Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
An estimated 1 billion board feet of fire-killed timber can still be salvaged out of the forests devastated by the Yosemite Rim fire, but it requires immediate action. As time passes, the value of this dead timber declines until after a year or so, when it becomes unsalvageable.
It has been the practice of radical environmental groups to file lawsuits against such projects, with the objective of delaying salvage until the timber is worthless. This amendment waives judicial review of the salvage plans for the 2013 fires. This is exactly the same approach taken in legislation offered by Tom Daschle a few years ago to allow salvage of beetle-killed timber in the Black Hills National Forest.
Salvaging this timber would throw an economic lifeline to communities already devastated by this fire, as local mills can be brought to full employment for the first time in many years. It would provide a new stream of revenue for the Federal Government as this salvageable timber is auctioned.
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for offering this amendment.
Last year, in my home State of Washington, over 300,000 acres burned. And yet the Forest Service has yet to service anything. And I dare say now that whatever value there is to that salvage timber, it probably has gone away.
I think this amendment addresses that issue very, very well, and I support the gentleman's amendment.
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time a I may consume.
Again, this is an area where we do have some grounds for potential agreement. Part of the problem is the Forest Service budget. Not only are they spending half their budget on fighting fires, they've had a brain drain because of cuts in personnel and staffing, and they really don't have the personnel to go out.
I suggested a number of years ago, the last time we had a salvage rider, that a great alternative would be to have the Forest Service establish a strike team to go out to major fires--in fact, while they're probably still burning--and begin to map out a recovery effort--where it might be appropriate to go in and do some salvage, where there are critical watersheds at risk and there's going to have to be some immediate mitigation with the planting of grass or other efforts to mitigate problems
that will come with the rainy season in a few months in California.
I believe there is a better way to get there. But there's a new kind of current trend online. It's called throw-back Thursday. To me, this is really throw-back Thursday to one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever adopted by this body back in the 1990s, which was a massive salvage rider.
I have participated in a much more discrete, individual process when I was first here as a sophomore Member of Congress with Senator Mark Hatfield from Oregon. We sat down with an area that had been burned and we negotiated and legislated a salvage which preserved the areas that needed to be preserved.
There was a potential for 186 million board feet. We ended up legislating somewhere around 70 million board feet. The industry was disappointed. The environmentalists were appalled. But in the end, we got no additional sedimentation, we didn't get any slope slumping, and we did get 70 million board feet of timber out of there. We [Page: H5751]
didn't build a road into a sensitive, roadless area. We did it with helicopter logging. And the Forest Service still made
So there are ways to do this. But this, I don't think, is the best way to go forward. The underlying legislation already allows significant waivers of NEPA. Any project less than 10,000 acres is not required to go through an analysis. But this would allow a project to move forward no matter what the size or where it's located, without judicial review, if the project is salvaged, dead, damaged, or downed timber in an area impacted by fire this year.
We don't really know yet. I don't think a lot of the areas of Rim fire have yet been surveyed. Certainly, the Forest Service doesn't have the assets to do and find out what the impacts were--where the spot burns are, where the through burns are, what the conditions are, what areas would be critical to surviving wildlife, what areas are critical to watersheds and how we will deal with those areas, how we're going to recover the recreation in that area in the future, what would happen with building
of roads and logging and salvage logging in those areas.
So I believe that this is a bridge too far in terms of expediting recovery and/or potentially salvage efforts, and I would oppose the amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
At the end of the bill, add the following new section:
SEC. 508. PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN ACTIONS REGARDING FOREST SERVICE ROADS AND TRAILS.
The Forest Service shall not remove or otherwise eliminate or obliterate any legally created road or trail unless there has been a specific decision, which included adequate and appropriate public involvement, to decommission the specific road or trail in question. The fact that any road or trail is not a Forest System road or trail, or does not appear on a Motor Vehicle Use Map, shall not constitute a decision.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 351, the gentleman from California (Mr. McClintock) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes. [Page: H5753]
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. LaMalfa), my neighbor to the north.
Mr. LaMALFA Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague, Mr. McClintock, for bringing this measure forward.
The crazy thing about this is each year you have devastating wildfires in California, the West, and other areas of the country. We act like we're reinventing the wheel each time when we need to go out and do the basic salvage work.
You have a narrow window of time that you can get value out of it before the trees there that have value can be salvaged and turned into something useful. You could have participatory people in the industry helping bring that value up. If you lose that window of time, then you have higher costs maybe as areas don't get recovered because nobody can make a living out of this.
So this is a commonsense measure. It's really a no-brainer. It ought to be used to move forward for this 2013 season but to also establish a template long term so that we can have a sensible forest management policy and get in and do these strike teams. Let's get a template so we don't have to reinvent the wheel each time there's a fire, but instead move quickly, get the industry to do it, and have our forests start their restoration and recovery project as soon as possible with that value.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, in closing, I can't put it any plainer than this: without this amendment, 1 billion board feet of timber owned by the people of the United States will be lost forever. We do not have time for endless years of litigation.
Within a year, this timber which can now be salvaged for productive use and can provide jobs for the people of our region and provide a stream of revenues for our ailing U.S. Treasury will be rendered utterly worthless. This is precisely the same approach that was used when Democrat Tom Daschle faced the same problem in his district over beetle-killed timber. We are applying exactly the same policy to salvage this timber.
I would hope that the gentleman from Oregon, in the spirit of bipartisanship, will recognize that the same remedy used in a Democratic region ought now to be used for this district in California.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.