Page 1       TOP OF DOC
56–358 CC







FEBRUARY 24, 1999

Serial No. 106–11

Printed for the use of the Committee on Agriculture
 Page 2       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


LARRY COMBEST, Texas, Chairman
    Vice Chairman
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
NICK SMITH, Michigan
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
KEN CALVERT, California
 Page 3       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
BOB RILEY, Alabama
DOUG OSE, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina

    Ranking Minority Member
GEORGE E. BROWN, Jr., California
GARY A. CONDIT, California
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina
DAVID MINGE, Minnesota
EARL POMEROY, North Dakota
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
VIRGIL H. GOODE, Jr., Virginia
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
 Page 4       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
KEN LUCAS, Kentucky
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
Professional Staff

WILLIAM E. O'CONNER, JR., Staff Director
STEPHEN HATERIUS, Minority Staff Director
KEITH WILLIAMS, Communications Director

Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry

BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia, Chairman
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois,
    Vice Chairman
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
 Page 5       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina,
    Ranking Minority Member
VIRGIL H. GOODE, Jr., Virginia
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
GEORGE E. BROWN, Jr. California
DAVID MINGE, Minnesota




    Clayton, Hon. Eva M., a Representative in Congress from the State of North Carolina, opening statement
    Goodlatte, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia, opening statement
 Page 6       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Walden, Hon. Greg, a Representative in Congress from the State of Oregon, opening statement

    Andrew, Susan, ecologist, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition
Prepared statement
    Barnes, Charles C., on behalf of the American Tree Farm System
Prepared statement
    Bartuska, Ann, Director, Forest Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Prepared statement
Answers to submitted questions
    Burley, Charles H., eastern Oregon manager, Northwest Forestry Association
Prepared statement
    Dessecker, Daniel R., senior wildlife biologist, the Ruffed Grouse Society
Prepared statement
    Kline, LeRoy, forest health specialist, Oregon Department of Forestry
Prepared statement
    Nebeker, T. Evan, professor, entomology and plant pathology, Mississippi State University
Prepared statement
    Sampson, Neil, The Sampson Group
Prepared statement
    Struble, Dave, director, insect and disease management, Maine Forest Service, Maine Department of Conservation
 Page 7       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
Prepared statement
    Swanton, Joel, manager, forest policy, Champion International Corp.
Prepared statement
Submitted Material
    Scott, Donald W., entomologist, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, letter of February 11, 1999 in regard to Western pine beetle outbreak

