The Western Forestry Leadership
Coalition, a state and federal government partnership, estimates the
costs are 2 to 30 times the reported suppression costs. Last year, the
Forest Service spent a record total of $48 million on burned-area
recovery work. $25 million has already been spent to prepare for the
immediate aftermath of this year's wildfires, putting the U.S. Forest
Service on track for another possible record year of spending on
burned-area recovery efforts.
So what is standing in the way of pro-active and fiscally
sustainable forest management? Bureaucratic red tape, preventing us
from participating in the stewardship of our public lands and the
extortion tactics of some environmental groups, which have devastated
the timber industry and placed local ranchers' economic livelihood at
That is why I introduced the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act
of 2012. My bill authorizes the Forest Service and Department of the
Interior to implement wildfire prevention projects, including timber
harvests and livestock grazing, in at-risk forests and threatened and
endangered species habitat that focus on surface, ladder and canopy
fuels reduction activities. In other words: it streamlines the review
process, improves local coordination eliminates duplication, and sets
firm time frames to bring more accountability to the process.
Forest thinning works! In Eastern Arizona, the areas that were
treated as part of the White Mountain Stewardship Project, a contract
designed to thin Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and White Mountain
Apache Tribal lands, and the areas managed locally by the Apache Tribe
and the State of Arizona were properly cleared. Today there are still
healthy trees with burned underbrush. In the lands that were untouched
by thinning practices, the majority of the U.S. Forest Service
administered land in the state, fire has left only scorched earth
behind. We simply need to make ecological restoration easier.
This common sense approach has garnered strong bipartisan support.
This legislation has thirty-two cosponsors from twenty-three different
states. Additionally, Utah Senator Mike Lee has introduced companion
legislation in the Senate. Many of these supporters represent states or
Congressional Districts with large swaths of National Forest System or
Bureau of Land Management administered land--not Massachusetts. In
short, they are the people directly in harm's way, not safely tucked in
a concrete jungle.
Thank you Chairman Bishop for your leadership on this issue. I look
forward to further committee action on my bill and others proposals
that will restore the environment, improve public safety, save the
taxpayer dollars, and put people back to work.
Mr. Bishop. We will let Ranking Member Markey speak on his
Mr. Tipton, if I can turn to you now for H.R. 6089.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. SCOTT R. TIPTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO
Mr. Tipton. Thank you, Chairman Bishop, for including my
legislation, H.R. 6089, the Healthy Forest Management Act of
2012, in today's hearing, and for your support of this bill.
I would also like to thank my fellow members of the
Colorado delegation, Congressman Coffman, Congressman Lamborn
and Congressman Gardner, as well as Congressman Greg Walden and
Congressman Gosar, for the valuable contribution to this
The bark beetle epidemic, rampant drought and deteriorating
forest conditions have increased the propensity for devastating
wildfires of the kind already seen in Colorado and throughout
the Western United States this season. While the outbreak has
affected State and private lands, the damage is oftentimes more
heavily concentrated in Federal lands where a lack of active
forest management has allowed the epidemic to spread to
catastrophic levels. Of the 6.6 million acres infested in
Colorado, almost 4 million are on Federal lands.
Federal efforts to responsibly manage our forests and
prevent conditions for fires that have ravaged Colorado and
other Western States have been hampered by an unwieldy
regulatory framework that systemically prevents progress toward
healthy forests. H.R. 6089, the Healthy Forest Management Act
of 2012, gives greater control to those States and communities
most directly affected by these conditions, and provides a
pathway for comprehensive landscape-level planning and a local
This legislation builds on the bipartisan Healthy Forest
Restoration Act of 2003, empowering States, counties and tribes
to be more active in addressing these emergency circumstances.
We can proactively manage our forests; reduce further
destruction from wildfires; safeguard water supplies, species,
habitat; and provide a healthy natural environment. Utilizing
the tools in the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, which have
proven to be effective, the Healthy Forest Management Act can
help reduce the cost imposed on taxpayers due to litigation,
expedite emergency mitigation procedures, and restore our
forests before they go up in flames when the costs are far
H.R. 6089 prioritizes conservation and will help reduce the
investment required of taxpayers by making public-private
partnerships more feasible. This bill is a result of more than
a year of Committee work; meetings with the Forest Service,
Bureau of Land Management and other agencies; meeting with
county and State officials and with constituents; as well as
congressional hearings on forest management. Everyone that we
talked to agreed that more needs to be done to be able to
manage our Federal forests, and this legislation is the
outgrowth of that stakeholder engagement. This is further borne
out by the groundswell of support that we have received for
this legislation from Coloradans; local, State and national
groups; and from organizations on both sides of the political
spectrum since the bill was introduced this last week.
The Healthy Forest Management Act empowers Governors to be
able to work with county commissioners and tribes to be able to
identify the most problematic areas, the spots that pose the
most imminent risk of fueling a wildlife, and then take action
to be able to manage the risk by removing hazardous fuels like
beetle-killed timber. This bill allows those who are most
directly impacted by wildfires to take proactive measures to be
able to address the problems and mitigate the root causes of
This bill isn't a talker, it is a doer. For this reason the
Healthy Forest Management Act has received the support of the
Colorado Timber Association, CLUB 20, the Colorado Association
of Conservation Districts. Commissioners from Routt, Montrose,
Gunnison, Archuleta, Moffat, Dolores, Jefferson and Larimer
Counties have also given their endorsements. So have the Boone
and Crockett Club, and the Farm Bureau Federal Forest Resource
Coalition, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National
Association of Counties, National Association of Forest Service
Retirees, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National
Association of Conservation Districts, Public Lands Council,
Safari Club International and the Society for Range Management.
I would like to urge my colleagues to join us in the strong
coalition of support for a commonsense bill that takes action
to be able to fix the problem and seriously address the
critical state of the Western forests.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, Representative Tipton.
Now, Bryson, I am going to call an audible here. We have
several witnesses who traveled great distances, and I am aware
of your travel plans going back home, so I am going to get you
finished in time. Some of the witnesses are addressing all
three bills, and some only one bill. So I am going to make sure
that we get to those who want to address all three bills at the
So let me invite up Mary Wagner, who is from the Forest
Service; Ed Roberson, who is from BLM and the Department of the
Interior, who will be addressing all three bills.
Can I also invite--and this is where I am going to make the
change here--Commissioner Gibbs from Summit County in Colorado,
Joseph Romm from the Center for American Progress. You are all
speaking on all three bills, so if I can invite you up.
Then also let me invite Hank Kashdan from the National
Association of Forest Service Retirees, and Tom Jankovsky, the
Commissioner from Garfield County in Colorado.
Actually, if you guys could come up here and be the first
panel, I would appreciate that. I was excited for a while when
I saw Garfield and Summit Counties, and then I realized this is
Garfield and Summit County in Colorado, not in Utah.
Disappointment reigned again.
All right. If I could ask you--am I missing anyone there?
If I could ask you once again if you would address, the first
four witnesses, all three bills, and then the last two
witnesses, the Commissioner and Mr. Kashdan from the Retirees,
if you would then talk about H.R. 6089. And once again, since
we are on a short time limit to try and make sure that everyone
gets their available time, you have 5 minutes. You know the
drill. Most of you have been here before. We have your written
testimony. It will appear as written in the record. This is an
oral testimony, so only hit the highlights. Make sure it comes
within the 5 minutes.
When the green light is on in front of you, that means you
are free to go. When the yellow light hits, you have less than
that a minute to sum up. And I will apologize to you now that
when it hits 5 minutes, I am going to cut you off even if it is
in mid-sentence. I want to get all the testimony in so that it
can be heard and we can get through these issues and so people
can meet their deadlines. So I appreciate that.
OK. I think everyone is now situated and settled. We
realize you are happy to be here, and you are going to thank
us. Don't do that. Just go right to your message. You got 5
Ms. Wagner, we will start with you, please.
STATEMENT OF MARY WAGNER, ASSOCIATE CHIEF, FOREST SERVICE,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Ms. Wagner. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I am
going to offer just a few remarks this morning and note that
more detail is in the written testimony that has been
Drought, invasive species, loss of open space, severe
wildfires, devastating outbreaks of insects and disease, all
these stresses and disturbances are affecting America's forests
on an unprecedented scale: 65 to 82 million acres are in need
of restoration on national forests alone; 65 million acres are
at high or a very high risk of large wildfires. Increasing the
pace of restoration of the Nation's forest is critically needed
to address the health of our forest ecosystems, watersheds and
In Fiscal Year 2011, we accomplished 3.7 million acres of
restoration. In Fiscal Year 2012, we are on track to accomplish
about 4 million acres. We have made strides in our efforts to
increase the pace of restoration, working with community
organizations, environmental groups, forest industry, local
government and communities, States, tribes and other Federal
agencies. We have demonstrated that forest thinning and
hazardous fuels treatments reduce the impact of fire. But
clearly we have more to do.
I want to offer my appreciation to members of this
Subcommittee and other Members of Congress for your interest
and action on this issue. And I also want to express my
condolences to families in communities impacted by wildfires to
date. This is the reason this work needs our very best.
Before I address the three bills, I want to tell you about
some of the work we are implementing to increase restoration.
In many cases new authorities and tools from Congress has made
this work possible. We have invested in restoration projects
with partners through the Collaborative Forest Landscape
Restoration Program. These projects have demonstrated that
collaboration among stakeholders can facilitate large
landscape-scale restoration. The landscape strategies developed
by these collaborative efforts alone exceed 16 million acres in
their footprint, and the strategic placement of fuels and
mechanical treatments will help build more resilient
States are featured partners in many of these CFLR
projects. Under the 2008 farm bill, State forest action plans
were required, and they delineate priority areas for forest
restoration. We have partnered with the States and coordinated
across boundaries for many of these State action plans and are
in the process of implementing them.
We have implemented the bark beetle strategy, focusing
priority treatment areas to ensure human health and safety and
to reduce hazardous fuels conditions. We have used tools
available to the agency, such as stewardship contracts and Good
Neighbor authority, to develop more holistic treatments that
accomplish multiple research objectives, many times working
across jurisdictional boundaries.
With the passage of the 2012 Interior appropriations bill,
Congress provided resources and authorization to implement
integrated resource restoration for three pilot regions in the
interior West of the United States. IRR is going to bring
resources necessary for maintaining and restoring ecosystems
under one budget line item, giving us a lot of flexibility to
do the necessary work on the land.
We have worked hard on improving NEPA efficiency for
restoration. A couple of examples; we are close to issuing two
new categorical exclusions for soil and water restoration
activities, and we are increasing the use of landscape-scale
NEPA, larger acreage covered in one analysis. Two examples of
that are Arizona's Four Forest Initiative, where the NEPA
document that is covering the restoration plan for that acreage
is 750,000 acres. Recently in the Black Hills, they have issued
an adaptive environmental impact statement covering over
250,000 acres of mountain pine beetle at-risk or impacted
And last, we are working as a partner on the all lands
cohesive strategy. Congress, through the Flame Act, asked the
agencies to put together a strategy that would focus on
restoring and maintaining fire-adapted landscapes, including
communities, and optimizing coordinated response to wildfire.
And we are working with a host of local municipal, State, other
Federal agency players to respond to that strategy.
A critical part of all these efforts is building public
support for forest restoration and management activities. While
the Department opposes H.R. 5744 and H.R. 6089 as drafted,
there are elements of the bills that we support, and we would
like to work with the Subcommittee and sponsors in developing
bill language that meets forest restoration objectives. And
while we support H.R. 5960, we would like to have further
discussion on some of the elements. We do support expanding
Good Neighbor authority and reauthorizing stewardship
As wildland fires have impacted lands across the West, we
recognize the interest, the urgency and the willingness of many
Members of Congress to provide tools for the Forest Service and
other Federal agencies to apply restoration principles. We look
forward to working with you on this issue. Thanks.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, Ms. Wagner, and thank you for
watching the clock so diligently. I appreciate that. I saw you
[The prepared statement of Ms. Wagner follows:]
Statement of Mary Wagner, Associate Chief, Forest Service,
United States Department of Agriculture, on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960, and
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the
opportunity to present the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
regarding these bills. This is a difficult time for all of us. Wildland
fires have disrupted lives and impacted lands across the West, and
there is great interest, urgency and willingness to help provide tools
for the Forest Service to apply restoration principles. We appreciate
this interest and want to work with you to provide the best possible
approaches to address these issues. Unfortunately, because of the short
notice for this hearing, we have not had an opportunity to thoroughly
analyze the bills before us, and thus, our testimony today will be
general in nature. We will continue to work with Congress and others
that have advanced proposals, such as in the bills we are discussing
today as well as the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
We recognize our collective ability to sustain the nation's forests
and provide ecosystem services is increasingly at risk. Drought,
invasive species, loss of open space, uncharacteristically severe
wildfires, uncharacteristically severe outbreaks of insects and
disease--all these stresses and disturbances are affecting America's
forests on an unprecedented scale, with 60-80 million acres at risk.
Before I address the three bills, let me tell you about some of the
initiatives we are implementing to increase restoration.
The Forest Service has initiated an Accelerated Restoration program
to restore the functions and processes characteristic of healthy,
resilient ecosystems on as many acres as possible. Our goal is to
sustain and restore ecosystems that can deliver all the benefits that
Americans want and need. The Forest Service recognizes that increasing
the pace and scale of restoration and active management of the National
Forests is critically needed to address threats to the resiliency of
our forests and watersheds and the health and safety of America's
The Forest Service also recognizes the need for a strong forest
industry to help accomplish forest restoration work. A vibrant industry
can provide both the resources and the know-how to undertake mechanical
treatments and other restoration activities. Forest industry also
lowers the cost of restoration to the taxpayer by providing markets for
The Forest Service is committed to increasing the current total of
acres being mechanically treated by 20% over the next three years. This
increase would allow the Forest Service to increase the number of acres
and watersheds restored across the system, while supporting jobs and
increasing the amount of forest products sold. A critical part of this
effort is building public support for forest restoration and management
activities. To this end, the Forest Service continues to emphasize the
importance of collaboration among diverse stakeholders in developing
restoration projects on national forest lands. Such collaboration not
only results in better projects, but it also reduces the risks of
An additional benefit of this restoration work is job creation. For
example, through implementation of the Collaborative Forest Landscape
Restoration Program (including the use of stewardship contracts), the
proponents of projects on national forest lands anticipate creating or
maintaining 1,550 jobs. The benefits of maintaining a robust forest
industry flows not only to local communities but also to the Forest
Service itself as the agency relies on local forest contractors and
mills to provide the work force to undertake a variety of restoration
activities. A study by Cassandra Moseley and Max Nielson-Pincus,
Institute for Sustainable Development, has shown that every one million
dollars spent on activities such as stream restoration or road
decommissioning generates from 12 to 28 jobs. In addition, restoring
the health and resilience of our forests generates important amenity
values. Healthy, resilient forests and grasslands are magnets for
outdoor recreation, with more than 170 million visits per year to the
National Forest System. That in turn leads to jobs and economic
The Forest Service continues to work toward restoring more land to
accomplish restoration objectives, maintain a robust forest industry,
and in turn create jobs. We are striving to efficiently implement
existing programs and policies, as well as pursuing a number of new
policies and initiatives to increase the pace of forest restoration and
conservation through collaboration and management of the national
forests. The aim of these efforts is to move beyond the conflicts which
have characterized forest policy in the past and toward a shared vision
that allows forest industry, environmentalists, local communities, and
other stakeholders to work collaboratively toward healthier forests and
watersheds, safer communities and more vibrant local economies.
Within the framework of the overall restoration program, the Forest
Service is focused on the role of active forest management--including
hazardous fuels reduction, reforestation, stream restoration, road
decommissioning, forest thinning and harvesting, prescribed fire, and a
range of other practices--as important tools to accomplish needed
restoration work. The following are a series of actions that will allow
the Agency to further restoration and management on the national
Investing in restoration projects with partners through the
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP).
In fiscal year 2012, the Forest Service received the full $40
million authorized by the CFLR Act. The Secretary funded 10 new
projects, in addition to the continued funding for 10 projects selected
in 2010. Three additional high priority collaborative projects were
also funded from other appropriated FS funding. These 23 projects have
demonstrated that collaboration among stakeholders can facilitate
large, landscape scale restoration, thereby improving forest health,
reducing wildfire risk, restoring fire-adapted ecosystems, and
increasing timber and biomass production from our national forests.
The U.S. Forest Service reduced fire threats on more than 123,000
acres of land under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration
Program nationwide in fiscal year 2011 as part of a larger effort to
improve the health and resiliency of national forests.
In its second year of funding, the Collaborative Forest Landscape
Restoration Program also contributed $21 million to local economies
through treatments that included prescribed burns and fuels thinning,
producing 121 million board feet of lumber and 267,000 tons of woody
biomass for bio-energy production on ten projects around the country.
On three National Forests throughout Colorado, CFLR projects have
reduced fire threats over 14,000 acres using mechanical thinning and
prescribed fire. The Deschutes has reduced 29,000 tons of woody biomass
and made available 8 million board feet of lumber.
The CFLR project in California on the Sierra National Forest has
reduced hazardous fuels on 8,000 acres of Wildland Urban Interface
lands while at the same time yielding nearly 8 million board feet of
lumber. The Four Forest Restoration Project in Arizona has improved
forest vegetation, restored habitat on 111,000 acres and begun major
rehabilitation work on areas affected by the Wallow and Schultz fires.
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy)
The Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement (FLAME)
Act of 2009 charged the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to
create a cohesive wildfire management strategy. Federal Land Managers
responded by working through the Wildland Fire Leadership Council to
direct the development of the Cohesive Strategy. The nation's wildland
fire problems do not stop at administrative boundaries; the Cohesive
Strategy is a collaborative process with active involvement of all
levels of government and non-governmental organizations, as well as the
public, to seek national, all-lands solutions to wildland fire
management issues. It is being built both from the top down and from
the bottom up, and is science based. The Cohesive Strategy addresses
the nation's wildfire problems by focusing on three key areas: 1)
Restore and Maintain Landscapes, 2) Fire Adapted Communities, and 3)
Response to Fire.
The Cohesive Strategy is now moving into Phase III, which includes
a trade-off analysis of national risk. We expect to garner a better
understanding of how the Forest Service can play a larger role in
restoring and maintaining fire-adapted ecosystems and landscapes within
an all-lands context. This understanding should help focus and support
efforts I've already described under the umbrella of Accelerated
Restoration and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration
The Forest Service Bark Beetle Strategy.
Bark beetles have impacted nearly 18 million acres of NFS lands.
The Bark Beetle Strategy, developed in 2011, focuses management efforts
on priority treatment areas to ensure human health and safety and to
reduce hazardous fuel conditions. In FY 2011, a total of approximately
16,822 acres were treated to reduce safety hazards to forest visitors,
50,145 were reforested, and 236,962 acres were thinned to improve
resilience producing approximately 303.3 million board feet of timber
sold, 153,801 green tons of biomass, and resulting in removal of hazard
trees along 978 miles of road.
Use of Stewardship Contracting.
This tool allows the Forest Service to acquire needed restoration
services. Reauthorizing this authority and expanding the use of this
tool is crucial to our ability to collaboratively restore landscapes at
a reduced cost to the government by offsetting the value of the
services received with the value of forest products removed pursuant to
a single contract or agreement. In Fiscal Year 2011, 19% of all timber
volume sold was under a stewardship contract and funded activities such
as watershed and wildlife habitat improvement projects, trails
projects, road decommissioning, and hazardous fuels reduction. 208
contracts were awarded in 2011, treating 189,000 acres of hazardous
Improved efficiency of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
process for restoration.
A robust, comprehensive and efficient Forest Planning/NEPA program
is needed to accomplish the hundreds of thousands of acres of natural
resource projects we do across the country each year. We continuously
strive to save time and money in this program while meeting our
statutory and regulatory obligations. In addition to the recently
promulgated Forest Planning rule, the Agency has also initiated a NEPA
learning networks project to learn from and share the lessons of
successful implementation of efficient NEPA analyses. The goal of this
effort is to ensure that the Agency's NEPA compliance is as efficient,
cost-effective, and up-to-date as possible. Specifically we are looking
at expanding the use of focused environmental assessment (EAs),
iterative environmental impact statement (EISs) documentation,
expanding categories of actions that may be excluded from documentation
in an EA or an EIS, and applying an adaptive management framework to
NEPA. Our landscape-scale NEPA projects will also increase
efficiencies. For example, our Mountain Pine Beetle Response Project on
the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota is implementing a
landscape-scale adaptive approach for treating future pine beetle
outbreaks. We are also implementing the Four Forest Restoration
Initiative project in the Southwest which is a very large, four forest
landscape-scale restoration project.
The Good Neighbor Authority
The Good Neighbor Authority was first authorized in 2000,
responding to increased concern regarding densely stocked stands at
risk from insect and wildland fires. The law authorized the U.S. Forest
Service to permit the Colorado State Forest Service to conduct certain
watershed restoration activities on National Forest Service land when
conducting similar activities on adjacent state or private land. In
2004 Utah and BLM received Good Neighbor authority. Federal and state
officials who have used Good Neighbor authority cited project
efficiencies and enhanced federal-state cooperation as its key
benefits. The Department would like to see this authority expanded and
Our preliminary review of the three bills today before the
Committee will be discussed next.
While the Department opposes H.R. 5744 and H.R. 6089 as drafted,
there are elements that we support and we would like to continue to
work with the Subcommittee in developing bill language that will meet
our forest restoration objectives. The Administration can support H.R.
5960 but would like to have further discussion on some of its elements.
We support the reauthorization of Good Neighbor and Stewardship
H.R. 5744, the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012, was
introduced to address the forest health, public safety, and wildlife
habitat threat presented by the risk of wildfire, including
catastrophic wildfire, on National Forest System lands and public lands
managed by the Bureau of Land Management by requiring the Secretary of
Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to expedite forest
management projects relating to hazardous fuels reduction, forest
health, forest and watershed restoration, and threatened and endangered
species habitat protection. The Administration agrees with the intent
of the bill. However, we have significant concerns with some of the
provisions and would like to further analyze and discuss several
aspects, including provisions that modify the public comment and
environmental analysis under National Forest Policy Act (NEPA), grazing
utilization standard waivers, and timeframes for public petitions. In
particular, we oppose the NEPA provisions in the bill because we do not
believe 30 days will allow for adequate environmental review of most
projects. It is also important to apply utilization standards for
livestock grazing to wildfire prevention projects so that soil and
vegetative cover is maintained.
