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Washington outlook.

Over the past few months, Congress has again engaged in the debate aver wildfire threats an our federal forests and the need to protect communities and forest ecosystems Forest ecosystem

The entire assemblage of organisms (trees, shrubs, herbs, bacteria, fungi, and animals, including people) together with their environmental substrate (the surrounding air, soil, water, organic debris, and rocks), interacting inside a defined
 from destructive wildfires. The debate has been framed by President Bush's "Healthy Forests Initiative The Healthy Forests Initiative (or HFI), officially the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, is a law originally proposed by President George W. Bush in response to the widespread forest fires during the summer of 2002. " (HFI HFI Human Factors International
HFI Healthy Forests Initiative
HFI Hepatitis Foundation International
HFI Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
HFI High-Frequency Induction
HFI Hollywood Film Institute (since 1990; in Santa Monica, California) 
) and complicated by participants' need to consider a variety of proposals for new legislative authorities and administrative rule changes, as well as annual funding. AMERICAN FORESTS American Forests is a nonprofit conservation organization that promotes healthy forests and urban tree planting.

The organization was established in 1875 as the American Forestry Association, by physician/horticulturist John Aston Warder and a group of like-minded citizens
 and our community-based forestry partners have attempted to maintain an active presence in this debate, but it hasn't been easy.

As I mentioned in the Spring issue (Washington, Outlook, P. 21), the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress in February included a rider authorizing expanded use of stewardship contracting authorities for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Those authorities, a key component of the President's HFI, would allow multi-year contracts and the exchange of goods, such as small-diameter timber, for land services under the same contract. AMERICAN FORESTS and a number of its partners urged the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to convene a meeting of diverse interest groups and individuals experienced in stewardship-contracting projects before developing guidelines for new expanded authorities.

The goal of the meeting, which the Secretaries held in April through the Pinchot Institute for Conservation with assistance from AMERICAN FORESTS, was to build trust and share knowledge gained through and from 84 existing pilot projects. The report from this "National Outreach Forum" captured many perspectives on stewardship contracting and offered suggestions on implementing the new authorities. The agencies' proposed interim guidelines are being released as we go to press, and we plan to comment on them by the July 28 deadline.

In the last issue, I also mentioned several administrative rule changes proposed by the Administration. These changes would make it easier for the Forest Service to implement certain types of projects, such as hazardous fuels reduction and small-timber sales, by requiring less environmental analysis and limiting administrative appeals. AMERICAN FORESTS supports some of these concepts, but we're concerned about the increased discretion allotted al·lot  
tr.v. al·lot·ted, al·lot·ting, al·lots
1. To parcel out; distribute or apportion: allotting land to homesteaders; allot blame.

 to agency officials and the limited guidance given for increased collaboration with local stakeholders Stakeholders

All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government.
 and for multiparty mul·ti·par·ty  
Of, relating to, or involving more than two political parties.
 monitoring, an effort to ensure learning. Several of these proposed rule changes have recently become final, and they can have important effects on how the Forest Service will actually implement projects. We see increased collaboration and multiparty monitoring as mechanisms to participate with the Forest Service and track what is being accomplished.

The most significant debate in Congress of late has been over legislative proposals. The House quickly passed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (H.R. 1904) in May, with little opportunity for debate. Introduced by Reps. Scott Mclnnis (RCO RCO Remote Communications Outlet
RCO Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
RCO Recycling Council of Ontario (Canada)
RCO Royal College of Organists (UK)
RCO Rear Commodore
RCO Regenerative Catalytic Oxidizer
) and Greg Walden Gregory "Greg" Walden (born January 10, 1957, in The Dalles, Oregon) is a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Oregon and represents its Second District, which covers more than two-thirds of the state (generally, east of the Cascades.  (R-OR), the bill gained some bipartisan support but was strongly opposed by western Democratic leaders. Reps. George Miller George Miller may refer to:
  • George Miller (comedian) (c. 1942–2003), comic
  • George Miller (footballer), Liberian professional football player
  • George Miller (Latter Day Saints), nineteenth century leader in the Latter Day Saint movement, third ordained bishop of
 (D-CA) and Peter DeFazio Peter Anthony DeFazio (born May 27, 1947) is an American politician. He serves as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Oregon, representing the 4th Congressional District and is currently serving his 11th term.  (D-OR) offered an alternative, the Federal Lands Hazardous Fuels Reduction Act" (HR 1621), which was defeated.

The Senate began action on H.R. 1904 with a recent hearing in the Agriculture Committee, It's unclear how the Committee will proceed with developing a bill, but Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID), who chaired the hearing, suggested it wants to move the legislation quickly. In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile
, two Democrat-sponsored bills have been introduced as alternatives. Sens. Jeff Bingaman Jesse Francis "Jeff" Bingaman Jr. (born October 3, 1943) is the junior U.S. Senator from New Mexico. He has been in the Senate since 1983 and is a member of the Democratic Party. Bingaman was Attorney General of New Mexico from 1978 until his election to the U.S.  (D-NM) and Tom Daschle (D-ND) have introduced the Collaborative Forest Health Act (S.13 14) and Sens. Ron Wyden Ronald Lee Wyden (born May 3, 1949) is Oregon's senior United States Senator. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Early career and personal life
Wyden was born in Wichita, Kansas to Edith Rosenow and Peter H.
 (D-OR) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) have introduced S1352 to expedite hazardous fuels reduction projects on national forests.

AMERICAN FORESTS based its comments on HR 1904 largely on a framework for addressing hazardous fuels reduction that we prepared this spring with our communitybased forestry partners (see We focused on those sections dealing with collaboration and monitoring for hazardous fuels reduction. As it stands, the bill says simply that these activities should be done in a manner consistent with the comprehensive strategy's 10-year implementation plan developed by the Western Governors Association (see editorial, p. 5).

We suggested additional language to help clarify the intent of collaboration and emphasize the importance of inclusiveness at the local level. We also suggested the bill include a call for multi-party monitoring to help build trust and ensure learning among the diverse parties interested in these projects. We sought to avoid language that would mandate how the agencies would carry out the collaboration and monitoring but tried to provide sufficient guidance to strengthen these key provisions and encourage consistency.

We also urged Congress to identify funding sources for these activities, which have often gone unfinished from a lack of funding, and to include regional training teams of agency contracting officers, local contractors, and community representatives with experience in collaboration and multiparty monitoring.

These provisions would help with the significant challenges of building capacity both within the agencies and the local communities while implementing needed hazardous fuels-reduction projects.
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Title Annotation:debate on President Bush's "Healthy Forests Initiative"
Author:Gray, Gerry
Publication:American Forests
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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