House of Representatives,  
Subcommittee on Department Operations,
Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry,
Committee on Agriculture,
Washington, DC.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:15 a.m., in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Bob Goodlatte (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
    Present: Representatives Pombo, Canady, Cooksey, Walden, Clayton, Phelps, Hill, Thompson, and Minge.
    Staff present: David Tenny, Kevin Kramp, Wanda Worsham, clerk; Callista Bisek, Danelle Farmer.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. This hearing of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry will come to order.
    First, let me say a word of welcome to all of the members of the committee as it is reconstituted. We have some new members and we have some new jurisdiction. I think it is very exciting that we are going to be able to deal with issues related to our National Forests, including this hearing today.
 Page 8       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I hope that we can be very active in addressing concerns that a number of people have regarding our National Forest. They are a treasure for our country. We want to make sure that they are protected and utilized as carefully as possible.
     Mrs. Clayton, do you want to say anything before we have opening statements about this particular hearing?
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I want to welcome all of our panelists. One of the panelists later on will be from North Carolina. I certainly want to welcome her. I look forward to the presentation.
    I would acknowledge this is a new area for this particular subcommittee, forestry, but it is not a new concern for me. I certainly expect to learn more and hopefully to make a contribution in that area.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton.
    I welcome all of you today to this first hearing of the 106th Congress for the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry.
    I wish to acknowledge the ranking member of the subcommittee, Representative Eva Clayton of North Carolina. I also wish to extend a special welcome to our witnesses, some of whom have traveled long distances to be with us this morning.
    The first thing I would like to say at the outset of this hearing is that forestry is alive and well in the Agriculture Committee. I believe there was some speculation upon the departure of Chairman Smith that forestry was dead.
    I assure you it is alive and kicking in this subcommittee. I am certain the Forest Service, an agency that simply does not get its fill of Congressional attention, is pleased to hear that.
 Page 9       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Before I explain the purpose of this hearing, I would like to say just a few words about the subcommittee's priorities with respect to forestry during the 106th Congress.
    Our first and highest priority is to restore and sustain the long-term health and productivity of our forests. We are currently faced with a massive restoration backlog in our forests.
    According to Chief Dombeck, 40 million acres of National Forest are at an unacceptable risk of catastrophic wildfire. As we will learn today, 58 million acres of forest across all ownerships are at high risk of insect and disease infestation.
    The Forest Service claims that there is an $8.5 billion backlog in road maintenance and repair. These numbers are staggering and the need to do something about them urgent.
    Our second priority is to restore accountability to the Forest Service, both for how it spends scarce taxpayer dollars and for what it accomplishes on the ground.
    In January of this year, the General Accounting Office issued a report identifying the Forest Service as an agency at ''high risk'' because of its vulnerability to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
    According to the GAO, the Forest Service may be a decade away from being fully accountable for its performance. This is completely unacceptable and must change.
    Finally, we have an obligation to carefully examine the role of the Forest Service with regard to private forest land management. Given the agency's performance with its own land and resources, Congress would be irresponsible to expand the Forest Service's jurisdiction with respect to private lands.
    Rather, Congress and this subcommittee should act to ensure that the agency is a good neighbor to private forest land owners and that state and private forestry programs are strengthened and improved.
 Page 10       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Today's hearing encompasses each of these priorities.
    Last May, with the urging of the House Agriculture Committee, the Forest Service began an effort to identify nationally those forest lands at greatest risk of severe resource degradation.
    That was, as you will recall, the basic premise of Chairman Smith's forest health bill. Today, 9 months later, the Forest Service will present to the subcommittee the first in a series of ''risk maps'' identifying forest lands at greatest risk of mortality from insects and disease.
    Our purpose agenda today is to review these maps and determine if and to what extent the Forest Service will use them to address the forest restoration backlog.
    Members of the subcommittee will see two maps in their folders. The first map identifies 58 million acres of forest land nationally, both public and private, that is at high risk of mortality from insects and disease.
    I note that the Forest Service inadvertently omitted this important map from its testimony, so I have instructed staff to give them a copy so that they may use it in their presentation. We hope, by the way, to get the fuller map here. Maybe that is it.
    The second map breaks the country down to watersheds and identifies mortality risk in each unit. I also understand that the Forest Service will present a third map to the subcommittee this morning, a work in progress that is not yet ready for our full scrutiny, identifying the location of wildfire risk on Forest Service lands.
    As you can see, the risk of insect and disease infestation is not confined to any one area of the country. It is not simply a western problem. It is a national problem that touches every forested landscape of the country.
    I commend the Forest Service for developing the maps we will review today. I am encouraged by what appears to be a serious effort to begin managing risk and addressing our forest restoration backlog. This is the direction we should be heading and it is a good start.
 Page 11       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Despite my initial optimism, however, there remain some serious questions about this risk mapping initiative. First and foremost, it is unclear whether the initiative is a priority of Chief Dombeck.
    I did not hear any mention of it in his recent State of the Forest address. I also do not see anything about it in the agency's fiscal year 2000 budget. Before we can take this initiative seriously, we need to see some demonstrated commitment by the Chief. Perhaps he will have something to say about this when he appears before this subcommittee in early March.
    Second, assuming that the Chief does support this initiative, it is unclear just how the Forest Service will move from strategic national mapping to on-the-ground project implementation.
    The agency needs to produce a clear and concise road map identifying how this initiative will ultimately affect the forest restoration backlog. Currently it has none.
    Such a road map should identify clear management priorities and objectives, empower local managers to do what is necessary to achieve those objectives, and require strict accountability for results.
    It should also identify specific implementation timeframes, cost projections and other benchmarks to ensure that implementation is timely and economical.
    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, even if the initiative is completed on paper, there remains the question whether the Forest Service will actually implement it on the ground.
    There is much talk within the agency these days about identifying outcomes, developing agendas, and convening committees, all ostensibly for the purpose of addressing certain aspects of the forest restoration backlog.
    In my opinion, this is all happy talk. We need to move beyond talking and start doing. We do not need more elaborate planning or buzzwords or rhetoric.
 Page 12       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    What we need is a basic commitment to confront the backlog and accomplish something on the ground. I am not yet satisfied that the agency has that commitment.
    In closing, I want to reemphasize that our first and highest priority must be to restore and sustain the long-term health and productivity of our forests. If we continue to allow the restoration backlog to grow, the health of the land will continue to decline.
    We cannot afford to let this happen. We cannot afford to lose tens of millions of acres of forest to insects, disease, fire, or any other forms of resource degradation. I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to address the issues we will discuss today.
    Let me be clear that I want the agency to succeed with its risk mapping effort. However, if I am not satisfied with the agency's commitment to the cause, then I am prepared to use whatever means available, legislative or otherwise, to get something done.
    Time is of the essence. We need to stop talking and start acting. In the end, it will be our actions not our words that will restore and sustain our forests as the healthy, productive resources we all want them to be.
    At this time, it is my pleasure to recognize the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, the Honorable Eva Clayton from North Carolina, with whom I have the good fortune of working again during the 106th Congress.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. You do have that good pleasure; do you not?
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Indeed.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I want to, Mr. Chairman, thank you for that very thoughtful statement.
    Let me just say, I concur with what our chairman said was our purpose in looking at the forestry in terms of those goals. There are some areas that we probably need to develop to come to that same conclusion.
 Page 13       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Parenthetically, before I hear the testimony, I want to just say I think I forestry is interdependent. It is also interdependent in terms of agencies. I am sure that the forest agency here knows that there are other agencies within Congress or other committees have brought you before their committees.
    In fact, I attended a couple of them to hear that. So, to have agriculture to say that they are the only one, I do not want my chairman's remarks to superimpose that there are not other Congressional committees looking at this and should be looking at this.
    So, we need to find indeed how we protect the healthy forests and do it in a collaborative way with all of the entities and all of the agencies involved. I concur also. We need to as a Federal agency in the National Park, anything we do as a Federal agency, we need to make sure we are good neighbors with our private providers and those tree farmers.
    I noted there will be a tree farmer who will be making a presentation. So, what we do as a Nation or as the Federal Government has tremendous implication for not only the industry that depends on their livelihood, but the interdependent of the ecological systems that are there.
    Not only are the forests good for the woods, the forests are good for the birds. Forests are good for all of God's creatures who are in there. So, as we look for a healthy forest, we want to make sure not only do we sustain the wood that grow in there, we also want to sustain the other animals and the plant life that is there.
    Now, there are more ways of protecting the health of the forest other than the risk management mapping. As we look at this, I am not sure it would be correct to assume. I am not judging what you will say, but I did have the opportunity to review your testimony.
    I am not confident that we have not, in fact I am troubled that we may have put more of a premium on this mapping for curing all of the ills than we need to. There have been a number of strategies out there for a number of years.
 Page 14       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I think this should be seen as an additional tool, not as the only tool. So, as we look at this, I want to implement it in its fullness. We should not apply to it all of the disease and insect problems that we have had.
    We need to find this as a supplemental to the variety of methods that have been proven scientifically that the industry and the science community have. Further, I think there is an opportunity to indeed to apply a local and a regional test to this national mapping.
    Again, a national map is a valuable tool. Again, I hope we are not thinking of one cure would be for all. There are implications in North Carolina which may not be in Washington.
    With all due deference to those who live in Washington, the forests are all not the same. So, I am a little concerned that we do not have this one cookie cutter, this one mapping.
    Our watershed is a regional map. It allows for some very interrelationship. But it does not allow for the peculiarities that may be in different areas. So, those are the concerns I want to just state early on.
    I also want to welcome the new tool. I look forward to strengthen it. We should do everything as the Government to invite critique of this method and how we can enhance it and make sure we have regional and local application.
    Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the exploration for further understanding.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton.
    I am pleased that the subcommittee has a new member, Congressman Greg Walden from Oregon, who fills some literally and figuratively big shoes succeeding Congressman Bob Smith, who we all miss on this subcommittee.
    I understand you have an opening statement.
 Page 15       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I appreciate your comments about my predecessor. As you read your remarks, I noticed that on his portrait his smile widened. I just want to thank you. It did. It is still smiling.
    Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing on Forest Health. It is a matter, of course, that is very important to the people of the Second Congressional District of Oregon.
    Unfortunately, many citizens in my district understand all too well that the forest health crisis that is afflicting the west, they live with it every day, every summer, as their homes are threatened by fires and a highly combustible National Forest.
    When forest fires spread, they know no boundaries; crossing property lines, roads, rivers as they destroy wildlife, resources, homes, and indeed lives. Driving down Oregon's highways, you can see the forest health problem as you pass stands of dead and dying trees killed by insects that have sought out trees weakened due to over-stocking.
    If you put multiple plants in a small flower pot, they become weak and die as they are crowded out. If you put 10 trees in the space of one, they become weak and susceptible to fire and insects. That is over-stocking in its simplest form.
    Let me tell you about the Summit fire in Grant County. In 1996, a devastating fire swept over 28,000 acres in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. The area was over-stocked with trees creating a tremendous fuel load.
    The combination of high fire danger conditions and dangerous fuel levels resulted in a devastating fire that burned enough timber to build 10,000 houses.
    A further tragedy is that following this devastating fire, managers were unable to remove these dead, but useable trees, in a timely manner, letting a viable product become virtually worthless.
 Page 16       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Now these trees are being attacked by bark beetles, threatening trees in adjoining private forests; all of this in a County that has experienced 12.9 percent unemployment this year alone, and in some months it has hit close to 20 percent unemployment.
    In essence, we are not able to go in, in a timely manner and harvest dead trees, bring them to the mills, and have them processed returning revenue to the Federal Government and to the State, and local governments, and creating jobs.
    Having walked through the blackened Summit fire in Grant County, I can tell you first-hand the forest problems you will hear about today are not being over-stated.
    Today's forest health crisis is not something that has materialized out of nowhere. We have known that fuel loads in our National Forest have been building to critical levels.
    Past forest practices have allowed our forests to become dangerously overstocked to the point where we can either manage them through thinning, which enables us to remove a useable forest product, or we can allow them to be burned up in fires like the Summit, Tower, Aubrey Butte, Old Complex, and so on.
    Healthy Garden is one that has been actively pruned, and clipped, and managed with the greatest of care. We must also manage our National Forest in that way. By thinning stands of timber and removing dead trees, we can prevent forest fires and bug infestation, while providing a product that can be utilized in our local mills.
    We must give our Forest Rangers the tools to manage our National Forest properly. The very survival of our National Forest depends upon careful and reasonable management. I would like to say this too.
    In my part of the world, we are surrounded, literally many of our communities, by lands controlled by the Federal Government. In effect, they are our landlord. We are their tenant.
 Page 17       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Our people are hurting economically. Our forests are not healthy. We feel without power to change. That has to change. We can do better with this resource for all involved. We can have healthy forests. We can have a strong economy. We have got to deal with the forest health problem that is before us.
    I believe you will see from the maps that we are about to review that these are areas of forests that are at serious risk. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to invite this subcommittee to hold a forest health field hearing out in Oregon, Second Congressional District, so we can all take a first-hand look at what we see every day in our backyards.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Walden.
    I think that is an excellent suggestion. The subcommittee will definitely work with you on the possibility of conducting field hearings out there. We will see what can be done along those lines.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you.
    Does anybody else have an opening statement that they are interested in making?
    [No response.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. If not, let me welcome two other new members of the Congress and new members of the subcommittee; Congressman David Phelps from Illinois and Congressman Mike Thompson from California.
    We are glad to have both of you with the subcommittee as well.
    At this time, we will call our first panel. I am pleased to introduce Ms. Ann Bartuska, the Director of Forest Management for the U.S. Forest Service.
 Page 18       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    She is accompanied by Mr. Denny Truesdale, who is the Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation Management at the U.S. Forest Service. Ms. Bartuska, we welcome you. You may begin your testimony when ready.
    Your full statement will be made a part of the record. Thank you for joining us.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Thank you and good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. It is a pleasure to be here talking to you today about our forest health risk mapping effort.
    My name is Ann Bartuska. I am the Director of Forest Management. I would like to point out that I only came into that job in January. Prior to that for 4 years, I was Director of Forest Health Protection in State and private Forestry.
    So, I certainly recognize the importance of forest health issues for all lands of the United States, not just the public lands. I am accompanied by Mr. Denny Truesdale, who is Assistant Director for Fire Operations and will provide a lot of help on the fire issues.
    Today, there are four items that I would like to discuss with you. This will be in summary. As you say, my written testimony will be added as a part of the record.
    The four things we would like to cover is first to introduce the complexities of the forest ecosystem health issue. In particular, with emphasis on the insect disease, fire risk, and the wildland and urban interface issue.
    There are many other components of forest health that we have concerns about, but those are the three, I think, are the subject of today's hearing. Second, I would like to talk about the development of the risk mapping process and how we have gone through that.
 Page 19       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We will talk about the outcome of that, which are the maps. There is an example already on display. I believe you have copies of the others. Finally, what we hope to do with it as a first step in our using these particular maps.
    As you know, there are 737 million acres of forest lands in the United States. The Forest Service has management responsibility for 192 million acres of which 140 million acres are forest lands.
    Our programs do cover all of those forest lands either directly or through technical assistance with our cooperative program. So, it is an issue for us. In those lands, there are four areas of forest ecosystem health concerns I would like to mention. [Map shown]
    The first is that we have very large numbers of exotic species that are affecting the health of the forests. Probably the most notable one in this part of the world is the gypsy moth, which was introduced almost a century ago now, and which causes massive defoliation and in some cases the mortality of hardwoods.
    So, it is a very prominent feature of this landscape. We also have native insects and disease or native insects and pathogens that do make up the normal functioning of ecosystems in many parts of the country. In some cases, they reach epidemic proportions. [Map shown]
    Probably the best known of that is the southern pine beetle. We have had historic levels of southern pine beetle outbreak that we have responsibility for evaluating.
    In particular we are concerned because as abandoned cotton field lands have been converted to pine stands, the increased possibility of southern pine beetle continues. So, that is an area of concern. [Map shown]
    The third area is fire suppression; the fire suppression that has been in place for many decades resulting in a change in the structure of the forests of the United States.
    It was mentioned earlier overstocked stands; a large number of very densely stocked stands that have changed the features of those systems. That resulted in areas that are at high risk to fire because of both live and dead fuels.
 Page 20       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Then last in the wildland urban setting; because of the quality of our forests, we have had many people, both in rural and urban settings moving into forests and adjacent to forests.
    These are the same forests that are at risk of fire, at risk of insect and disease epidemic. So, you have a real social challenge, as well as a forest ecosystem challenge. That was really the basis for looking at the whole risk mapping process.
    We have so many lands that require attention. We know that this is a priority for our Chief. If you follow the Natural Resources Agenda where watershed health and restoration and protection are really key components of that agenda, as well as sustainable forests and grasslands.
    We have been pursuing an aggressive program of forest health in the fire arena, as well as maintaining forest thinning and insect and disease suppression activities as a part of our base program. So, it is a priority. [Map shown]
    The question is how do we make decisions on where we should be putting some of our emphasis? For example, the Gypsy Moth Slow-the-Spread Program, which was piloted in 1993 was specifically to get at that issue.
    We have a large population of gypsy moth that was on the move. How do we focus our attention to more aggressively get at the advancing edge? So, the Slow-the-Spread Program, which is now in our current budget and full funding is to accomplish that particular task.
    So, we have used this information to really focus on programs. That really lead to the development of the risk mapping effort. It is trying to come up with that particular model so that we could assess the areas of risk using the best science that we have available for insects and diseases and for fire risk, and to begin to focus our program. [Map shown]
 Page 21       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    If we go to the other insect and disease map, what we have tried to do is put the occurrence on the watershed scale where the watershed is approximately 800,000 acres in size in order to be able to look at, from a watershed basis, where the areas of greatest risk are.
    From this map, you can see that the three areas of greatest concern are gypsy moth in the Northeast, the southern pine beetle in the Southeast, and the mountain pine beetle and root disease in the Interior West and the West. Those form the three real major areas of concern. [Map shown]
    The other major map is the Wildland Urban Map that looks at two aspects of fire risk. This illustrates the level of effort necessary to return wildland ecosystems to easily maintain fuel levels in wildlands and to focus on the wildland urban interface areas.
    The complete data set we have available is only for the National Forest systems lands. We are working to get new information on the state and private lands. Right now, all we can show is the wildland urban areas that are vulnerable to impact.
    These initial risk maps really do provide us the initial basis for strategic examination of where we have areas of concern and of course the next step then is what do we do with it?
    That is really the intent of carrying on some of our dialog with some of our partners. We have developed the initial maps in cooperation with the State Foresters and our colleagues in Forest Health Protection.
    We have had limited discussions with other Federal agencies, as well as other State groups, as well as the academic community. That is a part of the continuing validation of these maps.
    The Insect Disease Map has gone through four iterations. The Wildland Urban Map is in only its first step. We have many more to go. So, we are hoping that this process will continue and that we have a lot more dialog on exactly how this map can be used.
 Page 22       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The red light is not on, but I am assuming I should be summarizing. Really what I would like to say is that we are, as a part of the Government Performance Results Act, the whole approach to outcome measures, we see these maps being able to be used to focus our attention to really get at where we can have the greatest impact on changing the landscape to correct some of the forest health problems we have out there in a realistic manner.
    We know we cannot treat all of the acres that exist. We do not have the resources to do it. In some cases, we are not really sure we should. We should let nature take its course where you have large infestations.
    There are clearly areas where we can have some impact, make some changes, and that is the outcome we are looking for. We have made the risk maps a part of some of the budget deliberations for the 2000 budget.
    We would like to continue to use it in setting priorities for 2001 and 2002. So, it really is becoming a part of our budget setting process.
    I am going to conclude with that and can carry on some additional discussions in more detail on where the maps are being used. The most concrete one, which is in the testimony, is in the Idaho Panhandle where it is trying to deal with the recent Douglas-fir beetle outbreak.
    Over 400,000 acres have been infested. We have been able to use the priority setting process to focus down to a set of projects on 25,000 acres; a realistic, manageable area where we can get the biggest return on the investment that we are going to be spending on those lands.
    So, I would like to conclude with that and just reiterate that this is a preliminary process. It helps us identify high risk areas in certain regions of the country. It is an ongoing process.
    We look forward to continued discussions on this. Thank you. This concludes my statement. I will certainly be happy to answer any questions that you and the members of the subcommittee have.
 Page 23       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    [The prepared statement of Ms. Bartuska appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Ms. Bartuska.
    Would somebody put back up the original map of the forest lands most at risk to insects and disease; the 58 million acres? [Map shown]
    Very good. Thank you.
    Let me just say, I find it to be very startling; particularly if you look at the part of the world that I am from, Virginia, West Virginia, and, to a good extent, North Carolina are heavily impacted by insect and disease infestation.
    I guess my question is does the data surprise you? Were you surprised when you put this map together?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Well, the map that you are looking at, and let me just briefly explain that for everyone with us what this conveys.
    This conveys where we would expect 25 percent or more in mortality over the next 15 years in that type. So, it is not current condition. It is projected. In fact, the area that comes up red that goes from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and up into Michigan is not a surprise.
    That is exactly the area where we made investments in the Slow-the-Spread Gypsy Moth Program. The primary agent for that part of the country is gypsy moth. We identified that in 1993 with our Pilot Program.
    It is now the reason we have a fully-funded program going into the 2000 budget.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Are you saying the agency has known for some time that the risk of insect and disease infestation has been this severe?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. We knew that, that was where the gypsy moth was on its way. Because the northeastern and farther northeastern part is the generally infested area of gypsy moth. That is where it has been for a long time.
 Page 24       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We knew the gypsy moth could be moving further south and southwest, as well as west into Michigan and Wisconsin, and have a very active program, Federal and State, because we are in full partnership on this to address the gypsy moth problem.
    Again, this is predicted. So, this is where we are predicting the area of mortality will be. Because it is predicted, that is why we have invested our budget to be able to address it. The basis of slow-to-spread is to slow to spread.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. If this a 25 percent mortality over 15 years, what is the normal rate of mortality for a healthy forest?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. A rule of thumb is we would go, non- epidemic levels would be about 5 percent.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. So, this is 3 times the rate of—5 percent over 15 years?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. It could be. I mean, again, it is predicted based on our best judgment and the levels of gypsy moth currently in place.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Has the risk of insect and disease infestation increased or decreased over the last 20 years?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Nationwide?
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Nationwide.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I would say nationwide it has increased due to a combination of factors. Introduction of exotic species continues. For those of you familiar with the Chicago incident and the New York City incident of the Asian longhorn beetle, that is a very good example of why.
    Because of exotics, things continue to happen, as well as in some stands where we have the overstocked condition, where we have drought, insect and disease epidemics typically follow.
 Page 25       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    This is especially true for pine beetles in the West; for example, the mountain pine beetle, and in the South with the southern pine beetle.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Prior to this mapping effort, how has the Forest Service identified areas of risk? How have you prioritized those? How have you set your priorities with respect to those risks?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I will speak primarily to the insect and disease issue. In terms of us being able to set priorities and identify risk, we have a very good program at the State and Federal level of cooperation for our Forest Health Protection Specialists all around the country.
    In most parts of the country, they either do aerial surveys or they do ground surveys every year, all of the time, identifying where insect and disease problems are. Their expertise allows us to very rapidly, either at the State or Federal level, identify an area of concern.
    Then identify that part of our budget that we need to get on top of that. In fact, we stay pretty good on top of the highest priority areas until you get to epidemic conditions. [Map shown]
    In terms of base level, year-in and year-out, the expertise on the ground really helps us pinpoint where the problems are. The reason we have this map is because I was having greater difficulty in my own program in the Forest Health Protection to prioritize.
    We had an increase. We were basically with our funding level versus the need out there, we were getting a greater difference between available budget and more opportunity to spend it.
    The risk mapping effort was a way to help us prioritize where we would really get the biggest return on that investment. That is the areas that you are seeing displayed.
 Page 26       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Ms. Bartuska, how important is the risk mapping effort to Chief Dombeck?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. The importance of the watershed health and restoration part of our Natural Resource Agenda is paramount and fundamental. The Chief has said time and again that, that is one of our primary goals as an agency.
    In translating that goal to forest health protection programs, fire programs, and forest management programs the risk map becomes a really important tool for us programmatically.
    So, I would say it is important for the agency to have this as one of the many tools, as was pointed out earlier, to use for that purpose.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Can you identify for me anyplace where he has discussed the risk mapping effort in any of his recent public statements?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I do not believe that he has identified the risk mapping effort specifically. He has identified the importance of addressing the forest health issue through our programs. As a manager, my job is get the tools on the ground to be able to do that.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Calling attention to the data that you have put together here, which is very impressive in terms of the work that you have put into it, and very disconcerting in terms of the widespread problems with forest health.
    It would seem to me that he would be taking great pains to publicize this information and call it to the attention of the public in general and to those who are particularly concerned about the health of our forests. Yet, he does not seem to discuss it in his Natural Resources Agenda. [Map shown]
    Ms. BARTUSKA. This map, this fourth version of the insect and disease map really was only produced over the winter. As you know, as we have mentioned in the testimony, the Wildland Urban and Fire Risk Map is still in its first phase.
 Page 27       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    So, I think it was premature to have it announced back when we had the Natural Resources Agenda displayed. It is going to be a part of our management team meetings coming up here in the next couple of months.
    We have been briefing all of the staff in the Washington Office, all of the deputy areas, and it will be brought to the Chief's attention for his consideration also. We did not want to bring something forward that has not had sufficient validation.
    I think we finally feel insect and disease is closer to where we should be. It is not final. It is much further along. The other risk areas have got to be further validated.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How high a priority is it for the Chief compared to other initiatives like the effort to acquire more land for our National Forest or the Chief's Roadless Policy?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Sir, I cannot really speak for the Chief on that one. My primary responsibility is to make sure that we have the tools to address the forest health problem. I will convey that question to him.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Great. Well, we will hope to be able to address it to him in person soon.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Thank you.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you.
     Mrs. Clayton.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I have several questions.
    I think you have spoken to the process that is underway and the need for validation. Is there a time or a procedure that would give an indication as to how long all of these maps will take?
    Is the Insect and Disease Map now complete to be used for regional and local applications? If so, where are you using them other than, I think you cited one area. What area did you cite?
 Page 28       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I think I mentioned the Slow-the-Spread Gypsy Moth Program, which would be where the red shows up for Virginia.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I am going to ask you how that is being done.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. In your testimony, you said the use and application is mainly in the broad planning area and that you have used it and that it can also be tiered from the local planning efforts.
    Using your example of the gypsy moth, what has happened in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia based on the utilization of these maps?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I would like to just backup and make one comment. That is what we do not want to do is use any of the risk maps in isolation from the others. Really, the whole process was designed to look at them in an interrelated manner.
    So, insect and disease, fire, wildland urban all to help integrate on-the-ground, nationally, where the areas of greatest concern are.
    Now, having said that, we can use the insect and disease layer from highlighting certain areas of concern at the national level and then work with our regions and the states to better validate what is the true extent of the problem at a more local level?
    That is the intent. That is exactly what we are trying to do. Again, getting back to the Idaho Panhandle example, where we had the identification of a very broad area of concern because of the beetle epidemic. The analysis was done. That focused where the areas of greatest risk were. We looked at the areas of wildland urban interface and were able to identify a much smaller number of projects.
    For the gypsy moth program, in a way it is a very similar process where we identified where we would expect the advancing edge of gypsy moth would be based on where the oaks primarily were.
 Page 29       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That is the host type for gypsy moth. We knew that if we were very proactive about the gypsy moth through monitoring, aggressive prevention, and eradication we could slow-the-spread and actually reduce our investment 3 to 1.
    So, the process is again working with the States and the Federal agencies to aggressively go after the gypsy moth in and at advancing edge.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Are you stating what you will do or what you are currently doing now?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That is what is in the plans currently. The pilot program was only in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. The full program goes all the way through to Michigan and Wisconsin. So, that will now be a part of the Gypsy Moth Prevention and Suppression Program.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. How long has the Pilot Program been underway?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. The Pilot Program began in 1993. It was completed in 1998. We went through a transition in 1999 which is where we are right now.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. So, actually the Pilot Program started prior to you completing the map; right?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That is correct.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. OK.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. In fact, the map sort of validates where our experts already had been targeting areas.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I am trying to get really a handle on what new things, as the result of a map, you feel you want to identify to us? You have used this tool over what you have done already.
    In gypsy moth, apparently you had a number of things underway. So, you are mapping perhaps, as you say, confirm what you saw as a trend because you used these other methods.
 Page 30       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Right.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I am assuming these maps are very good. I am not asking these questions to perhaps put less value on them. I am just trying to intensify my knowledge.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I understand.
    It is a work in progress. The idea is to use the maps in their entirety as a course filter at the national level to say where are areas of greatest concern? To get that information then to the regions and the States and let them then do further analysis.
    So, that they would then look at, for example the Southeast is a very good example. We have identified these broad areas of concern. Through letting the regions and the States then further validate and further focus down where are the areas that really make sense.
    Is this true what we are seeing at a national scale? Then what kinds of projects would be needed to address that? That is that process of working nationally to provide broad direction, working within regions then to provide further evaluation. Then working it down to the ground.
    That is very definitely our plan to utilize this map. Using the Forest Planning Process, of course, is still the tool that the National Forest have to implement this.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. POMBO [presiding]. Ms. Bartuska, in looking at the maps that were provided to the subcommittee, my district at one time had a thriving forest products industry which is, for the most part, gone away.
    In looking at the maps, I see that the districts to my east, which would be Congressmen Doolittle and Herger—Mr. Thompson is north of me, on up into Oregon are the areas that are heavily identified in the West in terms of impact, both in the watershed map, as well as the forest lands that are at most risk.
 Page 31       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I realize that the Forest Service has been doing some work particularly in the Lake Tahoe area in terms of trying to manage and trying to deal with the at risk areas.
    I am concerned, however, that in the budget request we do have $215 million as a part of the request for land acquisition. I was wondering if that $215 million had instead been directed toward the project that we are discussing at this hearing now?
    How much additional acreage would you be able to treat with an additional $200 million in your budget?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I am not sure I could calculate the figures that quickly. That is something that we would need to go back and look at.
    Mr. POMBO. How much per acre are you spending now in terms of being able to treat? What do you budget in Idaho? What do you budget in the Lake Tahoe region?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I think you would have to break it down by what kinds of activities. Probably the one we can most easily get you is what we spend on fuels treatment.
    I will ask my colleague to respond to that.
    Mr. TRUESDALE. I do not have it broken down in the specific areas that you requested. In this fiscal year in California in Forest Service region 5, we have $10.7 million allocated to the region for 49,900 acres of treatment.
    The cost per acre for treatment varies region-to-region. Some areas are significantly less than that. When you complicate it with extensive wildland urban interface, the cost of treatment sometimes goes up.
    That is reflected a lot in the Lake Tahoe area. I do not have those numbers with me.
    Mr. POMBO. If you would not mind, I would appreciate it if you would provide that for the record for the subcommittee.
 Page 32       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
     In looking over the budget request, it appears that the request is for the same amount in the next fiscal year as what was provided last year.
    If that is mistaken, I am open to being corrected on that. Just in looking through the budget request, that is what I understand is currently the request.
    At least in my part of the country, we are having a very difficult time managing the forests and having enough money to do that; particularly on the Federal forests. It does raise eyebrows to see a request to increase the amount of forest lands.
    Is that being taken into account in your estimates for the next year that we are not just going to have what is currently in the Federal inventory, but if that request were granted we would have additional lands that would be brought into the Federal inventory?
    Is that being calculated in your estimates for the work that needs to be done for your priorities for the next fiscal year? I heard in your response to the chairman, you said this was an estimate of the next 15 years.
    Are you calculating in that we are going to have a substantial increase in the amount of Forest Service lands and therefore, we are going to need additional monies?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. In our risk mapping effort, we do not consider a land acquisition level. What we were looking at is nationwide for all forest lands where the areas of concern.
    Certainly from the standpoint of spending or looking at our priorities in terms of forest health protection, or fire or for forest management, we would be needing to look at where those areas are on the ground. From the land acquisition question, I cannot really answer the linkage.
    Mr. POMBO. Would not you have to take into account that there is a request to increase the number of acres that would fall under this program?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. The delivery of the Forest Service program would have to take it into account. Again, remember the risk mapping effort is really to look at the few issues associated with forest ecosystem health.
 Page 33       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    It is a very limited set for this first go around. I certainly think it would be a rich opportunity to look at other factors that we would want to consider in subsequent prioritization. This seemed to be the greatest priority: fire, insect disease, and wildland urban interface.
    Mr. POMBO. Well, that is what I am talking about. Obviously, with these maps that have been put together, any lands that would be acquired would more than likely be within the areas that are identified as high risk or watersheds that are at risk. I happen to represent an area that is downstream from this entire area here that you have got identified as Watersheds At Risk. Everything that washes out of this part of California washes into my district.