H.R. 5960, the Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil
Erosion, and Catastrophic Fire Act of 2012, was introduced to amend the
Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA) to improve the response
to insect infestations and related diseases and to make the Stewardship
Contracting authority permanent and to extend Good Neighbor authority
to western states. The bill authorizes the Secretary, in consultation
with the Governor, to designate in each State one or more sub-
watersheds that are experiencing an insect or disease epidemic, and to
carry out priority projects to reduce the risk or extent of, or
increase the resilience to, insect or disease infestation. The projects
may be carried out under the HFRA provisions, including those providing
for expedited environmental analysis, pre-decisional review, and
judicial review. We agree that it would be helpful to make tree
mortality due to insect or disease eligible treatment using the HFRA
provisions, but would like to further analyze and discuss several
aspects including timeframes for eligible projects, proactive
approaches, and large and old-growth tree retention. We support the
extension of stewardship contracting. However, we would like to see
stewardship contracting authority made permanent. The Department
supports extending Good Neighbor Authority, but would like to further
analyze differences between H.R. 5960 and current authority in
Colorado, where we have had significant success.
H.R. 6089, the Healthy Forest Management Act of 2012, was
introduced to address the bark beetle epidemic, drought, deteriorating
forest health conditions, and high risk of wildfire on National Forest
System land and land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land
Management by expanding authorities established in the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act of 2003, to make permanent Forest Service and Bureau of
Land Management authority to carry out Good Neighbor authority with
States, and to extend the Stewardship Contracting Authority. The Forest
Service supports reauthorization of the Stewardship Contracting
Authority and Good Neighbor authority. We do not support provisions in
the bill that authorize the Governors to designate high risk areas on
National Forest System lands and to provide for development of
emergency fuels reduction projects in the areas. We would like to
discuss further several topics, including projects in inventoried
roadless areas, timeframes, and the criteria for projects.
In summary, the Forest Service would like to thank you for the
opportunity to testify on these pieces of legislation. We continue an
increased pace of restoration and job creation on our National Forest
System lands. As wildland fires have impacted lands across the West, we
recognize the interest, urgency and willingness of many Members of
Congress to provide tools for the Forest Service to apply restoration
principles. Be assured that our resources are directed at the
suppression of these fires as well as efforts to provide emergency
stabilization of burned lands, and fuels reduction projects.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Roberson from the Department of the
Interior, same drill.
STATEMENT OF ED ROBERSON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, RENEWABLE
RESOURCES AND PLANNING, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. Roberson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member,
for inviting me and the Bureau of Land Management to testify
this morning. The Department of the Interior and our cohesive
wildland fire strategy, management strategy, is working toward
maintaining resistant landscapes, creating fire-adapted
communities, and managing wildfire response in a complex
An agency of the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of
Land Management, is committed to sustaining the health,
diversity and productivity of the forest and woodlands, which
together comprise 58 million acres of the public lands which we
manage for the American people.
The mounting effects of insect infestation, disease
outbreaks, prolonged drought, climate change, invasions of
harmful nonnative species, and the accumulation of fuels
generate increased risk of catastrophic losses, including risk
to life and property that may result from wildfire.
The BLM works with its partners across landownership to
protect lives and property, wildfire habitat and other
resources from wildfire. Toward this goal the BLM last year
treated 400,000 acres for hazardous fuel.
Guiding all of the BLM's management actions, including
forestry and fuels management, is the agency's land-use
planning process. The BLM uses an open public land-use planning
process to include public input and to analyze the effects of
proposed actions. We value this process and the information it
provides for us.
Two of the tools that we have used effectively in our fuels
management program are stewardship contracting and the Good
Neighbor authority. To date the BLM has successfully used
stewardship contracting in over 100,000 acres, reducing
hazardous fuels, restoring habitat, protecting communities from
wildland fire. The BLM has used the Good Neighbor authority in
Colorado to partner with the State and gain some efficiencies
in achieving restoration goals there.
With regard to Congressman Gosar's bill, H.R. 5744, it
requires the BLM to implement authorized wildfire prevention
projects, which are defined to include timber harvest and
livestock grazing, under a reduced level of public comment and
environmental analysis. The bill would allow timber harvesting
in wilderness study areas and would impose strict timelines for
public review and analysis. It deems a project as NEPA
compliant if timelines are not met.
The bill also requires fire and fuel research prior to
Endangered Species Act listings, critical habitat
determinations and recovery plans. The Department is committed
to using hazardous fuels reduction treatments to maintain
resilient landscapes and protect life and property from
wildfire. However, we do not believe that H.R. 5744 will help
achieve the goal of mitigating the risk of wildfire damage.
The bill will curtail the use of some of BLM's most
valuable assessments and analysis. The bill's strict timelines
for public review and environmental analysis, coupled with the
fact that the legislation deems the project NEPA compliant if
we don't meet the timeline, would not enable sufficient
analysis. Therefore, the Department opposes the bill's
wilderness study area provision and the provisions that change
With regard to H.R. 5960, Congressman Markey's bill, it
amends the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to provide for
enhanced restoration work and research, and it authorizes
stewardship contracting and Good Neighbor authority. BLM
supports the authorization stewardship contracting and the
expansion of Good Neighbor authority in this legislation. These
authorities will enable BLM to better achieve land and forest
health goals in cooperation with our partners. The Department
supports H.R. 5960 and would appreciate the opportunity to work
with the sponsor and the Committee on certain technical
improvements. We defer to the Forest Service on those portions
of the bill that relate solely to the national forests.
With regard to H.R. 6089, Congressman Tipton's bill, it
authorizes a State Governor or a secretary to designate areas
of public lands as high risk of current and future damage. For
areas designated as high risk, the bill requires BLM to
implement projects in those areas under a reduced environmental
analysis. The bill also extends stewardship contracting in Good
The Department opposes H.R. 6089, the definition of high-
risk areas outside of the normal planning process, particularly
by Governors without consultation with other Federal land
managers; prevents public involvement, environmental analysis
and making those designations. And further, the timeframes for
designating these areas and implementing proposed projects is
not sufficient for our analysis of those decisions.
Under the bill the Secretary----
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Roberson, please. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Roberson follows:]
Statement of Ed Roberson, Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and
Planning, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior,
on H.R. 5744, Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act; H.R. 5960,
Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion, and Catastrophic
Fire Act; and H.R. 6089, Healthy Forests Management Act
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.R. 5744, the
Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act; H.R. 5960, the Depleting Risk
from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion, and Catastrophic Fire Act; and
H.R. 6089, the Healthy Forests Management Act. All of these bills
attempt to reduce the risk of catastrophic damages resulting from
wildland fire by defining new forest and fuels treatments policies on
public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and on
National Forest System lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The
Department of the Interior supports the goals of enhancing restoration
for public forests and rangelands and mitigating the risks of wildland
fire by working more effectively with our partners, and therefore
supports H.R. 5960. However, the BLM cannot support measures that
expedite restoration treatments, as well as commercial grazing and
timber harvest, at the expense of the environmental review and public
involvement in federal actions. As such, the Department opposes H.R.
5744 and H.R. 6089.
The BLM is committed to sustaining the health, diversity, and
productivity of forests and woodlands, which together comprise 58
million acres of public lands managed by the BLM. The mounting effects
of insect infestations, disease outbreaks, prolonged drought, climate
change, invasions of harmful non-native species, and the accumulation
of fuels generate increased risks of catastrophic losses, including
risks to life and property that may result from wildfire. These
increasing pressures, coupled with increasing demands for uses of the
public lands, may also result in the loss of natural and cultural
resources, loss of wildlife habitat, and loss of recreational
opportunities on the public lands.
Guiding all of the BLM's management actions--including forestry and
fuels management--is the agency's land use planning process. This is an
open, public process in which the agency's proposals for managing
particular resources are made known to the public in advance of taking
action. The BLM's plans are reviewed and analyzed by members of the
public and stakeholders, including state, tribal, and local agencies,
and the BLM must address all comments on agency proposals and make its
responses available to the public.
Similarly, the BLM is committed to providing the full environmental
review, including analysis of alternatives, and public involvement
opportunities required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
for all agency proposals for BLM-managed lands. NEPA emphasizes public
involvement to give all Americans a role in protecting our environment.
America's economic health and prosperity are inexorably linked to the
productive and sustainable use of our natural resources. The NEPA
process remains a vital tool as we work to protect our Nation's
environment and revitalize our economy.
The Department, through the Office of Wildland Fire, coordinates
fire prevention, mitigation, and response both within the Department
and with external federal and non-federal partners. The National
Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy is an unprecedented
collaborative planning and risk analysis that builds on successes of
the past while incorporating a new collaborative approach to restoring
and maintaining resilient landscapes, creating fire adapted
communities, and managing wildfire response in a complex environment.
The Department's approach to hazardous fuels reduction is integrated
and coordinated across vegetation types, types of insect infestation
and disease, and land ownership. The Department employs an integrated,
multi-agency approach to wildland fire management, and looks forward to
working with the Committee to ensure the objectives of legislation are
achieved in an integrated manner.
The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA) provides an
authority for hazardous fuels treatments and other forest and rangeland
restoration treatments. In 2011, the BLM conducted over 400,000 acres
of restoration and hazardous fuels reduction treatments, including
thinning, salvage, and prescribed burns. The mountain pine beetle
epidemic is estimated by the BLM to affect forests on up to 1.3 million
acres of BLM-managed public lands, changing the character and
increasing the complexity of the restoration treatments that the BLM
applies. The BLM takes seriously its responsibilities for protecting
people, property, and resources from wildland fire, and uses a
proactive approach to treat hazardous fuels.
Because the factors that cause increasing hazardous fuel loads
cross jurisdictional boundaries, the BLM has increasingly adopted a
landscape approach to resource conservation and hazardous fuel
treatment. The BLM routinely works with partner agencies,
organizations, and landowners to engage in land and watershed
restoration and hazardous fuels reduction activities on federal, state,
and private lands.
Stewardship contracting authority, established for the BLM in the
FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act, allows the BLM to award contracts
for fuels treatment and removal, for a period of up to ten years, and
to use the value of timber or other forest products removed as an
offset against the cost of services received. The BLM has enjoyed many
successes in using stewardship contracting authority, accomplishing
goals for hazardous fuels reduction, habitat restoration, jobs and
revenue growth for local communities, and protection of local
communities from wildland fire. From 2005 through 2011, the BLM offered
411 stewardship contracts on 101,238 acres of BLM-managed lands. The
BLM's future strategy for stewardship projects includes increasing the
size and duration of these projects.
Good Neighbor Authority
Currently, the BLM is authorized through a pilot authority to enter
into Good Neighbor agreements and contracts with the Colorado State
Forestry Division to perform watershed restoration and protection
services on BLM lands in the State of Colorado when similar and
complementary work is being performed on adjacent state lands. This
authority has been extended until September 30, 2013. All Good Neighbor
projects must comply with applicable environmental laws and
regulations, including the appropriate level of environmental review
under NEPA, and must be consistent with the applicable land use plans.
BLM field units are encouraged to use the Good Neighbor Authority as a
tool to achieve resource work identified through the regular land use
H.R. 5744 requires the implementation of authorized wildfire
prevention projects in forests and in threatened and endangered species
habitat, and defines livestock grazing and timber harvesting and
thinning as appropriate project tools to reduce fuel loads. The bill
provides for a reduced period of public comment and environmental
analysis for such projects, and establishes expedited administrative
and judicial review. In addition, the bill requires research on the
effects of a potential Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing on fuel
loads, forage and timber. The Department of the Interior opposes H.R.
5744, because it limits public involvement in the land use planning and
environmental analysis processes and because of the modifications it
makes to the ESA.
The goal of H.R. 5744 is to mitigate the risk of catastrophic
damages from wildfire. However, the Department does not believe that
H.R. 5744 will help achieve the mitigation efforts as the bill does not
reflect BLM's most current methods for conducting assessments and
determining management practices. It curtails the BLM's ability to use
its public land use planning process to inform decision-making. The BLM
uses science-based tools for assessing conditions, establishing
utilization standards, and analyzing alternatives, and values both its
ability to conduct science-based analyses and the input it receives
from the public on the agency's proposed actions for managing
particular resources. Further, the scope of the bill is unclear--
language throughout is limited to forest systems, although the bill
appears intended to apply to woodlands and rangelands as well.
H.R. 5744 allows fuels reduction projects, including timber
harvest, in Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). The BLM opposes this
provision. The BLM has developed a non-impairment criterion to meet the
requirements in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) that
WSAs not have their suitability for wilderness designation impaired.
H.R. 5744, if enacted, could result in the loss of suitability for
wilderness designation in WSAs that the BLM has managed for non-
impairment since FLPMA was enacted.
The bill imposes strict deadlines for public review and
environmental analysis and ``deems'' a project NEPA compliant if the
agency does not meet the deadlines. The bill restricts environmental
analysis for projects including livestock grazing and timber harvest
that are authorized under the bill to Environmental Assessments,
limiting the BLM's ability to perform analyses and use them to inform
its decisions. The 30-day deadline for public comment, 60-day deadline
for response to public petitions for designation, and 60-day deadline
for project decisions is insufficient for full public participation,
complete environmental analysis, and would not permit the examination
of and response to all comments received during the public comment
For authorized wildfire prevention projects the bill deems an
Environmental Assessment (EA) for a livestock grazing project to be
sufficient for at least 10 years, while an EA for a timber harvest
project is deemed sufficient for at least 20 years. These time frames
limit the BLM's ability to determine the appropriate scope of their
NEPA analyses and would undermine the integrity of those analyses.
These time frames also may be interpreted to restrict the BLM's ability
to be responsive to changes in resource conditions and significant new
circumstances and information, as required by FLPMA and NEPA. The bill
also eliminates the alternatives analysis, which lies at the heart of
NEPA and is beneficial in informing agency decisions. The BLM gains
important information about public and stakeholder perspectives and
performs important analyses during its NEPA process. The BLM opposes
provisions limiting public participation through the land use planning
and NEPA analysis processes.
The Department strongly believes that forest health and related
management practices are consistent with threatened and endangered
species conservation. The Department is committed to working with land
managers to ensure robust forest health management practices are in
place. The Department has a longstanding position of acknowledging the
importance of forest health management practices on species
conservation, such as actions that limit forest fuel loads. However,
the requirements in H.R. 5744 (Sec. 7) for additional research and
assessments for ESA listings, critical habitat determinations, and
recovery plans are unnecessary and would create an undue burden, and
therefore the Department opposes this provision.
H.R. 5960 amends the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) to
provide for enhanced restoration work in priority watersheds and
enhanced authority to perform cooperative restoration projects on
public lands managed by the BLM and on National Forest System lands
managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The bill adds mountain pine beetle
infestations as areas eligible for applied silvicultural assessments
under HFRA; directs the Secretary of Agriculture to designate insect
and disease treatment and research pilot areas; and changes the funding
source for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program. The bill authorizes
stewardship contracting; establishes the Good Neighbor Authority; and
modifies the Emergency Watershed Rehabilitation Program.
The majority of the bill's provisions apply to lands and programs
managed by the U.S. Forest Service; the Department of the Interior
defers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on provisions that apply
exclusively to lands and programs under its management. As to
provisions that impact public lands under its management, the
Department of the Interior supports H.R. 5960 as outlined below. The
BLM would also appreciate the opportunity to work with the sponsor and
the committee on certain technical improvements to the bill.
H.R. 5960 amends HFRA to add the mountain pine beetle to HFRA's
list of insect infestations eligible for treatments and to add a new
section (Sec. 405) authorizing the designation of insect and disease
treatment and research pilot program areas. This beetle is one of
several insect species of concern to BLM's forest management program;
however, this section of the legislation is currently written to apply
only to National Forests. The BLM would welcome the opportunity to work
with the sponsor on technical changes that would include BLM-managed
lands in the identification of pilot priority treatment areas.
H.R. 5960 permanently authorizes stewardship contracting to achieve
land management goals. The BLM supports stewardship contracting
authority, as it provides the BLM with needed flexibility to work with
contractors to achieve the agency's land and forest health goals, and
saves taxpayer resources because the value of forest products removed
are used to offset the cost of the management action. However, the BLM
would like to work with the sponsor on clarifying language to ensure
the BLM is included in the intended authorities, that the Secretary of
the Interior, as well as the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to
enter into contracts, and to address the full breadth of work included
in the treatment types listed.
Finally, H.R. 5960 expands the Good Neighbor Authority, enabling
the use of contracts and agreements between the Secretary of the
Interior or Secretary of Agriculture and state Governors to perform
authorized restoration work on federal land where similar work is being
performed on adjacent state land. Building on successful implementation
in Colorado, where the BLM's pilot authority enabled managers to
achieve efficiencies, savings, and enhanced treatment effectiveness,
H.R. 5960 authorizes the BLM to use this cross-boundary management tool
on BLM-managed lands throughout the west. The authority provided by the
bill is discretionary; each BLM office could determine on a case-by-
case basis whether or not the Good Neighbor authority is a desirable
option. All Good Neighbor projects would be undertaken in conformance
with land use plans and comply with NEPA, if applicable. The BLM
supports this authority and would like to work with the sponsor and the
committee on technical improvements to restoration language.
H.R. 6089 declares the bark beetle epidemic, drought, and
deteriorating forest health conditions on National Forest System lands
and public lands to be an ``imminent threat'' and empowers the
Governors of states, in addition to the Secretaries of Agriculture and
of the Interior, to designate ``high-risk'' areas on these federal
lands, and to propose and require the appropriate Secretary to
implement emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects (defined to
include non-clearcut timber harvests) within designated ``high-risk''
areas. The bill applies several HFRA authorities--reduced environmental
analysis, special administrative review, and reduced judicial review--
to the emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects as defined in H.R.
5960. The bill expands Good Neighbor Authority and Stewardship
Contracting Authority. The Department of the Interior supports Good
Neighbor Authority and Stewardship Contracting, and is committed to
protecting lives, public land resources, and property from wildland
fire. However, the Department opposes H.R. 6089 because it restricts
opportunities for public review and environmental analysis, and because
it enables state Governors to direct federal resource management
actions on federal lands.
The bill's definition and designation of ``high-risk'' areas is
exceedingly broad. With no limitations on the size, location, or
present condition of such designations, the bill provides nearly
unlimited authority for state Governors or the Secretary to establish a
new designation without review, analysis, or public input. The bill
requires Governors to consult with county governments and affected
Indian tribes, but does not require consultation with the land-managing
agency. Additionally, the inclusion of a future risk of insect
infestation or disease (in addition to deteriorating forest health
conditions) as a criteria for ``high-risk'' area designation makes the
designation meaningless, as virtually all public lands with forests or
vegetation are potentially at future risk of insect infestation or
disease. The BLM opposes allowing state Governors (or the Secretaries)
to designate management treatments outside of the land use planning
process--which provides for public notification, public involvement,
the input of stakeholders, consideration of sound science, and the
analysis of alternative management options to inform federal agency
land and resource management decisions.
The bill requires that initial ``high-risk'' areas be designated
within 60 days of enactment of the Act. This short time frame would not
provide the BLM sufficient time to analyze the effects of designations
or consider input from the public, including ranchers, recreationists,
and property owners. All of these uses would potentially be affected by
the designation of an area as ``high-risk,'' yet the bill's strict
deadlines limit opportunities for those who use public lands to make
their concerns known. The bill provides that ``high-risk'' areas will
be designated for 20 years. This long time period fails to provide
opportunities to adjust course during the 20 year period to respond to
new circumstances or information, emerging threats, or to unanticipated
impacts or changes in resource conditions. For example, the current
mountain pine beetle outbreak had not even been detected 20 years ago.
Of serious concern, the bill requires the Secretaries to implement
within 60 days projects proposed by a state Governor (or Secretary) for
``high-risk'' public lands. Requiring immediate implementation of
projects, without consideration or analysis of impacts or public input,
prevents an open, public process and precludes environmental analysis.
The authority provided to Governors in this provision presents
additional concerns, essentially shifting the authority for resource
management decisions and activities on federal lands to individual
state Governors. By merely designating an area of the public lands as
``high-risk'', under H.R. 6089, an individual state Governor can
require BLM to manage federal lands and resources to meet the
Governor's objectives, without regard to national objectives,
interests, or a fair return to the American people. Under the bill,
such required projects would place a serious burden on available agency
funding and resources, impacting the BLM's ability to implement other
BLM priorities, which include conventional and renewable energy
development, leasing and permitting activities, and existing priority
Finally, the bill excludes designated Wilderness and National
Monuments from designation as ``high-risk'' areas. However, many other
BLM lands include resources protected by federal law, including
National Conservation Areas, National Scenic and Historic Trails,
National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and Wilderness Study Areas. State
Governors choosing to designate such areas as high risk areas would
limit the BLM's ability to comply with its obligations to protect such
resources under federal law. For example, under federal law (P.L. 105-
83), the BLM has particular obligations to preserve and protect forest
in the Headwaters Forest Reserve in California. State designation of
this area as a ``high-risk'' area would decrease the BLM's ability to
manage for resources protected by federal law.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify about H.R. 5744, H.R.
5960, and H.R. 6089. I would be glad to answer any questions.
Mr. Bishop. Commissioner Gibbs, 5 minutes. And I am going
to impose that deadline very strictly. Let's go.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. DAN GIBBS, COMMISSIONER,
SUMMIT COUNTY, COLORADO
Mr. Gibbs. Thank you, Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member
Grijalva, and all the members of the Committee. My name is Dan
Gibbs. I am a county commissioner from Summit County, Colorado,
former State senator, as well as a wildland firefighter.
Summit County is experiencing major forest health concerns.
Over the last 10 years, I have witnessed the transformation of
our forests in the county resulting in 146,000 acres of dead
trees, which were killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
As a result we now have a major challenge to respond to these
I appreciate that Congress enacted the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act, known as HFRA, which has helped expedite the
Forest Restoration Act; however, there is much more that can be
done. As can be seen from the Hayman fire that destroyed 133
homes and cost $40 million in suppression costs in 2002 and
many like it, the cost of suppressed fires vastly exceeds the
cost to treat forests.
In Summit County, over 80 percent of which is national
forestland, 146,000 acres of dead trees that are near
communities need to be thinned. The challenge is finding the
resources for projects and work within existing legal and
regulatory systems. In Summit County we have treated 3,800
acres in the wildland-urban interface. Currently under HFRA an
additional 13,200 acres of treatment projects have been
approved for future work; however, we still have tens of
thousands of acres that need urgent treatment within the
wildland-urban interface. As a result Summit County has had to
find additional resources.
