H.R. 858 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a pilot project
within the Plumas, Tahoe, and Lassen National Forests in California to
implement the Quincy Library Group (QLG) Community Stability Proposal. The QLG
proposal would address various aspects of forest management, including timber
salvage sales, fire hazard reduction, watershed and riparian area restoration
and monitoring, and forest planning.
The Administration supports the goals of H.R. 858 and is currently implementing
the Quincy Library Group Proposal using existing statutory authority,
consistent with environmental laws and available funding. Therefore, the
Administration believes the pilot project required by H.R. 858 could be
The substitute amendment to H.R. 858, as allowed under the rule, attempts to
address several funding and environmental concerns previously expressed by the
Administration. Based on an initial review of the draft substitute amendment,
the Administration continues to have concerns that need to be addressed before
it can support the amendment.
Subsection (m) of the substitute amendment specifically states that nothing in
this section exempts the pilot project from any Federal environmental laws.
Certain provisions in the amendment, however, are inconsistent with
environmental law compliance or current environmental procedures. These
provisions and others, as described below, could result in delays and confusion
in implementing the pilot project and result in unnecessary litigation. The
Administration will work with the Congress to resolve these issues as
- Subsection (d) of the substitute amendment should be amended to state that
the pilot project will be carried out to the extent consistent with all Federal
- Subsection (c)(2) would freeze the Scientific Analysis Team guidelines for
riparian system protection to those in effect on the date of enactment for the
term of the pilot project. New information could necessitate revisions to
these guidelines that would need to be applied to remain in compliance with
environmental laws. Accordingly, subsection (c)(2) should be deleted.
- Subsection (f) would restrict the Secretary's ability to consider and
mitigate the cumulative environmental effects of the pilot project activities
in the affected forests. Subsection (f) should be deleted.
- Subsection (i) does not comply with current National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) procedures and should be amended to do so. For the purposes of
environmental analyses, the subsection would group together all resource
management projects over the whole pilot project area into a single
environmental analysis rather than separating projects into individual,
site-specific analyses. Such broad environmental analyses make it difficult
for the agency to disclose site-specific impacts and alternatives for specific
projects and increases the likelihood of litigation.
- Subsection (h) requires that the pilot project end on the later of: (1)
the completion of the revised forest plans, or (2) five years after the date of
commencement of the pilot project. This section should be amended to state
that the project would end on the earlier of these two dates. Without this
change, subsection (h) requires the Secretary to continue the pilot project
even after the plan amendment process has been completed, which would be
inconsistent with the normal operation of environmental laws.