    So, this is more than a passing interest. We do have some severe water quality problems. If the Forest Service is having a difficult time finding the money to manage the lands that are currently within your inventory, it is somewhat surprising that we are talking about increasing that inventory by a substantial amount.
    I would have to question why are we not putting that, if the money is available, why are we not putting it toward doing what you know and you have identified as needs within the current inventory?
    I am sure that internally you guys have some great discussions on this as well. I would really be interested in knowing what the answer to that is. I mean, why is the priority not taking care of what you have versus expanding even more lands that you do not have the ability to take care of?
    I do not know if you are able to answer that or not, but before we get into this budget process, it is a question that I really need to have answered.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I would like to take that question back and have some of our other folks talk about that. It clearly is an issue. I think it is not an issue that could be answered by one specialist involved in one part of our program. It really is a much more comprehensive issue on how we manage our lands.
 Page 34       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. POMBO. I am not going to put you on the spot, but I am sure you have an opinion on it. I will let you answer that for the record.
     Mr. Thompson.
    Mr. THOMPSON. No questions.
    Mr. POMBO. Mr. Walden.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Do you feel that anywhere on your Federal forest lands there exist an emergency situation because of this forest health problem; insects and mortality? Do you think it is really an emergency?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I think we have areas that we need to take a lot more aggressive action than in others. Clearly, the gypsy moth area is one. That is not just for Federal lands. That is a really critical issue.
    The gypsy moth, so far, has only been in 25 percent of its host type. There are great gobs of oak out there that the gypsy moth can move into affecting large other segments of industry, as well as the quality of life in those areas as you get further South and West.
    I think that is a really critical issue. Certainly, in the Interior West where we have the big red blob up there, and other areas where you have the overlap with the wildland urban, there is an extreme sense of urgency.
    You have people, homes, families right in the middle of forests that are prime fuel loading areas. I think that would constitute more of a sense of urgency than many other areas.
    Again, though that is something that we can get on top of in some areas, but not through the whole extent of the range. That is one of our challenges with this priority setting process.
 Page 35       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Where can we get in, make a difference, but not assume that we are going to be able to treat all of the acres that are being identified as at risk?
    Mr. WALDEN. I go back to my analogy of sort of landlord/tenant relationship. If you look at the map of Oregon, for example, and can you, before I get into that, is it possible to get these blown up bigger so I could look at Oregon on a watershed basis? You have got a lot of dots plopped in here.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Yes.
    Mr. WALDEN. I would be curious to know where specifically those are. As I look at this, I think if I were a resident of a Government housing project which, in effect, you are in forest with your management, we had some slum areas here that needed to be cleaned up.
    I mean that seriously and analogous too. It is just frustrating to me. I want to pick up on what our acting chairman said as well. I hear a lot of discussion about continuing for the Government to acquire more and more lands.
    I wish that this administration, and I am not picking on you. This is the frustration I hear at home and I believe seriously. I wish this administration would focus on some sort of emergency package to take care of the lands that the Government controls today.
    So, this is one member who is not going to be advocating for additional ownership by the Federal Government until the lands that we have are better managed.
    I spent some time in Chicago. It seems like twice each week at O'Hare. I noticed that they had a beetle infestation. It, of course, is a tragedy in the city because they are losing trees being cut, harvested.
    It seems like they were reacting quickly to this problem. Do you think that, for example, in the Summit fire in Oregon, and I do not necessarily expect you to be familiar exactly with that one, but do you think it is important to get in before a hatch occurs and do something on a pine beetle infestation?
 Page 36       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    How important is that? How effective can you be? What would it take?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Once a pine beetle epidemic begins, it is almost impossible to get on top of it. We have spent decades chasing the beetle around.
    Mr. WALDEN. You have.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That is the way the story goes. That is State and Federal; the partnerships out there. So, I think that there really is a difficulty.
    When there is an epidemic starting, where can you make your investment? Clearly, one of our goals is to restore some of the structure, the ecological structure, of those forests so that they are less prone to epidemics that are out of cinc with normal processes.
    Epidemics are always going to happen. The other issue, though, is that, and again, it is a part of the analysis that we have done. These beetles were there for many years before the fire.
    They are the ones who create the fuel loading. So, being able to get a better understanding of where this structure is going to lead to an epidemic and then where that epidemic could lead to fuel loadings is a part of the whole risk process.
    That is that projection out. That is the fundamental part of this whole risk mapping effort. It is to look outward. Where can we get ahead of the curve when it is possible?
    I assume in the Idaho Panhandle example, when you have 416,000 acres within 2 years of beetle infestation, you are not going to treat all of them. You need to really fight your battles; figure out where you can get some return on a net investment most effectively.
    Mr. WALDEN. Going back to my question, if you know a hatch is going to occur, is it effective to go in and do something about that before it spreads off the Federal forests on the other overstocked areas and private lands or do you sort of let it happen?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That is a part of our risk analysis that we do that the entomologist on the forest consider. That is, is there an area where moving off the National Forest or off public land onto private land is a concern?
 Page 37       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    There have been cases where we do take more aggressive action because of that. Again, the Idaho Panhandle is a good example. That was one of the strategies that they were using.
    We do not have enough resources in this country to chase all of the beetle epidemics that occur naturally within all of the forests of the United States because they are so widespread. So, it is picking your battles and identifying where the greatest priorities are.
    Mr. WALDEN. Let me try this one more time.
    Mr. WALDEN. If you know a beetle is going to occur, is it better to try and stop that then and there? If you had all of the resources in the world, are you better to try and stop it before it spreads or not?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. It really depends. In some areas where the economics is a greater concern, we try to get on top of it very quickly. In other areas, it is a natural event.
    You just let it go. So, a prudent manager is going to be thinking about that issue as he would get on top of it. No, you do not always attack the beetle as soon as it starts emerging.
    You wait to see. You evaluate what the potential effects are going to be. That is where our biological evaluations really come into play.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GOODLATTE [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Walden.
    The gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Cooksey.
    Mr. COOKSEY. No questions.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you.
    I am pleased that we are also joined by another new member of the subcommittee and a new Member of Congress, Congressman Baron Hill from Indiana.
 Page 38       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Do you have any questions of the witness?
    Mr. HILL. No questions.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. All right. I have a few more.
    Ms. Bartuska, the subcommittee has only just received your budget explanatory notes. We have not had an opportunity to go over them with a fine-tooth comb, I do not see mention of the mapping initiative on the face of the document.
    Can you point me in the direction where it shows that funding for this effort is in the budget notes?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That would be within the Forest Health Protection Explanatory Note. That is the area you would be looking.
    It probably is not explicitly identified in there because it is a part of our normal technical assistance programs.
    It would be a part of the ongoing efforts within the Forest Health Protection Program.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Do we know how much it is going to cost?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. They are estimating about $400,000 a year. That would be for all of the different layers, including bringing the experts together.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How much of that is funded by the budget?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Fully-funded by the budget.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Good.
    Is this mapping effort incorporated into the agency's GPRA Strategic Plan?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. The data, certainly, the insect and disease, and the fuel risk data are a part of the analysis that is being done for the outcome measures.
    The actual risk mapping process does not fit into an outcome. It is a part of the process we would use to identify where you would be doing your work on the ground.
 Page 39       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Can you point me to someplace in your initiative for your Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan where I might find reference to it?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. We would have to look into that.
    What we are discussing here is that the way our report on the GPRA is developed, it really speaks to the outcomes, and what we are going to be measuring on the ground, and what we are going to be treating.
    So, the map would not be in there as a part of the process. That is one of the tools we would have to accomplish the outcomes.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How long will it take to complete the mapping process at the national scale?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I believe that the next round on fire risk and wildland is 2 months, roughly. Then probably the subsequent layers will take probably a full year to go through the multiple validation steps.
    In the meantime, we could start seeing what the patterns are and be looking at or using them mostly in an informal way. We do still have quite a bit of peer review yet to go through on some of the layers.
    Denny, do you have a comment?
    Mr. TRUESDALE. Yes. I would anticipate from the fire maps that they may never be done, so to speak, so that we never have to work with them again. Every time a major area is treated, every time a major fire goes through an area, that information changes the condition of the forest. I would anticipate that over the years, that information from the local level would be input into the mapping process.
    Whether annually or bi-annually, I do not think we have talk about yet, but the maps would continually be revised as new information is developed. So, ''done'' is we are completed. It would be kind of relative.
 Page 40       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We probably will have the initial process done in a year, but 3 years from now you would probably see a different map.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Sure. We are referring to completing the overall mapping. Obviously, then you will have to update it on a regular basis. I would assume that would be true of the insect and disease infestation as well. They are going to vary with time also.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. If I might add, Mr. Chairman, I think really key to this and to the success, recognize that the insect and disease mapping process has been going on for about 2 1/2 almost 3 years.
    You would assume that there would have to be similar levels of effort just because the dialog that is needed among the other agencies, with the States, with the experts out there is a very rich process.
    It is an ongoing process. So, having the first layer is a really important step. This continual updating, review, and dialog is really going to be critical for us.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How long will it take to break this data down to more local scales in a way that would be useful to local forest superintendents and other managers who will use it?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. It really is not designed to be broken down to the local level. It is assuming a level of information at a very broad course scale. That is the national scale.
    Now, the data elements that maybe were used in terms of the expert judgment on this may be available, but at very, very almost site-specific—for example, the insect and disease.
    We do have insect disease data layers that are a result of our Forest Health Protection Programs. The map itself, the pixels, for example, that is a 1 kilometer square area.
 Page 41       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The availability of a local manager to use that for local decision-making is really not germane. It is a totally different scale of information.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, we look at it from a different standpoint then. How long will it be before we see this initiative produce some on-the-ground results?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Two years probably for the entire package. I will say that even next year in the 2000 budget, there is a new line item that we are proposing called Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Improvement. In our initial allocation to the regions for those funds was based on the risk map, at least the insect and disease layer and our best guess of where we think the priority areas are.
    That will translate on the ground as soon as projects are put in place. So, we hope very quickly. But it will be an ongoing process.
    This validation of the multiple levels is really going to be critical. We are talking about some pretty urgent issues in the wildland urban setting.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. In your opinion, is the Quincy Library Group Plan an example of adapting the kind of data contained in these maps to on-the-ground management?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Sir, I am not really sure what the Quincy Library Group used to develop their planning process. I think I would need to look at that before I could answer.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, they are complaining that the agency is dragging its feet on implementing their plan, even though it is now a part of the law passed by the Congress, signed into law by the President.
    Is that an indication of the willingness of the agency to accomplish something on the ground using this mapping initiative?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Again, I am not sure that they are tied together. So, I would have to look at what Quincy Library did and what information the used to be able to answer something like that.
 Page 42       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. So, once we are implementing on the ground, how long will it take the agency to appropriately treat the Federal acreage identified on the map? By the way, did anybody ever ask how much acreage is involved?
    We have 58 million, but that is both public and private as I understand it.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. That is correct.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How much of that is public land?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. It is 24 million acres on the National Forest.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. So, a higher percentage of our National Forest are suffering from this infestation than of our private forest lands. By my math, you have 730 million acres of forests in the country.
    Of that, about 540 million acres are private. Of that, about 34 million are suffering from disease infestation; so, 34 out of 540, but 24 out of 192. So, a considerably higher percentage of the forest lands, National Forest lands, are suffering as opposed to private forest lands.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. From the major insects and diseases that we have identified, that is true. That is partly due to the structural issues; getting back to conversations. The testimony that was given earlier is you have had a real change in the forest structure because of fire suppression. that has been a lot more typical on public lands than on private lands.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How does this acreage overlap with the acreage affected by the roadless moratorium?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I am not really sure what the exact overlap would be. We would have to do an analysis of that.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, perhaps you can tell me this. How would the agency's plan to treat the affected acreage be affected by the Roadless Moratorium?
 Page 43       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I think we have to look to see what areas are in fact included by the Roadless Moratorium. An example, however, the Idaho Panhandle which has some areas of concern. None of those acreage are within the area covered by the moratorium.
    They are able to identify all projects outside the roadless areas. I think a lot of our regions are taking that approach. The areas of greatest concern, more areas than not, are not associated with roadless areas.
    Again, it comes back to the wildland urban setting. That is going to be a real priority for where we do work.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, let me ask you to pursue that question, if you would, and compare the roadless areas with the infested areas and give us a more definitive opinion about whether maintaining an arbitrary, nationally established moratorium on roads without having much, if any, local input into deciding where roads are badly needed, how will that affect your ability to deal with this massive infestation of insect and disease?
    If you would get back to us, we would like to have the benefit of that.
     Those are all of the questions I have. Mr. Walden, do you have any questions?
    Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Chairman, I just want to run some math through. I am not sure I was blessed with the math genes. So, help me out here.
    As I ran your numbers, it looks like you are spending, out of your example out in California, about $200 an acre to treat the lands.
    Mr. TRUESDALE. I am not sure I am blessed that quickly either, but I can take a quick look for you.
    Mr. WALDEN. While you run the numbers, if that is right and you have got, I believe you said 24 million acres affected that are diseased. This looks to me like about a $4.8 billion problem.
 Page 44       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. TRUESDALE. I cannot tell you for sure. I know the GAO has testified under other committees. I cannot speak for their numbers right now either, but they said $3.2 billion. I am not sure whether that works out correctly.
    Mr. WALDEN. It is really somewhere between a $3 billion and probably $5 billion problem.
    Mr. TRUESDALE. Please recognize that I think the numbers I gave you for California are the highest cost per acre of our Forest Service regions. I can give you an example of that. Region 8, with $14 million, only $4 million more, will treat in 1999, 862,000 acres.
     We have a range to work with. So, do not take the high end to get the total number, but we could estimate probably some ranges of what that would be for you.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. I also think I just need to clarify something. The 24 million acres we were talking about are those of insect and disease projected mortality. The numbers that Denny was giving you were cost per acre for hazardous fuels treatment.
    Although they are interrelated, they are definitely not one-for-one. There are probably many of these 24 million acres where we would choose to do no treatment because, again, that is a priority setting process and a treatment not be relevant for those particular areas.
    Mr. WALDEN. I am new to this process here. So, help me with some of the nomenclature. You talk about wildland urban setting. Where would I find a definition of what that is?
    Ms. BARTUSKA. We actually developed a definition within this effort because we do not have one. There has been quite a bit of dialog going on with a forestry organization and with us about what really constitutes a wildland urban setting, other than what we think it might be.
 Page 45       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    What we are using as a first step is one house per acre to one house per 20 acres as being a wildland urban interface area.
    Mr. WALDEN. I am coming from a district where there are, in some cases, one person for every 9 miles of power lines. So, if I heard you right, you talked about the first areas where you would work on would be wildland urban settings. I guess what I am going to want to know, and I do not expect you to have this right now, is if that definition is the one that you use, is anybody in my district going to qualify as a priority?
    Mr. TRUESDALE. Do you cover Bend, Redman?
    Mr. WALDEN. I do. So, that would.
    Mr. TRUESDALE. There is a big chunk of ground in there that would definitely be wildland urban interface.
    Mr. WALDEN. Right.
    Mr. TRUESDALE. The problem we have, and I believe the Representatives from California have left, but there are areas that are no different than subdivisions here in Virginia that butt against wildland areas.
    There are high priorities to work in those also. Our priority, if we are fighting wildfire human safety first. So, even if you have one house per 9 miles of telephone line, we, in conjunction with the State of Oregon, will protect life and property.
    Mr. WALDEN. And you have. I have no dispute with that whatsoever. I guess what I am trying to sort out is as you look at mortality from a fire fighting standpoint, and infestation which I look at more as how do you spray in control, I guess what I want to differentiate is where is the resource going to go for prevention as opposed to sort of the post-op triage?
    The other question I have relates to this map on Hydrologic Units Affected By Insects and Disease. I note that as you breakout the data you go zero to 5 percent, 5 to 10, 10 to 15. Then we take a big jump of 15 to 83 percent. I just wondered why that big of a spread.
 Page 46       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    What does the new map show? Now that I have peaked over 40, I cannot see as well either, I have discovered. One final question, Mr. Chairman, if I may, at least for this point.
    Why does your budget show that its fuels reduction acreage will actually go down in fiscal year 2000?
    Mr. TRUESDALE. The acreage goes down as we move into the higher priority area, the wildland urban interface area, and the expense of treating those acres versus acres that are out and away and not as expensive.
    The expense usually comes in prescribed fires, as you probably well-know, in protecting structures, keeping smoke out of the environment where it is not wanted, and that sort of thing. The closer you are to the wildland urban interface, the more we focus on that, then the more expensive it gets.
    Mr. WALDEN. Have you looked at trying to maintain an acreage level and find funding from somewhere else within the budget?
    Mr. TRUESDALE. I would not want to speak, since there were just budget hearings yesterday that I was not privy to. I would have to speak on the budget itself. We do feel that there are a lot of acres out there that have a high priority need for treatment.
    We could, by focusing all of our funding, for example, in the Southern area, we could increase, or not even all of our funding, just increasing their budget a few million dollars. We could increase the number of acres treated significantly because of their low cost per acre for treatment.
    However, we have to balance that I think with some of those areas that have been mentioned in the urban interface in the Sierras. As we focus more and more on those areas, the cost per acre goes up.
 Page 47       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WALDEN. Right. But what I am saying is if you could pick the acreage amount and then try and find the funding to match that acreage amount.
    I am not asking you to go take your money and move south necessarily. My friend is gone from Louisiana. OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Walden.
    Ms. Bartuska and Mr. Truesdale, we thank you very much for your contribution this morning. We do have some additional questions which we will submit to you in writing. We would hope that you would reply to those as promptly as possible.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. Absolutely.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Again, thank you for your contribution.
    Ms. BARTUSKA. You are welcome.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. We would like to invite our second panel to the table. Mr. LeRoy Kline is a forest health specialist for the Oregon Department of Forestry. Mr. T. Evan Nebeker is a professor of entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University.
    Mr. Dave Struble is the director of Insect and Disease Management for the Maine Forest Service at the Maine Department of Conservation. Mr. R. Neil Sampson, of the Sampson Group, is also with us.
    We have a vote folks. So, I think what we are going to do is go vote before we start the panel. So, the subcommittee will recess for, hopefully, about 20 minutes.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. The subcommittee will be in order.
    We are pleased to have the second panel. We will start with Mr. Kline, welcome.
 Page 48       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. KLINE. Thank you.
    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am LeRoy Kline from Salem, OR. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.
    A year ago, I retired from the position of director of Forest Health Management, Insect and Diseases for the Oregon Department of Forestry. I am not employed today by the Department.
    I am here today presenting testimony on behalf of the Northwest Forestry Association. My comments will relate to insect issues in Oregon.
    To me, the major forestry issue that we face is the forest health problem. In some localized areas, I believe we have a forest health crisis. Our ecosystems are out of balance when compared to historical conditions.
    The issues are as great as ever. It appears in many areas that the U.S. Forest Service is unable to get out ahead of the problem. Action on their part is necessary and required to get us out of the cycle of going from one crisis to the next.
    The Forest Service has a lot of qualified people. They know basically what to do. They have demonstrated in the past what should be and can be done. In many cases, they get bogged down in Government red tape and the many laws that they have to follow. [Map shown]
    I have brought a map that is on the easel here showing the areas in Oregon that have received major tree mortality over the last 10 years. I would like to enter that map into the record, if I could.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Without objection; so ordered.
    Mr. KLINE. Large areas of mortality, like you see on the map, sets the stage for major forest fires. That is exactly what has happened in eastern Oregon.
    The biggest concern that was mentioned earlier today was the Summit fire. Perhaps if there is more time later, we can talk about that.
 Page 49       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I would like to enter into the record also some photographs that were taken a couple of weeks ago as I visited the fire. It illustrates some of the bark beetle problems that we have going on there.
     I would now like to give an example of why it is so important to quickly move when we have natural events such as wind or ice storms.     [Map shown]
    In 1985, there was a wind storm that blew down about 1,500 acres of timber in the pine district of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon.
    These areas are shown in the small cross-hatched areas on the map. Most of the trees were englemann spruce. Bark beetles, such as the spruce beetle, prefer down timber over standing timber.
    They attacked the blowdown and built up large populations and then emerged to attack and kill adjacent standing trees. That is what we would like to show in the next overlays. [Map shown]
    This is showing the mortality that occurred as the beetles emerged out of the blowdown timber and spread into adjacent trees. You can see that year-by-year the infestation increased, both in intensity and size.
    Basically, over that 10-year period the beetles killed most of the mature spruce in those drainage. The food supply controls the population. As I understand, most of the timber was not salvaged because the area was in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.
    This outbreak could have been minimized had the Forest Service been able to remove the blowdown before the beetles emerged or used an insect pheromone called methylcyclohexenone (MCH).
    The wind storm this past summer near the Summit fire called the Banner blowdown has a similar problem developing. I think we can see the same pattern develop there as we see developed there.
 Page 50       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The beetles were attacking those trees that were blown down 11 days later. I have listed on page 4 of my written testimony 8 steps that should be taken to improve forest health. I will not take time to go through these today.
    My last comments will be on the Insect and Disease Risk Maps that the Forest Service have just produced and you saw this morning. To me, this is an important first step. However, I feel that areas in Oregon have been rated too low as currently shown.
    When I looked back over the problems that occurred during my career, the 10-year mortality map that I just showed you, the current build up of the Western pine beetle, the Douglas-fir bark beetle, the spruce beetle, the Douglas fir tussock moth, and large areas of stagnated and overstocked pine stands, and the Swiss needle cast along the Oregon Coast, the ratings should be much higher.
    I strongly suggest that the Forest Service work with their regional field offices and the State foresters in fine tuning the system.
    In summary, the forest health problem continues. We need to get out ahead by implementing strategies to prevent problems. Starting early is the key to success. At the same time, there are hot spots that need immediate action to reduce future impacts.
    Insects will start flying in mid-April, ready or not. Thank you. I will be glad to answer questions at the appropriate time.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Kline appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Kline. Mr. Nebeker, welcome.
    Mr. NEBEKER. I am Evan Nebeker from Mississippi State University. I am involved in research, teaching, and forest resource protection. My principal interest is in prevention rather than fighting fires.
 Page 51       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    So, we are very interested in how we can prevent issues from arising. That is what my comments will be looking at today. The notion that our forests are at risk is real. It is real from the point of view that there are exotics that have been introduced into the system.
    It is also real because there are non-exotics that are also in the system, such as the southern pine beetle. They have been here for a long time and they are responding to the resource that is present.
    The potential of the introduction of other exotics is also of real concern; those things being brought in on raw logs and so forth, into this country, and how they will invade our natural resources is of concern.
    Risk assessment conceptually is very good, especially if resources managers are able to utilize this in the decision-making process to prioritize areas in need of silvicultural treatment.
    It is my opinion that the maps presented by the U.S. Forest Service underestimates the situation in many areas. By presenting maps as they have, perception becomes reality. People perceive these notions that certain areas are not at risk.
    I will give you a few examples. On the maps, the oak wilt situation in Texas does not even show up. There are certainly people there that are very concerned about those oaks in Texas.
    The southern pine beetle in many of the States in the South probably is underestimated as I have talked with my associates. YLT lands and other lands that have been overstocked for many years are at risk to southern pine beetle.
    It is not a matter of if it will happen, it will be when it will happen. States were not contacted for their input with this first part, so many of my associates have indicated. They are very concerned about that.
 Page 52       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The other thing was that the use of hydrologic units makes very little sense in the South. They keep data on a county-by-county basis. It is not based on hydrologic units. So, in the South, that is not particularly useful.
    The Forest Service must be aggressive in the management of the insect problems on their lands. I give you but one example. In Texas, just for example, there is only 6 percent of the land that is under their management or their control, but over 50 percent of the southern pine beetle infestations have occurred on that land in the last 10 years.
    It has been significant. That falls over onto private lands that are adjacent or in the area. Long rotations on the National Forest and lack of management leads to these kinds of conditions.
    So, the southern pine beetle says thank you for giving us the habitat to survive in. The southern pine beetle certainly is on the radar screen of the southern foresters. In a recent survey of the southern State Foresters, the southern pine beetle was one of their major concerns, along with other issues.
    Protecting this great resource of the South is one of the things that they are very much interested in doing. There are specific types of problems that go from the wetlands of southern Louisiana to the mountains of North Carolina that are unique to that sub-region.
    These are things that face them. We feel that the Forest Service is in a key place to take a leadership role and to be aggressive in that leadership role as they are to protect this major resource.
    We feel that the lack of action, in some cases, is also of concern. We can get suppression dollars to work on southern pine beetle outbreaks, but other bark beetles, such as IPS, suppression dollars are not available when there is a problem. Drought conditions in the late fall put a lot more trees at risk due to the drought.
    So, these are some of the concerns that we have in the South concerning the forest health. We certainly are very much aware of the need to prioritize and to again reiterate that the risk assessment is certainly one of the ways to approach this, but we are very concerned that with current maps that perception becomes reality.
 Page 53       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I will be happy to entertain any more comments that you might have.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Nebeker appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Nebeker.
    Our next witness is Mr. Dave Struble, director of Insect and Disease Management for the Maine Forest Service at the Maine Department of Conservation.
    I might add that on my way over here, Congressman John Baldacci who is I believe your Representative, and who is on the Agriculture Committee but not on this subcommittee, sent his kind regards.
    So, you are welcome to begin your testimony.
    Mr. STRUBLE. Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name is Dave Struble. I am the State entomologist and the director of the Insect and Disease Management Division for the Maine Forest Service.
    I am here today to share some thoughts on how we view forest health issues in Maine. Now, although I have frequently discussed these issues with some of my other colleagues in the Northeast and I think that my statements are consistent with the general perspective of the forestry agencies of the regions, in the final analysis, this is a Maine State perspective. Getting right to the meat of it, regarding the National Insect and Disease Risk Assessment Maps: I think it is fair to say that the State Pest Management Specialists in the Northeast view this specific exercise as being a work in progress which, at this stage, has little direct application to State Forest Pest Management Programs.
    That aside, the development process has been collaborative, at least in the Northeast, with considerable very frank discussions between the Federal pest management people and the individual State folks like myself. We are committed to working with the Forest Service to make sure that these maps become a valuable tool to help provide guidance for strategic planning and budgeting, particularly at the national level.
 Page 54       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    In the Northeast, we have managed to capture an approximation of the situation for a few of the major regional pests. In some of the comments that Evan talked about, things are left out in the South. I think that is very true here in the Northeast as well. We have captured bud worm, gypsy moth, hemlock, and beech bark disease. I know that at least some of the individual State concerns have been captured as well.
    In the case of Maine, we have a spruce beetle problem in the coastal spruce stands in Maine. That has been incorporated in the map base. We can debate whether the specific criteria used to select these individual agents and identifying it or the map locations for that whole process is absolutely correct but at this point I think from the national strategic planning perspective, this is a reasonable initial submission. I do not believe that anybody on the State side—I do not think that is probably true of most of my Federal counterparts—are fully satisfied with the current product. We are working on it. In the meantime, I hope that the agency will not feel unduly pressured to use these maps as planning tools before they are refined.
    In the cooperative approach we have used in addressing these forest health issues; we have had this collaboration here in the Northeast on the risk mapping; we had a long history in the whole pest management arena.
    The Cooperative Forest Health Management Program of the Forest Service and its predecessor, the Cooperative Pest Action Program, have over the years provided the vehicle for the State and Federal staff to coordinate and share resources to address the needs as the have arisen.
    I think another fine example is the current Forest Health Monitoring Program. This is a model example of State and Federal cooperation. We are working together to improve our capabilities to address the anticipated and the unanticipated forest health needs.
    From a strictly Maine perspective, this collaborative relationship is a key ingredient in my shop's capacity to conduct sufficient forest health surveillance and to provide the predictive evaluations, preventative, and remedial prescriptions to allow the managers of the land to make timely and informed cite-specific pest management decisions.
 Page 55       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    This statement raises a point that bears on the question the subcommittee had asked about the sufficiency of the management practices. In the Northeast, three-fourths of the land base is owned by non-Federal entities. In Maine, a State that is 90 percent forested, 96 percent of the timberland is privately owned. This is roughly split in half between large industrial and smaller non-industrial land owners.
    Management decisions are made by these people. To the extent that our forests are healthy, and when I say healthy, what I am saying is they are sufficient resilient so that they can recover from stress as they encounter it, they have the capacity to provide the necessary ecological support for things like water and wildlife, they generate the desired levels of amenities and products that the owners and others ask for. I mean, to that extent, that is what constitutes a healthy forest.
    This process is working in Maine. The critical point is not whether we have appropriate management options. It is rather whether we have sufficient relevant, unbiased, and timely information upon which to base our decisions and develop prescriptions.
    Case in point, at this time in Maine our largest forest health issue is not an insect or disease organism. It is a public perception that the current forest management practices are not sustainable and that change of some sort is necessary to ensure environmental and economic stability for the long-haul.
    This situation has spawned citizen's referendum initiatives and a whole parade of legislative and regulatory proposals. We find ourselves in this increasingly polarized atmosphere. We are trying to justify prescriptions. We are trying to justify management actions and policies.
    All parties agree on only one point. That being that if the public had credible and more timely information available regarding the state of the forest resources, the whole process could be expedited and some common ground found.
 Page 56       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    These mapping efforts are worthwhile, but they are only as good as the data bases from which they are derived. From a State agency's perspective, the most important source of information about the overall forest resources at risk is the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis Program.
    This program has just been through national review by leaders of the full forestry community. The recommendations of the review panel, which focus on improving the timeliness, the quality, and the utility of deliverables are detailed in the report of the FIA Blue Ribbon Panel II.
    It serves as a basis for a lot the specific language in the 1998 farm bill. While I do not want to detract from the forest health risk assessment effort that is underway, from a State perspective, it is a much lower priority when seeing the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel supported and funding provided by Congress for full implementation in the 1998 farm bill.
    This concludes my comments. I will be happy to answer questions you may have.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Struble appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Struble.
    We are also joined by Neil Sampson of the Sampson Group. Welcome, Mr. Sampson.
    Mr. SAMPSON. Thank you very much.
    I am Neil Sampson, president of The Sampson Group, which is an Alexandria, VA consulting firm specializing in natural resource issues.
 Page 57       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I am also a senior fellow with American Forest, which is the Nation's oldest conservation organization. I am an affiliate professor at the University of Idaho's School of Forest Resources.
    Today, my testimony is simply based on my professional experience and does not represent any of those organizations.
    I want, first of all, to commend Ann Bartuska and her staff and all of the scientists and staff at the Forest Service that have tried to put these first mapping efforts together.
    These maps are not easy. They have been challenged to solve some very significant new problems. I think it is also important to realize that this is a first step. This is a job that is never done.
    It depends on constant monitoring. I think if you took a very localized look, there are a lot of areas in eastern Oregon that have been discussed this morning that no longer would be seem to be at high risk of insect and disease damage.
    There are large watersheds that are largely dead from past infestations. They only have to die once, at least for quite a while. So, quite frankly, those risk maps are going to have to change and change fairly significantly as constant monitoring feeds new information.
    My testimony contains a few examples of some principles that we have run into in trying to do hazard and risk modeling in the last few years.
    The first principle, it seems to me, is to recognize that each mapping effort has to be designed in response to the questions that are asked of it and are trying to be answered.
    A map like this can answer one type of question, which is a national overview of where the problems are serious. It just simply cannot be made to answer a whole lot of other questions, like the local issues that have been brought up by other members of the panel.
 Page 58       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    You cannot just take this map and blow it up and learn what is going on at the local level. The level of information gets no better. The blurbs just get bigger. They are the same level of resolution.
    The map shows average conditions over a one kilometer square area, and that is OK if you are looking at national issues. But it is not going to bring you local level information. So, you have got to be really careful about taking these maps and asking people to blow up the Northwest corner of this State to understand what is going on there?
    It is also necessary to understand, and I think Ms. Bartuska hit on this very well, that when you go to the local level and do that reassessment with different levels of data, analyzing different ecosystem processes at that level of specificity, the conclusion of your national maps are not always going to be born out exactly.
    You are going to find different things. You are going to find hot spots such as they showed. You are also going to find holes in the middle of those red areas that have no problem when you get right down to the local level.
    So, they may start out by thinking that the problem is X million acres and discover under local analysis that, that number changes significantly. I guess the only point I am making is do not hold them to those national maps too tightly. They are liable to change.
    It seems to me that one of the things that is often overlooked with these maps is their value as a communications tool. If we use them as a communications tool, we can understand in general what is going on, as long as we do not expect them to be very precise.
    Everybody I think is going to be a lot happier with the effort. One of the challenges we face that we brought up this morning is how do you index this information? These maps are built from a data set that creates some kind of a number.
    The number ranges, let us just say, run from 1 to 100, whether that is a count on things or whether that is an index, it does not matter. The question is where along that 1 to 100 continuum does the map turn from yellow to red or from even green to yellow?
 Page 59       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That is an important scientific distinction that takes a lot of local knowledge. That has been brought up. We addressed this problem by using a pretty broad of expert judgment and by assembling teams of folks to really come to agreement about these things, based on their profession experience and their judgment.
    There is simply no research that says the number 50 is significantly different than the number 49 in a lot of these areas, but you have got to draw that line somewhere. The best bet is to get this kind of range of interest in it and experience.