In 2008, Summit County voters passed a measure which
authorizes a property tax levy for wildfire protection and the
removal of bark beetle-killed trees, which could generate up to
500,000 per year. In 2012, the county was able to apply
$300,000 from this funding source for 12 projects on 140 acres
on private land within the wildland-urban interface.
In addition, the Colorado Forest Restoration Act, a bill
which I passed, established a grant program that made available
$1 million annually from State revenue for local fire
mitigation and watershed protection. These funds are available
for needs statewide, and grant applications far exceed the
needs. The town of Dillon located within Summit County was a
recipient of some of these grants that were used to treat
forested areas along Straight Creek, a major drinking water
supply for the town. The town was rightly concerned that a fire
in this area would greatly impact its watershed. These grant
funds were used to treat just 64 acres.
So along with HFRA, the county's tax levy and a statewide
grant program, we have been able to get needed projects done.
But again, we still have thousands of acres to address in areas
like Straight Creek and near homes. That is why we are
interested in what additional assistance Congress can provide,
and the bills that are before this Committee today have
provisions that would help in this regard.
Generally speaking, the projects I have mentioned would be
enhanced by these provisions. Let me highlight these concepts.
First, we need more funding, plain and simple. The task of
removing hazard and fire-prone trees is daunting, and State and
local communities can only make a dent in this effort. I
understand that the bills you are considering in this Committee
are not primarily about funding, but urge you to make this a
Second, designating the areas in our national forests that
are impacted by insect and disease would allow the Forest
Service to focus attention on resources in this area. We would
welcome designated areas as emergency or critical needs in
applying the streamlined HFRA provisions to these areas, and
appreciate being consulted in the designation process.
Third, we strongly support the Good Neighbor authority,
which allows State foresters to perform essential treatment
work on Federal lands, and urge Congress to reauthorize this
program, and make it permanent and extend it to all States.
Fourth, we support permanently authorizing stewardship
contracting. The stewardship contracting mechanism helps make
the projects more economical for entities to bid on them,
especially in partnerships with private contractors. These
provisions would provide tangible and important assistance to
reduce the emergency threat of large-scale wildfires and help
promote a healthier, more sustainable forest. We need the
assistance of these policies to augment our State and local
In conclusion, we have undertaken vigorous efforts to
mitigate the threat with limited resources through a number of
unique collaborations between State and local government,
private industry and landowners. Still we are not able to
address the infestation accurately without further assistance.
We urge the bill sponsors to come up with a single bill that
includes these concepts through negotiated compromise,
resulting in a bill that could garner wide support and get
passed and signed into law. The dire condition of our forests,
the threat to our communities and resources, especially water,
and the extreme drain on the Federal Treasury due to
suppressing ever-increasing wildfires demands that Congress
come together for our Nation's well-being.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, Commissioner. I appreciate that.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gibbs follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Dan Gibbs, Commissioner,
Summit County, Colorado
Thank you Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva, members of the
committee. It is a great honor to come before you today. My name is Dan
Gibbs, I'm a County Commissioner from Summit County Colorado.
This Committee has had the benefit of hearing from the U.S. Forest
Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to paint the larger
picture regarding the condition of our forests and the corresponding
fire threats arising from those conditions.
As a former Colorado state legislator who sponsored many state
forest health and fire response legislation--many of which were adopted
into law--and as a current Summit County Commissioner--a county that is
experiencing major forest health concerns--as well as a certified
wildland fire fighter, I wanted to focus my remarks on the local and
state concerns related to forest health and how Congress can help.
Over the last ten years, I've witnessed a transformation of our
forest in the county that I live in and represent as well as the
counties that I represented while serving as a Colorado State Senator.
In Grand County, which is just north of Summit County and which gives
rise to the headwaters of the Colorado River--a source of water and
life for major cities and many western states--most of the lodgepole
pine trees are dead. In Summit County alone, we have 146,000 acres of
dead trees and about half of all of the pine trees are dead. These
trees were killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic that has been
raging through Colorado and Wyoming forests.
As a result, we now have a major challenge to respond to these
conditions and help the communities in places like Summit County and
throughout the west address forest health and increased fire threats.
I appreciate that Congress has provided some assistance--primarily
through the passage of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) in
2003. This law, which came as a response to major fires that occurred
throughout the west in 2002 including the Hayman Fire in Colorado,
which burned 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes, and resulted in $40
million in suppression costs, has helped expedite forest restoration
efforts. However, there is much more that can be done.
As can be seen from the Hayman Fire example--and many like it--the
costs to suppress fires vastly outpaces the costs to treat forests to
make them less prone to major fires. Although the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act has been helpful in this regard, we need to expand upon
it so that we can perform more treatment work and thus reduce the costs
associated with suppression.
That is why I appreciate the legislation that is the subject of
today's hearing. Before I turn to these bills, I want to take this
opportunity to provide the local perspective on addressing these forest
health issues and the challenges and obligations we face in light of
limited federal resources and authorities.
In Summit County, which is composed of over 80% national forest
land, the portions of 146,000 acres of dead trees that are near
communities need to be thinned or removed, or they will continue to
present fire risks and threats to people when they eventually fall
down. Some of this threat exists near homes and other important assets,
such as watersheds and power lines. The challenge is in finding the
resources to develop projects to thin and remove these trees, and to
work within the existing legal and regulatory systems before we can go
in and do the work.
As I mentioned, Summit County has benefitted from HFRA. In working
with the U.S. Forest Service, we have treated 3,800 acres of dead trees
in the wildland/urban interface. These projects did not occur until
2007, four years after its passage, but we were pleased that they were
conducted. Currently, under HFRA, we have an additional 13,200 acres of
treatment projects approved for future work under HFRA. However, we
still have tens of thousands of acres that need urgent treatment in the
wildland/urban interface. In short, although HFRA has helped a great
deal, our needs in Summit County alone vastly outpace the assistance
that this law provides.
As a result, Summit County has had to take matters into its own
hands and find ways to secure additional assistance.
As an example, in 2008, Summit County voters passed a measure,
called 1-A, which authorizes a property tax levy for wildfire
protection and the removal of bark beetle-killed trees, among other
purposes, which could generate up to $500,000 per year. In 2010, the
County was able to apply $300,000 from this funding source for 12
forest treatment projects on about 140 acres of private land in the
wildland/urban interface. And to be able to treat these acres, we
collected nearly 50% of private contributions. As you tell by these
dollar amounts required to treat just 140 acres, the costs to do this
needed work are significant.
In addition, as state legislator, I sponsored and passed the
Colorado Forest Restoration Act that established grant program that
made available $1 million annually from state revenue for local forest
treatment projects, wildfire mitigation and watershed protection. These
grants required a local match of 40% with state funding at 60%. These
funds are available for needs statewide, and grant applications far
exceed the needs.
Summit County, and individual communities in the County, was the
recipient of some of these grants. One of these grants, for the Town of
Dillon, was used to treat the forested area along Straight Creek, a
major drinking water supply for the town. The town was rightly
concerned that a fire in this area would greatly impact its watershed,
much like the Hayman Fire impacted a watershed for Denver water users.
These grant funds were used to treat 64 acres.
To make this project a success, there were many partners that
played an important role including Denver Water, Xcel Energy, The
Greenlands Reserve, Colorado the Town of Dillon, the U.S. Forest
Service, the Department of Transportation and much of the ground work
was contracted using the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, an organization
whose mission is to engage youth in the outdoors, inspiring them to use
their strengths and potential to lead healthy, productive lives.
So, along with HFRA, the County's tax levy, and the statewide grant
program, we have been able to get needed projects done. But, again, we
still have tens of thousands of acres to address in areas like Straight
Creek and near homes.
That is why we in Summit County and forested regions throughout
Colorado are interested in what more assistance Congress can provide--
not only in terms of funding for the development of treatment projects,
but also to improve of the process to approve projects. And the bills
that are before the Committee today have provisions that would help in
this regard and in fact some of the concepts within them we have been
promoting for many years here in Colorado.
Generally speaking, the projects that I have mentioned would be
enhanced by these concepts, and in fact would help focus attention on
the areas of the forest that are our highest priorities for treatment
work and would help stretch scarce resources.
Let me highlight these concepts, again, concepts that appear in
various forms in the separate bills that you are considering today.
First, we need more funding. Plain and simple. The task for
removing hazardous and fire-prone trees is daunting and the state and
local communities can only make a dent in this effort given the funding
limitations they have to operate within. I understand that the bills
you are considering in the Committee are not primarily about funding,
but urge you to make this a priority. The more funding we can provide
to the agencies to perform and implement treatments, the less we have
to spend at the backend when the trees go up in flames or blow down on
to trails, campgrounds and power lines.
Second, although we have benefitted by the HFRA provisions here in
Summit County and especially applying HFRA to areas in our County that
are within the wildland/urban interface, designating areas on our
national forests that are impacted by insects, disease and poor forest
health conditions would allow the Forest Service to focus attention and
resources in these areas. In other words, we would welcome the concept
of designating areas as ``emergency'' or ``critical needs'' and
applying the streamlined HFRA provisions to these areas would help be
of great benefit and help authorize projects where they are most needed
and effective. We appreciate being consulted on the designation of
these areas, but they are essentially the areas that are hardest hit
and are where if treatments are not performed in an expedited manner,
we run the risk of serious damage from wildfire.
Third, although we in Summit County have not had the benefit of a
program called the ``Good Neighbor Authority,'' which allows state
foresters to perform essential treatment work on federal lands when
similar work is being performed on non-federal lands, we believe that
this program has a lot of merit and can help make the treatments on no-
federal land be that much more effective. We are aware that some of the
counties that surround Summit County have done some projects under the
Good Neighbor program and they have been worthwhile. So, we urge
Congress to reauthorize this program, make it permanent and extend it
to all states.
Fourth, we would support permanently reauthorizing ``stewardship
contracting.'' As the trees and other woody biomass that needs to be
removed to reduce fire threats and improve the health of our forests
typically are not valuable for other economic uses, the stewardship
contracting mechanism has allowed many projects so go forward on a
good-for-services basis. This means the projects are economical and
make sense for entities to bid on them, especially in partnership with
the private contractors. In essence, these are good example of public/
private partnerships, and thereby can stretch limited resources and get
more projects underway and completed.
These provisions would provide tangible and important assistance to
reduce the emergency threat of large-scale wildfires and help promote a
healthier, more sustainable forest. We in Colorado, like many other
western states, are doing our part at the state and local level to
help. But we need the assistance of this bill to augment these efforts
and make them effective.
Colorado has been doing our part in this crisis, and we stand ready
to do more. We have undertaken vigorous efforts to mitigate the threat
with limited resources through a number of unique collaborations
between state and local government and private industry. Still, we are
not able to address the infestation adequately without further help
that we are hoping Congress can provide. We recognize that some of the
provisions in the various bills before you today may draw opposition
from various interests. We would hope that you work through these and
eventually pass a package that will garner wide support and will be in
keeping with the general concepts that I have highlighted.
NOTE: Photographs submitted for the record have been retained in
the Committee's official files.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Romm, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH ROMM, PH.D., SENIOR FELLOW,
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND
Dr. Romm. Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you
for inviting me to testify. I am a physicist, former Acting
Assistant Secretary of Energy, and climate expert who runs the
blog Climate Progress.
Four score and 7 years ago, our grandfathers and
grandmothers were enjoying life in the ``Roaring '20s.'' Now,
imagine that you are in Congress back then, and imagine that
the Nation's leading scientists are warning that human activity
and years of bad land management practices have left our
topsoil vulnerable to the forces of the wind, and that the next
time a major drought hits, much of our farmland will turn to
dust, dust in the wind. You would take action.
Over the past two decades, the Nation's leading scientists
have issued stronger and stronger warnings that human activity,
burning fossil fuels and deforestation will lead to longer and
stronger droughts that dry out topsoil and timber, creating the
conditions ripe for multiple multi-decade Dust Bowls and
wildfires. In fact, we are already topping Dust Bowl
temperatures in many places, and the Earth has warmed only
about 1 degree Fahrenheit since the 1930s Dust Bowl. Yet we are
poised to warm some 10 degrees Fahrenheit this century alone if
we stay on our current path of unrestricted carbon pollution
emissions. I repeat, several studies now project the world may
warm 10 degrees Fahrenheit this century if we don't act, and
that is the average warming of the globe. Much of our country
would see far higher temperatures. The recent heat wave would
be considered a pleasantly cool summer.
Another study looked at mid-century warming of just 2
degrees Fahrenheit. It found that wildfire damage in many of
your home States--Utah, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Nevada
and Washington--would double, triple, even quadruple from
current levels. Imagine how big the government would have to be
to deal with the rampant wildfires and with the Dust Bowl
choking the breadbasket of the world; a lot bigger government
than today for sure.
So, of course, this great deliberative body is debating
various bills to avoid this catastrophe by slashing carbon
pollution, except it isn't. We are here discussing bills aimed
at fuels treatment, a euphemism for cutting down trees and
controlled burns. Ignoring carbon pollution and focusing solely
on fuels treatment to address the epidemic of bark beetles, the
epidemic of drought, the epidemic of wildfires is like
rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, or, more precisely, it
is like burning some of the deck chairs and removing some of
the umbrellas on the Titanic; same outcome, more time wasted.
As I explained in the journal Nature last year, what we are
discussing here today is the single most important question
facing the Nation: Can we prevent the extreme drought and
wildfires ravaging the country today from becoming the new
normal? But the real question, and I am addressing myself to
the members of the majority now, is how you want to be
remembered. Do you want to be remembered as a Herbert Hoover,
who sat by and did nothing in the face of obvious calamity, or
as an Abraham Lincoln, who took every measure to save the
Lincoln said at Gettysburg, the world will little note nor
long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what
they did here. That, of course, wasn't true of his speech. But
after testifying to Congress nearly a dozen times since 1995,
when I was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy, I am
quite convinced that nobody remembers what we say here, and, in
the case of these bills, everyone will forget what you did
Are you Neville Chamberlain, or would you be Winston
Churchill, who worked tirelessly to warn and prepare Britain
for what was coming, and told the House of Commons in 1936 the
era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing, and
baffling expedience, of delays is coming to its close. In its
place, we are entering a period of consequences.
The consequences are here now, just as climate scientists
predicted. If we fail to take action, many scientists predict
ruin for large parts of this country, ruin for large parts of
your districts, ruin that lasts 50 generations. Americans have
fought for generations to defend government of the people, by
the people and for the people. In the hour of crisis, we need
that government to do its job. Now is that hour.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Romm follows:]
Statement of Joseph Romm, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center For American
Progress Action Fund, on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960, and H.R. 6089.
Thank you Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva, and members of
the Committee. I am delighted to appear before you today to discuss the
single most important issue facing the nation--whether or not we can we
prevent the extreme drought and wildfires ravaging the country today
from becoming the normal weather for the nation.
My name is Dr. Joseph Romm. I am a Senior Fellow at the Center for
American Progress Action Fund, a tax exempt organization dedicated to
improving the lives of Americans by transforming progressive values and
ideas into policy. I am also the Founder and Editor of Climate
Progress, CAPAF's acclaimed climate and energy blog. I earned a Ph.D.
in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
From 1993 to 1995, I was special assistant for policy and planning
to the Deputy Secretary of Energy. I served as Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary and then Acting Assistant Secretary at DOE's Office
of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from 1995 to 1998. I have
written 7 books and dozens of articles on global warming and climate
solutions, including Hell and High Water and ``The Next Dust Bowl,''
published in the journal Nature in October 2011, from which some of
this testimony is derived and where references may be found. I first
testified in front of the House of Representatives on energy issues in
My testimony will provide analysis and data and analysis to support
3 key points:
1. Climate scientists have long predicted that drought and
wildfires would become more frequent and more intense because
of human-generated carbon pollution that leads to climate
2. The current droughts and wildfires we are now seeing--and
the bark beetle infestation that may have exacerbated some of
the fires--have clearly been made far more likely and far worse
by climate change according to many climatologists.
3. If we stay anywhere near our current carbon pollution path,
much of the Midwest and Great Plains will be subject to near-
permanent and irreversible conditions worse than the 1930s Dust
Bowl by shortly after midcentury. Large parts of the south
would be uninhabitable by 2100.
Wildfires are most frequent and most intense during extended
droughts and heat waves, which creates kindling in the form of very dry
trees and grasses. A basic prediction of climate science is that many
parts of the world will experience longer and deeper droughts and heat
waves, thanks to the synergistic effects of drying earth, warming
atmosphere and melting glaciers. Precipitation patterns are expected to
shift, expanding the size of the dry subtropics, which would make much
of the southwest more arid.
Warming causes more evaporation of surface and subsurface moisture.
Where it is dry, the sun's energy goes into baking soils. That's why
the United States set so many temperature records during the 1930s Dust
Bowl. And it's why, in the summer of 2011, drought-stricken Texas and
Oklahoma experienced the hottest summer temperatures ever recorded for
a state, beating the previous record holder, 1934 Oklahoma, by more
than 1+ Fahrenheit.
Also, many regions were predicted to see experience earlier
snowmelt, so less water is stored on mountaintops for the summer dry
season. These factors increasingly add to natural variability, such as
the El Nino-La Nina cycle, greatly intensifying seasonal or decade-long
Some refer to the confluence of these processes as desertification,
but these areas will not have the high biodiversity that characterizes
many deserts. ``Dust-Bowlification'' is perhaps a more accurate and
vivid term, particularly since many Americans still believe climate
change will only affect far-away places in far-distant times. Prolonged
drought will have dramatic international impacts, but it is surprising
to many to see it hitting the American heartland so hard so soon.
The coming droughts ought to be a major driver--if not the major
driver--of federal policy. Yet few policymakers and journalists are
focusing on the looming Dust-Bowlification and its potentially
devastating impact on food security and our economy. That's partly
understandable, since much of the key research post-dates the 2007
Fourth Assessment by Nobel Laureate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC). Raising public awareness of, and scientific focus on,
the likelihood of severe impacts is the first step in prompting action.
This concern isn't new. As far back as 1990, scientists at NASA's
Goddard Institute of Space Studies warned that severe to extreme
drought in the United States, then happening every 20 years, could
become an every-other-year phenomenon by mid-century. Climatologist
Jonathan Overpeck detailed the risks in a 2005 talk, pointing to the
emerging evidence that temperature and annual precipitation were headed
in opposite directions over many regions. He and raised the question of
whether we are at the ``dawn of the super-interglacial drought.
Events have begun to bear these worries out. More than two decades
ago scientists forecasted snowpack reduction, earlier snowmelt, and
reduction of dry season river flow in the American. Now there is
measurable data demonstrating their occurrence. In much of the northern
Rocky, Sierra Nevada, and Cascade Mountain ranges, the peak of the
annual stream runoff is as much as 3 or 4 weeks earlier than it was a
half century ago. Heat and drought have also made these areas more
hospitable to invasive, such as the bark beetle, increase tree/forest/
fauna/vegetation die-offs and wildfire risk. Climatologists studying a
huge 3-million-acre die-off of vegetation in the Southwest in 2002-2003
warned that it ``may be a harbinger'' of things to come.
The wildfire season is now a month longer. As the New York Times
reported, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified before the
U.S. Senate last year that:
``Throughout the country, we're seeing longer fire seasons, and
we're seeing snowpacks that, on average, are disappearing a
little earlier every spring,'' he said, as well as devastating
droughts. As a result, fire seasons have lengthened by more
than 30 days, on average. ``Our scientists believe this is due
to a change in climate,'' said Tidwell.
The paleoclimate record dating back to the medieval period reveals
droughts lasting many decades. But the extreme droughts the United
States faces this century will be far hotter than the worst of those:
The driest decade of the worst drought in the past 1,200 years wasn't
as warm as recent decades.
Projections call for far warmer conditions ahead. Warming over mid-
latitude land masses, like the United States, is projected to be
considerably higher than the forecasted average global warming. Much of
the inland United States faces warming of 9+F to 15+F based on our
current carbon pollution path (i.e. `business as usual') by century's
end, with much of that warming occurring by midcentury.
A 2007 article in the journal Science that examined 19 climate
projections estimated that levels of aridity comparable to the 1930s
Dust Bowl could stretch from Kansas to California by mid-century. To
make matters worse, the areas in threat of reduced water supplies have
also seen a massive population boom. The top 10 fastest-growing states
include Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and Utah. Also, water over-
use in such areas has long been rife, depleting groundwater supplies.
It is not just our country that faces these issues. Since 1950, the
global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74 percent of
global land area per decade. Recent climate studies have projected
`extreme drought' conditions by midcentury over some of the most
populated areas on Earth--southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, the
U.S. Southwest, and large parts of Australia and Africa. This can be
seen in the following map by Aiguo Dai of the National Center for
Atmospheric Research, from his 2010 study.
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
In the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl, the Palmer Drought
Severity (PDSI) spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely
exceeded -3 for the decade. Dai found that:
``By the end of the century, many populated areas, including
parts of the United States and much of the Mediterranean and
Africa, could face readings in the range of -4 to -10. Such
decadal averages would be almost unprecedented.''
These Dust Bowl-like drought conditions are projected to worsen for
many decades and be ``largely irreversible for 1000 years after
emissions stopped,'' according to a major 2009 study led by researchers
at the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The most pressing question is what will happen to our food security
if Dust Bowl conditions become the norm for both food-importing poorer
countries and food-exporting richer countries, including the United
States? Extreme, widespread droughts will occur at the same time as sea
level rise brings salt-water deep into some of the world's richest
agricultural deltas, such as the Nile and Ganges. Meanwhile, ocean
acidification, warming and overfishing may severely deplete the
availability of seafood.
What are the implications for the global carbon cycle? Increased
wildfires release carbon stored in forests and soils, creating an
amplifying feedback that further warms the planet--a vicious circle
that leads to yet more wildfires.
Adaptation to offset or minimize the worst impacts of prolonged,
extreme drought conditions is difficult or impossible. Historically,
the primary `adaptation' for Dust-Bowlification is human abandonment of
afflicted areas. The very word ``desert'' comes from the Latin desertum
for ``an abandoned place''. This occurred eighty years ago when
hundreds of thousands of families fled during the relatively short-
lived U.S. Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Experts predict huge mass migration
due to drought and famine from global warming, particularly in Africa.
