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  1st Session
                                H. R. 849

 To authorize the Regional Foresters to exempt tree-thinning projects, 
  which are necessary to prevent the occurrence of wildfire likely to 
cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem, from laws that give rise to 
      legal causes of action that delay or prevent such projects.



                           February 13, 2003

 Mr. Shadegg introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
     Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committee on 
 Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, 
 in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the 
                jurisdiction of the committee concerned


                                 A BILL

 To authorize the Regional Foresters to exempt tree-thinning projects, 
  which are necessary to prevent the occurrence of wildfire likely to 
cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem, from laws that give rise to 
      legal causes of action that delay or prevent such projects.

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


    This Act may be cited as the ``Rodeo-Chediski Economic and Forest 
Health Recovery Act''.


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) National Forest System lands in the United States are 
        in poor ecological health because of the present of fire 
        damaged trees.
            (2) During 2002, wildfires, devastated 650,000 acres in 
            (3) It has been scientifically established that trees 
        damaged by fire are more susceptible to insect infestation than 
        healthy, undamaged trees, and experts agree that fire damaged 
        trees must be removed to improve forest health and that such 
        removal must occur within six to twelve months if the fire 
        damaged trees are to have any commercial value.
            (4) Under current Federal law, forest management projects 
        designed to remove fire damaged trees are subject to challenge 
        and appeal by groups and individuals.
            (5) Use of existing administrative and legal processes will 
        not enable the Forest Service to take the immediate action 
        necessary to remove fire damaged trees.


    (a) Exemption Authority.--The Regional Forester for Region 3 may 
exempt a Forest Service project described in subsection (b) from any 
provision of law including, but not limited to, the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the 
National Forest Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and the 
project shall proceed immediately and to completion. In addition, the 
project shall not be subject to the notice, comment, and appeal 
requirements of section 322 of Public Law 102-381 (commonly known as 
the Appeals Reform Act; 16 U.S.C. 1612 note) or to judicial review by 
any court of the United States. Such exemption shall supersede all 
legal actions affecting a project described in subsection (b).
    (b) Covered Project.--A Forest Service project referred to in 
subsection (a) is a project located in the area of the Rodeo-Chediski 
Fire on the Apache-Stigreaves or Tonto National Forests that involves 
the removal of trees that the Regional Forester determines are dead or 
severely damaged from fire as part of a salvage timber effort.
    (c) Authority of the Regional Forester.--The Regional Forester 
shall have the discretionary authority to make all determinations 
specified in this section regarding covered projects.


    The Regional Forester may enter into contracts for the purpose of 
conducting covered projects. Payments under such contracts may be on a 
fee for service basis.


    The constitutional authority on which this Act rests is the 
authority of Congress to make all laws which shall be necessary and 
proper, as enumerated in article I, section 8, of the United States 
Constitution, as well as the authority of Congress to make all needful 
rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property 
belonging to the United States, as enumerated in article IV, section 3 
of the United States Constitution.

Pages: 1

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