    Another question that is hard to answer at the national level, but gets really, really important at the local level is the whole array of questions that I call the so-what questions.
    So what if this place burns? Is that going to be a real significant ecological, or social, or economic event? In our Colorado exercise, which happily on my part just went to publication this went and hopefully will be out one of these days, we asked this kind of a question.
    You have got 10 watersheds all of which are red on your map. They are all equally likely from a probability standpoint to experience a very hot and large wildfire. So the questions is so what?
    The answer is in a table that I have printed in this testimony for you and it makes a lot difference. Some of those places are going to cause real human suffering, both from a health point and an economic point and some of them are not.
    For people for whom that is a big issue, well then that is a priority setting question. So, you have got to take a look at these risk maps on the basis of well, what is going to occur as a result of that?
    That, of course, keeps bringing you back as you heard this morning to those areas where an awful lot of people, their health, their lives, and their safety are at risk.
 Page 60       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Well, I guess the final point I want to make today though is just to bring to your attention again how important these are as a communications tool. We have been coming up here for 10 years now telling the Congress that there was a forest health problem in the Interior West. It was in a very serious condition.
    A lot of people did not realize that, but you look at this map this morning and it is no surprise, not only where your next political controversy over forest health is coming from, but where the two or three down the road are coming from.
    I think the map shows you fairly well. In that, you have got a communications device that you have never had before. I think it is really useful.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Sampson appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Sampson.
    Your work in Colorado sounds very interesting. How long did it take you to develop your strategy to address fire risk?
    Mr. SAMPSON. Well, it took us a lot shorter time to develop a strategy than it did to implement it. We took 35 scientists to a workshop and worked on it for a week. The problem with all of that is, is that we were breaking some new ground.
    When people went back to their jobs, they sort of lost the trail. Quite frankly, we have just finished preparation work with the Panhandle National Forest in northern Idaho right in the middle of that red blob.
    It takes about a week of preparation to get agreed on what data sets you are going to get. Then it takes about 2 months of technical time to get the data sets the way you want them.
    Then it takes a couple or 3 weeks to go through the expert process of building the indexes and the maps. So, it can be done in a reasonably short time, but you are captive of the quality of the data sets that are available.
 Page 61       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The point was made here. If you have got good data sets, you can do a whole lot more than if you do not. Unfortunately, in a lot of places the answer is they are hard to come by.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, with that criteria, how long should it take the Forest Service to do the type of analysis that they are doing on a national scale?
    Mr. SAMPSON. Well, that depends on whether you are doing it the first time, or the second time, or the third time. I think they have made the kind of pace that I would expect.
    I cannot answer your question any more than that. It is a very difficult thing. You have to realize that a map at this level is built by the contribution of hundreds of scientists, most of whom do not ever face questions like you are asking in Congress.
    Most of them are facing questions about how do I manage my particular piece of forest? How do I run my particular research project? They look immediately at this and say, who needs to know this stuff?
    So, the answer when it comes down from Washington is we do. But that does not always elicit the kind of speedy response that you would like.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. I am trying to get results. That is my ultimate objective.
    Mr. SAMPSON. I believe this is getting results. I think the answer you heard this morning is you do not have to have the map to get results. You have to start thinking about priorities and trying to establish a way to get at them. You have to get people to thinking about how to establish priorities.
    The results start immediately. This is just a milestone in progress on this. It is not the end. You do not have to have this to start getting results, in my opinion anyway.
 Page 62       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Good. I also understand that you did some risk assessment in the Idaho Panhandle, which on these maps is almost completely red. Does the Forest Service map accurately identify what you have seen in Idaho?
    Mr. SAMPSON. Yes. It accurately identifies what we have seen there over the Interior Columbia Basin Study and over our study. I think you have to realize that these are areas that are being setup for wildfires of the kind that we do not know how to deal with.
    These are forests which naturally burn at very high intensities and very high severity. Now that they are full of houses, people, and towns boy this is a serious problem. One of our major concerns in the hazard risk mapping up there was how do you get escape routes for people?
    These are the kinds of events you do not prevent and you do not stop once they start. They are very dangerous.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. What did you do up there and how long did that take? How effective was it?
    Mr. SAMPSON. It is not complete yet. We started it a year ago. It took us, as I said, 2 weeks to get it setup. Not wanting to dwell too much on this, but the Forest Service in northern Idaho was switching from an old computer system called the Data General or DG, which everyone learned to love, to the IBM System.
    In the process, all of the data bases got very, very, very difficult to handle. It took technicians about 6 months to figure out how to get that stuff straightened out. So, that is not a fair response. It is just an accurate one. It should not take that long in other places.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Is that work an example of what the agency can be doing on the ground while the national mapping is being developed along the lines of your saying that you do not need a map to do the work?
 Page 63       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. SAMPSON. Well, that raises another problem. What the agency is doing on the ground right now is trying to identify those 25,000 acres of high priority work and get on them.
    They have just been hit with an emergency. Ms. Bartuska told you about it. They have also been hit with diminished staff. Their staffs are down at both the supervisor's office level and at the ranger district level.
    Quite frankly, everybody I saw out there was on a fire truck. They were not doing this kind of nice, cool their heels, sit back and think about things planning. Right now is a really bad time to ask how much time they are going to be able to spend at this level of work because they are in an emergency situation.
    We have got National Forest in the Interior West that have been either in a big wildfire season or in a big recovery from a wildfire season ever since about 1979. So, it is really hard to do that when they do not have the staff and they are constantly on emergency call.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Nebeker, your comments suggest the Forest Service Risk Maps might understate the magnitude of insect and disease risk in the South and in other parts of the country. Is that correct?
    Mr. NEBEKER. That is correct.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. You are very critical of the way the Forest Service is managing for the southern pine beetle, particularly in Texas. What is preventing the agency from managing for that beetle?
    Mr. NEBEKER. Well, it probably has to do a lot with the constraints that they are working under. They are working under the constraints of very long rotations. When you get trees that are old, a lot of competition sets in.
    Their resistance to attack increases So, we just setup a continuing environment for southern pine beetle activity. On the Homachitta National Forest in southwest Mississippi, for some years the allowable cut on the National Forest is dictated by the southern pine beetle.
 Page 64       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That means the southern pine beetle is telling where the trees will be harvested, instead of the other way around. If you are wanting to manage it, the southern pine beetle is dictating that.
    So, it becomes a real problem. There had been some demonstration thinning on some National Forests. I assume that is going to increase in the future as they try to bring these lands more under control.
    It is also on private land where people plant and leave the stands alone and do nothing or they plant too many trees and leave them alone. It provides an ideal habitat for the southern pine beetle.
    The same thing happens if you do leave tree cut, where you let the trees just seed in and do nothing. You wind up with a dog hair thicket. The next thing you know, you are setting up for a situation for the southern pine beetle. So, there are a number of compounding factors there.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Is the situation exacerbated on the private property because of the lack of activity on the National Forest?
    Mr. NEBEKER. There are many of the people that live round, next to, or in, depending on their property holdings that certainly feel that their lands are impacted and are at greater risk because they are next to a National Forest. That has been an example for a long time.
    In east Texas, in particular, there has been a long history of a lot of southern pine beetle activity. One spot there one year got up to about 8,000 acres in size. There is a great concern of the private land owners in the area that, that would spill over onto their holdings, which in some cases it did.
    They also had a great concern for fire because of the fuel load. That turns out not to be quite the issue as it is in the West. The fires did not materialize like they thought might happen with the extended amount of mortality to the trees.
 Page 65       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That is a concern of the private, non-industrial sector as well. We have a large industrial sector that has tremendous acreage in pine growing stock. Those that are actively involved in thinning operations doing what we consider good forest management, when there is a southern pine beetle outbreak, there is not nearly the impact on their lands as those that do nothing.
    So, one of the things we recommend is that if you want to reduce the impact, given the southern pine beetle is in the area, that your stands need to be in good condition. Trees need to be spaced properly.
    We do have a compounding issues that goes along with that. When you think a young loblolly pine stand, they are subject to ice damage.
    The loading of ice, the loblolly trees just cannot withstand that. You will get a lot of breakage. So, there is a decision you have to make and there is a risk you have to take too that you are not going to have that when you thin your stands at appropriate times. So, it is something that we are very concerned about.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Some people prefer a hands-off approach to forestry and would take issue with your analysis that thinning and other forms of active management are essential for reducing insect and disease mortality risk. How would you respond to those folks?
    Mr. NEBEKER. I think that is always an option. In a course that I teach in forest pest management, I tried to make clear to the people or the students that one of the options you have to face is do nothing.
    What are the consequences of doing nothing or the hands-off approach? It is that you will continue to see history repeat itself. In the South, as the pine acreage has increased, we see an increase in the mortality due to the southern pine beetle. Other agents as well can increase.
 Page 66       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    So, if that is the approach you want to take, then you are going to be willing to accept that, yes there are dead trees in the forest. Trees do get old and they do die. That is a part of the natural cycle. If you are under a mandate to produce something other than an aesthetic value, then you are going to have to think about is that really the option that we want to take? The major concern that we have is that if you do nothing, we are putting ourselves at risk.
    We are jeopardizing that valuable resource. There are many individuals that plant trees and they want to harvest them to pay for their son's, daughter's, and grandchildren's education.
    That is money in the bank for many of them. So, by the hands-off approach, then they are putting that at risk. There have been many that have lost that bank account due to the southern pine beetle in particular.
    So, that is why we recommend to them that if you want to ensure your investment, then you are probably better off thinking about some type of suitable cultural treatments to ensure the health and the vigor of your stands, understanding the—of the trees you are trying to grow.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, sir.
    The gentle woman from North Carolina.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Nebeker, I was struck by your statement when you said as a teacher, you said that you taught students the value or you wanted to awaken the spirit of these students to the issue of forest health.
    Then you said the decision we make as forest resource managers will impact generations to come because of the time, skill, and importance of our forests to society. So, that underscores why you cannot afford to do nothing in that area.
    Mr. NEBEKER. That is correct.
 Page 67       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Are you a State Land Grant University?
    Mr. NEBEKER. Yes, we are; Mississippi State University. It is a Land Grant Institution.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. How do you use the forestry at the local level for—you have done a tremendous amount of research. So, I mean, just how do we transpose this knowledge and passion you have for the forest?
    How do you use the forest personnel at the local level? How would this map, these tools, and your knowledge make a difference for a small farmer utilizing the technical assistance that should be available through your local forester?
    Mr. NEBEKER. The technology transfer is something that I am very interested in. One of the things that we have a great challenge in is providing the information to the local foresters and forestry groups.
    I had the privilege of speaking the first week in March to a country forestry association where I take this information, transfer that to them so that they are aware of what is going on.
    The other thing I would like to do is to leave with them materials that they can read. I have published one paper on thinning southern pines with pest management recommendations. Unfortunately, in the printing of that by the USDA, there are only 10,000 copies of that.
    It would be nice to have those things reprinted so that they could be distributed even more widely than they are. That is a very minor part of what is available. That is one of our problems, is having information available.
    Going to the worldwide Web and putting some of this stuff on like the Forest Service's funding now is a wonderful tool. Many of these people have access to this information.
 Page 68       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Kline has the eight prescriptions. Many of those, I guess, will be similar to you saying that you were interested in prevention. I do not know if you all read each other's testimony or not.
    I guess I would like to know, do you feel the local foresters—you are originally from the Forest Service, are you, Mr. Kline?
    Mr. KLINE. The Oregon Department of State Forestry.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Would the local foresters have these tools now? Could I expect that the mapping and the understanding of the application of the mapping could be understood and applied locally?
    How do we make this technology and these new tools assessable to—as well as these. Were we doing these things at the local level when you were at the State level?
    Mr. KLINE. Yes, ma'am. As Evan said that in the State of Oregon, we produced brochures that were available to land owners. We conducted workshops. We worked with the county extension agents to conduct training.
    Then we worked with them on a one-to-one basis. If they have a problem and they called us, we went out there and worked with them on a one-to-one basis to implement whatever could be done.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I lived in a rural area. There is a good bit of the cutting of the timber. The concern that I have is not with the tree farmer because the tree farmer who makes his investment, he is learning those techniques.
    He is going to the Extension Service. The land owner who may discover he has a tax bill or has moved to another section of the country and is not using this land, begins to understand that timber is a value.
    So, somebody approaches him and they cut. The reason I know about this is attorneys are in my family. My husband is and handles a good bit of this. They come and they bring them a deed and a contract.
 Page 69       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    It says to them, I have 50 acres of land and I do not know what to do with it. It has timber. Go make an evaluation. Somebody goes and makes the evaluation. The next thing you know, someone gets a contract. It is a legal matter.
    My husband does not know anything about forestry. He knows it is legal as far as he is concerned. He wants to make sure the parties are protected. Where in that scheme of that type of land owner are we, with these practices, let alone the maps, putting in to make sure?
    I think you said about 80 percent of the land really is owned private. So, I do not know how much is in tree farming. Our tree farming is quite extensive in our area. I can tell you, the majority of our land happens to be by individual owners who own 100 acres here, or 50 acres here.
    The forestry, the cutting, and the logging industry in our area is very big and a substantial income for our citizens. We have Champion, Georgia Pacific, and all of those are there.
    They take care of their land. The tree farmers take care of their land. We do not have the same kind of maintenance on those other land owners who are tilling their land, as they should, for the resources or money income of that.
    How do we get a handle on that? I guess that question goes to anybody who could help me on that.
    Mr. KLINE. I think you make a very good point.
    That has been a concern for us in Oregon. Like you say, the larger land owners have the information and know what to do. So, the small land owners that have 10 acres or 50 acres, a lot of those in Oregon are absentee land owners.
    I was surprised this last year when I was working for the State how many calls I got from Hawaii. They bought property sight-unseen. Finally, they get a letter from their neighborhood and say, you know, you have got to do something to your property. Your trees are dying.
 Page 70       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That is the first time, you know, they even knew they had trees. So, it is a challenge to get that information to them. We have sent out letters to them when we have had major problems, saying that we have this problem in this area.
    Your lands are affected. We encourage you that if you cannot take care of it yourself, hire a consulting forester or someone to manage that property for you because you are losing your timber. We you do or do not do is going to impact your neighbors.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. I understand Oregon has really a statewide forest program that the rest of us could emulate. Most States do not know who owns what. I mean, you would not know who to write.
    I am just trying to get a connection between Land Grant, the forester there, and the absentee land owners. How do we get that information to that kind of absent land owner who has a right to get the resources from their timber, but if he wants to use his forest land for generations and generations to come, you need to have certain practices. I am assuming these eight that you have are fine. They look like they make good sense to me.
    Mr. SAMPSON. Mrs. Clayton, if I could respond to that question?
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Sure.
    Mr. SAMPSON. You just put your finger on a question that is bothering people in the forestry business probably as much as any question that they have right now.
    We just finished a 2-day workshop downtown here where the deans of the Nation's forestry schools came together with State forestry, Federal forestry officials, and Extension officials and asked the very question you are asking.
    The way that the land is being changed now with the very process that you talked about, it is not just timbering that is going on, there are land sales. Then these pieces are being broken up.
 Page 71       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We have to face the fact that there are more and more Americans with more and more money and not a whole lot more forest land. As a result, we have got nearly 10 million private land owners. That number seems to be headed for about 12 million, judging from the trends that we can identify. The average acreage is going down to the point where the non-industrial ownership now is around 17 acres in size average, or it is headed that way, from about 20.
    We are looking at a near future in which 38 percent of the Nation's productive timberland, some 150 million acres, looks like to be in ownerships of under 100 acres. A lot of those are absentee.
    A lot of them are urban oriented. A lot of them not only do not know what to do with their forests. They are like the people you told, they do not know who to ask. Because they have not been engaged in the process, they do not know who to ask.
    So, to our Nation's educational institutions, and the Extension Services, and forestry agencies this is an absolutely enormous task. Their programs, the programs that have been invented over the years to help these people, largely are aimed at helping that sort of mid-size owner; the one that is trying to make a bit of a living off that land or at least a part of a living off that land.
    They are really not geared to urbanites that own 20 acres and that only think about forestry once every 10 years. It is a very serious problem. This process can help a little bit, but there is a lot more to it. I think your question opens that subject very nicely.
    Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. We will go ahead and do a second round of questions. This will not take too long, I do not think.
    Mr. Struble, you mentioned the Forest Inventory and Monitoring Program in your testimony. Could you very briefly explain to the subcommittee what this program is and why it is important?
 Page 72       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. STRUBLE. Well, briefly.
    FIA, Forest Inventory and Analysis, is an old program that the Forest Service has had for a number of years where they look to keep track of the timber resources of the Nation.
    It was a periodic survey that went around and did individual States. That is underway. That is a part of the inventory and monitoring piece.
     The other piece is the Forest Health Monitoring Program, which was started about 10 years ago. It was brought about by State and Federal people who were looking, we needed to have a decent annual checkup on the condition of our forest lands. It did not have to be real intensive. It did not have to have a whole lot of specifics. We needed to have some course feeler to look and say, this is how things are doing.
     Then to that we are tiered down from the detection monitoring side. There were some evaluations for those problems which we did find and some long-term environmental assessment to look at some of the processes that were driving it.
    The Forest Health Monitoring Program had a plot componet which I have just described, is underway. The other thing that went on was we took the traditional forest health pest management programs and worked on getting better standards between jurisdictions so that I could talk to Evan or I could talk to LeRoy.
    When we said something, we knew exactly what the other one meant. This has been a painful process because we do not necessarily all agree exactly where the break points are to come.
    It is underway. This whole process has built a program that gives us a chance to take an annual look at the health of our forests. At this point, you would have to check with Ms. Bartuska, but I think we are about 75 percent of the forested land based in the Nation is presently monitored—the lower 48.
 Page 73       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    It is presently hooked up in the Forest Health Monitoring Program. Now, as we move to improve the Forest Inventory and Evaluation Program, those two, one of the suggestions of the Blue Ribbon Panel was to merge those two pieces: have one monitoring system; put the two together; have them linked; make it an annualized survey. The annualization we built in forest health monitoring—and in fact the plot structure we built—has become the prototype that is being used as we nationalize a single FIA program. That is underway right now. I think that answers what you are asking.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. You also mentioned in your testimony that the largest forest health issue in Maine is a public perception based on a lack of accurate and timely information.
    Will the risk mapping effort, coupled with better local information like that provided through the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, eventually improve the public perception problem?
    Mr. STRUBLE. In part. I think what Mr. Neil Sampson said about the risk mapping becomeing a communication tool, that will help to raise the awareness—the actual perception. Those risk mapping maps, the maps themselves, there is no way to take them down to a State-specific level that is going to provide any great comfort.
    It is going to be the FIA data and additional things, similar to the risk mapping that we do at the local level with our local pest management people and our local inventory people, that are going to provide that.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. How important is the FIA Program to the overall success of the risk mapping initiative?
    Mr. STRUBLE. I think it is probably very important because the FIA Program is the one place where we actually talk about the forest resource base. We are now talking about the forest resource base in the Nation using one set of rules that will all look the same.
 Page 74       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    It is going to be across all land ownerships. It is funny this should not sound new, but it is new. As we have a single set of data that is annually updated, we are in a position that we can actually take those risk maps, which will have to be updated every year or two.
    Now, we are going to have data we can feed into them to get a far better way of looking at the whole situation. I think it is critical.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. Mr. Walden.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I apologize for having to step out. I had to speak on some legislation on another subcommittee that was on the floor of the House. I do want to pick up on some issues.
    Mr. Kline, in a recent letter from Mr. Donald Scott, who is an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service to the Forest Supervisor of the Malheur National Forest, Mr. Scott gave this description of the summit beetle epidemic in stocking.
    I quote, ''Many of these stands are seriously overstocked and suspectable to pine beetles. In fact, some lands currently have and have previously had recent infestations of bark beetles. The private lands, unless they have been intensely managed and had consistent stocking level control in recent years, are just as susceptible to beetles as over- stocked tracks of forest lands.''
    Mr. Kline, would you give me your estimation of the kind of threat a bark beetle infested forest, such as the one that is existing on the Summit fire, poses to a neighboring stand of healthy trees, such as the adjacent private land owners' trees?
    Mr. KLINE. Congressman Walden, I think it is a serious threat. The land owners have made a large contribution into managing those stands.
    What is happening in the Summit fire, and I was out there a couple of weeks ago. I gave you photographs to illustrate some of the problems. The Forest Service went through there in 1997 as they were laying out their timber sales.
 Page 75       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    When the fire went through, it left a lot green islands of trees that were not burned. They wanted to leave those trees. So, they marked them as leave trees.
    To their surprise, and somewhat to my surprise, this year when we looked at those trees, all of those trees, well, I will not say all, but the majority of those trees have been attacked by the western pine bark beetle. That was real impressive to me.
    We have got a huge population, I mean a huge population of Western pine beetle building up. Those beetles are going to fly to adjacent private lands or public lands.
    Even though those stands are being managed and are healthy, they can be overcome by the beetles. So, I think it is a serious threat and something that we need to deal with.
    Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Chairman, if I could ask one other question?
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Sure. In fact, Mr. Walden, since I hurt my back and it is going to take me a little longer to get there, I am going to turn the gavel over to you. You can ask as many questions as you want, and then recess the subcommittee when you are finished asking questions, and come over and vote.
     When we come back, then we will take panel 3. Since I will be gone when you folks are done, I want to thank you very much for your participation today. So, thank you.
    Mr. WALDEN [presiding]. Thank you.
    Mr. Kline, on page 5 of your written testimony, you mentioned from some frustration in not being able to use an insect chemical called MCH on an operational level. Can you elaborate on that for me please?
    Mr. KLINE. Yes, I will be glad to.
    Back in the 1970's, a group of entomologists were working on a compound that attracted the insects to the trees and then brought the insects together on a tree. What we discovered were that the insects do produce what we call pheromone.
 Page 76       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    You might be aware of this. In gypsy moth traps, for instance, they have a pheromone that they put in their draws if they are female. As we were working on these pheromone, we identified one that had not been identified before.
    We thought it would be a synergist that synergizes the existing pheromone that we knew. To our surprise, we found that it did not. In fact, it had the opposite affect. That was a disappointment at first, but then we realized we really had a golden apple here.
    What appeared to be happening, when the female makes the attack on the tree and then she is joined. She puts out this pheromone and then the male joins her in the tree. Then more beetles come into the tree.
    A chemical is produced that kind of shuts off that mechanism that say, beetles go to another tree. We are occupied here. So, this chemical is what we call an anti- aggregate. It prevents the other beetles coming in and aggregating on that tree.
    This is a natural curing compound that is now being produced synthetically by scientists, chemists. It is a good tool to be used in areas like the blowdown to keep insects out of the trees from building up to huge populations.
    The Forest Service has been trying to register that compound for the last 20 years. They have received one road bock after another from EPA. EPA has been treating this material as a regular insecticide and it is not.
    It is a biological insecticide. I would encourage the subcommittee to do everything possible to encourage the EPA to work with the U.S. Forest Service and get that material registered because it is another tool that can be used and we need it very badly.
    Mr. WALDEN. I appreciate that.
    Mr. NEBEKER. I have got one comment.
    Mr. WALDEN. Yes.
    Mr. NEBEKER. The same thing is for the southern pine beetle. They have been working on verbanone and 4AA. They are two compounds that they are trying to get registered as well that are these anti-aggregates that follow apparently the same line.
 Page 77       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WALDEN. Since I am sort of in charge of the subcommittee, maybe we can get the EPA here at some point to address these issues. If no one else on the subcommittee has any questions, I am going to recess the subcommittee until after we have had this vote. Then we will return. I want to thank you all for your presentations and your testimony.
    I think it has been very enlightening and very helpful as we try and make our forests healthier. With that, I will recess the subcommittee, subject to the call of the Chair.
    Mr. GOODLATTE [presiding]. The subcommittee will reconvene. Before we get to the third panel, let me say that we have been having some more discussions regarding the possibility of some field hearings. We certainly want to include Congressman Walden's district in anything that we do of that nature.
    I think what we ought to do is shoot for something in the late spring or early summer. June might be a good time. I have got to look at some scheduling, before we pin that down. I will tell you that I definitely want to do it.
    Mr. KLINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that very much.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Our third panel includes Mr. Daniel Dessecker, a senior wildlife biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society. Mr. Charles Barnes is a private forest land owner. Ms. Susan Andrew is an ecologist for the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition.
    Mr. Joel Swanton is the manager of forest policy for Champion International Corporation. Mr. Charles Burley is the eastern Oregon manager for the Northwest Forestry Association.
    Mr. Dessecker, we welcome you to the subcommittee. We look forward to hearing your testimony.
 Page 78       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. DESSECKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    During my brief remarks this afternoon, I will limit my comments to the conditions as they exist in principally our eastern forest.
    First, I would, however, like to commend the subcommittee for recognizing that healthy diverse populations of forest wildlife are indeed critical components of forest health.
    Today's eastern forest, and again principally concentrating on our forests, exhibit relatively little variation in age. We are dealing largely with a middle-aged landscape, approximately 60 to 80 years of age.
    That is largely a result of past land use. Clearly, it can be unhealthy for any large tract of forest to be largely single aged. This predisposes that forest landscape to significant mortality if insects or disease become established.
    The data that the Forest Service presented earlier suggest that we look at about 24 percent of the mortality risk nationwide is directly attributable to gypsy moth. Obviously in the East, gypsy moth prefers oak. It highly prefers oak forests. Oak is a tremendous component, a significant component, of our eastern forests and a critical component as far as forest wildlife are concerned because, of course, oak produces acorns. Acorns are a primary food for many, many species of wildlife in the East.
    However, wildlife need not just food. They need appropriately structured habitats. They need forests that can indeed support their life requirements. The importance of a diverse forest landscape is documented by the failure of the Red Wolfe for introduction into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
    The Red Wolfe is a federally endangered species. The Park is approximately 500,000 acres of largely single aged forest. Thirty-seven wolves were released into the Park starting in 1992. Twenty-six very quickly left.
 Page 79       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The reason they left is because this single aged forest did not provide Red Wolves with a sufficiently diverse forest landscape to establish populations. This subcommittee specifically requested a response to each of three questions.
    I would like to address each one in turn.
    One, what is the management regime needed to contain or reduce risk to wildlife?
    Mr. Chairman, it is really very simple. What we need to try and establish and maintain is a variety of forests with regard to forest type and a variety of forests age classes; young, old, and everything in between. It is really not rocket science.
    Two, are current agency management practices consistent with this required management regime?
    We need to recognize that Forest Service lands have to be viewed as a component of a larger landscape. It cannot be simply be viewed in and of themselves. Although conditions vary by forests, in general and particularly our mountain forests in the East, we are dealing again with much middle aged forests; very little, very old forests and very little very young forests.
    With regard to wildlife that prefers very old forests, substantial agency land is off limits to active habitat manipulation and therefore will help to meet the requirements of these species in future years.
    With regard to wildlife that requires very young forests, due to policy decisions that have reduced our ability to implement needed wildlife habitat management practices, the needs of these species are not being met.
    As an example, on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, in 1998 only 25 percent of the acreage identified in the existing forest plan were treated. We have debt management initiatives.
 Page 80       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Our eastern forests, again in general are not adequately addressing the needs of wildlife species that require very young forest habitats. Our Eastern forests are not in general addressing the needs of this critical component of forest health.
    Three, what is the long-term impact on wildlife habitat if current management regime is continued into the future?
    Very old forests and constituent wildlife will become more abundant. Very young forests and constituent wildlife will become less abundant.
    In summary, we need to attempt to strike the proper balance between young forests, and old forests, and everything in between in order to minimize risk to our forests of significant mortality, from insect infestation and disease, and to maintain healthy populations of the full array of forest wildlife.
    I thank you for your time and your attention.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Dessecker appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. WALDEN [presiding]. Thank you.
    Let us go to our next panelist please; Mr. Barnes.
    Mr. BARNES. I am Charles Barnes from Craig County, VA. Craig County is a small County tucked in the Appalachian Mountains not far from Roanoke.
    We have a population of about 5,000 people. Over half of the land area is owned by the Jefferson National Forest. I am proud to be invited here today to testimony on behalf of the American Tree Farm System, of which I am a member.
    My wife and I live on the farm that was settled in the 1700's. We are proud of this 750 acres that boasts green pastures, clean water streams, healthy forests, and plentiful wildlife.
 Page 81       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We have lived on the farm for 37 years. Our forest land, which makes up about two-thirds of the farm and is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest has been certified sustainable by the American Tree Farm System since 1965.
    We have raised our three children on this land and have derived and continue to derive a great deal of personal satisfaction. As you can see, our family has strong ties to the land we live on.
    That makes us very much like other non-industrial, private forest land owners; particularly, the other 66,000 certified tree farmers like me who have pledged to leave their forests better than they found them.
    We are very much committed to excellent sustainable forestry and make certain that the future generations can enjoy all of the values of the forest, both economic and non- economic.
    I am here to share with you my thoughts regarding the importance of this series of maps that we heard about this morning. These maps carry with them a great deal of important information and great potential to the future health of our forests.
    I am not talking about just Federal lands which comprise only 16 percent of the total commercial viable forest lands, but the non-industrial private forest lands as well that make up 58 percent of our Nation's commercial viable forest lands and are owned by 9.9 million Americans.
    The positive impact these maps can have on the management of our National Forest is staggering when one envisions the potential they carry. Now, on a national scale risk can be assessed and planned for.
    It is not hard to see how forest management in relation to insect and disease has even a greater potential becoming proactive instead of reactive.
    These proactive management most certainly will result in reduced management expenditures, reduced loss of timber values, and ecological productivity, and improve the overall forest health.
 Page 82       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Fortunately, the value of these risk assessment maps hold is not limited to Federal lands. When adapted to and shared by private non-industrial forest landowners, these properties surrounded or adjoining in the vicinity of National Forest, and a substantial part of sustainable forest management planning can take place.
    For many of us, these maps will provide an opportunity we previously never had; an opportunity to look into the future and manage our forest lands in a manner that takes into account a risk potential as determined by credible science.
    However, I cannot stress enough that this new tool must not be unused. The money spent in developing them will be worthless if they are allowed to quietly lay in some back room here in Washington. Their value is proven only in use.
    Insect and disease do not respect property boundaries. For the Forest Service to be aware of risk and not act in an environmentally responsible manner to prevent it would be a sin. In my opinion, that holds true for all of us forest stewards.
    He has been called to my attention that this has happened before. In 1993, an infestation of the southern pine beetle occurred in the Indian Mountains Wilderness in east Texas. By the end of the year, nearly 12,600 acres of pine forest was killed.
    As I mentioned, insects respect no property boundaries. Due to the delayed and ineffectual control by the Forest Service to manage the outbreak, at least 24 adjoining non- industrial and industrial landowners suffered loss amounting to an estimated 662 acres as beetles spread directly across the wilderness boundaries.
    Also 1999, holds the same fear for us in the Appalachian Mountains. We have had two mild winters. The beetle activity is increasing. Will prompt action be taken? With the present policy, I am afraid not.
    I mentioned to you earlier that the Jefferson National Forest surrounds or tree farm. The health of that forest directly contributes to the health of our tree farm. A healthy forest is necessary to generate from forest harvesting, camping, hunting, and fishing income.
 Page 83       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Any loss of health on our forest lands will have serious impact on our family's ability to sustain the farm. If our land cannot sustain itself, the result may be it being sold for recreational or residential tracts and further fragmentation.
    I depend on the Forest Service to manage their lands in an environmentally responsible manner as I do mine. Unfortunately, my situation is not unique. Today's nonindustrial forest landowner faces considerable risk in long-term management of their forests.
    These new risk assessment maps offer another tool that may help lower that risk; help ensure the sustainability of our forest and provide a greater chance to pass it on to my children in better condition than when I received it.
    Thank you.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Barnes appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Barnes.
    Mr. Barnes, would you say that private land owners are more aggressive at combatting these infestations than what is occurring on public lands?
    Mr. BARNES. Yes, sir. In our area they are.
    Mr. WALDEN. You know, Mr. Barnes, where I am from out in Oregon actually the town I am from is 4,500 people. So, we probably have some similar rural roots. It is a fruit growing region as well.
    If private individuals do not spray their private fruit trees, somebody living in town has a cherry tree or an apple tree, then basically the County will come in and do it and charge them for it.
    The idea is to keep these pests out of our orchards. Of course, the farmers are doing that on a regular basis. I am struck by, if there is indeed any kind of a parallel here between what goes on in the fruit industry where we try and minimize and infestation.
 Page 84       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    If nobody sprayed, the orchards would be taken over; cherry fruit flies, apple maggots, you name it. So, we deal with that on an agricultural standpoint. I guess I am wrestling with is there a similar sort of mechanism that some day could be made to deal with some of these other infestations in our forest lands?
    Mr. BARNES. I am not aware of any policy at the time with the present non-aggressive policy of the Forest Service. With us being impacted so much by having being surrounded, whatever happens on their land will happen on ours.
    There is no way and I think it would take an act of you here in Congress for me to be able to require them in some way to do a spray program. We have the gypsy moth down the road.
    That is going to threaten us. We have a declining population of scarlet oak on the Forest Service and on our own private land. If that scarlet oak is not harvested and regenerated, then it is going to be a disaster when the gypsy moth does come.
    It is going to die quickly because of its stress and it is not very healthy. So, no, I do not know of any program in place, but it is something that is very much of a concern of ours.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Burns.
    Let us move now to our next witness, Ms. Susan Andrew.
    Ms. ANDREW. Good afternoon, Mr. Walden.
    My name is Susan Andrew. I am an ecologist on staff with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition. That is a forest conservation organization in Asheville, NC.
    My training and research interests have focused on the ecology and evolution of forests, rather than entomology or plant pathology. I am pleased that you are interested in an ecological perspective because I think it is important.
 Page 85       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I am also pleased to be here because I have an interest in helping decision makers make better use of scientific information. Our science program uses the analytical mapping tool known as the GIS, which made the maps that we are looking at today. We have one just like that.
    I am concerned because maps like those on display at this hearing can make powerful statements to viewers who are not always in a position to ask critical questions about the data underlying their development and so on.