This could initiate a humanitarian aid crisis of epic proportions, a
scenario many retired generals and admirals fear because our military
would be part of the responses, and such instability would threaten our
We must plan for how the nation and the world will deal with
steadily growing regions of non-arable land right in the heart of
populated countries and global bread-baskets. We must plan for these
drought-spurred migrations--globally and here at home. As the above map
shows, much of northern Mexico is projected to become a Dust Bowl too.
The inexorable conclusion is that feeding the world's 9 billion
people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly warming climate with
extreme droughts may well be the greatest challenge the human race has
Moreover, these predictions are not worst-case scenarios: They rely
on business as usual estimates of future carbon pollution. We can hope
the models are too pessimistic, but some changes, like expansion of the
subtropics, already appear to be occurring faster than the models
projected. It is clear we need to pursue the most aggressive carbon-
pollution mitigation policies promptly, and put warming-driven Dust-
Bowlification atop the national agenda.
Again this is not a new or sudden prediction. In fact, a decade ago
climate scientists around the world were figuring out the same thing--
we are speeding toward a climate cliff with our foot on the
accelerator. I summed up some of their research back in six years ago:
Since the 1970s, the number of ``very dry areas'' on the
planet, as defined by the widely used Palmer Drought Severity
Index, has more than doubled, to about 30 percent of the global
land. As a major study by the National Center for Atmospheric
Research concluded, ``These results provide observational
evidence for the increasing risk of droughts as anthropogenic
[human caused] global warming progresses and produces both
increased temperatures and increased drying.''
Not surprisingly, but rarely reported in context, wildfires
have been on the rise worldwide for half a century. Every
decade since the 1950s has seen an increase in major wildfires
in the United States and around the world.
Large parts of the country have been getting hotter and drier,
and suffering extended droughts. . . .
Not only do drought and high temperatures increase the number
of wildfires, they also lead to a greater range of pests that
feast on trees whose defenses have been weakened by heat and
lack of water. Trees from the Southwest up to Alaska are dying
by the millions.
A 2005 study led by the University of Arizona, with the Los
Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey,
examined a huge 3-million-acre die-off of vegetation in 2002-
2003 ``in response to drought and associated bark beetle
infestations'' in the Four Corners area (Arizona, New Mexico,
Colorado, and Utah). This drought was not quite as severe as
the one that region experienced in the 1950s, but it was much
warmer, hence it fit the global-warming model. The recent
drought had ``nearly complete tree mortality across many size
and age classes,'' whereas ``most of the patchy mortality in
the 1950s was associated with trees [more than] 100 years
Most of this tree death was caused by bark beetle infestation,
and ``such outbreaks are tightly tied to drought-induced water
stress.'' Healthy trees defend themselves by drowning the tiny
pine beetles in resin. Without water, weakened, parched trees
are easy meals for bugs.
``We're seeing changes in [mountain pine beetle] activity from
Canada to Mexico,'' said Forest Service researcher Jesse Logan
in July 2004, ``and the common thing is warming temperatures.''
According to the Department of Forest Resource Management at
the University of British Columbia, the beetle infestation has
spread to higher and more northern regions thanks in large part
to climate change. And milder winters since 1994 have reduced
the winter death rate of beetle larvae in Wyoming from 80
percent per year to under 10 percent.
In a February 2006 speech on climate change, Senator Lisa
Murkowski of Alaska pointed out that the tremendous recent
warming had opened the door to the ``voracious spruce bark
beetle,'' which devastated more than 3 million acres in Alaska,
``providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires.''
Half of the wildfires in the record-breaking 2005 season were
And as the members know, the bark beetle has continued to spread
throughout the West, devastating trees in states like Montana and
Colorado. That's because climate change favors invasive species.
In 2009, in a detail report on the impacts of climate change on
this country, the U.S. Global Change Research Program said:
Wildfires in the United States are already increasing due to
warming. In the West, there has been a nearly fourfold increase
in large wildfires in recent decades, with greater fire
frequency, longer fire durations, and longer wildfire seasons.
This increase is strongly associated with increased spring and
summer temperatures and earlier spring snowmelt, which have
caused drying of soils and vegetation.
Here's the grim projection from a presentation made by the
President's science adviser Dr. John Holdren in Oslo in 2010:
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
We can barely manage the wildfires we have today. How exactly
would much of the West ``manage'' a 4-fold to 6-fold increase in
wildfires? And that's just from a 1.8+F increase in temperatures.
Again, we could see 5 times that this century.
As Tom Kenworthy, longtime environmental reporter and now Senior
Fellow at American Progress, reported this month on Climate Progress,
wildfires have multiple causes:
It's impossible to link any one particular fire or weather
event to climate change. In the case of fires in the West,
there are other factors as well: more people living in fire-
prone areas in and near forests and unnaturally crowded forests
brought on in large part by decades of misguided efforts to
battle and suppress nearly all fires.
But federal scientists and officials whose responsibilities
include management of the vast national forest system in the
West are increasingly saying flat out that there is an
undeniable link between wildfires and climate change.
The Agriculture Department official who oversees the U.S.
Forest Service, Under Secretary Harris Sherman, noted recently
that 10 states have had record fires in the past decade. ``The
climate is changing,'' Sherman told The Washington Post, ``and
these fires are a very strong indicator of that.''
``There's enough data that show fires are very clearly linked
to warming,'' U.S. Geological Society Research Ecologist Craig
Allen recently told a symposium sponsored by the Aspen Center
for Environmental Studies. ``Fire season's about two months
longer than it used to be.''
The longer season is just the start. The National Interagency Fire
Center in Boise, Idaho, reported that the wildfires are becoming more
destructive--the total acreage burned has skyrocketed in recent
During the four decades of the 1960s through the 1990s, the
annual acreage burned by wildfire averaged 3 million acres.
Between 2000 and 2009 the average year saw 7 million acres
Between 1960 and 1995 there were just five years where the
acreage burned exceeded 5 million. Between 1996 and 2011, 11 of
the 16 years exceeded 5 million acres burned, including 8 of
the past 10 years.
As of early July, fires have burned about 2.4 million acres,
according to the National Interagency Fire Center. And the
outlook for the rest of the summer and early fall is not rosy,
the center reports. Much of the West--from northern Arizona and
northern New Mexico to southern Montana, across Nevada, and
into parts of California--will have above-normal fire potential
through the remainder of July. From August to October large
swaths of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California
will have above-average fire potential due to drought, fuel
conditions, and El Nino, which causes sea temperatures to rise.
Various federal initiatives since the 1990s have sought to
address the questions surrounding forest fuel loads and how to
better manage them to moderate the wildfire threat, either by
reintroducing fire, by thinning crowded forest stands using
logging tools, or a combination of both methods. The results
are questionable at best.
A recent Congressional Research Service paper on wildfire
protection reviewed the science on whether such interventions work and
The presumption is that lower fuel loads and a lack of fuel
ladders [underbrush and small trees that carry fire into the
tops of larger trees] will reduce the extent of wildfires, the
damages they cause, and the cost of controlling them. Numerous
on-the-ground examples support this belief. However, little
empirical research has documented this presumption. As noted in
one research study, ``scant information exists on fuel
treatment efficacy for reducing wildfire severity.''
Kenworthy discusses the efficacy of fuel treatment--thinning dense
forests and using prescribed burns to eliminate surface fuels:
Despite that research ambiguity, fire years such as the current
one almost always spur calls for large-scale efforts to thin
overgrown forests and return them to a more natural condition,
particularly in what is called the ``wildland-urban
interface.'' That awkward phrase is sometimes defined as
``where combustible homes meet combustible vegetation.''
Sherman, speaking to the recent Aspen conference, said that,
``We need to move forward with landscape-scale restoration. Too
often we have conservation projects where we're working on a
hundred acres here or a hundred acres there. We need to move
into an entirely new and expanded scope of work.''
That demand for larger restoration is partly driven by the
extraordinary costs of fighting fires. Between fiscal year 2000
and fiscal year 2010, fire suppression appropriations by
Congress rose from less than $300 million to nearly $1.4
billion, according to a 2011 Congressional Research Service
paper on federal funding of wildfire activities. At the same
time federal spending on fuel reduction rose from $117 million
in fiscal 2000 to $400 million the next year and has largely
remained in the $400-million-to-$500-million range since.
The cost of an ambitious forest restoration effort would be
huge. In a 1999 report the U.S. General Accounting Office (now
the Government Accountability Office) estimated it would cost
$12 billion to treat the 39 million Forest Service acres at the
time thought to be at high risk of catastrophic wildfire. Since
then the Forest Service has raised its acreage estimate to 51
million acres, and the estimate of a $300-per-acre treatment
cost has probably become obsolete. Further, the original
estimate did not include other federal lands beyond Forest
The Congressional Research Service paper on wildfire protection
noted, ``If a comprehensive program were undertaken to reduce fuels on
all high-risk and moderate-risk federal lands, using GAO's treatment
cost rate of $300 per acre, the total cost would come to $69 billion.''
The CRS reported noted ``There is a final, significant question.
Would it work?'' They concluded
Reducing fuel loads might reduce acreage burned and the
severity and damages of the wildfires that occur. Research is
needed. . .to examine whether the cost of fuel reduction is
justified by the lower fire risk and damage. However, it should
also be recognized that. . .as long as there is biomass for
burning, especially under severe weather conditions (drought
and high wind), catastrophic wildfires will occasionally occur,
with the attendant damages to resources, destruction of nearby
homes, other economic and social impacts, and potential loss of
Kenworthy concluded his analysis:
In a warming world we can expect those things will happen more
often and with greater intensity, as we are seeing this summer.
The bottom line is that climate change is a major cause of
these fires, and climate solutions should become part of the
effort to tame them.
All three pieces of legislation today seek to address the wildfire
and insect issue by accelerating and increasing forest thinning. The
scientific support of fuels treatment as a wildland fire mitigation
strategy is spotty at best. As the subcommittee considers legislation,
I urge you to ensure that federal agencies maintain the flexibility to
undertake projects based on the best scientific information available.
As you know, new studies come out daily and can inform best management
practices. I am concerned that H.R. 5744 sponsored by Congressman Gosar
and H.R. 6089 sponsored by Congressman Tipton mandate the
implementation of projects and lock in a certain management approach
for 10 to 20 years. Congressman Markey's legislation, H.R. 5960 allows
a more scientifically based approach to addressing the insect issue by
providing for accelerated consideration of project but on a pilot
The bottom line is that the climate is changing just as the climate
scientists have predicted for decades. Dr. Overpeck told the AP this
``This is what global warming looks like at the regional or
personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat
waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I
and many other climate scientists have been warning about.''
Now scientists are warning that if we fail to act quickly to
curtail greenhouse gas emissions we may destroy the breadbasket of the
world and may render large parts of the United States--including many
of the districts you represent--all but uninhabitable, possibly for
centuries. Will we finally make the carbon pollution reductions
essential to reduce the worst impacts of climate change, or will
Congress keep ignoring the warnings about the fires yet to come?
Mr. Bishop. Commissioner Jankovsky from Garfield County,
welcome. Five minutes, please.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. TOM JANKOVSKY, COMMISSIONER,
GARFIELD COUNTY, COLORADO
Mr. Jankovsky. I am Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County
Commissioner, Garfield County, Colorado. I have also worked in
the ski industry for 40 years. I am the general manager of
Sunlight Mountain Resort, which is a local ski area in Glenwood
Springs, Colorado. And those 40 years have been in the forest
I have traveled here to speak in support of H.R. 6089. This
bill addresses the deteriorating health of Colorado forests,
has the strategy to improve safety and strengthen stewardship
of the forests, and provides benefits for our local
First of all, the health of our forests is at risk. Forests
are deteriorating. Colorado forests are extremely dense because
of what I believe is misguided management practices. Currently
30 percent of our--or currently our forests are 80 to 100
percent canopy, which a healthy forest has a 30 percent canopy.
Also the bark beetle epidemic has deteriorated our evergreen
forests, and drought conditions have impacted our aspen
The Nation has watched the recent tragedies in Colorado at
the Wallow Canyon and Hyde Park fires. The dollar amount that I
saw in the Denver Post yesterday was $450 million in private
property loss, as well as loss of lives.
Current Federal regulations fail to recognize the
importance of our forests regarding water conservation, water
supply, wildlife habitat, recreation, economic benefit, and
multiple uses and environmental health. H.R. 6089 improves the
safety and strengthens stewardships. This bill extends
stewardship beyond the current Healthy Forest Restoration Act.
It has a 20-year life. It gives us the ability to expedite and
improve hazardous fuel reduction. It also gives us the ability
to manage and restore our forests.
This bill empowers the Governor of the State and local
communities to designate and cooperate with Federal land
managers to develop emergency hazardous fuel-reduction
projects. It also gives a benefit to our Federal land managers,
another tool for them to work with our local communities.
The bill supports an emerging forest restoration industry.
We are starting to see an industry which provides tools and
manpower for forest restoration. And through this bill, we are
seeing an increase from our natural resources for lumber mills,
log furniture making, firewood sales, biomass energy and wood
pallets. And so this bill, although it doesn't say that
directly, does provide some economic impacts as well to our
H.R. 6089 allows for creating funding as well, private-
public partnerships to reduce hazardous fuel mitigation.
Also I would just like to--Federal land managers know the
high risk around our areas. I mentioned this earlier. But it
gives them another tool in working with local communities to
address those risks.
One thing that is not in the bill, but I would like to talk
about, I think it is very important that we continue to educate
the public on defensible space. We have a lot of communities
and homeowners, homeowner associations that are up into the
forests. Right now in Colorado citizens can be reimbursed up to
50 percent for the costs for improvements of the defensible
Local doctrine regarding public land use is extremely
important for us. Nearly 70 percent of our lands in Garfield
County, Colorado, are owned by the Federal Government. It
really helps for us to have the ability to talk to and be
empowered to work with the Federal Government.
And indeed, the vitality and the strength of the Western
United States is closely tied to the health of our public
lands. And for those reasons Garfield County, Colorado,
supports H.R. 6089.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you. I appreciate that.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Jankovsky follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Tom Jankovsky, County Commissioner, Garfield
County, Colorado, on H.R. 6089, Healthy Forest Management Act 2012
1. Good morning, Chairman, and Members of the Committee.
2. I am Tom Jankovsky
County Commissioner, Garfield County,
General Manager, Sunlight Mountain Resort
I have spent 40 years working with the forest
industry--15 in operations, 25 in management and
administration, planning, and strategy
3. Have traveled to speak in person, and support H.R. 6089 for
three reasons. The bill:
Addresses the deteriorating health of
Improves safety and strengthens stewardship.
Provides benefits to the local community.
4. First, the health of Colorado forests is deteriorating.
Colorado forests are extremely dense because
of misguided management practices. The current
management plan is to let our forests grow wild and to
A healthy forest has 30% canopy. Our forests
currently have 80-100%.
These conditions and others create a high
risk to communities from fast moving wildfires that
threaten life and property.
The Nation watched the recent tragedies in
Colorado at Waldo Canyon, High Park, and elsewhere, the
most devastating and costly wildfires in state history.
Lives were lost, hundreds of homes burned to the
Also, the bark beetle epidemic has
deteriorated our evergreen forests, and drought
conditions have impacted our Aspen forests.
Current federal regulations fail to recognize
the importance of our forests regarding water
conservation, water supply, wildlife habitat,
recreation, economic benefit, multiple uses, and
5. Next, HR6089 improves safety and strengthens stewardship
The Bill extends stewardship beyond that of
the current Healthy Forest Restoration Act for an
additional 20 years.
That existing legislation primarily deals
with forest management and forest restoration in the
In contrast, the Healthy Forest Management
Act takes management and restoration beyond the forest
and wild land urban interface and into our communities.
This Bill will create a healthy forest with less risk
to urban areas.
With passage of the Bill, we will be able to
expedite and improve hazardous fuels reduction in high-
6. HR6089 provides benefits to the local community
The Bill empowers the Governor, state, and
local communities to designate and cooperate with
federal land managers to develop emergency hazard fuel
The Bill supports an emerging forest
restoration industry, which provides tools and manpower
for forest restoration and contributes to economic
Passage of the Bill will provide natural
resources for lumber mills, furniture, firewood,
biomass, and wood pellets, helping all of the related
The Bill creates jobs and provides other
positive economic impacts in our local communities.
HR6089 allows for creative funding for
public-private partnerships for hazardous fuel
mitigation and reduction. For example, in Pitkin
County, Colorado, in a project in Aspen's Starwood
neighborhood, neighbors there paid for the restoration
and mitigation of the forest adjacent to them.
7. In closing, I offer the following points:
Federal land managers know the highest risk
areas around us--this Bill gives them another tool in
working with local communities to address those risks.
Educating the public on defensible space
continues to be a top priority and should not be
overlooked. In Colorado, citizens can be reimbursed by
the state 50% of costs for improvements to defensible
The local use doctrine regarding public land
use is extremely important to us. Nearly 70% of the
lands in Garfield County, Colorado, are federally owned
or managed. Forest management practices are a crucial
part of the picture.
Indeed, the vitality and strength of the
Western United States is closely tied to the health of
our public lands.
Garfield County, Colorado, supports this Bill
for the reasons stated.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Kashdan, from the Association of Forest
STATEMENT OF HANK KASHDAN, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FOREST SERVICE RETIREES
Mr. Kashdan. Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the National
Association of Forest Service Retirees, we appreciate being
here. Our comments are specific to H.R. 6089, the Healthy
Forest Management Act of 2012, but we do want to acknowledge
that the attention given to all three bills is important in
bringing attention to the continued degradation of America's
forests and rangelands caused by insect infestation, drought
and other factors. This is a serious threat to America's public
lands, communities adjacent to those lands and our
As retirees we clearly feel that action is needed, action
that is rapid, efficient, collaborative, and which pushes the
envelope in terms of procedures and authorities. We all know
that increasing budgets is not a fix, and we also accept the
potential for budgets to be decreasing. So in a legislative
approach, there has to be a focus on public-private
partnerships, reduced process and much greater recognition of
this crisis. We think that H.R. 6089 supports this approach.
I do want to acknowledge the excellent work of the agency
so far in addressing this. The Forest Service's approach with
bark beetle strategy, the Collaborative Forest Landscape
Restoration Program, and use of the Integrated Resource
Restoration Budget pilot should go a long way toward increasing
accomplishment. The Forest Service and BLM's joint work in the
use of stewardship contracting, the release of the national
cohesive wildland fire strategy are all important. These are
steps in the right direction, but we do think more is needed,
and we think H.R. 6089 will really help moving that process
With the exception of a minor reservation, we strongly
support this legislation. For the stewardship contracting
extension to 2017, let me just say thank you. That tool is an
essential part of future accomplishment and working with
communities. The contract term extension to 20 years we think
is helpful in incentivizing the investment of business capital
and in building long-term community participation in decisions
about the adjacent watersheds. The Good Neighbor authority
being made permanent is a critical need. The inclusion of
categorical exclusions for projects within 500 feet of
infrastructure is important.
And we like the Governor's authority to designate high-risk
areas. Now, we understand there is some reservation on that
part. I remember distinctly when the Good Neighbor authority
was implemented back in the late 1990s, there was some concern
about what I would call shared authority, if you will. Well,
concerns about that have not come to pass. It is an excellent
authority. And as we look at the expedited procedures that are
called for in this bill under the Healthy Forest Restoration
Act regarding analysis, appeals and judicial review, we think
that the Governor's high-risk designation making those
procedures applicable is a good part of this legislation.
We also very much appreciate the application of those same
procedures to nonwildland-urban interface lands that are also
very important to addressing the degradation.
I mention one reservation. Let me just say that the
provision calling for project implementation within 60 days of
a Governor's designation even in the case where the Secretary
may not have designated an area as high-risk, we are concerned
that might raise a false expectation that national resources in
terms of money and budget will be shifted to those projects.
Across all public lands there is very good work being done
by the agencies and being done with a very limited funding
level. So to think that there will be a shift like that is
probably not realistic, And where it has been attempted in the
past, it has been met with very little success. So we do think
that retaining the Federal agency's authorities over the
program work is important.
I might also note one technical correction dealing with the
section 6 prohibition on clear cuts relative to hazardous fuels
action. Lodgepole pine is a species that requires openings in
order to effectively regenerate, so we think that might be
something that should be considered in the final bill.
So with that, Mr. Chairman, let me conclude my remarks, and
I look forward to any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kashdan follows:]
Statement of Hank Kashdan, Legislative Director, National Association
of Forest Service Retirees, on H.R. 6089, Healthy Forest Management Act
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, the National
Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR) appreciates the
opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today to comment on H.R.
6089, the Healthy Forest Management Act of 2012. I am Hank Kashdan,
Legislative Director for NAFSR. I retired from the Forest Service in
December, 2010 having served as Associate Chief immediately prior to
retirement. I was a Forest Service employee for 37 years. The NAFSR
organization is a national, nonprofit organization of former Forest
Service employees and associates. Members of the Association possess a
unique body of knowledge, expertise and experience in the management of
the National Forests, other public lands, forestry research, state and
private forestry assistance, agency history, laws and regulations, and
international forestry. Members of NAFSR are devoted to contributing to
understanding and resolving natural resource issues through education,
independent and cooperative analysis, and periodic review and critiques
of agency policies and programs.
Although my testimony is specific to H.R. 6089, NAFSR recognizes
that the Subcommittee is holding this hearing on three bills that focus
on major forest and rangeland health issues across the nation's public
lands under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service or the
Bureau of Land Management. This high level attention is much
appreciated by NAFSR. The recent catastrophic wildfires occurring
throughout the West, clearly illustrate the need for rapid, efficient,
and collaborative action to address insect epidemics, drought,
deteriorating forest health, and the ever increasing risk of
catastrophic wildfire. These conditions are a direct threat to
communities, the health of the nation's public lands, and
infrastructure investments on and near those public lands. The retirees
in NAFSR stand ready to assist the Subcommittee on this issue at any
time during its consideration of these bills.
Overview of Actions Taken to Date
NAFSR applauds the significantly increased attention by the
agencies in addressing deteriorating forest and rangeland health issues
on public lands.
The recently authorized Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration
Program is already yielding improved forest health and brightening the
economic prospects for communities adjacent to public lands. The
collaborative basis for establishing management activities in these
areas is a model of how public lands can be managed in the future.
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's use of
stewardship contracting authority has finally reached the point of
``critical mass'' such that it is becoming a tool of choice for land
managers rather than an experiment in the performance of restoration
activities on the nation's forests and rangelands. Although the
retirees feel that stewardship contracting has been implemented over a
painfully long period of time, we now see widespread acceptance and
understanding within the agencies of the benefits of this tool. As
noted later in our testimony, NAFSR believes permanent authority for
stewardship contracting is an important consideration in meeting the
challenges identified in H.R. 6089.
The retirees congratulate the agencies on the issuance of the
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy that will serve as
a framework for broad interagency strategy actions to address wildland
fire issues with close involvement of local and tribal governments,
non-governmental organizations and others.
The Forest Service is currently pilot testing new budget structure
efficiencies as authorized in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations Act.
The pilot, under an Integrated Resource Restoration budget line item,
applies to three of the four Forest Service Regions in the
Intermountain West, which contain many areas severely impacted by
drought and insect infestation. We are hopeful the test of this
integrated budget structure will increase the efficient use of existing
funds in completing critical projects.
The Forest Service's development of a Bark Beetle Strategy is an
important aspect of prioritizing the critical project needs to address
a problem that, taken as a whole, cannot simply be addressed with
higher funding levels that are highly unlikely to occur in the near or
long term future.
The retirees note the use of Good Neighbor Authority that was first
authorized in the late 1990's. This program has been very successful in
providing resources and focus in working with the states to address
forest and rangeland health issues. I personally remember some of the
reservations the Forest Service had with enactment of this authority in
an Appropriations Bill. Those concerns focused on the perception of
``shared authority'' to conduct restoration activities on federal, as
well as adjacent state and private lands. The success of this authority
resulted in a similar authorization for the Forest Service to use
hazardous fuels reduction funds (with an expenditure limitation) on
adjacent non-Forest Service lands. We highlight the initial concerns
about such shared authority as we note similar perceptions by agencies
will undoubtedly be at the forefront of concerns about H.R. 6089 as it
receives further consideration.
All and all, NAFSR believes good progress is being made through the
interagency increase in focus, prioritizing, and collaboration.
Recognizing that the prospect for increased funding, or even sustained
levels of funding, to land management agencies to address these
problems is highly unlikely, it is clear that a new perspective with a
strong bias for action and collaboration is needed. A simple look at
the impacts of the recent wildfires in the West, expanding drought
areas, and further spread of insects across the landscape, mandates
that increasingly bold action be taken through an expansion in the use
of existing tools and authorities, further collaboration with
stakeholders, and a streamlining and expediting of procedures for
environmental analysis and public involvement. This will require
efforts that stretch the cultural ``comfort zones'' of the public land
management agencies in order to be successful. It is in that context
that NAFSR offers the following perspective on H.R. 6089.
NAFSR Perspective on H.R. 6089
With only one significant reservation, NAFSR is very supportive of
H.R. 6089. I will address that reservation after first acknowledging
the Bill's positive aspects.
The Bill provides for an extension of Stewardship
Contracting authority. This is essential. Stewardship
contracting is a key element in future successful
implementation of actions to address the critical challenges on
the landscape. NAFSR would only recommend that strong
consideration be given to making the authority permanent as was
done in the Senate Agriculture Committee's markup of the Farm
The Bill provides for Stewardship Contracts to be
executed for up to 20 years. NAFSR concurs with this provision.
Such long term contracts in critical landscapes will provide
better prospects for local business to obtain financial backing
and provide for the long term collaborative structure within
local communities that will improve forest and rangeland
The Bill makes the Good Neighbor authority permanent.
NAFSR supports this action. This authority has been a good tool
in conducting cooperative work on federal and adjacent lands.
NAFSR appreciates specific mention in the Bill that
emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects, whether inside or
outside the wildland urban interface, would be performed using
analysis, appeals, and judicial review procedures provided for
in the Health Forest Restoration Act of 2003.
The Bill extends environmental analysis, appeals, and
judicial review processes contained in the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act of 2003 to hazardous fuels reduction project to
be performed under this Act. The Bill further authorizes the
use of categorical exclusions for projects within 500 feet of
houses or infrastructure. NAFSR supports this method of
streamlining analysis and appeals procedures in order to move
quickly to perform activities that if otherwise delayed by
cumbersome procedures, would result in unacceptable
deterioration of forest and rangeland health, damage to
communities and infrastructure, and possible loss of life.
The Bill formalizes a significant role for Governors
in designating high risk areas. NAFSR understands the federal
agencies have concerns about such legislation; however we also
recognize that cooperation with Governors is already a standard
and highly routine practice by the federal agencies in
developing collaborative plans to address management on federal
lands. As such, we are supportive of such authority except as
stated in our one major reservation which is explained as
The Bill, in Section 6 (e) (1) states that for projects identified
by the Governor, ``implementation'' will occur within 60 days. Our
reservations are as follows:
A false expectation is potentially created that the
agency will shift nationwide resources to implement projects
simply as a result of designation by a governor. The current
budgetary capacity of the agencies would not support such an
expectation. If enacted as currently stated, the provision will
likely result in unnecessary friction and conflict between a
Governor's office and the federal agencies. NAFSR feels the
final implementation of projects should be at the discretion of
the Secretary in consultation with the Governor.
Rather than potentially creating false expectations
that nationwide resources might be shifted as a result of a
Governor's designation, NAFSR feels that the primary benefits
derived from this legislation will be through extension and/or
permanent authority in the use of available tools (stewardship
contracting, Good Neighbor Authority, etc.) and a streamlining
of environmental analysis, appeals, and judicial review. With
the legislation authorizing a Governor to designate high risk
areas, the streamlined analysis, appeals, and judicial review
would become available to the agencies.
In closing, NAFSR would again like to thank the Subcommittee for
affording us the opportunity to provide testimony regarding H.R. 6089.
We again offer our assistance in any way possible to assist the
Subcommittee in developing legislation that will achieve a significant
improvement in the health of the nation's forests and grasslands, while
protecting communities and infrastructure.
I would be glad to answer any questions the Subcommittee may have
either now or in the future.
Mr. Bishop. I thank all the witnesses for having come here
and given their testimonies and staying within the 5-minute
level. I am aware of all the flight plans that people have. We
are going to get it all done on time.
Ms. Noem, Representative Noem, I realize that you have the
first plane out, so I am going to yield my time. I am going to
ask the panelists if they would limit their questions to H.R.
5960 and H.R. 6089. And once we have a round of those
questions, I have two other witnesses that are talking about
H.R. 5744. I will bring them up, and then we can ask questions
on that bill by itself.
So, Representative Noem, if you would like to take my time
at first, I will yield to you.
Mrs. Noem. Is this a question time?
Mr. Bishop. Questions, yes.
Mrs. Noem. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have plenty of time for this because this is a very
important issue for us, so I thank you for yielding to me and
allowing me the opportunity to ask a few questions and to make
an opening statement.
My questions would be for Ms. Wagner. You know, remind me
again how many acres specifically have the bark beetles
impacted since the epidemic has begun? I think the number in
your testimony was around 18 million acres.
Ms. Wagner. I have corrected information for that. Across
the Nation the impacts of bark beetle on all jurisdictions are
found on over 43 million acres; on the National Forest System
alone, over 30 million acres.
Mrs. Noem. OK. And you also discussed in your testimony
that 65 million acres are at high risk for wildfires. So that
is the number that not necessarily all of those acres are
impacted by pine beetle epidemics, but that is a very high
number. Even if you took the $18 million number--I was running
some numbers here while I was sitting--it appears to me that
what has actually been treated and addressed on Forest Service
land is less than 2 percent of the lands that you have
jurisdiction over have actually gone in and been dealt with and
then treated for Fiscal Year 2011. Is that an accurate
Ms. Wagner. For the bark beetle strategy that we created
and began to implement in Fiscal Year 2011, we have treated
over 300,000 acres to increase resiliency and reduce public
safety issues. Relative to the size of the impact of the pine
beetle, I agree, that is a small amount of acreage. Overall we
are trying to upscale our treatments on the landscape, address
priority areas, and that is where the 3.7 million acres were
restored in Fiscal Year 2011.
Mrs. Noem. OK. Well, for me that is a very disappointing
percentage. We have--obviously, as a lot of the testimony has
been here today, that we have a critical situation on our
hands. And when the Federal Government has jurisdiction over
lands, it is my anticipation that they would be responsible for
maintaining and taking care of those lands, especially when
private lives are at risk and in jeopardy.
This is a very timely and incredibly important issue for
States across the West, including South Dakota. And I know you
and Chief Tidwell have had conversations with me in my office
regarding this and how South Dakota is impacted. This is one of
the hottest summers on record. Droughts have been declared in
several different States. Forests across the West are turned
into tinder boxes, as we have heard testimony today. One fire
in the Black Hills claimed the lives of four National Guardsmen
from North Carolina, and so my heart has been going out to
those families as well in fighting these fires that have been
The outbreak of the beetle has changed our landscape. I
have some photos here that I am going to pass around to the
other members on the Committee that they can look at what is
going on in South Dakota. But what is so interesting is when
you look at this picture, and I will let everyone on the panel
look at it as well, is you can see the vast difference between
what has been treated by the State and what the State has
stepped up and taken care of and the difference on the U.S.
Forest Service land and how the pine beetle is out of control
on that land right next to land that the State has taken the
opportunity to go in and address.
So I would like to thank my colleagues for introducing this
legislation. I would also like to thank everyone for being
willing to tackle this issue. It underlies the importance of
this issue that we have people on both sides of the aisle that
are looking to find a solution; that it is not a Republican, it
is not a Democrat issue, that it impacts all Americans who care
about our forests and the livelihoods of thousands of people
across the Nation.
So one other question for Ms. Wagner as well. Have you been
out to Colorado or to the Black Hills to visit and to see this
with your own eyes yet?
Ms. Wagner. I have not personally. I know the Chief has
spent time in the field. Our regional foresters have spent time
with many Members. I have not made the trip to Colorado or
Mrs. Noem. I would love to personally invite you to come to
South Dakota and to bring Chief Tidwell with me. He did come to
my office and visit me, and I appreciated that. But there is an
urgency on the ground, and I would love to bring you out to
South Dakota and show you around and host you doing that. If
they say something about--you know, we certainly have
cooperation that is potential there, and so I certainly would
love to have you envision that and see that together to see how
this could work and how these bills could work on the ground
for the benefit of people living there.
So with that, I will yield back.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, Representative. Bluewood is very
pretty, isn't it?
Let me turn to the Ranking Member Mr. Sablan.
Mr. Sablan. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Let me start with Ms. Wagner. Almost 15 years ago the
Forest Service began a process of reviewing the management of
pristine forests or roadless areas. In 2001, the Forest Service
Chief Mike Dombeck issued regulations to protect these areas,
and therefore recognizes one of the most far-reaching
conservation initiatives taken by the Federal Government since
the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. After a decade of
litigation, 60 million acres of our forests and water that
provide are protected from harmful. So H.R. 6089 declares an
entire National Forest System in imminent danger. Does this
declaration waive the roadless area protection in Colorado and
every other State?
Ms. Wagner. The position of the Administration is we
support the roadless area conservation rule as enacted and
reviewed by the courts. So there are 58 million acres under
that management strategy identified across the Nation, and then
specific roadless area conservation rule promulgated in the
State of Idaho, and one under way for the State of Colorado.
In the case of high-priority need for fuels treatment and
fire risk, the majority of those acres are outside of roadless
areas adjacent to wildland-urban interface, and so we think we
can abide by the provisions of the roadless area conservation
rule and work on forest restoration where it is needed in
Mr. Sablan. But let me get back to my question.
Ms. Wagner. Sorry.
Mr. Sablan. Does the declaration--section 3 of H.R. 6089
declares the entire National Forest System in imminent threat.
Does this declaration, section 3, waive the roadless area
protections in Colorado and every other State, yes or no?
Ms. Wagner. I believe it would.
Mr. Sablan. It does. All right. Thank you.
Mr. Roberson, your testimony points out that two of these
bills waive important environmental laws and make it difficult
for the public to engage with Federal land managers. Can you
give us an idea, make it short, of how many hazardous fuels
projects the Bureau of Land Management implements every year
and how many of these projects are appealed?
Mr. Roberson. We have treated--in the last 10 years, we
have treated 23 million acres with fuels and--hazardous fuel
reduction projects, stewardship contracting and Good Neighbor
authority. And in 2011----
Mr. Sablan. I can't hear you.
Mr. Roberson. OK. Over the last 10 years, we have treated
23 million acres of land. We have restored rangeland health and
forest health in those acreages using fuel projects--fuel-
reduction projects and other veg treatments. We have also in
the last year--as an average we have treated 400,000 acres. And
we have less than 1 percent, half of 1 percent, are actually
protested and appealed. These are projects that the community
support that we have worked on with the community, and they
have not been appealed or protested.
Mr. Sablan. Thank you.
Mr. Kashdan, good morning, sir. Let me ask you this: Do you
think all 193 million acres of the National Forest System lands
are in imminent threat to health and safety so that roadless
area protections should be suspended?
Mr. Kashdan. Well, let me address that this way, and I am
speaking more on my own behalf, because we haven't taken a
position as a retiree group. The concern is that roadless lands
are essentially lands in limbo, and we need to ultimately make
some determination as to how to properly assign those to some
type of either management or nonmanagement status. That would
be as far as I would go on that.
Mr. Sablan. All right. And so in your testimony on H.R.
6089, you raise concerns about the requirement for agencies to
implement projects submitted by Governors within 60 days. Do
you or why don't you have the same concern for the requirement
to implement projects by the agency within 60 days? And
quickly, please. Is that a realistic timeframe?
Mr. Kashdan. If I am following your question correctly, let
me just say that I think that that provision, although it tends
to get a lot of attention and is precedential, 99 percent of
the benefit derived from this bill is not germane to that
Mr. Bishop. OK, thank you. I appreciate that.
Mr. Tipton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to give particular thanks to Mr. Jankovsky for
taking the time to be able to be here out of my home district.
Tom, can you maybe give us a little idea, as county
commissioner, how much time do you spend dealing with issues
relating to land management?
Mr. Jankovsky. Well, land management in general--I am a new
county commissioner, I have been in office for 2 years, and I
thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to be
doing as a county commissioner, but I am spending 50 percent of
my time or more on Federal issues concerning our county, and
they are numerous, this is one of them, but----
Mr. Tipton. Should Federal agencies engage county
commissioners a little more in terms of----
Mr. Jankovsky. There is no doubt. I think the benefit to
this bill is that it creates a working relationship between
local communities and Federal land managers, and I think that
is very important, and I have the highest regard for our
Federal land managers in our area, but I think there could be
Mr. Tipton. Great, thank you.
Mr. Roberson, I would like to ask you, does the Healthy
Forest Restoration Act of 2003 require public input with
respect to projects carried out under the terms of the Act?
Mr. Roberson. Yes, sir.
Mr. Tipton. They do, OK. Those are authorities that we are
using here. So you don't need to worry about the public input
that you were concerned about in your testimony in opposing the
bill. We provide for that public input.
So, thank you, sir.
Mr. Kashdan, I really want to be able to visit with you, if
I may, just a moment. I appreciate your candor with respect to
section 6(e)(1) in H.R. 6089, and I recognize some of the
fiscal constraints faced by the agency. With that said, with
your extensive experience in Forest Service, do you believe
that there are efficiencies within the agency that could be
pursued that would help prioritize the approval of hazardous
fuel reduction projects and to be able to actually help meet
those fiscal needs?
Mr. Kashdan. Yes, sir, I do, and I also think the
provisions in H.R. 6089 specific to the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act of 2003 regarding appeals, analysis, and
judicial review will greatly enhance that. So you combine those
efficiencies, you apply them to non-wildland-urban interface,
and you use some of the existing tools with stewardship
contracting, we are going to go a long way toward improving the
accomplishment. I think there are examples of how far you can
go when you are encumbered by very minimal analysis. I think
burned area emergency rehab is an example of a program that is
rapidly executed, delivered with good results, and it is done
with a wide demand on the part of the public regardless of
where they stand on the environmental spectrum to get work done
to stabilize areas after a catastrophic wildfire, and it is an
example of how far dollars can go when you are not encumbered
Mr. Tipton. I appreciate that, because if we bring some
common sense to the process, allocate the resources with common
sense to be able to address the problem, we will be able to
achieve an actual win-win. So I appreciate that, sir.
Ms. Wagner, I had the opportunity to be able to go out into
Archuleta County in Colorado to be able to tour an area that
was actually being treated that Congresswoman Noem was talking
about. We are seeing a healthy forest emerge. We were talking
about water table increases of 15 percent by getting in to be
able to actually thin the forest, healthy trees that were then
being able to survive and to be able to grow. Is it pretty much
your estimation that when we see the tragedy of these fires
moving through areas like South Dakota, Colorado, impacting our
watershed, impacting wildlife habitat, impacting those streams
and endangered species when that ash hits the rivers, that it
is a good, sensible approach to be able to bring together tools
and that local commitment of working with county commissioners,
working with our local Governors, working with the tribes, the
people who live there and love it most, to be able to make
those sensible determinations of where the real risks are at?
Ms. Wagner. Yes. We are keenly interested in working in
that kind of environment and doing our part to help sustain our
Mr. Tipton. Great. Thank you very much for that.
Mr. Kashdan, I would like to come back to you real quick.
In your testimony, you mention some of the great successes of
the good neighbor policy authority that the Forest Service has
accumulated in collaborative efforts that are going on. Given
this, do you believe it might also be beneficial to expand this
applicability to BLM land as well?
Mr. Kashdan. Definitely. I think the good neighbor
authority as well as some of the other efficiencies modeled
similarly, there was some similar authority in Oregon, and even
some of our hazardous fuels money is authorized to be spent in
a similar nature. It works, and to apply it to the other
Federal agencies is a good thing to do.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you.
Mr. Kashdan, I apologize for cutting you off twice, but you
were able to answer in 9 seconds or less, that is very good.
I am doing another audible here. I want to explain what I
want to get done. The Ranking Member of the Full Committee is
here and has remarks on his particular bill. I have two other
witnesses that need to talk about the Gosar bill that also have
planes to catch here.
Can I just ask, Mr. Gosar, do you have any questions
specific to H.R. 6089? And if not----
Dr. Gosar. Not that can't be addressed later.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Gardner, I am assuming you are here for
Mr. Gardner. Yes.
Mr. Bishop. When I turn to you for questions on that, we
will finish the questions on H.R. 6089, allow our two witnesses
that are here specifically for that bill to be excused, bring
the other two up for H.R. 5744, and then let Mr. Markey also
give his opening remarks for his bill, if we can do it that
Cory, you are up.
Mr. Gardner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the
House Resources Committee for allowing me to join you today and
to participate in this.
Thanks in particular to Congressman Tipton for his work on
this legislation and the work that he is doing to help protect
Colorado and the Western United States, one of the most
incredible resources this Nation has to offer, and also I want
to welcome the witnesses from Colorado, thank you
commissioners, and Commissioner Gibbs, good to see you, we
served in the State legislature together, and I thank you for
your work there and here.
I am stunned by the callousness of the Department of the
Interior's objection to the healthy forest bill, H.R. 6089. We
have a situation once again where Washington is fiddling while
our States are burning. In your testimony, you state that
Governors can require BLM to manage Federal lands and resources
to meet the Governor's objectives without regard to national
objectives, interests or a fair return to the American people.
A fair return to the American people? I have over 200 homes
burned in my district, tens of thousands of acres are burned.
You want to protect wild and scenic rivers? What about the
Poudre River that now has ash and debris flow contaminating the
river, drinking water systems that are overwhelmed? And you are
going to oppose this legislation because it gives the Governor
the authority to save his State?
BLM's ability to manage for resources protected by Federal
law: Do you believe that bark beetle, beetle-killed areas are
Mr. Roberson. Yes, Congressman.
Mr. Gardner. Do you believe we ought to give the States the
tools they need to protect their citizens and their State?
Mr. Roberson. We believe that we and the States should work
together along with the local counties on this problem together
and work together.
Mr. Gardner. Do you believe you know better than the
Mr. Roberson. No, sir, I wouldn't substitute my judgment
for that of the States.
Mr. Gardner. Then why would you oppose a bill that gives
the State the ability to protect its citizens?
Mr. Roberson. We are managing national public lands, and we
are trying to do that to achieve ecological balance across the
Nation. We believe----
Mr. Gardner. Ecological balance?
Mr. Roberson. And to provide for jobs and opportunities as
well. We believe in the principles that were outlined that
Congressman Tipton just raised and that Mary Wagner just agreed
to. We believe that we should work in concert, and we do that
at the State and local level with the Governors. Our cohesive
fire strategy will allow us to continue to work on building
resilient landscapes and working together on fire preparedness
Mr. Gardner. Is 90,000 acres of burned forest a resilient
Mr. Roberson. Not on that landscape, sir.
Mr. Gardner. Two hundred sixty homes that have burned,
Mr. Roberson. We have----
Mr. Gardner. Is what you are telling me, are your forest
policies, are they working to prevent this from happening?
Mr. Roberson. The Bureau of Land Management has
approximately 1.3 million acres of beetle-killed trees out of
the 58 million acres that we manage. We are focused on that
issue. We have a plan for beetle kill infestation in Colorado
and other areas, and we are working through our local planning
efforts with county commissioners, State foresters, and other
land managers to address the issue, including the State
governments, and our plans are reviewed by the Governors of the
States when we complete them.
Mr. Gardner. You mentioned the bill provides that high risk
areas will be designated for 20 years, and you object to that.
Are beetle-killed areas going to be around for 20 years?
Mr. Roberson. Twenty years ago, in my experience, we did
not anticipate the level of beetle kill that we have now or
some of the other changes that we have across the environment.
Mr. Gardner. I will ask you again, are those beetle-kill
areas going to be around for the next 20 years?
Mr. Roberson. I can't project, sir.
Mr. Gardner. You are telling me that----
Mr. Roberson. I am saying that the----
Mr. Gardner. You can't guess that a stand of dead trees
won't be there in 20 years?
Mr. Roberson. Pardon me, sir. My statement is that 20 years
as a designated high-risk area is too long, we believe. We
believe that you can focus on those high-risk areas in----
Mr. Gardner. How long does it take to recover from a
Mr. Roberson. Pardon me?
Mr. Gardner. How long does it take to recover from a
Mr. Roberson. I have no idea.
Mr. Gardner. Twenty years or less or more?
Mr. Roberson. I can get back to you on that.
Mr. Gardner. I yield back my time.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you.