    For example, in attempting to depict things at a national scale, as has already been discussed here today, there is a cost to the accuracy of the information that is being presented. The creators of the map can tell you that some of the largest red patches on the map denote areas of lower data accuracy, not larger areas at risk. Red is a scary color; right? I mean, it is a color of alarm. So, all of these messages can be conveyed. You have to be careful when you make maps like this.
    We simply do not know enough about forests that are at risk of being lost, completely lost, to forest pests and disease. That means that there is a certain degree of subjectivity to these maps.
    Professional judgment is necessarily involved. That is not all bad. But what we really need is hard data on the ground; real inventories that are subsidized, that are fortified with Federal dollars so that we can get the information we need to attack these problems.
    Some of the red areas that are intending to show forest lands most at risk of mortality on the map are simply derived by mapping known occurrence of the host forest type, not known occurrences of stands actually affected with pests.
    So, that highlights the need for increased funding and monitoring. We need those basic inventories and more site- specific map products; not at the national scale, but at the smaller scale, the watershed scale, the county scale, whatever.
 Page 86       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    A caution about the words ''forest health'' is in order. Biologists recognize that all living things are at risk of mortality. It is my experience that forest health can mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean. We witnessed the recent examples of legislation proposed to arrest the dramatic decline in forest health on the Federal lands through logging and weakening of environmental safeguards.
    This subcommittee should avoid adopting logically circular definitions of forest health which state that forest health is whatever management desires or prescribes it to be. Whenever possible, forest health should be measured against the native ecosystem's natural baseline of variability and resilience in the face of native pests and other natural disturbances. That, again, means more funding support for basic research and monitoring.
     Speaking as an ecologist, forests really should not be regarded as agricultural crops in the usual sense—their administration by the Agriculture Department not withstanding.
    Many of the most serious problems facing our forests in the Southeast are due to human-caused mistreatment. Forests planted in mono-cultural conditions are subject to attacks of greater severity by pests because they provide high host abundance for the pest.
    Our long leaf pine forests, native pines, which have been reduced to a tiny fraction of their historical distribution may suffer greater attacks of insects because fire has been excluded. Fire is an important ecological process in those ecosystems.
    What are the real forest health issues in the Southeast? Well, air pollution has got to top the list. That along with exotic invasions, exotic species coming in, and forest fragmentation, or forest conversion.
    Now, if the Forest Service were making map products that showed the risk of the loss of forests owing to those three things, air pollution, exotic invasions, and fragmentation, we would have a lot to talk about. We would have some meaty things to talk about.
 Page 87       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Just one example of air pollution: Mount Mitchell, NC, which is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, forests have been devastated by rainfall and acid fog with an average pH of 3.4, which puts it somewhere between lemon juice and battery acid. The forest up there—it is not a part of the ecological regime that they evolved with. It is not something that they can handle. They have been devastated, in combination with an exotic pest; the balsam wooly adeglid.
    Forest fragmentation and conversion. Fragmentation refers to the cutting up of forests at the landscape scale with non-forest uses. It reduces forests, the native forests, to vulnerable islands of threatened habitats. I think solutions to the problems of forest fragmentation are going to focus on some of the ecological problems that are presented by roads.
    The Ecological Society of America featured at their last annual meeting two half-day symposia on the negative ecological impacts of roads. It is very much a mainstream concept among ecologists that roads can bring in things that are bad for forests; exotic pests, fires, and, in some cases, poor management.
    So, I would like to encourage the subcommittee to make use of those natural ecological baselines, to collect that information where it is absent and make use of it in trying to prescribe sound forest management.
    [The prepared statement of Ms. Andrew appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you for your comments.
    Let us go now to Mr. Swanton.
 Page 88       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. SWANTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    My name is Joel Swanton. I am a resident of Holden, ME; another small rural community. I am employed as manager of forest policy for Champion International's operations in our Northeastern region.
    Champion is an integrated forest products company that manages forest lands, has lumber and paper manufacturing facilities across the United States, Canada, and Brazil. We currently own a little over 1 million acres in the Northeast now in Maine and in New Hampshire.
    That is a part of our ownership of over 5 million acres in the United States. In addition, as I said, we manufacture lumber and paper for society's needs. To supply those manufacturing facilities, we grow wood on our own land, but we also rely heavily on wood from other land owners.
    Many folks like Mr. Barns, a tree farmer who is here today, are a very, very important part of the fabric of the forests that are out there. The health and the productivity of all of the forest lands in this country are of critical importance to us, regardless of the type of ownership.
    I would like to share some thoughts with you on forest health from the perspective of a large land owner, and also from the perspective of somebody who has spent most of their career in the field and not in public hearings. I have been active in the Northeast for almost 25 years working on both large and industrial ownerships like Champion and working with small non-industrial owners across the region.
    Private forest land owners, both large and small, industrial and non-industrial are predominant in the Northeast, as David Struble from the Maine Forest Service articulated.
    Public lands, both State and Federal, are a much smaller part of our mix in our region. As Representative Clayton mentioned in her opening remarks this morning, the interdependence of everybody who lives in a forested area is absolutely critical.
 Page 89       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Employees of lumber and paper mills, secondary wood manufacturing facilities, loggers, and other forest workers, service and supply vendors, the local communities that depend either directly or indirectly on them, and forest-based recreation businesses, and other side issues all depend either directly or indirectly on that forest.
    In our Northeast region, direct employment alone in the forest products industry exceed 115,000 jobs with an annual of payroll income in excess of $4.3 billion. Champion manages our lands under the standards of the American Forest and Paper Association Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI. The key issues are on forest health, prompt reforestation, protection of water quality, enhancement of wildlife habitat and aesthetics, minimizing visual impacts of operations, protection of unique and special places, and biodiversity among many other things.
    We have recently committed to having all of our lands in the United States verified by an independent third party that we are managing those lands in compliance with SFI Standards. We have a history of over 100 years of forest management experience.
    We have learned a few things along the way. As you have heard from many other perspectives today, we know that there is an insect and disease for every tree in every forest that is out there, but that these symptoms and attacks are often symptoms of a larger preventable condition; over-matured, unmanaged forests in which trees have low vigor and are more susceptible to attack by damaging elements.
    Most of our efforts in terms of our own management are focused on preventing risks and keeping our forests healthy so that we do not have to deal with a crisis.
    Elements of the kinds of active management to minimize risks include: harvesting, using a variety of appropriate techniques to maintain a mix of age, classes, and species on the landscape that is appropriate for that area.
    Regeneration of mature forest through planting or natural regeneration systems to maintain an appropriate mix of younger, more vigorously growing forests on the landscape. An act of early management of young forest stands before they reach commercial stage to encourage development of healthy vigorously growing trees.
 Page 90       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    These kinds of activities can include: thinning, weeding, fertilizing, pruning, and activities such as that. Trees are a lot like people, in my experience. If you raise your kids well, you feed them well, you work with them at night like Mr. Tenny was last night to help them broaden their educational perspectives, they are likely to have a very healthy productive life that is going to minimize their risk from disease and other catastrophic problems.
    Trees are no different, if we take care of our forests and we keep them healthy. We are never going to take away all of the risks that can come after us, in terms of natural forests, but we can certainly minimize the risk that they are going to be susceptible to some of these issues.
    I will share with you an experience, one experience we have had in the Northeast, to give you an idea of what kind of devastation it caused and what we might have done to change the outcome.
    In the late 1970's and 1980's the spruce bud worm outbreak in the Northeast affected over 8 million acres of mature and over-matured spruce and fir forests across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
    If a Risk Assessment Map, like we have seen today had been prepared in the mid-1970's, the whole northern portion of Maine and those three States would have been colored solid red.
    Land owners impacted by that outbreak focused on three strategies: salvaging where we had to, control efforts through participation in a cooperative spray program put on by the Forest Service in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, and a difficult choice to let nature run its course in some areas and just let things go.
    The impacts of this event are still being felt. In Maine alone we lost over 10 million cords of spruce and fir that we were not able to salvage. Cord is an Eastern term of a pile of wood 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. It is about the size of this half of the table.
 Page 91       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We stacked 10 million in cords, end-to-end. We got a pile of wood 15,000 miles long. Champion, on our own ownership, lost over 1 million cords; enough to supply our three mills in Maine for 2 years without any other sources.
    The increased level of salvage has created a temporary shortfall in the spruce and fir by new young forests as it grows back. We can deal with that. That is a management issue. The social fallout over the rapid changes in our forests continues to drive the policy debates around forest practices on private lands in our region.
    Misunderstandings, as you heard earlier today, lack of timely information on the condition of the forests have created an unstable forest policy climate and public distrust. The FIA is a critical component of that.
    Lessons learned, more active management early in the life of that forest, through harvesting and regeneration activities likely would have resulted in a forest more resistant to such a massive insect outbreak.
    The young spruce fir forest, which resulted from that epidemic, is receiving more management. Although we cannot make the bud worm go away, it is our hope that when it does come back in its natural cycle, we will better be able to deal with it.
    Managed forests are simply less likely to be impacted by insect and disease risks. Regeneration and early stand management to keep the forests healthy are extremely expensive undertakings for private land owners. We must carry those costs for 20 to 40 years or more.
    One thing Congress can do to encourage those activities is to minimize barriers such as tax situations that make it discouraging for people to invest in that. Last year, Representative Jennifer Dunn introduced the Reforestation Tax Act of 1998, one section of which would have encouraged more reforestation efforts in this country by broadening an existing 10 percent tax credit and lowering the 5-year amortization for all reforestation expenses. It is a good example of something proactive that can be done to help.
 Page 92       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    In summary, the U.S. forest efforts that we have heard about today, resources for risk assessment, can best be used most effectively by one providing consistent, technical, and financial support for cooperative State-Based and regional Monitoring Assessment Programs, integrated with the ongoing annualized forest inventory that the Blue Ribbon panel has suggested.
    That will provide all land owners timely information about forest help by which they can make their management decisions. Two, developing accurate risk information at a national level for strategic use which seems to be the focus of the effort we have seen here.
    Three, provide adequate resources at a regional and state level to deal with the risks that have been identified, including adequate resources for quick and early intervention with appropriate tools to control insect and disease outbreaks where it is needed.
    Lastly, through State and private forestry and other appropriate initiatives brought to a State and local level assures the majority of the resources are directed to proactive, preventative measures to encourage better forest management. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure in this case.
    We thank the subcommittee for an opportunity to share our thoughts and would be pleased to address questions a little bit later.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Swanton appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Swanton.
    Now, we will hear from Mr. Charles Burley.
    Mr. BURLEY. Mr. Chairman and members of this subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to present testimony on forest health in eastern Oregon.
 Page 93       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    My name is Charles Burley. I am the eastern Oregon Manager for the Northwest Forestry Association. It is important to point out with forest health that time is of the essence.
    Lack of action results in heightened risks to the resource base due to wildfire, insects, disease, erosion, et cetera. I have some visuals to display these affects of delay. If time permits, I would like to go through those later.
    I will use two examples from the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon to highlight what our concerns are. These are the Summit fire, which Congressman Walden has referred to, and the Banner blowdown.
    The Summit fire burned in August 1996. It covered nearly 28,000 acres on the Malheur National Forest. Later that year, the Malheur decided to prepare an EIS to examine the consequences of salvaging fire-killed timber and restoring the burned area.
    During the preparation of the EIS, we and others repeatedly pointed out the need to treat as much of the area as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of repeated fires, and insect and disease attacks.
    Furthermore, timely salvage prevents deterioration in the product, quality, and value. After 2 years of environmental analysis and appeals of the original decision, the Malheur issued a second and final decision in July 1998. This decision was to treat only 6,700 acres or 24 percent of the burned area.
    As was predictable, given the very limited salvage and restoration effort, we now have an outbreak of beetles in and around the Summit fire. According to the agency's scientists, ''This outbreak of Western pine beetle has reached severe levels in terms of the present damage and potential for continuing losses for at least a couple of more years.''
    These losses include habitat essential for fish and wildlife. Furthermore, there is now a high risk of beetles spreading to adjoining stands, including private lands. The Banner blowdown is another example of the agency's inability to adequately address forest health problems.
 Page 94       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The Banner blowdown occurred as the result of the sever windstorm on July 2, 1998. High winds blew down, up-rooted, or broke the tops out of thousands of trees over an area of about 1,500 acres.
    What is of particular concern here is that the trees that are damaged or blown down provide abundant habitat for insects. The Forest Service surveyed the area 11 days after the event and found that insects were already colonizing the up-rooted or damaged trees.
    The likely outcome is a rapid buildup of populations leading to the insect spray into adjacent forest stands and causing widespread mortality. The most effective method to treat Banner blowdown is to salvage the damaged trees in an attempt to remove the habitat and thus prevent a buildup of insect populations.
    What is critical here is that the salvage must be done as soon as possible after the event. Generally, this means before the next insect flight season that is the following spring and summer.
    The Malheur has been slow in proceeding with the necessary and environmental analysis for a multitude of reasons, despite its full awareness of the problem. The forest has decided to prepare and EIS rather than an EA, which will take so long that there is no way salvage can occur before the beetles fly this spring.
    Again, the agency's own scientists share our concerns. In a report prepared September 1998, agency scientists stated that their, ''No. 1 recommendation, of course, is to get the blowdown out as quickly as possible. This action alone can be the most important and effective procedure in preventing the increase of beetle populations if done in a timely manner and over a large area in the blowdown.'' So, it is clear that time is of the essence in events such as Summit and Banner blowdown.
    Without a timely and aggressive response, such isolated events can lead over just a few years to major outbreaks and significant loss to forest resources as has been witnessed in the Blue Mountains in the recent past.
 Page 95       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    To summarize, the Forest Service is simply not aggressive enough in dealing with forest health problems when they first manifest themselves. This includes not being timely, as well as failing to address the problem across the landscape.
    It is quite apparent that region 6, Oregon and Washington, used the process as the end rather than the means to accomplishing resource objectives on the ground. They have become so worried about trying to bullet-proof a decision, that they have created a bureaucratic process that consumes time and money, fails to accomplish the necessary resource objectives, and ends up being challenged in the courts anyway.
    There is a pervasive and excessive aversion to risk in region 6. This applies to both the management and regulatory agencies. They simply will not accept any short-term risk for long-term benefits.
    Mr. Chairman, if time permits, I would like to present my visuals at this time. Otherwise, again, I thank you for this opportunity. I will be happy to answer an questions.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Burley appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
    Mr. GOODLATTE. We would be happy to have you present your visuals.
    Mr. BURLEY. Thank you.
    You have handouts. I will just go through these handouts, photos. I would like you to, if you would, please start with the one labeled photo 1.
    These first two photos, 1 and 2, are pictures of a pine forest in eastern Oregon. These are industrial forest lands. In fact, they were recently purchased by a company from a private, actually rancher if you will in about 1994.
    When these lands were purchased by the industrial company, they looked a lot like the neighboring Forest Service lands. They were heavily overstocked. A lot of trees were dead and dying.
 Page 96       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    When the company bought these lands, the first thing they did over the course of 2 or 3 years was went in there, removed all of the dead and dying material, and cleaned this up. What you see now is the result of their activities.
    The are predominantly pine stands; ponderosa pine. You can see that they are uneven aged. There are mixed age classes in there. If you ask me, they look pretty good. So, when we talk about what is a healthy forest, I like to show pictures like this and say, well, that looks pretty good to me.
    Photos 3 and 4, in contrast, are what the area on the Malheur National Forest looked like prior to the Summit fire. These are obviously very overstocked, very dense stands, mixed species, and for the most part, dead. Photo No. 3, I am guessing if you looked at that mortality, and theirs is well-over 90 percent.
    Photos 5, 6, and 7 are all pictures of the Summit fire, after it burned. Five is sort of a bird's eye view, but 6 and 7 gives you a really good feel for what it looks like on the ground after a fire of this magnitude and intensity goes through the area.
    Virtually every tree is killed except for, as we hear earlier, there were some pockets that were left. The soils are, you know, whatever materials on top of the soils burned off.
    In some cases, we ended up with what is called hydropic soils, where the soils are literally baked and the water cannot penetrate them. So, it is a very, very intense fire and really quite damaging to the resource base.
    Photo 8 was taken on the Tower fire which was to the north on the Umatilla National Forest, but also burned at the same time as the Summit fire did.
    Photos 8, 9, and 10 really kind of go together because what 8 shows is a road that crosses what is called Oriental Creek. Oriental Creek is tributary to the north fork at the John Day River. It is an anandromous stream. It has got Bull Trout. It is also of importance for Steelhead.
 Page 97       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    What we see here is that in photo 9, after the fire, you can see that, of course, the trees were all consumed in there.
    Photo 10 shows us the following year there was a storm event that went through the area. You can see the amount of sediment and debris that washed in there and clogged up the stream.
    What photo 8 shows you is that in fact that road actually was just absolutely obliterated. It blew out. It is about a 24 foot deep cut there. It blew out the culvert.
    Photos 11 and 12 are from the same vantage point.
    Photos 13 and 14 are just looking downstream. Again, what this gives you is a before and after of what happens when we do not go in and salvage and restore these burned areas. If we just sit back and let these things go, we end up with quite a bit of additional damage that we think could be prevented.
    Last, is a handout which is the same as this chart up here. What this shows you is the loss and how quickly the loss in economic value can occur when we do not salvage the dead trees from these fires and other types of impacts.
    These boards are numbered, you will notice, across the top. One and two, the top two, starting on the left, these are all Ponderosa Pine boards. The first two would show you boards immediately after a fire that were cut.
    The first one is what we call 5/4 select. You will notice there are no knots in there. It is really high quality board used mostly for trim; doors, molding and that type of stuff.
    The value of that is roughly $2,500 per 1,000 board foot. The second one has got some knots. So, it does not grade out quite as high. It is about $775 per 1,000.
    The next two boards, 3 and 4, would be the following spring. So, we are talking about having spent a winter. You can see already that we are starting to get some blue stain creeping into these boards here.
 Page 98       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Blue stain is caused by a fungus introduced when the bugs started getting into the wood after the fire. Five and 6 shows you the following fall. So, we have already spent a whole year now without salvaging this material. You can see that we are starting to get some bug holes in them. Those little dots on those boards are not a matter of reproduction. Those are actual worm holes starting to show up.
    Then 7 and 8 are 2 years after the burn. This is exactly the type of thing we are seeing with the Tower fire, the Summit fire, and everything else, when the Forest Service takes 2 years to get these things up.
    We now have boards which, for all intents and purposes, are almost worthless for their original intent. They are so full of blue stain and worm holes that what was board No. 8, for instance, originally a 5/4 select at $2,500 a unit is now about a No. 4 common, which maybe would sell for studs.
    Actually, the $300 per unit is rather optimistic under today's market. So, what this does is it just gives sort of a graphic depiction of how quickly and how significantly the value deteriorates.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you.
    That is very useful and fascinating information. I appreciate you putting that into the record.
    Mr. Barnes, I apologize for not being in the room when you testified and for not noting that you are a very close neighbor of mine from Craig County, VA; actually in Congressman Boucher's district, but I am sure you do work in my district which is right next to it.
    We are very glad to have you. There has been criticism of some of the State Departments of Forestry. I wondered if you might comment on the kind of work, from your experience, that they have done.
 Page 99       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. BARNES. Mr. Chairman, I have worked with the Virginia Department of Forestry for 30-odd years. They have always been there to help us, to educate us anytime we beckoned them.
    This has continued on until today. We think that they are establishing a good record, contrary to some sensational press that we have seen in the Roanoke paper in the last months where they found a few bad apples.
    In a 1998 audit, there was just 4 percent that had 100 percent compliance. There was 90 percent that had passing scores on BMPs. This is considering the fact that we have only had the written BMP since 1989. We did not have it 10 years ago.
    These written BMPs are on a voluntary basis. They have moved us along very well. I think in all respects that the Department has served us well.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. With regard to the U.S. Forest Service, how critical is the management of neighboring Forest Service land to your ability to manage insect and disease risks on your own land?
    Mr. BARNES. Paramount. We are totally dependent on them. In our individual case, we are surrounded by three sides of the Jefferson. Our place is in the valley with all of the mountain land owned by the Forest Service.
    So, whatever control they do or do not do is where we are either going to suffer or benefit from. Right now, we are a little alarmed because, as I said in my presentation, we have had a couple of warm winters.
    The southern pine beetle look like it is active again. Most all of our ridges on the mountains have yellow pine. That is its preferred species. We do not have much yellow pine on our place, but we do have white pine.
    It is very important to us. If the infestation gets too higher, then we will see that spread over into the white pine. Right now, the lack of cutting or the decline in cutting, the difficulty in cutting, they only cut for emergency or public safety. By the time they get approval for emergency cutting in the district, it is usually too late to have done a good job in heading off the infestation.
 Page 100       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. As we noted earlier as we looked at these maps produced by the Forest Service, the area in which you and I live is one of the most heavily impacted areas in the country; the western part of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of West Virginia.
    How would you like to see these maps used to protect private land like yours from insect and disease risk?
    Mr. BARNES. Well, from what I have learned here today, it sounds like that is not their intent, but I would like to see them take it on down to a local level.
    I would like to see input so that I could pull it up on my computer screen and see what is coming and what is happening. I think in keeping them current is very, very important.
    Of course, with this information age, we know the GIS, we can pull up tax maps. We can look at all of these other things. I would like to be able to see the same thing about my forestry.
    Ms. ANDREW. Mr. Chairman, if I could chime in on the end of that?
    Mr. GOODLATTE. I was going to get to you in just a second.
    Ms. ANDREW. The data that comes out of a GIS are only as good as the data that go in. If the data on stand specific occurrences of pests or other features that you want to study are not in the data base, you are not going to be able to pull them up on your computer.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, I think that is a point well-taken.
    Mr. BARNES. Let us have a water data base. Let us reach down farther.
 Page 101       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Absolutely; absolutely. Of course, a lot of the data is coming up from the local level.
    Mr. BARNES. Somebody said earlier in a presentation, and I know this sounds a little critical. We have a good relationship with the Forest Service, but they said they road around in fire trucks—fire danger.
    We see an awful lot of riding around in our district. I do not know what they are doing. So, they could be out there gathering some data, you know.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you.
    Ms. Andrew, we want to welcome you. I want to apologize for missing your testimony as well. I have had an opportunity to look at your written testimony.
    I appreciate your support for having a Virginian from at least your neck of the woods, if you will, holding the gavel on this subcommittee. I look forward to working with Southeasterners like you and others here today to address the issues that are unique to our region of the country.
    I also appropriate what you had to say about the need for more data. You have reaffirmed that now. I want to ask if you are familiar with the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program that is supported by a broad range of interests, including the Society of American Foresters, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Wilderness Society?
    I wonder if you support that effort?
    Ms. ANDREW. Very much so, sir. It is an effort that probably deserves more funding than it has had traditionally. It is very valuable. It needs to be updated more regularly. It will be much more useful if it is a little less historical.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Do you think this program, coupled with the Forest Service's risk mapping process will help provide the kind of data we need to appropriately manage risk on the ground like we are talking about here?
 Page 102       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Ms. ANDREW. It could be if they will collect data at a site specific scale. The national scale maps that we are looking at today are not much help, except in targeting for where on the ground inventories ought to be done.
    That is the primary value of these maps in my view. In most cases, they mapped where a certain density of the host forest type for a particular pest is found, not according to the pest. They map the host forest types, so let us go look there and see what we have got on the ground.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Do you concur with Mr. Burley's analysis that we are losing an awful lot of value in terms of timber that is put at risk by not quickly getting in and salvaging after a fire or after a major insect infestation?
    He has pretty dramatically for me demonstrated that if you wait very long, the value to obviously the timber companies, but really to society in general, is greatly reduced if we do not do something reasonably quickly.
    Ms. ANDREW. You are asking me to respond to the scenario he described, a Western scenario, again, a place where fires burn with a greater intensity, size, and scale than they do here in our Southern Appalachian wet, moist environment.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Sure. But I have had folks in the Appalachian Forest Management Group take me around to parts of my Congressional district in Virginia and show me timber stands that they have not been able to get a reasonably quick ability to salvage because of various bureaucratic delays or procedures required by the law.
    By the time something can be done, the economic value of those stands in the East in my district have been greatly diminished too. I am sure the economies are somewhat different. The principle would seem to hold true in both places.
    Ms. ANDREW. Well, you are asking an ecologist, not a forest economist.
 Page 103       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Sure. I understand.
    Ms. ANDREW. My interest in the forest and my study of forest has focused on their ecological values. It is my experience that access is not the primary problem. In fact, access a part of the problem in some places.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Could you elaborate on that?
    Ms. ANDREW. Where fire has been excluded, for instance, there are native forest ecosystems in the Southeast that depend on the regular disturbances caused by fire.
    When fire is excluded, for instance, in the long leaf pine Savannah ecosystems, the insect pests get out of control. You would not believe it.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. It is awfully difficult to manage forest fires on a large scale, particularly in the East where you have populations in and around the forests, and you have the added problem of, I would assume, air pollution if you have the kind of fires allowed to continue that would naturally occur.
    So, it seems to me that while that observation is correct that certain types of natural occurrences will take place when forest fires are not allowed to spread, which would control the insect problem in and of themselves, you then have to take an additional management step of saying, okay, now that the insect problem is here, a prompter salvage of certain areas might, one, limit the problem with the insects, and two, at least salvage a greater economic value from the forest stand.
    Ms. ANDREW. Yes. What I said during my testimony is that in the southern Appalachians, especially our forest health problems, exotic pests, air pollution, and forest fragmentation—those are our three greatest problems.
    They do not have a silvicultural tool as their solution. Salvage is sharply limited in the solutions it can provide to those three problems.
 Page 104       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. GOODLATTE. But if you add in the economic consideration, even though it may not be a total solution for the health of the forest, at least there is the added benefit of not taking a healthy forest somewhere else and instead utilizing to the fullest economic extent possible trees that are already dead or were headed that way anyway.
    Ms. ANDREW. Yes. But taken to its extreme, I think that scenario might be problematic for the vast majority of the public. But my organization is not anti-logging.
    I think there might be some light salvage techniques that could advance, as Mr. Dessecker testified, it could advance the ecosystem, some ecosystems in the southern Appalachians, back to a point where they might be better able to resist some of the onslaughts that we are dishing out at the moment.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. We will come back to that. I want to recognize, the gentleman from Oregon.
    Mr. WALDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I appreciate that. I just want to go back because I think these photos are so instructive of what we face. To show you where it is properly managed on the industrial lands, you could have a fire and not do grave damage to the timber.
    Where it has not been managed on mostly public lands, you have an inferno when it occurs. Ms. Andrew, I understand your concern about the color red on these maps. I can sympathize with that.
    The color red also is that which falls from borate bombers to put out forest fires. I have been stopped along roads in my district as they flew overhead, literally, to drop war borate to prevent the spread of fire into urban areas and just out in the rural areas trying to stop fire.
    That is a big issue. But moreover, I think when the fire has occurred in this display, and I have actually seen these boards up close and personal in Prairie City. I guess I sort of think of myself and the Congress as being on the board of directors of a pretty big company in a sense.
 Page 105       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We are here to play a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the taxpayers. I would be sued by stockholders of the bank board I am on if I let our asset go from a $2,500 or an $800 board down to one that is $300 or less. I wish there was some way we could reach an accommodation whereby we could protect the environment, stream flows, and habitat, yet be able to go in and access what is a resource that could keep the mills running in a county that last year in one month had 19 percent unemployment.
    You see, unlike this part of the world, there is not that much private forest land out in this area. It is almost predominantly all public. There is some. There are sections.
    Predominantly, a lot of these communities are surrounded by the national forest. They see this timber sitting there burned, losing its value, and it goes on for an indeterminate amount of time; a couple of years.
    It loses it value. We fight it out in the courts. Finally, they come to the decision, yes, you can harvest some of it. Then it goes for a value of, I do not know, $20 million or $30 million, we can debate how much, down to $1 million.
    The schools lose. The county road funds lose. The mills do not have the timber to operate from. We are not in there doing the replanting that we ought to be doing. So, I do not know that I have asked you a question, but I have expressed a frustration that just eats on me every day.
    I do not know if any of the other panelists want to comment on that.
    Ms. ANDREW. I appreciate your concern for, you know, if you were a managing stockholder and what would happen to you. Would you lose your job if your forest were managed this way?
    As you were talking I thought, you know, salvage sales are routinely below cost. And the taxpayers do sue, just as you suggested using your analogy——
 Page 106       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WALDEN. Let me suggest that those salvage sales, in many cases, are down now to where trees—one of you know this better than I—12 to 15 inches. I read a memo the other day that trees over 15 inches are not to be harvested because someday they might, now this is green, might grow into old growth.
    So, the Forest Service is saying only things smaller. The mills have completely redesigned themselves to take timber that is this big when we used to harvest huge stuff. So, of course the dynamics change in the equation.
    It is pretty hard to have a profitable sale when you leave big trees, and I have seen them up close that are burned deader than a doornail along side of the road because it is a big tree we are going to leave behind.
    Ms. ANDREW. Yes. Bad fires result from the exclusion of fire. The fuel builds up and then the fire that results is much worse than it might have been.
    Mr. WALDEN. Would not getting in and doing thinning, and removing overstocking, would that not help too?
    Ms. ANDREW. Yes.
    Mr. WALDEN. Do we have to just rely on fire?
    Ms. ANDREW. No. I am not advocating that we rely only on fire.
    Mr. WALDEN. What should we do? What do we do when these forests look like in these pictures and are just infernos waiting to happen? I mean humans have invaded everything. Should we not just go in and try and fix this?
    Ms. ANDREW. I do not know that I know enough to offer a solution to western forest problems because my expertise has focused here in the East. Fire really is not the problem here.
    If you can help us fix our problems with air pollution, with exotic pest introductions, and forest fragmentation we would be very much in your debt.
 Page 107       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. WALDEN. Well, I would be happy to help you to the extent I can. I appreciate the fact that you are not looking at the Western side. It just seems to me there ought to be a streamline process of some sort to be able to get in there and deal with something.
    Ultimately, we end up getting in 2 years late. The value of the trees are gone. Now, we have the blowdown sitting there. I have flown over it and seen it. You would think that we would get in there, and deal with it, and we are not.
    Mr. Burley, if I might just address that question to you. I mean, you see it from both sides. You have worked in the Forest Service for 10 years. I mean, what do you think we ought to be doing in terms of the blowdown, for example.
    Mr. BURLEY. Well, I mean the blowdown is, you know, one example. The agency today has just gotten so bogged down in the process, as I have said in my testimony. As far as I am concerned, in a lot of cases, they have just absolutely have lost touch with, you know, what is the real ultimate objective here on the ground?
    Instead they get all hung up on doing maps in the Washington office and doing EISs and watershed analysis that are this thick. Yes, it is no wonder we have got below cost timber sales when we spend so much time doing those things and not once, but twice, or three times because of administrative appeals, legal challenges, and everything else.
    By the time we end up selling stuff, it is not of any value. There are some things. The process itself needs to be looked at. In region 6, and I cannot speak for the rest of the country as far as the Forest Service, but we have got watershed analysis.
    Now, with the our road policy, we have got analysis that we are going to have to do. We have got consultation on the fish, and on this, and on that, and everything you can think of. I mean, by the time you get through all of this process, it is 2 years later.
    The regulatory agencies are very culpable in this whole thing; the National Marine and Fishery Service and the Fish and the Wildlife Service, as far as trying to cut through the consultation red tape.
 Page 108       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Conversely, the Forest Service does have some options right now. We have been trying to encourage them on Summit, on the Banner blowdown, on the Tower fire and some of these other things to try and utilize the emergency status that the Chief has the discretion to grant, which allows them to exempt these things from administrative appeals, which automatically wax 90 days off the timeframe.
    To request exemptions under NEPA from CEQ that allows them to shorten certain timeframes without compromising the end result; without compromising the environmental safeguards.
    It just allows them to shorten the timeframe and get these things done quicker. That is why I keep saying that time is of the essence. We need to figure out how to do that without compromising the underground results. We just need to get it done faster.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman.
    Mr. Swanton, we are going to get a buzzer here again. We are going to have to adjourn. I think we will finish up the hearing at that point.
    I do want to ask you how the Forest Service Risk Mapping Initiative can help us avoid problems like those that you encountered with the Spruce Bud worm?
    Mr. SWANTON. The best impact that we could see out of it as a land owner, either large or small, would be as a strategic tool for the U.S. Forest Service to help focus both technical and financial resources down to a State and local level to assist organizations like the Maine Forest Service or the New Hampshire Department, to have continually updated information about the condition of our forests, and know where the risks are at a local level so that all land managers and State policy makers can make decisions that best help us address those issues.
    The FIA process combined with the forest health monitoring, and with a new approach of trying to have an annualized inventory where the forest is constantly measured, constantly assessed so that on a rolling 5 year basis we have good current information.
 Page 109       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    That is really going to help significantly. As an example, in Maine we had an FIA inventory in 1982, right in the peak of our Bud Worm epidemic. Our next one was 13 years later before we had good updated information about the condition of the forests in that State.
    We cannot afford to wait that long. So, this is a strategic tool to help direct those resources to a State and local level. We think it has got some value.
    Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, thank you very much.
    I want to thank all of you for your participation to day. We look forward to continuing to work with each and every one of you. We very much value your willingness to contribute your ideas to the subcommittee.
    At this time, the Chair would seek unanimous consent to allow the record of today's hearing to remain open for 10 days to receive additional material and supplementary written responses from witnesses to any question posed by a member of the panel.
    Without objection, it is so ordered.
    This hearing of the Subcommittee of Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry is adjourned.
    Thank you.
    [Whereupon, at 2:17 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
    [Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Statement of Ann Bartuska
    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee:
    Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Forest Service 's forest health risk mapping effort. The Forest Service last testified on forest health on September 28, 1998 before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, in conjunction with the release of the General Accounting Office 's (GAO)report, Western National Forests, Catastrouhic Wildfires Threaten Resources and Communities.
 Page 110       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    My name is Ann Bartuska. I am the Director of Forest Management under the Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems. I am accompanied today by Mr. Denny Truesdale, Assistant Director for Fire Operations.
    I would like to discuss four items today:
    1. The large and complex issue of forest ecosystem health conditions, particularly as they relate to the key indicators of forest insects and diseases, fire risk, and wildland/urban interface;
    2. The development of the risk mapping project that the Forest Service is leading;
    3. Preliminary results of the risk mapping project; and,
    4. The potential use of this tool by the Forest Service in a cohesive, coordinated approach for dealing with the complex issue of forest ecosystems at risk.
    There are approximately 737 million acres of forested lands in the United States. Approximately 192 million acres are National Forest System lands and of those, 140 million acres are forested. The health of these forests is an issue for the private landowners, Federal and state land managers, and, the public that uses and enjoys them. The Forest Service 's Natural Resource Agenda identifies both watershed health and forest sustainability as key goals, and healthy forest area a critical component of meeting these goals.