I have just one question on this particular bill. Do others
have other questions on this bill? Let me just ask mine, and
then we are going to make the switch, and I think some of the
other questions also would deal with Representative Gosar's
bill as well or they can fit in that concept as well.
Mr. Roberson, I just have one specific to this. In your
testimony, you said that 60 days to distinguish a high-risk
area is not enough time. How much time is enough? How much time
do you need to make that designation?
Mr. Roberson. We would normally do that through our local,
working with county commissioners and the State and the State
foresters, we would work with them to designate high-risk areas
that still were in place.
Mr. Bishop. Sixty days?
Mr. Roberson. I am not sure how long it would take. I think
the level of the problem that we have, the magnitude of the
multi-agency landscape that we deal with, I have no estimate,
Mr. Bishop. OK. And I will tell you my frustration, simply
not just with you, but with almost every agency around here. I
am a schoolteacher, which means you had 9 months to do it, and
it was over. If my principal came to me and told me the final
test is on Tuesday, and I simply said, Look, I can't cover all
the material by Tuesday, I will get back to you when we are
ready to actually take the test, you can imagine what would
happen to me. In my profession, I was trained that you have to
get it done when the deadline is there.
Yesterday we had another hearing, same situation. I wanted
them to say when they actually will get it done. There is no
deadline that happens to be there. We had another hearing when
it said it would take an agency 4 years to do a study on a land
swap. Those are frustrating to those of us who are not
inculcated into the climate of Washington, D.C. So if 60 days
is not enough, that presents an illusion of a problem that is
difficult for me to wrap my mind around, because I am used to
hitting deadlines, and I had no choice in that matter.
I appreciate that. With that, let me close this. I want to
thank--oh, do you have a question?
I am sorry, Mr. Markey for this particular panel, on H.R.
Mr. Markey. Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much.
Mr. Romm, do you think that climate change or climate
variability is influencing the frequency and severity of fires
in the United States?
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Markey, can I interrupt for just a second
Mr. Markey. Sure.
Mr. Bishop. I think that is a very good and a legitimate
question. It applies to the other bills as well. If I can do
just H.R. 6089 so I can get these two witnesses on their way
and then bring the other witnesses up, I would appreciate that.
Mr. Markey. I see what you are saying. No, I do not have
any questions for those two.
Mr. Bishop. Then, Commissioner Jankovsky, Mr. Kashdan, I
appreciate your attendance here. I appreciate you flying all
the way out here.
You can go back and enjoy yourself at this particular stage
of the game, and I will invite David Cook from the Arizona
Cattlemen's Association--I am sorry, the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association and Doyel Shamley from the natural resource--I
am doing this without glasses--coordinator from Apache County,
Arizona, can come and join us at that panel.
And while they are coming up, Mr. Tipton, I will give you
the last comment on your bill.
Then Mr. Markey, let me attend, give you time to introduce
your piece of legislation. We will have the other two witnesses
introduce their testimony, and then we will open it up for
Mr. Tipton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to make
sure that the list of organizations, concerned citizens in
Colorado and throughout the United States that are supporting
H.R. 6089, to be able to submit their letters of support for
Mr. Bishop. Thank you very much. Without objection, it will
be so ordered.
Mr. Bishop. Once again, I apologize for shifting gears on
everyone here, but I am trying to get everything to move in the
proper order, and we will--one of you I know has a flight going
out this afternoon. We will get you there on time. So I
Mr. Markey, we have not had a chance to introduce your
piece of legislation. Can I give you 5 minutes to address your
Mr. Markey. I appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. EDWARD J. MARKEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much.
And I first want to address Congressman Gosar's earlier
comment about the ability of people who live in the concrete
jungle of Massachusetts to be able to understand wildfire and
forest issues, because that is an ironic comment coming from a
gentleman who lives in a landlocked desert State voting in this
Committee just 2 days ago to authorize drilling for oil and gas
in the ocean off the coastline of Massachusetts.
So the gentleman should probably square up where he thinks,
you know, he has expertise to be able to vote because a desert
State Member obviously should never be able to vote on anything
to do with the oceans in the country.
Although, let's be honest, our job is to vote on
everything, we are here to represent everybody, and so making
those kind of artificial distinctions is absolutely
inappropriate. It would rule out most Members from most
subjects because their State would not be the center of the
We are here because it is the taxpayers of America who fund
it all, you know, including the response to wildfires and the
response to what happens after the wildfires are completed. It
is a national issue, and the taxpayers from Massachusetts help
out the taxpayers of Arizona and Colorado, and the taxpayers of
Colorado and Arizona help out the taxpayers of Massachusetts
when they need it. That is the essence of what this institution
is all about, e pluribus unum, ``out of many one,'' that is
what the whole revolution was about, including the Civil War,
to finally resolve that, that it is not separate, isolated
States but, rather, all of us working together, and I just wish
the gentleman appreciated that.
And I want to thank you, Chairman Bishop, for holding this
hearing to consider legislation to combat wildfires. I am glad
that the Full Committee will be holding an investigative
hearing next Tuesday.
Today we are considering a bill I cosponsored with Mr.
Grijalva, Mr. Lujan, Ms. Napolitano, Mr. Costa, and Congressman
Polis. We have a very serious problem, and I am willing to name
it. The problem that we have impacting our lands across this
country is climate change. If you think storms and drought
conditions and catastrophic wildfires are just random freak
events, then you are in deep, deep denial.
When Sigmund Freud studied denial, he suggested that when
people are forced to face unpleasant facts, they are prone to,
one, deny the reality of the fact outright; two, minimize the
seriousness of the issue; or, three, project responsibility of
the unpleasant situation on someone else.
This is an apt analogy to how the climate deniers have
chosen to deal with severe weather events, drought and
wildfire. For months, the majority has denied that there was a
problem. Now the majority apparently is willing to accept part
of the reality that we are approaching dust-bowl-like drought
conditions and fires are becoming larger and more severe, but
they still deny the root cause of the push to the extremes is
actually caused by climate change.
Instead, they are going to project the responsibility of
wildfires onto environmental laws, land management agencies,
litigation, endangered species, and even immigrants.
If we are serious about reducing catastrophic wildfire, we
first must admit that there is a link between climate change
and wildfire. The Under Secretary of Agriculture, Harris
Sherman, has admitted this link exists. The chief of the Forest
Service has admitted this link exists. Scientists around the
world have proven this link exists.
Earlier this week a massive chunk of ice twice the size of
the island of Manhattan broke off the Petermann Glacier in
Greenland, and scientists point to warming ocean temperatures
as the culprit. I have suggested that we rename it Denier
Island, where those who question the science behind global
warming can spend the summer cooling off and escaping the heat
waves, the drought and the wildfires that have beset the United
States, and today two of those bills seem to be legislating
from Denier Island.
The goal that I have is to introduce legislation here that
will make it possible to recognize that we have a problem with
our forests. It also recognizes that we don't have the type of
scientific certainty to lock in logging and grazing projects
for 10 or 20 years like the other measures propose. Instead, my
bill allows the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management the flexibility to do thinning in areas impacted by
insects and disease without waiving environmental laws and
forcing Federal agencies to make decisions on projects in
My bill also recognizes our constrained fiscal environment
and gives the Federal agencies additional authorities they
desire to stretch their Federal dollars further. As we will
hear from both the Forest Service and Bureau of Land
Management, stewardship contracting authority is very helpful
by allowing agencies to barter trees for thinning work.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to make an
opening statement, and I appreciate the panel that will be here
to discuss the subject.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Markey follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member,
Committee on Natural Resources
Good morning and thank you to all who have joined us today.
I want to thank Congressman Bishop for holding this hearing today
to consider legislation to combat wildfires. And after my requests to
the Republican leadership to hold these hearings, I am also glad that
the Full Committee will be holding an investigative hearing next
Today we are considering a bill I have sponsored with Ranking
Member Grijalva, Ranking Member Lujan, Ranking Member Napolitano,
Congressman Costa and Congressman Polis.
As we are going to hear today from Joe Romm [Rome] and others, we
have a very serious problem--and I'm willing to name it. The problem we
have impacting our lands across this county is climate change. If you
think storms, drought conditions and catastrophic wildfires are just
random, freak events, you are in deep, deep denial.
When Sigmund Freud studied denial, he suggested that when people
are forced to face unpleasant facts they are prone to 1) deny the
reality of the fact outright; 2) minimize the seriousness of the issue
or 3) project responsibility of the unpleasant situation on someone
This is an apt analogy to how the Republican Party has chosen to
deal with severe weather events, drought, and wildfire.
For months the Majority denied there was a problem. Now, the
Majority apparently is willing to accept part of the reality--that we
are approaching dust-bowl-like drought conditions and fires are
becoming larger and more severe. But, they still deny the root cause of
the push to the extremes is climate change. Instead, they are going to
project the responsibility of wildfires onto environmental laws, land
management agencies, litigation, endangered species, and even
If we are serious about reducing catastrophic wildfire, we first
need to admit that there is a link between climate change and
The Undersecretary of Agriculture, Harris Sherman has admitted this
The Chief of the Forest Service has admitted this link exists
Scientists around the world have proved this link exists.
Earlier this week, a massive chunk of ice twice the size of
Manhattan broke off of the Petermann Glacier in Greenland, and
scientists point to warming ocean temperatures as the culprit. I have
suggested that we rename it Denier Island, where those who question the
science behind global warming can spend the summer cooling off and
escaping the heat waves, the drought and the wildfires that have best
the United States.
And today, two of these bills seem to be legislating from Denier
On Denier Island, environmental laws are causing catastrophic
wildfires and so they should be waived. In different ways, both H.R.
5744 and H.R. 6089 waive important land protections.
On Denier Island, people participating in government are causing
catastrophic wildfires so they need to be cut out of the process. H.R.
5744 and H.R. 6089 rob citizens of their ability to influence the
future of our forests.
On Denier Island, popular policy protecting pristine and unroaded
forests forest is nuisance and needs to be overturned. H.R. 6089 takes
a clever approach to suspending the roadless area protection policy in
Colorado and elsewhere.
The legislation I have put forward with my colleagues recognizes we
have a problem in our forests. It also recognizes that we don't have
the type of scientific certainty to lock in logging and grazing
projects for ten or twenty years like the other measures propose.
Instead, my bill allows the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management the flexibility to do thinning in areas impacted by insects
and disease without waiving environmental laws and forcing federal
agencies to make decisions on projects in unrealistic timeframes.
My bill also recognizes our constrained fiscal environment and
gives the federal agencies additional authorities they desire to
stretch the federal dollars further. As we will hear from both the
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, stewardship contracting
authority is very helpful by allowing agencies to barter trees for
The Good Neighbor Authority in my legislation makes projects that
cross federal and state lands cheaper by allowing federal agencies and
state agencies to partner and issue one contract for large areas that
include both federal and state lands. Finally, with the limited money
available for clean-up work after fires, the Markey bill gives priority
consideration to communities whose water source is at risk due to
wildfires on federal lands.
As we hear the testimony of our witnesses today, I urge us all to
acknowledge and accept the seriousness of the issue we are attempting
to address. This can help us move forward with smart solutions.
Thank you. I yield back my time.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you. All right.
Mr. Shamley, I understand you have the first flight that
has to go out?
Mr. Shamley. I believe so.
Mr. Bishop. All right. Can I ask you if you can make your
statement first for the record and then Mr. Cook, and then we
will open up questions to both Mr. Markey's bill as well as Mr.
Gosar's bill, so Mr. Shamley, if you would, please.
STATEMENT OF JOHN DOYEL SHAMLEY, NATURAL RESOURCE COORDINATOR,
APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA
Mr. Shamley. I am Doyel Shamley from Apache County,
Arizona. I am the natural resource coordinator for the county
there and also do work for many other entities, like the State
legislature, other counties, et cetera. The need for sweeping
and massive reform and the mechanisms to expedite forest
management projects to reduce hazardous fuels, increase forest
health, and economic development cannot be stressed enough. The
current system in place is heavily laden with out-of-date,
along with unclear and conflicting mandates upon the land
management agency, slowing down an already cumbersome system
Many more roadblocks to fuels reduction, stewardship
activities by counties along with pre- and post-fire activities
need to be addressed and removed as well, and there is no doubt
in the minds of Apache County and elected officials around the
Western regions that something drastic has to happen, because
unless we have drastic and sweeping changes made to management
practices, we will lose our great Western timber stands. This
will affect the very cultural and historic uses of the people,
the people's ability to derive economic benefits, recreational
abilities, strategic capabilities along with a loss of massive
amounts of habitat and wildlife. And H.R. 5744 can go a long
way in getting there because we are at a point where emergency
measures are needed now.
Having this week just attended the strategic planning
meeting for the National Institute of the Elimination of
Catastrophic Wildfires as a keynote addresser, it is completely
evident that multiple peoples and entities with decades of
experience on the land see the threat to our Nation and
heritage. The bulk of the participants were prior land
management agency people who have come together alongside
multiple Ph.D. scientists, research professors, and college
deans that were present to address these issues. One thing that
was notable during this event was the multiple instances in
which presentations and conversations turned to the issue of
catastrophic wildfires on our forests and what to do with the
forests throughout the country and mainly especially in the
West. This is due to the overwhelming evidence that our current
state of affairs will lead to nothing but irreparable damage.
Another topic that needs to be highlighted and addressed
that goes hand in hand with catastrophic wildfire prevention is
the necessity of the roadway networks in there, they cannot be
neglected. Those roadway networks have proven time and time
again after the Wallow Fire--and remember we just went through
that last summer, 838 square miles destroyed, and those roadway
networks are a critical part of that wildfire prevention. Those
have to be integral with our future plans, including with this
bill of Mr. Gosar.
Sweeping changes are necessary to the stewardship of our
lands, and the model of county stewardship by Apache County,
Arizona, needs to be replicated throughout the United States.
H.R. 5744 would allow county stewardship and others to more
easily move forward with wildfire prevention and protection to
health, safety, and welfare in all those areas under our
Post-fire activities are almost next to none, if you want
to know the truth. Being on the ground, zero, if you will.
Post-fire recovery programs were often so shortsighted,
mismanaged or misguided as to be useless to the very people and
resources they were meant to be helping. Multiple programs came
down, and many of us have to ask after going through the
conundrum of bureaucracy and red tape and seeing no outcome,
agency after agency--dollar upon dollar was waved in front of
the victims of these fires with no outcome whatsoever--where
did the money go, many of us have to ask? Millions of dollars
and absolutely unusable by anybody affected.
Unless the very fabric and core of the management practices
and conservation of our natural resources in this country are
reviewed with the best available science, one of the greatest
losses in our history will occur, and these times do call for
immediate actions unfortunately, and these bills and questions
can begin that attack upon these problems.
We need to remember, too, that the catastrophic wildfires
are just a symptom of a disease, and that is to a great extent
mismanagement by Federal land management agencies of our lands
held in trust for the public. And with that, I would just like
to remind everybody a little historical note that we need to
get both back in control, the government and fire, and George
Washington alluded to that when he stated, the machinations of
government, how they were like fire, and it was a dangerous
servant and a fearful master.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shamley follows:]
Statement of John Doyel Shamley, Natural Resource Coordinator, Apache
County, Arizona, and CEO, Veritas Research Consulting, on H.R. 5744,
H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089
The need for sweeping and massive reform in the mechanisms to
expedite forest management projects to reduce hazardous fuels, increase
forest health and economic development cannot be stressed enough. The
current system in place is heavily laden with out-of-date along with
unclear and conflicting mandates upon the land management agencies,
slowing down an already cumbersome system even more. Many more
roadblocks to fuels reduction, stewardship activities by Counties along
with pre and post fire activities need to be addressed and removed as
well. There is no doubt in the minds of residents and elected officials
throughout Apache County and the Western States in general that a
catastrophic loss of a natural resource is occurring. Unless drastic
and sweeping changes are made to the management practices of federally
managed lands, we will lose our great western timber stands. Effecting
the very cultural and historic uses of the people, ability to derive
economic benefit, recreational abilities, strategic capabilities and
national defense along with massive amounts of habitat and wildlife.
H.R. 5744 can greatly aid in this endeavor and is of utmost importance
considering our current situation.
The road networks throughout each forest are not only an economic
and social asset to each County and State they fall within, but an
absolutely necessary item in the abatement of, and dealing with,
wildfire incidents. These road networks need to be retained in their
entirety, fully intact as they are on the ground and must not be
encumbered by any legal or physical blockages, removed from mapping
inventories or in any way hindered in their ability to be used.
Sweeping changes are necessary in the Stewardship of our lands, and
the model of County Stewardship by Apache County, Arizona needs to be
replicated throughout the country. If Stewardship is to be successful,
it must be in the hands of the County Governments who often are the
most experienced in the care of our lands, the cultural and historic
uses and the most logical and feasible local governing body. Only
through concise coordination with County Government as a lead entity on
the treatment and conservation of our resources will the National
Forest System be able to survive.
Post-fire activities, rehabilitation, restoration and emergency
measures are greatly hindered and in many cases so encumbered as to be
a continual cause of great losses of economy, habitat and livelihoods.
Many of the post-fire recovery programs are so short-sided, mismanaged
or misguided as to be useless to the very people and resources they are
meant to be helping.
Unless the very fabric and core of the management practices and
conservation of our natural resources in this country are concisely
reviewed using the best available science, one of the greatest losses
to our country will continue to progress to the point of being lost
forever. And in fact, the entire system of lands, timber stands,
resources, human environments and culture that people across this
nation look to as one of the greatest assets in our country is
threatened with permanent and unrecoverable damage.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you. I appreciate your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DAVID COOK, ARIZONA CATTLE GROWERS ASSOCIATION,
PUBLIC LANDS COUNCIL, NATIONAL CATTLEMEN'S BEEF ASSOCIATION
Mr. Cook. Chairman Bishop and members of the Subcommittee,
thank you for inviting me to testify today on H.R. 5744. My
name is David Cook, and I am a rancher from Gila County,
Arizona, where my wife and I, along with our son and daughter,
run a cow-calf operation on public and private lands.
I am vice chairman of Federal Lands Committee for the
National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and today I am also
representing the Public Lands Council and the Arizona Cattle
Growers Association. Livestock grazing represents the earliest
use of Western lands as our Nation expanded westward. Today
those lands and resources found on them continue to be
essential for livestock, wildlife habitat, open space, and
rural economies of the West.
However, a hands-off management approach by the Federal
agencies has led to severe damage of the resource. By all but
shutting down logging and continuously reducing grazing on
public lands, multiple-use industries are suffering. This
mismanagement is causing a build-up of fuels that leads to
catastrophic wildfire. When catastrophic wildfire breaks out,
there are no winners; not the wildlife, not the rural
communities or the taxpayers.
That is why we are here today, to discuss real, immediate
relief to the dangerous situations on and near our public
forested lands. Last year in Arizona alone, we had 1 million
acres burned up, impacting 100 ranching families and displacing
about 18,000 head of cattle. As of this week, over 1.5 million
acres have burned this year in the West alone. The overall cost
of wildfires range from 3 to 10 times fire suppression costs,
not counting property loss, personal injuries, and death.
For ranchers, the cost includes displaced cattle, lost
forage, loss of infrastructure, and death of livestock.
What is the cause of this destruction? We should start by
looking at NEPA. Agencies face a tremendous workload of hourly
burdensome NEPA analysis and other regulations. They plan,
study, get sued, plan and study for months and even years on
end, creating backlogs and pile-up. Extreme anti-logging and
anti-grazing environmental groups wait in the wings to file
suit on procedural points, like missed deadlines, oftentimes
collecting attorney's fees.
In doing so, they add to agency workloads and further
worsen the backlog. The result is tremendous economic
uncertainty. The Forest Service estimates a current NEPA
backlog of 2,600 grazing allotments. I have personally been
involved in an 8-year process to renew a simple 55-head permit.
How is this remotely acceptable?
We should also take a look at another environmental law
that has added greatly to the problem, the Endangered Species
Act. Wildfire poses a huge threat to many wildlife species, yet
ESA is often used to limit activity, such as timber harvesting
and grazing, the very activities that should be used to reduce
fuel loads and diminish the threat to wildlife. The spotted owl
has all but wiped out the timber industry in the West and
drastically reduced grazing. By the way, over half of the
Mexican spotted owl nesting sites were destroyed in the Wallow
Fire alone. How long do we have to watch everything from
wildlife habitats, subdivisions, to natural resource wealth go
up in smoke on the nightly news before our country wakes up and
calls for a stop to the mismanagement of these public lands?
The Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act goes to the heart
of the problem. Regulations that have led to overgrowth of
fuels, it will expedite grazing and thinning projects and
encourage free enterprise solutions on Federal lands that will
reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, ultimately reducing
threats to communities, the landscape, and endangered species.
It puts special focus on two priority areas: The wildland-urban
interface and the endangered species habitat. If the agencies
miss the deadline, it automatically deems those projects
compliant under NEPA. Wildfire does not wait for endless
deliberation in high-risk situations. Neither should we. Still,
the bill allows for a 30-day public review and comment period.
No longer would radical environmental groups be able to hold
off until the last minute to bring a project to its knees.
Finally, this bill requires the use of existing ESA
emergency provisions which allow for informal consultation.
This bill is just common sense. It will put people to work and
help countless communities while improving the health and
safety of our forests. Again, thank you for the opportunity to
testify today, and I look forward to any of your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cook follows:]
Statement of David Cook, Public Land Rancher and NCBA Federal Lands
Vice-Chair, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Public Lands Council
& Arizona Cattle Growers Association, on Bills to Reduce Risk of
Catastrophic Wildfire, Improve Forest Health; ``The Catastrophic
Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012''
Dear Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva and Members of the
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Public Lands
Council (PLC) and Arizona Cattle Growers Association (ACGA) appreciate
the opportunity to voice to the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests
and Public Lands our strong support for H.R. 5744, the Catastrophic
Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012. H.R. 5744 was introduced by
Congressman Gosar (AZ) to address the forest health, public safety, and
wildlife habitat threats presented by the risk of wildfire, including
catastrophic wildfire, on National Forest System lands and public lands
managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The legislation would
require the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior
to expedite forest management projects relating to hazardous fuels
reduction, forest health, and economic development. Timber thinning and
livestock grazing projects aimed at reducing hazardous fuel loads on
our Nation's forests would be expedited, particularly in forests
Dire Situation Facing the Nation's Forests
Fires are a natural occurrence in forest ecosystems in North
America and, when occurring in healthy forests, should be considered
beneficial. Fire acts to remove excess debris including dead and dying
trees and herbaceous material, providing sunlight and nutrients for
subsequent growing seasons. Removing young trees where sufficient
canopy cover exists helps maintain a balance within the forest system.
However, while naturally occurring fire is good for healthy forests,
catastrophic wildfire--a result of excessive forage and trees--causes
great harm to forest ecosystems. Roughly four decades of severe
mismanagement of our National Forests has resulted in vast areas of
public lands that have either recently experienced or are at risk of
experiencing catastrophic wildfire. According to the Evergreen
Foundation, forest density has increased 40 percent in the U.S. over
the last 50 years.(http://evergreenmagazine.com/pages/Forest_Facts-
v2.html). Also on the rise, largely as a result of this overgrowth, is
insect infestation. According to the U.S. Forest Service, thinning
trees would help put a stop to the growing pine bark beetle epidemic,
which currently affects over four million acres across South Dakota,
Wyoming and Colorado alone (http://www.fs.fed.us/rmrs/bark-beetle/faq/
). Under current management, however, the infestation is leading to
dead trees--and even more risk of catastrophic fire.
According the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station
in Missoula, Montana there are vast areas of federal land managed by
the federal government which are not meeting ``condition class I''
standards. ``Condition class I'' classification means fuel loads are
within their historical range. According to the research station's data
released in February 2001 (which is the most recent data), only 31% or
about 52 million acres of forested land managed by the federal
government are classified as ``condition class I,'' leaving more than
two thirds of the forests with fuel loads exceeding historical levels,
which puts those lands and the surrounding areas at risk of wildfire
(potentially catastrophic). Specifically, lands designated as
``condition class II,'' or lands characterized by vegetation that is
moderately altered from historic levels, equate to about 66 million
acres. Lands classified as ``condition class III,'' or lands
characterized by vegetation that is significantly altered from historic
levels, consists of about 50 million acres (http://www.firelab.org/
Mountain Research Station report).
What are the effects? According to the National Institute for the
Elimination of Catastrophic Wildfire, overstocked tree stands and dense
canopies have contributed to ``such disastrous fires as the 2002 Hayman
Fire in Colorado, the 2008 fires in Trinity and Siskiyou counties of
California, and the 2011 New Mexico and Arizona fires; more than one
million acres of valuable national forest resources have been destroyed
by these wildfires alone.'' (http://www.stopwildfire.org/). In Texas in
2011, roughly 4 million acres, nearly 3,000 homes and over 2,700 other
structures were destroyed by wildfire.
This year, this situation does not look much better. As of last
month, over 25,000 fires had burned well over a million acres just this
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, ``Worsening drought
conditions in the West are leading to below normal live and dead fuel
moistures and above normal Energy Release Components (ERCs) from the
southern California mountains east through New Mexico and Colorado, and
north through Montana and the Dakotas. Expanding drought in the Midwest
could lead to low fuel moistures in the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys.
Additionally, many of these areas have increased fine fuel loading from
lingering dead, standing fuels and below normal snowpack, creating a
heavy and continuous fuel bed'' http://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/
One need only take a look at individual states to know the
seriousness of the situation.
Colorado, for example, has seen over 85,000 acres and many
structures burn, with more expected as the summer progresses. According
to the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC), the state has vast
acreages of lodgepole pine dying off due to insect infestation, but
virtually no action has been taken to protect or thin the forests.
Colorado has also lost most of its sawmilling infrastructure due to
litigation, appeals and the inability of the Forest Service to offer
timber sales. The southwestern United States, says AFRC, is facing the
same fate. New Mexico has already seen nearly 350,000 acres burned.
Fires are also taking a heavy toll in Montana, Nevada, California and
Oregon. Southeastern Oregon's ``Long Draw'' fire, the biggest Oregon
burn since 1865, spans over a half-million acres and has officially
claimed 200 livestock; 400 more cattle are missing. Ranchers in this
area and across the west will be in dire need of pasture. Some of them
will likely go bankrupt and out of business.
What's the Cost?
The fiscal costs of wildfire extend far beyond just suppression.
However, suppression expenditures (aviation, engines, firefighting
crews, agency personnel, etc.) are nonetheless formidable, adding up to
over $1 billion annually. And even though the agencies are dedicating
more and more resources to wildfire suppression (the U.S. Forest
Service spends nearly half its budget fighting fire), the number of
burned acres continues to rise (http://www.idahoforests.org/img/pdf/
Fire suppression costs do not account for local and state
governments' expenditures, or for the loss of private property, timber
and forage loss, damage to utility lines, evacuation aid, and many,
many more costs. The National Institute for the Elimination of
Catastrophic Wildfire estimates that ``overall damage costs of
wildfires range from three to 10 times fire suppression costs, not
counting associated property losses and personal injuries and deaths''
(http://www.stopwildfire.org/). For ranchers, the costs include dealing
with displaced cattle; lost pasture that takes years to recover;
repairing fences, waterlines, and other infrastructure; and death loss
of livestock to fire. In Arizona in 2011, the Arizona Cattle Growers
Association reported that major fires impacted at least 100 ranching
families and displaced approximately 10,000 head of cows and 8,000 head
Why does this situation exist?
It has become all too clear from the millions of charred acres
across the west, that the planning process currently in use by the
federal agencies is woefully broken. Planning, studying, consulting,
litigating, appealing then planning and studying more for months and
even years on end is not working and must be changed. How long do we
have to watch subdivisions go up in smoke on the nightly news before
our country wakes up and stops the dangerous mismanagement of public
There are many reasons why the federal government finds itself in a
situation where over two-thirds of the land it manages is at risk of
catastrophic wildfire due to fuel loads in excess of historical norms.
The various reasons for the burgeoning fuel loads have one common
theme: overregulation and, as a result, environmental litigation that
creates a self-perpetuating cycle. According to the BLM, livestock
grazing has been reduced on BLM lands by as much as 50 percent since
1971, while the timber industry has been nearly destroyed over the last
30 years--all almost entirely due to federal laws and regulations and
predatory environmental groups.
For far too long we have allowed outside interests and bureaucratic
paralysis to dictate the management of our Nation's forests. Our
federal government needs to reduce the current bureaucratic planning
process and litigious playing field that our forests have been subject
to for most of the last 30 to 40 years. Radical environmental groups
masquerading as government watchdogs or protectors of the wildlife and
forests drive their anti-livestock, anti-logging agenda through endless
lawsuits and appeals--often times collecting attorney's fees in the
One of the major impediments to efficient management of National
Forest System Lands is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an
act intended to require agencies to analyze alternatives when making
major decisions. Unfortunately, the law has been abused to the point
that NEPA has become an endless process, creating a state of gridlock.
The excessive regulations resulting from NEPA have led to massive
paperwork backlogs. On grazing Forest Service decisions alone, the
agency estimates that there are currently approximately 2,600 grazing
allotments that (as interpreted by the courts) ``need'' NEPA analysis.
Such backlogs inevitably lead to litigation from extremist
environmental groups, who wait in the wings to sue on process-based
matters such as missed deadlines. Their lawsuits then suck up more
resources, creating the aforementioned self-perpetuating cycle--and
keeping agency personnel from doing the job we hire them to do: work
with ranchers and other on-the-ground managers to care for the land.
Instead, our members' livelihoods are being jeopardized, as are the
land, the environment and wildlife. Such ``management'' is
In addition to NEPA, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been
abused to drive the anti-livestock and anti- multiple-use agendas of
special interest groups. The irony is that wildfire poses a great
threat to many wildlife species, yet the ESA is often used to limit
activities such as timber thinning and livestock grazing that reduce
fuel loads and diminish the instances of wildfire. Critical habitat
designations for the spotted owl have all but whipped out the timber
industry in the northwest. Mexican Spotted Owl and Goshawk critical
habitat designations have impacted ponderosa pine/conifer forests all
over the West, and have resulted in substantial reductions in livestock
grazing over the years (of note: over half of the Mexican Spotted Owl
nesting sites were destroyed in the Wallow Fire). Heaven help the sage
grouse, should the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide to list it as
a ``protected'' species: the listing has the potential to limit or
remove the most important tool to reducing the threat of wildfire on
the sage brush sea--grazing. How can we continue to allow species
``protection'' to be the source of such destruction?
A number of other laws and regulations limit the management of our
nation's forests to little more than preserves devoid of sustainable
resource management through multiple-use activities.
Grassroots effort to bring commonsense solutions forward
In 2011, in an effort to respond to the problems and threats faced
by the livestock industry and communities across the west and in
Arizona particularly, the Arizona Cattle Grower's Association drafted
the Save Arizona's Forest Environment (SAFE) plan. This grassroots
effort led directly to ACGA and the national livestock associations
working together to pass policy and, ultimately, work with Congress to
develop legislation to provide solutions.
More than twenty-five entities, listed below, endorsed ACGA's
original SAFE plan, including Arizona's state Senate and House. The
plan's goal was--and is--to reduce fuel loads and take other
appropriate actions so that the risk of catastrophic wild fire is
reduced in Arizona's National Forests by providing for long-term, self-
funding mechanisms and infrastructure to eliminate the dangerous
accumulation of overgrown trees and forests. More specifically, the
plan seeks to achieve forest health, protect adjacent communities from
catastrophic fire, achieve other forest management goals, and maintain
Arizona's Forest lands in an ecologically sustainable condition. The
ACGA proposes to use proven silvicultural practices, prescribed fire
and proper forage management to achieve these goals. The Catastrophic
Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012 shares the core principles of the SAFE
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012
In an effort to provide efficiencies to the regulatory process for
reducing fuel loads on federal lands, Congressman Gosar introduced the
Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012. The proposed legislation
will expedite projects (timber thinning and livestock grazing),
encouraging free enterprise solutions on federal lands to reduce the
threat of catastrophic wildfire, ultimately reducing threats to
communities, the landscape, and endangered species.
The bill proposes to first and foremost address areas with homes in
the wildland/urban interface (where federal lands are adjacent to
communities.) This element is important, as an estimated 44 million
homes in the U.S. are currently located in fire-prone wildland/urban
interface areas, and the Forest Service predicts a 40% increase in new
homes in similar areas by 2030 (http://www.idahoforests.org/img/pdf/
FUSEE.pdf). It also focuses on the aforementioned ``At-Risk Forests,''
which include all federal land classified as condition II and III by
the Rocky Mountain Research Station report titled ``Development of
Coarse-Scale Spatial Data for Wildland Fire and Fuel Management.''
In these at-risk areas and in areas where endangered species are
found, the bill expedites projects that focus on surface, ladder, and
canopy fuels reduction activities and that enhance threatened and
endangered species habitat. Informal consultation under the Endangered
Species Act would be completed under the emergency provisions of the
Act. Prior to the listing of any species under the Endangered Species
Act research will be conducted to measure the impact a listing will
have on fuel loads. Recovery plans and critical habitat designations
will have catastrophic fire risk assessment analysis included.
Exceptions to utilization standards would be made for livestock
grazing for fuels-reduction projects in the at-risk areas. Timber
harvesting and thinning would also be authorized projects. Resource
management plans, land use plans and forest plans would not have to be
amended while implementing authorized projects. The Secretaries would
complete an environmental assessment for timber harvest and grazing
projects within 30 days after notice in the federal register. Failure
to meet this deadline would deem projects compliant with all
requirements under NEPA. Grazing projects would be approved for a
minimum of 10 years and timber projects for a minimum of 20 years.
Adequate public review (30 days) would be allowed. In order to prevent
litigation, the only members of the public allowed to comment on the
final decision would be those who commented on the draft.
The National Forests are capable of providing the many values and
benefits that people expect from our forests, but they need proper
management in order to provide these values. The livestock industry
supports prescribed fire, commercial timber harvest, noncommercial
treatments and enhanced forage harvests on federally-managed forests.
Further, we believe that commercial utilization payments could play a
large role in bringing back private investment to help finance the many
and extensive treatment needs of the forests.
It will be through the empowerment of private investment,
individuals and communities that we set the guidepost for future forest
planning. We need to direct and see through the initiative to return
people to work in the woods, protect habitats and communities and
return to the days of 5,000 to 10,000 acre fires in our forests--not
500,000 acre catastrophes.
We urge the committee to advance the Catastrophic Wildfire
Prevention Act of 2012 without delay, to enact commonsense solutions to
reduce the threat of wildfire on public lands. H.R. 5744 will provide
tools the agencies need to effectively manage the Nation's forests.
Again, we thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments
to the Subcommittee. If you have any questions concerning these
comments or need further information, you may contact Dustin Van Liew
at the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association
as our point of contact.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you very much, and I appreciate how both
of you hit the mark right there. That is very kind. You were
watching it very well.
We now are opening it up to questions now of Mr. Markey's
bill, Mr. Gosar's bill. I will yield my time to Mr. Gosar
because I know you are probably on the same airline that Mr.
Shamley is going on. We will talk to you about how you should
be using Delta later on.
Mr. Gosar, allow me to yield my time to you.
Dr. Gosar. I appreciate it.
Ms. Wagner, Mr. Roberson, so timetables are failing us.
I mean, I have just witnessed, just for a contract to get
private industry for large swaths for the 4FRI initiative
taking 6 months, and we knew it was coming. I mean, this is
inappropriate. In fact, I am very aware that the chief had to
fly in to Albuquerque to even oversee these types of contracts.
I mean, this isn't rocket science, and I know we have to get it
So you disagree with the timetables here. What would you
like to see as far as timetables, 6 years, 5 years? I mean, it
is inappropriate what we are doing right now, so give me a
timetable very quickly.
Ms. Wagner. What I would like to say is I appreciate the
leadership of local elected officials. In many cases, they are
the heart of some of the most successful work that we are doing
out on national forests. States are playing a very similar
role. We agree there is more work to be done. We would like to
work with you to find all of the right tools to be most
expeditious and efficient----
Dr. Gosar. So I am limited on my time, so I really want to
recapture this. Give me a timetable. Give me what you look at
as a timetable. We said 60 days. Give me a timetable.
Ms. Wagner. Sixty days for the Governors to identify high
Dr. Gosar. Yes. Tell me what is wrong with this.
Ms. Wagner. There is nothing wrong with it. I believe that
it would be advantageous to look at the State action plans and
assess where they identify priorities.
Dr. Gosar. And in good stewardship, you should already be
doing that, should you not?
Ms. Wagner. Absolutely, yes.
Dr. Gosar. Thank you.
Mr. Roberson, you actually said again you weren't in favor
of this timetable. I want to hear your specifics very quickly.
Mr. Roberson. I am in agreement with Associate Chief
Wagner. I believe that we need to look at our local plans. We
are looking at our local plans, our cohesive fire strategy
bills on those plans in the States, and I believe together we
identify those high risk areas and go out and work on them.
Dr. Gosar. So what is wrong with 60 days? So my problem is,
I don't see a problem with 60 days because let me explain to
you. I see a lack of trust by the Federal Government with
counties and States. I absolutely see that, and that has got to
stop. Trust is a series of promises kept, and I don't see the
Federal Government keeping their promises one iota. There are
limited finances we can use here, and when we are starting to
look at these widespread swaths to take care of, it is going to
have to reinvigorate the private sector so that you are
returning money on investment.
Mr. Cook, I mean, give me your experience, I mean, we just
saw this Wallow Fire, it was a disaster; I mean, an absolute
disaster because this forest isn't returning anytime soon, is
Mr. Cook. Not only is it not returning anytime soon, it has
affected the permittees and the families. So, of the large $56
million, I would give the total to of the loss in revenue and
economic growth and rural communities.
Dr. Gosar. And you have a kinship and a stewardship with
the forest and the environment, don't you, because, I mean, you
have to watch this very carefully, right?
Mr. Cook. You know, communities and public land ranchers,
we are one with the land, we want the land to be in the best
shape it possibly can, we are the stewards of the land, and
many times the agencies hand tie us to what we can do. I am
reading a biological assessment now on a grazing allotment
where the number one threat to the spotted owl is catastrophic
wildfire, according to the recovery plan, and the biologist
doesn't even mention that, but they want to reduce grazing, and
it does not address the fuel load whatsoever.
Dr. Gosar. Wow, amazing. Embracing private enterprise
actually creating money and royalties actually goes to, I
think, it is our education system, is it not?
Mr. Cook. I agree. In fact, what I was just speaking about
back here was that I saw the PILT information in the Secure
Rural Schools Act, I know it has been funded for one more year,
but you know, in the West, in rural areas, we want to be put to
work. We want industry. We want jobs for our communities. We
don't want government handouts. And we want to put loggers back
in the forest. We want to put cattle back on the land. And we
want to manage those things within our State the way we want to
Dr. Gosar. Mr. Shamley, I know you just got back from a
conference on the West Coast, and you have some amazing
information, do you not, that you want to share with us?
Mr. Shamley. Yes. One of the key things I think to note is
there is a growing movement amongst academia, former employees
of the agencies, and I am in full agreement of it, one of the
only long-term fixes is disposal of the forest back to the
States of the public lands because there is no feasible way to
manage the forest as the system is now, and we are going to
keep losing millions, keep destroying massive amounts of
habitat, as we saw in the Wallow Fire, and we are hamstrung and
unable currently to do anything about it. Our county
stewardship program is bold. It is working, and we are actually
the ones protecting the spotted owl packs. I don't see any of
the litigants there cutting alongside of us.
Dr. Gosar. You are actually blazing a trail that is just
pretty much common sense, is it not?
Mr. Shamley. Yes, it is, and we created a lot of jobs for a
lot of people already.
Dr. Gosar. Thank you.
I yield back.
Mr. Bishop. I appreciate that.
Mr. Sablan. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
One of my experiences recently, is I flew to the Island of
Hispaniola down south near Florida. Flying onto the island, you
see half of the island is lush green and the other half is
barren, Dominican Republic and Haiti, and there must be
something wrong there.
And Mr. Cook, I am not going to argue with you, sir,
because you know your business better than I do, but
apparently, you know, it is like NEPA and the spotted owl are
the reasons for all our problems here, and so, you know--but we
ought to also look, there are places in the world where we can
see the consequences of lack of regulations or lack of control
over natural resources. And I also don't understand the science
as well as Ph.D.s and scientists, but on issues of climate
change, anyone who wants to see evidence of climate change, I
invite you to the islands where I am from, and you will see
coconut trees inside the water, you will see house stilts in
the water, you know, because of the rising sea, and at this
time, I yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Markey.
Mr. Markey. I thank the gentleman very much.
You know, in 2012, we are beginning to emerge from the
great recession, but a new drought for a new era is threatening
a majority of our country. The Dust Bowl was surely due to an
actual parched state, but it was also man made as years of poor
land management and farming on marginal land had sapped the
strength from our soil, leaving it to turn to dust as the rain
dried and the winds whipped.
This flash drought of 2012 is also man made, but not
because we failed to learn the lessons of the land. We did. It
is man made because we have failed to heed the warnings from
nature. The drought of 2012 is yet another data point in the
ever-growing canon of climate catastrophes.
Mr. Romm, the frequency, the intensity of these fires in
the West, how much of it do you think we can attribute now to
this rapidly changing climate here in the United States and on
Dr. Romm. Well, you know, I think that is the question of
the day, and I had an article in Nature, which I would like to
get into the record on the next dust bowl. I think drought is
the most pressing problem caused by climate change.
Let me frame it this way: I think we know global warming
makes extreme weather more likely and many kinds of extreme
weather more destructive, and the analogy people have used is a
baseball player on steroids, you know, you don't know that any
individual home run was caused by the steroids, but if you see
70 home runs in one season, you are breaking records you never
broke before, then you know that, you know, and this is what is
going on with the atmosphere, it is juiced on warming.
Scientists knew that there were three reasons that global
warming was going to make wildfires worse. This has been long
known. Obviously, whenever it is hotter, it is drier, the
Palmer Drought Severity Index is based on soil moisture, so you
know soil moisture is driven by how much evaporates, how much
comes down, and how much evaporates. So when it is hotter, you
get more evaporation, so global warming makes droughts worse,
and it makes droughts longer.
The second thing that was known is you are going to get
earlier snow melt. As the seasons--as spring--you know, we had
no winter. Winter was kind of like spring this year, spring was
like summer, and summer is like hellishness, and that is global
warming. So when you have your spring become summer, the snow
melt goes early. Colorado had staggering loss of ice, and it is
actually interesting, I lived in both your district, Mr.
Markey, at one point, and I lived in your district, Mr. Tipton.
I worked for Amory Lovins at Rocky Mountain Institute in Old
Snowmass, and so I know what, you know, the place looked like
20 years ago, and I know what it looks like now. And when you
get the earlier snow melt, many of these Western regions,
including, you know, Colorado where I lived, doesn't get a lot
of precipitation in the summertime. It requires the stream flow
from the reservoir of snow, snow and ice, that is the
reservoir, and so the second impact that global warming causes
drought and wildfire is you lose the snow melt earlier.
Third is that global warming actually changes the climate,
that is why it is called climate change. It shifts the
subtropical dry belts, and unfortunately, when you expand the
subtropical dry belt, that hits the Southwest. We are going to
see less precipitation, and that is the double whammy that
States like Colorado are going to be hit by. More soil moisture
And then, finally, the bark beetle, you know the bark
beetle, which we talked about----
Mr. Markey. My time the gentleman yielded to me, and I am
very appreciative of, but our time has expired. So we will come
Dr. Romm. We will come back to the bark beetle.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Tipton.
Mr. Tipton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think to get this focus back on the topic of the hearing,
a simple question, is the bark beetle an imminent threat? Maybe
we can just--yes or no I think covers it.
Ms. Wagner, can we start with you?
Ms. Wagner. There is concern for the impacts the bark
Mr. Tipton. Is it an imminent threat?
Ms. Wagner. I would agree.
Mr. Tipton. Yes.
Mr. Roberson. Yes, sir, on the 1.3 million acres of public
Mr. Tipton. Yes, great. Thanks. Dan?
Mr. Gibbs. Congressman, yes. I brought a few so folks can
see how small it is and how it----
Mr. Tipton. Keep them captive. Great. Thank you, Dan.
Dr. Romm. The bark beetle is an invasive species. It is not
a yes or no question. It is a long-term threat. It is an
invasive species that has become invaded because the climate
changed, and the climate is going to keep changing, so it is
going to keep invading. So it is an imminent threat, and it is
a threat 20 years from now, and it will be worse in 40.
Mr. Tipton. Thank you, sir. Mr. Cook?
Mr. Cook. Absolutely, sir.
Mr. Tipton. Mr. Shamley?