    Forest ecosystems are dynamic and constantly changing, with a number of forces acting on them.
Effective tire suppression policies, coupled with other natural and human-caused events such as grazing, has put some of these forests at risk. For example, the exclusion of fire from forest ecosystems in the inland west coupled with the spread of white pine blister rust has resulted in increased amounts of shade-tolerant Douglas fir, grand fir, and subalpine fir species that are highly susceptible to drought, fire, and especially root disease.
 Page 111       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Large numbers of exotic species have been introduced into forest ecosystems in many areas, severely effecting the host species. These pests often have no natural control factors and thus cause extensive damage. Gypsy moth, for example, is an introduced species that defoliates and often kills hardwoods.

    Native pathogens and insects are natural change agents in the forest ecosystem. The southern pine
beetle has caused heavy losses since the eighteenth century. The significance of this problem has
increased with the conversion of abandoned cotton fields to pine forests and as a result, we have seen a dramatic comeback in southern pine beetle outbreaks in several areas in the southeastern United States.

    Fire suppression for many decades has resulted in the build-up of both live and dead fuels in some forest ecosystems, creating a much higher fuel hazard than would normally occur under natural processes that include frequent, low-intensity fires. This is especially true of the long needle pine forest cover types.

    The rapid expansion of rural and urban settlement, especially in the west, means more and more people now live within or adjacent to forests that have one or more of these high risk situations. In some forest cover types, large catastrophic fires have been extremely costly to suppress due to the threat to lives and property. For example, during the past decade we have experienced some of the worst wildland fire seasons in our history. The 1994 and 1996 tires set records for the cost for suppression, accounted for tremendous damage to resources and property, and most tragically, the South Canyon Fire accounted for 14 of the 34 fire fighter fatalities in 1994.
 Page 112       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Previous testimony to Congress by both the GAO and the Forest Service indicated that there are approximately 39 million acres at risk from catastrophic fire, based on long needle pine cover type maps
of National Forest System lands. These forests are characterized by a historic fire regime with frequent, low intensity fires that remove dead fuel and brush but does not damage the pines. We believe that the
risk mapping effort, which integrates multiple forest health factors, will provide a new, more comprehensive assessment of the condition of our nation's forests.

    The Forest Service is dealing aggressively with forest health problems. Since the mid–1990's, the Forest Service has tripled its budget for hazardous fuel treatment, and doubled its budget for forest thinning. Congress has also funded Southern pine beetle suppression projects including detection, evaluation, and control. Another example is the Gypsy Moth Slow-the-Spread (STS) program, which began as a pilot project between 1993 and 1998 in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Michigan, and has now been adopted nationally. The STS program will help slow the spread of gypsy moth by at least 60percent; it has proven to be a very economically efficient program.
    The Forest Service is taking the lead in development of this mapping effort. We will work with the Department of Interior to coordinate efforts. The risk maps are a new tool that use the best available information and data on insect and disease potential, fire recurrence intervals, and wildland/urban interface to produce composite large-scale maps of forest lands that indicate areas of high, moderate, and low risk. Individually and in combination, these maps will provide a significant amount of broad scale information for national program development. In addition, the data will be available regionally as a starting point for more local priority setting, and may eventually be expanded to include other areas and ecosystems.
 Page 113       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The information on these maps is at the scale of watersheds, which average approximately 800,000 acres in size. Each data element, or pixel, used on these maps is based on data for an area of one square kilometer. Although this scale is much too broad to be of use in design of site-specific projects, it is
very useful for evaluating risk potential at a broad regional or national level.
    Multiple layers can be produced on a geographic information system (GIS). The presence of one of these risk factor attributes, or the overlap of two or more of these factors would be an indication of where a watershed or portion of a watershed would be at risk for one or more of these important aspects of forest health. The two maps described below that have been produced from the GIS database and are currently available as examples of the application and use of this risk assessment effort. These maps illustrate:
    Expected areas at risk of insect and disease caused tree mortality during the next 15 years.
    Levels of effort required to reduce fire risks in wildland areas, and fire vulnerability of wildland/urban interface areas.
    We are coordinating with other agencies, state foresters, and other interested parties to incorporate information they develop. This first set of products will start further discussions and collaborations to ensure that the information and products are useful, accurate, and have the general support from interested parties.
    Some of the database information, and thus maps generated from the database, do not yet reflect interagency review and consensus. This review will be taking place over the next few months, and after that phase is completed, more comprehensive maps will be available.
    Two maps currently available are examples of what can be produced for analysis and use from this effort. The first depicts risk potential for insect and disease on all forested lands throughout the United States across all ownerships. The map identifies areas most susceptible to insect and disease damage over the next 15 years. The risk from four major agents make up the bulk of the high risk areas. These are gypsy moth in the northeast, root disease and mountain pine beetle in the west and interior west, and southern pine beetle in the south. Exhibit I attached to this testimony is an example of this map.
 Page 114       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The second map combines two important aspects of fire risk. The map illustrates the level of effort necessary to return wildland ecosystems to easily maintained fuel levels in wildlands and wildland/urban interface areas. Some areas have undergone such dramatic change that restoration may not be practical and intervention may focus on protection from destructive fires. Other areas have not deviated as far from historic conditions and require low to moderate levels of effort to achieve fuel maintenance at levels with acceptable risk.

    At this time we have complete data coverage only for National Forest System lands. For State and private lands, we are only able to show wildland/urban interface fire vulnerability and not the levels of effort needed to reduce tire risks on the non-Federal lands. Exhibit II attached to this testimony is an example of this map.