Mr. Shamley. Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Tipton. You know, a Senator from our State, Colorado,
had requisitioned a study, came at the request to the U.S.
Forest Service and said that the primary reasons that we are
seeing the bark beetle infestation is because of the Forest
Service actions regarding approving of timber harvesting,
active management, lack of active management, drought, lack of
allocation of resources to timber management, limited access to
areas due to the inability to be able to provide access routes,
Federal land designation, which precludes forest treatment as
the primary contributing factors to the rampant bark beetle
So, Ms. Wagner, I guess I would like to ask the question,
since this was a report that came out of the Forest Service,
which I think helped identify the problem, do you believe that
an expedited approval authority can help us actually do that,
given the information we received out of the Forest Service in
Southwest Colorado, that by actually getting in and thinning
these devastated areas, we increase the water table and we
increase the health of trees?
Ms. Wagner. We would like to do more in bark beetle
Mr. Tipton. Thank you so much.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I would like to yield the balance
of my time to my colleague from Arizona, Mr. Gosar.
Dr. Gosar. So, Ms. Wagner, what we have really is a
pandemic. It is not just about the bark beetle; it is about
cankers and blights as well because what we do is, it is like
somebody here who has got the measles and we are all stuck
around here so they are much more contagious to everything else
around here. We have different species that have different
requirements, like the ponderosa pine. We want to see 10 to 25
trees per acre instead of the 600 trees. So we have a problem
here, and we have to address it, and by allowing them to stand,
we are just aggressively creating the pandemic, are we not?
Ms. Wagner. Yes, we have serious concerns about insects and
disease and their prevalence because it is droughty; it is hot.
Dr. Gosar. So the little jar that the gentleman showed us,
it is just a focal point for the disease if you don't get rid
of it, because what you are doing is if there are areas that
they continued to create the infestation, true?
Ms. Wagner. Yes, conditions are ripe for that.
Dr. Gosar. So the longer it stands, the bigger the problem?
What do you think about that, Mr. Cook?
Mr. Cook. Well, I ranch in the ponderosa pine area up to
7,000 feet in elevation, and I see what you are talking about,
and what I don't understand is when you have people talk about
a drought, you have all of these trees competing for that same
drop of water, so the forest needs to be thinned. I don't know
why we all can't agree with that and move forward, and I think
we would have a much healthier forest if we would just do so.
Dr. Gosar. Mr. Shamley, would you agree with that?
Mr. Shamley. Yes, I would, because I can take anybody here
that wants to go see tours of our once great forest and show
you whole entire hillsides, and the Forest Service personnel
are the ones who indicated that due to it being too thick of a
tree stands and the lack of activities in there, they became
weakened because they were competing for water. At that point
is when the beetle moved in.
Dr. Gosar. Well, I want to take us back to the Rodeo-
Chediski fire there. And what we saw is mitigation by the
tribes, which was very interesting because do they have the
same kind of problem on the tribal lands as we do on the public
Mr. Shamley. Not at all.
Dr. Gosar. Why not?
Mr. Shamley. Because they are treating the lands. They are
being proper stewards, and they are thinking about
conservation, not preservation.
Dr. Gosar. I have to stop you there. So they are thinking
about conservation and they are thinning the forest?
Mr. Shamley. Yes. And creating----
Dr. Gosar. This is an oxymoron. I really can't get this.
Mr. Shamley. Our fire, sir, as you know as well as anybody,
came to a halt when it hit the Apache Reservation where they do
Dr. Gosar. So let me ask you one last question. A dynamic
forest is all old growth trees, or is it young growth, medium
growth, and old growth trees?
Mr. Shamley. It is a full mixture, sir.
Dr. Gosar. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
Mr. Bishop. Once again, I appreciate this.
Before I turn to Mr. Markey, I assume you have some more
questions, before I do that, Mr. Shamley, I don't know if Mr.
Cook is on the same flight, Representative Gosar, I know you
have a flight. Do not think it is going to be offensive if you
leave to go to the airport when you need to go to the airport.
Mr. Shamley. OK, cool.
Mr. Bishop. We are happy to have you here as long as you
can stay, but when the witching hour hits, please feel free.
Mr. Shamley. OK.
Mr. Bishop. Mr. Markey, did you have any other questions?
Mr. Markey. Yes, I do, thank you.
Mr. Bishop. Please.
Mr. Markey. I am just going to come back to you, Mr. Romm.
I think you are just trying to be reflective of what is
happening in explaining the bark beetle and why it is now
reproducing not once a year but twice a year, why the change in
temperatures are causing that to happen, why it is expanding
its footprint, hitting larger and larger areas because of
climate change, because of the changing temperatures, and you
are just trying to explain that scientifically as a reality
that has led to the metastasization of the problem in the same
way that New England, our winters are now 4 degrees warmer than
they were in the 1970s, so the Massachusetts and Vermont maple
trees, they are going further and further north, heading toward
Canada, and that is just the change in climate, the change in
temperatures. I mean, we barely had a winter last year.
All you are doing is just pointing out the facts that the
maple trees are going further and further north and the bark
beetles are reproducing twice a year and able to cause more and
more damage, and the climate is at the heart of it. It is a big
change that is occurring.
And so I don't, you know, I don't know why, you know, we
just can't agree on that because it is not just the West, it is
New England, it is a common problem that we all have to deal
with and the consequences, you know. First of all, you can put
a band-aid on it here and there, and you try to put together
policies that deal with the band-aid, but you have to step back
and look at the larger kind of climate cancer that is out there
and say, what can we do to reduce the longer-term impacts that
are going to be profound?
And I think, Mr. Romm, that is what you are bringing to
this discussion, and we thank you for that.
Commissioner Gibbs, as a wildland firefighter, can you tell
us how effective air tankers are in addressing wildfire
situations like we saw recently in Colorado Springs?
Mr. Gibbs. Congressman, I do think that the utilization of
air tankers is important. I think it is most effective when you
put resources on the ground for defensible space around
communities, first of all, but if there is a large scale, you
know, utilizing single engine air tankers or the big heavies
are a positive. The big heavies, of course, can carry more
slurry, but, you know, the single engine air tankers definitely
have more versatility, they are easier to get around. Quite
often, the big heavies cannot fly, of course, when it gets
windy, and the single engine air tankers definitely tend to be
more versatile, you can get more up in the air as well.
Mr. Markey. Thank you, sir.
You know, whether it is a flash flood or a flash drought or
flash of lightning igniting wildfires, climate change is
increasing the risk to all parts of the country. And what
happens in the Midwest does affect Massachusetts, it does
affect Arizona because there is an extreme weather food tax,
there is higher prices for food coming to every American
because of this drought. I mean, at $7 a bushel for corn, we
are looking at real consequences.
Can you talk about that, the economic impact, Mr. Romm, on
Dr. Romm. Sure. Well, I think--and certainly every American
is very concerned about the, you know, explosion of the
wildfires, but I think, and I have said, I mean I have read
much of the literature, I have written a great many articles
on, you know, I believe that it is through food prices that
most people are going to experience climate change because, you
know, people can adapt. We can go in when it is hot to an air
conditioned room, but a farm is just out there exposed to the
weather, and there is no question, food prices have been stuck
at levels that we haven't seen in 20 years, and, you know,
Oxfam projects that food prices are going to double or triple.
Mr. Markey. Can I go to Mr. Cook then quickly? Are you
concerned about the impact that the drought has on corn and
other grain prices in terms of the impact that it is going to
have on your business?
Mr. Cook. Oh, absolutely. The cost association with corn
prices directly affects our beef cattle prices, and they move
together, and that opens up a whole other discussion. But of
course, any agriculture producer in the West or Midwest is
always concerned with drought.
Mr. Markey. Do you think climate change is playing a role
here in this expansive drought?
Mr. Cook. My thoughts are a little bit different than
probably yours, Congressman, with all due respect. Our timeline
now, what you are speaking of since the 1970s to today is about
a pebble on the size of a sand on a beach somewhere. I mean----
Mr. Markey. Mr. Romm, is it a pebble on the sand on a
Dr. Romm. No, not at all. I don't think there is any
question that the, you know, climate change is making the
droughts worse. I think it is very important, and I don't know
if there is going to be another round of questions, but people
have to understand. There is a difference between just warming
the average temperature and changing the climate, and there
have been two or three major studies in the last several months
that say when you lose the Arctic ice, you weaken the jet
stream, and when you weaken the jet stream, weather patterns
get stuck. And, you know, there have been two or three peer-
reviewed studies, so if you are asking why are heat waves
lasting longer, why are highs sticking around longer, why are
droughts longer, it's climate change driven by carbon
Mr. Bishop. I am sorry to interrupt you.
Mr. Markey. No, I appreciate it.
Mr. Bishop. It is unfair because you had one second left
when you were asked the question.
Mr. Markey. No, I appreciate it, I appreciate it. Thank
Mr. Bishop. Let me just ask one quick question on my own if
I could of Ms. Wagner. I appreciate you being here, appreciate
your service when you are up in the Northwest on the ground,
and you learned your trade up there. A reference was made to
baseball, which obviously piqued my interest, that home runs
were a cause of steroids. Home runs are also caused of corked
bats. So let me ask you about an alternative method here, Ms.
One of the witnesses has said that there is almost little,
there is little empirical research to document the fact that
lower fuel loads and reduction in ladder fuel reduces fire
severity and causes suppression. Ms. Wagner, could you just
describe some of the research that your agency has done with
respect to the effects of fuel reduction on wildfire behavior?
Ms. Wagner. Two specific research publications I can cite
from the Angora fire in California and from the Wallow Fire in
the Southwest. We have had our research scientists look at pre-
and post-fire impacts and fuels treatments, we have seen a fire
as recently as this summer on the Bridger-Teton National
Forest, the Fontenelle, and through visual pictures as well as
science, you can see the difference that a stand that is
thinner that has had ladder fuels removed and how fire behaves
when it encounters that environment. I would be happy to
provide some of those research publications to the Committee.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you, I appreciate that. Mr. Roberson, let
me just ask one specific question from your testimony about
H.R. 5960. It said in your written testimony that it adds
mountain pine beetle infestation as areas eligible for applied
silviculture assessments under the Healthy Forest Restoration
Act in section 404. Section 404 does authorize the Secretary to
conduct applied silviculture assessments on Federal lands that
the Secretary determines is at risk of infestation by or is
infested with forest-damaging insects. Can you simply define
Mr. Roberson. I believe that the term defines itself, sir.
I would say that the mountain pine beetle would qualify then.
Mr. Bishop. Actually you are correct, it does define itself
in the statute that is already there. 402 does define forest-
damaging insects, which does include the mountain pine beetle,
so I guess the question I would have to ask is how is this new
authority that would be given to you, if it is already in
Mr. Roberson. We believe--some of the authorities were
specifically for the Forest Service, and this may have been one
of those. I can get back to you on that, though.
Mr. Bishop. Yes, I think your testimony needs to be a
little bit clarified in that particular area.
Mr. Roberson. I can get back to you with an answer, sir.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you. Let's see if there is another round
Mr. Gosar, do you have any other questions you would like
to ask? I will recognize you.
Dr. Gosar. Ms. Wagner, when we have these heavy canopied
forest fires, they are intense, are they not?
Ms. Wagner. Yes.
Dr. Gosar. So, in many cases, they actually sterilize the
soil, do they not?
Ms. Wagner. Post-fire we do an assessment, and we are able
to determine the intensity of the fire, and in some cases, yes,
we are seeing impacts to soil.
Dr. Gosar. So is it easier to mitigate that, or is it
tougher when you sterilize soil?
Ms. Wagner. No, it is tough to recover from.
Dr. Gosar. Our topsoil out in the West is much thinner than
it is probably back East right now, are they not?
Ms. Wagner. There are soil types that are definitely of
concern when they are impacted by fire.
Dr. Gosar. OK. So let me ask you a question. So, you know,
we also have these inabilities for roadless rules that impact
our harvesting process. I mean, they are a core part of how we
are going into the forest. Tell me what part of a road
mitigation is tougher to do than sterilized soil.
Ms. Wagner. I am sorry, I am not following your question.
Dr. Gosar. So when we do a road, an interim road to go to
log, how is that mitigation worse than sterilized soil? If the
answer is not----
Ms. Wagner. I think we have the ability to design roads and
place roads so they are low impact.
Dr. Gosar. I would agree definitively.
Mr. Shamley, tell me some of these other things that you
have been doing that drew so much attention out in your local
or your most recent speech.
Mr. Shamley. Well, one of the big things, of course, was
the multiple counties and the scientists actually there were
reveled to hear about the county stewardship. You know, we had
to use all the forests that the county possesses to protect
health, safety, and welfare of the residents and pass drastic
resolutions and bring the fight all the way to Washington,
which we did in January, to move on to the forests that look at
either, get something done or we are going to fix it.
Now at that point, after Tidwell ditched the meeting, our
locals, though, and they are the only ones I can give due
credit to, not the agencies as a whole, local fire and fuel
teams and our local supervisor, they are the ones who worked
with us and said, yes, you are right, that area needs to be
treated, and, yes, you are right the west side of Greer, which
we are targeting, was completely left off any target plans by
the U.S. Forest Service for treatment. Now, this town already
tried to half burn down in the Wallow Fire or not try, it did
half burn down. The other half that we are treating to protect
the residents and mainly our watersheds and the only actions
that are protecting the Mexican spotted owl pack, there was no
plans by the agency. They completely left it off any plans or
Dr. Gosar. Mr. Cook, I know there is an example of this
integral aspect that we are talking about, that we kind of
really mimic this that actually shows that you can mitigate and
take care of the forest and you can also have increased
grazing, you can also have a number of different proprieties
that you are increasing endangered species. I think it is a
ranch in Utah, and it may be in Mr. Matheson's, if I am not
mistaken, the ranch that shows everything being built. But
there is a proper balance, is there not, that actually shows
Mr. Cook. Absolutely. And in speaking for myself, you know,
we monitor the spotted owls on our own ranch, we pay for the
monitoring ourselves because the agency fails to do so. They
will go into consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service
and have a biological opinion that says they will monitor the
species. We find that doesn't happen. So in fear of litigation
and losing our permits, we actually hire the biologist who does
the monitoring for the agency ourselves. What we have come to
find out is the owls, in my opinion, and what I am seeing in
the research is that the owls do not breed and do not reproduce
on the years that cattle are not present in that thick wooded
forest. So we have a lot of data, a lot of science that shows
the grazing impacts, when done in the proper methods does
nothing but benefit the endangered species.
Dr. Gosar. So I guess I am going to go back to the
organism, I am a science guy, I am very astute about botany as
well, sir. So when you have an unhealthy situation, it
endangers everything, you know, you don't have enough light
going to the canopy bottom, you don't have a diversification of
different species, and therefore what it actually does is it
hurts the spotted owl, it hurts the whole different plethora of
species within that environment, does it not?
Mr. Cook. It absolutely does, and that is the discussion we
have been having with the Forest Service and the Fish and
Wildlife Service today is cattle grazing creates transition
zones, and around these transition zones in these overgrown
steep forests and conifer, the cattle creek transition zones
around the wildlife drinkers and the salt blocks and stuff, and
we find that is what benefits the species, actually, the cattle
Dr. Gosar. Thank you.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you very much. I assume you were talking
Dr. Gosar. Yes.
Mr. Bishop. That is my district, I claim that. Thank you.
Mr. Sablan, do you have any other questions?
Mr. Markey, do you have other questions?
Mr. Markey. Yes, I do, please.
Can you bring this up here?
You know, and this discussion about steroids, I just love
And I just happen to have a chart; it is now 4 years old,
but it still works for the purpose of this discussion. And so,
I had my staff go back about 4 years ago and track the number
of players in the Major Leagues who had more than 40 home runs
per year. In over a period from 1920, Babe Ruth's first over-
40-home-run period, all the way up to 2009, the average was 3.3
players per year averaged more than 40 home runs. Mickey
Mantle, Willie Mays, you go through every--Ted Williams, you go
through every phase.
Then all of a sudden, in about 1995, it started to spike up
to 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 players hitting more than 40 home runs.
And it stayed very high until Major League Baseball, after
congressional hearings, finally decided they were going to test
for steroids, artificial substances put into the bodies of
people. No longer a better diet and corked bats and smaller
ballparks and bigger players, but let us just check for the
steroids. And guess what? It went right back down to 3.3
players per year who were averaging more than 40 home runs per
And by the way, this chart looks exactly like the spike in
the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the rising
temperatures on the planet since the dawn of the industrial
age, when human beings started to inject additional carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere. And it will take a number of
congressional hearings ultimately before we will finally come
to realize that it is not sunspots, and it is not these other
ingredients that the climate deniers want to attribute this
dramatic rise to, in the same way that Major League Baseball
did all the way from the Commissioner down to the lowliest
ballplayer who all had a stake in this phony system that was
put together, but rather just the reflection of the reality
that once we get the artificial additional chemicals out of our
system, then the climate will start to calm down, the wildfires
will start to calm down, the droughts will start to calm down.
But until we get the steroids out of the climate, until we
admit that we are playing a role in this, then all of the other
issues are just Band-Aids trying to deal with the harm that is
being done both to the players, you know, and to the game, the
whole planet, on an ongoing basis.
Mr. Romm, what do you think about this? It is an eerie
correlation; is it not?
Mr. Romm. Yes. And it has moved beyond correlation to
causation. And you can move beyond correlation to causation
when you have an underlying theory. We know that carbon dioxide
from burning fossil fuels traps heat. We know--they call them
greenhouse gases for a reason. They didn't make up the term
``greenhouse gases'' because the gases don't act like a
greenhouse. They do. And if there were no greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere, the planet would be 60 degrees Fahrenheit
colder, and there would be no civilization as we know it.
I would just like to make a point. I have learned a great
deal at this hearing. I am not an expert on short-term forest
management. I am kind of an expert on the medium and long term.
There is no question that trees compete for water, and there is
no question that drought is a big problem for trees, and it
also exacerbates the bark beetle problem because trees kill
bark beetles by releasing sap. But I have now heard this theory
that the solution to the drought problem is that we thin
forests so that trees don't compete so much.
The problem is we are on a track where your districts are
going to see levels of soil moisture in the coming decades that
are worse than the Dust Bowl, which was a minus 3 on the Palmer
Drought Severity Index, which means that you are going to thin,
there is going to be more drought and wildfire, and another
Congressman from your district in 20 years will come and say,
we have to thin some more. And then 20 years after that, we
will thin until there is nothing left.
The thinning to deal with drought is not a sustainable
solution; it is the end of all trees in all of your districts.
And as someone who as skied in your district and lived in your
district and hiked in your district, I must say I love your
Mr. Markey. Mr. Romm, I thank you.
In the same way that we knew that utility infielders and
substitute outfielders who went from 13 home runs to 50 home
runs--somehow we knew they weren't Mickey Mantle and Willie
Mays, and something must be wrong, and that the extra
weightlifting that they were doing wasn't making them Mickey
Mantle and Willie Mays. I think most people know there is
something wrong, and we are contributing to it. And as soon as
we admit it, I think--and I mean the beef industry and every
other industry--I think we will get to the heart of the
solutions we have to put in place.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you.
Let me just ask one last question, and I hope I think this
will be the end of it. You have planes to catch.
Bobby Richardson was probably the best second baseman in
the history of the world. I loved him. Casey Stengel once said,
he doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink, he doesn't stay out at
night, and he still can't hit 250.
Mr. Markey. Although he was roommates with Mickey Mantle
for 15 years.
Mr. Bishop. That was Billy Martin. No, I am sorry, that was
Bob Cerv and Roger Maris.
It was the perfect non sequitur that not smoking, not
drinking, not carousing can help you live longer, but it
doesn't help you hit a curve ball. So I appreciate that.
Unless there are other questions from any Members, I want
to thank our witnesses for being here. There may be additional
questions from Members that will be sent to you. If you do, I
would ask you to respond in a very timely manner with that.
Mr. Bishop. I thank you. I hope you make your flights. I
appreciate the chance to visit with you. I do appreciate all
the testimony that was given here today.
Thank you very much, and this Committee will stand
[Whereupon, at 11:15 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows:]
Statement of The Honorable Mike Coffman, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Colorado
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing on
these proposals for reforming forest management policies.
Over the past several months it has become beyond clear that we
need a change in the way we manage our national forest lands.
In Colorado, the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires destroyed over
100,000 acres and 600 structures. The reported insured losses total
$450 million. In addition, Colorado had to authorize $25 million in
emergency relief to combat the fires.
The stakes are too high for us to continue with current
insufficient forest management plan. Acting with expediency to remedy
the problem could prevent millions of dollars of costly damage to our
I have met with County Commissioners, Forestry Officials and
conservation experts who have pleaded for strong, comprehensive
solutions to combat the emergency situation of wildfires in their
Over the last few decades we have seen a stark rise in the number
of wildfires in Colorado. During the 1980s there was an average of
roughly 1200 wildfires per year, but during 2000-2009 there was an
average of 2400 wildfires per year.
An accumulation of regulations and environmental litigation have
resulted in limited means available to forest officials to treat and
prevent densely packed forests.
Unfortunately, one of these few available measures is prescribed
Recently in my district, the North Fork fire took the lives of
three Coloradans. This fire was caused by a prescribed burn that was
used to treat unhealthy forest land.
It is illogical to prevent fire with fire when there are
alternative, less dangerous methods available to trim dense, dry and
I give credit to the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003
for starting the process of creating a more active forest management
strategy and providing us with a framework to build on.
However, HFRA was just the first step as our Western communities
need us to give them more forest management tools and flexibility in
order to mitigate the risk of out of control wildfires.
We need a fresh approach and to build upon the positive aspects of
H.R. 6089, the Healthy Forest Management Act, is this fresh
approach we need. This legislation will give more authority for state
and local officials to manage federal forest lands and establish
effective hazardous fuel reduction projects.
This legislation will allow officials to move away from prescribed
burns and allow our Governors and County Commissioners the necessary
tools to protect their communities from devastating wildfires.
This flexible local strategy will allow communities to trim densely
packed forests, and clear the economically viable beetle infested wood,
which will result in long-term health of our forests.
Colorado county commissioners, forest conservation groups and
lawmakers agree that a return to proactive forest management strategy
will help curtail the risks of devastating wild fires.
For this reason, I am thrilled to join my colleagues from Colorado
in supporting the Health Forests Management Act and I ask for this
Committee to support it as well.
Thank you, I yield back.