    The initial risk maps provide a basis for a strategic examination and dialogue on forest health problems on all lands. They serve as a coarse filter to focus our attention on broad geographic areas within which we will conduct further analyses on a watershed basis. The overlap of layers represent watersheds or portions of watersheds that are at risk for these important aspects of forest health. This is a new opportunity for the Forest Service to be able to display spatially where relatively high-risk areas are located and to ascertain the magnitude of the risk nationwide. It will also encourage us to prioritize and to coordinate better among the different programs within the Forest Service and with our partners.


    The use of this information is mainly at a broad planning level, but it can also be tiered from for local planning efforts. At the broad planning level, the information will be useful for both trend analysis and land based performance measures associated with the Forest Service 's strategic planning efforts. The information can also be useful at other planning levels in terms of setting broad priorities for forest health treatment strategies.
 Page 115       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    At the national level, the Forest Service is developing an integrated set of performance measures that are mission-oriented outcomes. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) strategic plan goals are to ensure sustainable ecosystems, through clean water, clean air, productive soils, robust fish and wildlife populations, healthy forests and grasslands through improved knowledge and decision making and improved natural resource management and use. The risk maps identify acres at risk at the national and regional levels, and should facilitate the commitment of resources across staff areas to address these high-risk areas, which will help meet GPRA goals for sustainable and healthy forests.

    The Forest Service may also be able to use this information to help guide Regional budget allocations in the fiscal year 2000. The mapping process can also provide information that could be used as input for helping to set priorities in the fiscal year 2001 and 2002 budget processes.

    As an example, a general process for setting priorities based on the information from the risk maps could include development of broad, coarse-filter maps as the foundation for strategic evaluation of forest health. These maps would provide data that would help focus attention on certain geographic areas. Following initial identification of risk areas in conjunction with external input, watersheds would be identified for further analysis. Localized planning processes would then proceed, including development of potential treatment scenarios to address forest health threats. Through the planning process, areas would be categorized and prioritized using a triage system that identifies where no action is needed, where no action is warranted due to lack of effective or cost-efficient treatment options, and where action is warranted and deemed to be both effective and efficient. Any necessary adjustments to programs would be made to incorporate the results of planning efforts and allocate resources to where the greatest benefits can be achieved. Finally, monitoring would be done, and updates to the risk map database would be done as appropriate.
 Page 116       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The Idaho Panhandle Douglas-fir Bark Beetle Outbreak assessment is an example of the application and use of this type of information. This analysis took broad watershed-level data and information, including insect and disease risk information, and through a local planning process that was guided by the existing Forest Plan, identified approximately 4 16,000 acres of existing infestation and areas with moderate to high potential for outbreak. The process then sorted this information and refined it by watersheds to begin focusing on site-specific areas. The result was a targeted number of projects that focused on the 25,000 highest priority acres based on local, site-specific information that included full public
involvement and participation.

    It is important to note for both the above example on the Idaho Panhandle, and in general when dealing with broad risk assessment information, that the actual treatment areas may often constitute only a relatively small percentage of the overall number of acres initially identified as being at risk. It is likely that as more site-specific analyses are done using this information, that the total number of acres that are identified at the broad, strategic level as high priority will be significantly reduced

    The risk mapping process is a foundation for a cohesive strategy for identifying and treating high risk forest areas through an integrated program utilizing multiple approached to accomplish our objectives, such as stewardship contacting, timber sale and vegetation management contracts, forest insect and disease suppression and prevention projects, fuels management projects, and forest ecosystem restoration and improvement projects.

    These maps, coupled with other planning resources will be of use to communities seeking to minimize their fire risk exposure. The fiscal year 2000 budget included $10 million in new programs in Cooperative Fire Protection to encourage greater community participation and fire planning in reducing fire risk in the wildland/urban interface. The program offers competitively awarded grants for State and local communities to partially support community planning and disaster prevention and hazard mitigation assistance. The program coordinates with states and localities to reduce long-term wildfire costs for the government, the communities and homeowners (Insurance company participation may provide a subsequent reduction in insurance premiums for those in participating communities) through prevention, including hazardous fuels reduction.
 Page 117       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


    Mr. Chairman, the risk mapping effort is one of the significant tools we will use to provide important collaborative effort between the Federal Government and state foresters to look at broad, large scale areas at risk for important indicators of forest health. The information gathered on GIS will provide a mechanism for periodic updates and trend analysis, and will be useful in long range strategic priority setting. The preliminary results that identify high potential risk in certain regions of the United States will enable us to better focus our priorities for direct treatment of the risk areas, as well as better focus our assistance to state and private entities through our cooperative forestry and research programs.
    This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.
    "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."

Testimony of LeRoy N. Kline
    Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to present the following testimony. My name is LeRoy Kline from Salem, Oregon. I am presenting this testimony on behalf of the Northwest Forestry Association (NFA). The members of NFA include primary forest product manufacturers throughout Oregon and Washington. NFA's members rely on public timber for all or part of their raw material needs.

    I received a BS in Forest Management from Utah State University and an MS in Forest Entomology from Oregon State University. After Graduate School I worked for the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming as protection forester on bark beetle control; timber management forester for the US Forest Service on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the State of Washington and the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. I then went to work with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)in 1965 as the state's first forest entomologist. I later became the Forest Health/Insect and Disease Manager, holding that position until my retirement in March 1998, concluding with 37 years in the profession.
 Page 118       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


    The forest health problem in Oregon and throughout the western United States has not gone away. There are thousands of acres of dead and dying trees, many acres that are stagnated and overstocked, badly needing thinning. This situation has contributed to many of the recent forest fires in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. There is continuing defoliation by the western Spruce budworm in central Washington; increasing populations of the Douglas-fir tussock moth in eastern Oregon; increasing populations of the Douglas-fir bark beetle and Englemann spruce bark beetle (due to recent fires and blowdown); and serious concern over the Swiss needle cast along the Oregon Coast. The list of problems could go on and on. The issues are as great as ever and it appears that the US Forest Service is still unable to get out ahead of the problem. Action on part of the agency is necessary and required.
    I would first like to start with a brief overview of the function of insects and diseases in the forest ecosystem. Insects and diseases are an integral component of forest ecosystems and a major component of biodiversity. Generally speaking, they are not the cause, but rather symptoms of a stressed condition, a system that is out of balance. Insects and diseases have evolved along with their tree hosts. In a way, they are like animal predators (wolves, lions, etc.)in that they generally prefer to attack and kill weakened and old trees in the forests. Insects and diseases are the leading cause of tree mortality and growth loss. Diseases by far cause more growth loss, but their activity and damage are not as visible as are insects. They do not generally cycle into large outbreaks over large areas. However, they are none the less the true, chronic ''silent killers'' of trees and must be taken into account when implementing management objectives. Most of the concern is with forest insects, as they are much more visible and cause considerable damage over large areas in a short period of time. I therefore will focus most of the discussion on them. Although my comments will be relating to eastern Oregon forests, the principles and issues are applicable to the entire western US.
 Page 119       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The major forest insects can be divided into two groups: defoliators, insects that feed on or in the foliage of trees; and bark beetles, insects that attack the tree on the
trunk/stem of the tree. Bark beetles are always active in the forest, working at low levels. They prefer to breed in and kill scattered, over-mature, slow-growing, decadent or diseased trees, windthrown trees and trees weakened by drought, stand stagnation, lightning, fire or mechanical injury. If any one of these previously mentioned conditions become extensive (windthrow, fire damage), beetles can build up to very high levels and start attacking and killing more healthy trees over large areas. This situation is called an outbreak or epidemic.
    I have attached a listing of major insect and disease events that I have experienced in my career in eastern Oregon to show what has happened and will continue to happen again if proactive management is not taken (Attachment A). Also attached is a map of Oregon showing areas that received significant mortality over the last 10 years (Attachment B). In some areas, fish and wildlife habitat has been drastically destroyed. This type of damage will continue unless active management is taken on behalf of forest landowners, particularly the Federal agencies.

    One would think with all of this activity, the major insect problems would be over in Oregon. The risk is as high as ever. The problem is statewide. We never seem to get out ahead of the problem. There have been decades of fire suppression that has unfortunately contributed to the wrong mix of tree species on some sites and stagnated/overstocked stands of timber. As mentioned previously there have been major fires and more can be expected when conditions are right. Presently there is a build up of the Douglas-fir tussock moth (an insect defoliator)in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon that may require direct suppression action in a couple of years, and areas of increasing populations of bark beetle. In some cases, Threatened and Endangered Species (particularly fish and wildlife)are at risk, due to destruction and changes in their habitat caused by fire, windthrow, insects and diseases.
 Page 120       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    As mentioned previously, insects and diseases are natural components of the environment, they will never be eradicated; but steps can be taken to minimize their impacts. A two-prong approach is needed: sanitation/salvage logging (removing dead and dying trees from the forests), and proactive management. We need to vigorously ''attack the hot spots'' that can lead to larger problems. The key to preventing tree damage is the promotion of healthy forests by maintaining healthy, vigorous trees or stands that do not afford a suitable food supply for insects.
    General prescriptions for cultivating healthy forests have several components:
    1. salvage dead and dying trees;
    2. manage stand density through tree thinning to avoid stress that invites the pests;
    3. conduct selective harvesting to retain ''insect-resistant'' tree species;
    4. maintain a diversity of species for better survival rates in the event of future outbreaks of insects and diseases;
    5. ensure that stands contain trees of various ages and sizes;
    6. continue aerial and ground monitoring of pest populations and damage;
    7. suppress native pests and eradicate exotic pests as appropriate;
    8. coordinate these activities with adjacent public and private landowners.
    The US Forest Service has a couple of areas on the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests in eastern Oregon where excellent management activities as previously described have taken place. The agency needs to ''showcase'' these projects to tell their story of what they are capable of doing. Unfortunately these are only a few areas and this type of management needs to be done over millions of acres. The Forest Service seems to move very slowly in reacting to potential problems, waiting until there is a crisis, and then being severely delayed or stopped by lawsuits and appeals due to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)process, regulatory Federal agencies, and/or the courts. Forest Health Management is more of a social/political issue than a technical one and Congress should focus their efforts and assist the natural resource agencies in fulfilling their multiple use objectives.
 Page 121       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    To quote a statement in a recent report by Forest Service personnel in regards to the Banner blowdown are in eastern Oregon:

    ''However, our-concern on the Banner blowdown is not so much that insects will follow a natural course, develop an outbreak, and kill many more trees that they are programmed to do. But rather, our concern relates more to our obligation to the public to best manage the resources to protect, restore, and enhance critical threatened and endangered species habitats, preserve valuable scenic viewsheds and recreation areas, promote healthy sustainable forests and protect the public by ensuring the safety of humans and their structures from other natural disturbance events such as wildfire. That catastrophic fires often follow a serious insect outbreak, like the spruce beetle-killed Engelmann spruce on the northern end of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, or the mountain pine beetle on the northeastern part of the Malheur National Forest, are evidenced by such major fires as Canal, Twin Lakes, Sheep and Snowshoe, and others. Insect outbreaks can seriously damage forest resources by rapidly depleting a large volume of valuable trees, but fires that often follow insect outbreaks through the ignition and combustion of the significant levels of dead fuels created by insects, are far more destructive to the entire landscape and the resources contained therein. ''

    This illustrates that the Forest Service has the knowledge as to what needs to be done. The problem lies within the administration and implementation of the many levels of policy and regulations.

    Another frustration is the inability to use on an operational level the bark beetle antiaggregation pheromone methylcyclohexenone (MCH), a naturally occurring compound that has been synthetically produced by scientists. This compound is reasonable successful in preventing the Douglas-fir beetle from attacking standing and down susceptible trees, and to a certain extent, the same for the spruce beetle. More research needs to be done and it is highly recommended that the Forest service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)work closely together to obtain registration of the compound for its use in preventing tree killing by these two bark beetles.
 Page 122       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC


    The Forest Service has recently taken an important first step in risk rating forest lands in the US in regards to impacts by insects and diseases. In looking at the map, I feel that many areas in Oregon need to be rated at a higher risk then is currently
shown. As I have tried to illustrate in my comments, the risks due to insects and disease are still present and will continue unless we have active management on part of all forest landowners. I have show the maps to a few entomologists and pathologists in Oregon, and they agree with me that areas of Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado should show much higher risks than is currently shown. I strongly suggest that the Forest Service work with their regional field offices and state foresters in ''finetuning'' the rating system.

Attachment A


     1965 Douglas-fir tussock moth control project near Burns 65,000 acres Douglas-fir bark beetle reached its peak outbreak in western Oregon after the blowdown of 1962

     1966–7 1 Mountain pine beetle in western white pine in western Cascade mountains

     1968 Start of Larch casebearer in eastern Oregon Mountain pine bark beetle started in NE Oregon, continued to develop in central and south central Oregon, reached its peak in 1975
 Page 123       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

     1969 Black stain disease began to be a problem

     1970–71 Ice damage in Columbia Gorge and resulting pest problems

     1972 Douglas-fir tussock moth outbreak started in NE Oregon

     1973 Dutch elm disease found in Malheur County

     1974 Douglas-fir tussock moth control project in NE Oregon, 426,000 acres

     1974–76 Wood borer infestation in Douglas-fir in southwest Oregon

     1975 Phytophthora root disease in tree nurseries

     1977 Dutch elm disease in Portland

     1978 Laminated root disease management started in Douglas-fir stands Modoc budworm near Bly started, continued until 1986. Douglas-fir tussock moth near Klamath Falls

     1978 Mountain pine beetle in lodgepole pine from Bend to Klamath Falls, continued into the 1980's Sitka spruce aphid defoliation along the Oregon Coast

     1979 Gypsy moth found in Portland
 Page 124       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

     1981 Sitka spruce weevil along Oregon coast

     1981 Western spruce budworm outbreak started in NE Oregon

     1981–82 Gypsy mo th control projects in Sale m

     1981–83 Hemlock sawfly near Astoria

     1982 Western spruce budworm control project in eastern Oregon, 178,000 acres

     1982 Wood bores near Medford and Ashland

     1982 Western spruce budworm expands to 1.5 million acres

     1983 Western spruce budworm control project in eastern Oregon, 5,000, OOO acres Outbreak expands to 2.4 million acres

     1984 Largest infestation of Gypsy moth in the west discovered in Lane County. Quarantine of forest products over 1,200 square miles in Lane County

     1985 Eradication project for Gypsy moth in Lane County Western spruce budworm infestation now at 3.5 million acres

 Page 125       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
     1985–86 Douglas-fir bud moth near Mary 's Peak in western Oregon

     1985 Start of drought that continued into mid-the 90's throughout the state causing increasing pest and tree physiologicalms proble

     1986–88 Dutch elm disease found in Salem and Eugene

     1988 Western spruce budworm infestation at 2,702,000 acres; mountain pine beetle at 1,268,000 acres; Modoc budworm at 13,000

     1989 Western spruce budworm at 1,416,000 acres; mountain pine beetle at 878,752 acres

     1990 Western spruce budworm at 2,344, OOO acres

     1991 Small Douglas-fir tussock moth control project near LaGrande

     1992 Western spruce budworm control on private lands

     1993 Western spruce budworm at 75,000 acres Log imports into west coast beginning to occur, concern about introducing exotic pests.

     1994 Pandora moth a 340,000 acres in central Oregon

     1995 First aerial survey for Swiss needle cast started as a trial along coast
 Page 126       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

     1996 Swiss needle cast at 130,000 acres

     1997 Swiss needle cast at 393,000 acres
    "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."

Testimony of Dave Struble
    Good morning Mr. Chairman, my name is Dave Struble. I am the State entomologist and director of the Division of Insect and Disease Management for the Maine Forest Service.
    I'm here today to share a some thoughts on how we view forest health issues in Maine. Although I have frequently discussed these issues with my colleagues in the Northeast, and believe that my statements are consistent with the general perspective of the State Forestry agencies of the region, in final analysis this testimony is a Maine perspective.
    Regarding these national Insect and Disease Risk Assessment Maps:
    I think it is fair to say that the state pest management specialists in the Northeast view this specific exercise as being a work in progress, which at this stage has little direct application in state forest pest management programs. That aside, the development process has been collaborative, with considerable frank discussion between the Federal pest management staff and individual state folks like me. We are committed to working with the USFS to ensure that these maps will become a valuable tool to help provide guidance for strategic level planning and budgeting.
    In the Northeast we have managed to capture an approximation of the situation for a few major regional pests: spruce budworm, gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, and beech bark disease. I know that at least some specific state concerns have also been incorporated; in the case of Maine, the current expanding problem with spruce beetle in the coastal spruce stands is included in the map base. We can debate whether the specific criteria used to select these individual agents and identify the mapped locations are absolutely correct but, from a national strategic planning perspective, it is a reasonable initial submission.
 Page 127       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I don't know that anyone is fully satisfied with the current product, but we are working on it. In the meantime, I hope the agency will not feel unduly pressured to use these maps as planning tools before they are refined.
    This cooperative approach to addressing forest health issues has a long history in the pest management arena. The current Cooperative Forest Health Management Program of the USDA Forest Service (and its predecessor, the Cooperative Forest Pest Action Program) has over the years provided a vehicle for state and Federal staff to coordinate and share resources to address needs as they have arisen. The current Forest Health Monitoring Program is another model example of state/Federal cooperation. We are working together to improve our capabilities to address anticipated—and unanticipated—forest health needs.
    From a strictly Maine perspective, this collaborative relationship is a key ingredient in my shop's capacity to conduct sufficient forest health monitoring surveillance to provide predictive evaluations and to provide preventative and remedial prescriptions so as to allow managers to make timely and informed site specific pest management decisions.
    This statement raises a point that bears on the questions that the Committee raised about the sufficiency of management practices to address regional pest problems:
    In the Northeast, three quarters of the forest land is owned by private entities. In Maine, a state that is 90 percent forested, 96 percent of the timberland is privately owned; this split roughly in half between large industrial and smaller non industrial private land owners. The land management decisions are made by these owners.
    To the extent that our forests are healthy, and by this I mean that they have sufficient resiliency to respond to and recover from encountered stress while maintaining their capacity to provide necessary ecological process support and generate desired levels of amenities and products, this model is working in Maine.
 Page 128       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The critical point is not whether we have appropriate management options but rather whether we have sufficient relevant, unbiased and timely information upon which to base our decisions and develop prescriptions.
    As a case in point: At this time, the largest forest health issue in Maine is not an insect or disease organism, it is the public perception that current forest management practices are not sustainable, and that change of some sort is necessary to assure environmental and economic stability for the long term. This situation has spawned citizens' referenda initiatives and a plethora of legislative and regulatory proposals. We find ourselves in this increasingly polarized atmosphere, trying to justify proposed prescriptions, management actions, and policies.
    All parties agree on only one point; that being that if the public had credible and more timely information available regarding the state of the forest resources, the whole process could be expedited, and some common ground found.
    Mapping efforts are worthwhile, but are only as good as the databases from which they are derived. From a state agency perspective, the most important source of information about the overall forest resources at risk is the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis program. This program has been the subject of national review by leaders from the full forestry community. The recommendations of the review panel, which focus on improving the timeliness, quality and utility of the deliverables, are detailed in The Report of the Forest Inventory & Analysis Blue Ribbon Panel II, and served as the basis for specific language in the 1998 Farm Bill.
    While I do not wish to detract from the Forest Health Risk Mapping Effort that is underway, from a state perspective it is a much lower priority than seeing the recommendations of the Forest Inventory & Analysis Blue Ribbon Panel II supported, and funding provided by Congress for full implementation 1998 Farm Bill.
    This concludes my comments. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may have.
 Page 129       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
Testimony of Joel Swanton
    My name is Joel Swanton. I live in Holden, ME. I am employed as Manager of Forest Policy for Champion International in our Northeast Region. Champion is an integrated forest products company with forest land, lumber and paper manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, Canada, and Brazil. My responsibilities include development of forest policy for Champion as well as representing our organization in the forest policy arena in the northeast. Today, I would like to share my thoughts on forest health from the perspective of a large landowner and from the perspective of a forester who has worked for almost 25 years in the northeast region with both large, industrial and small, non-industrial forest landowners.
    Champion currently owns over 1 million acres of forest land in Maine and New Hampshire. This is part of over 5 million acres of forest land that we own and manage in the United States. In addition to managing forest land, we manufacture lumber and paper products. To supply these manufacturing facilities we rely not only on wood grown on our own land but also on wood from other forest landowners. Smaller, non-industrial ownership make up the majority of that outside supply. The health and productivity of all the forest lands that supply our mills are of critical importance to us.
    We are part of a larger forest community. Private forest landowners, both large and small, industrial and non-industrial, are predominant in the northeast. Public lands, both state and Federal, are a smaller part of the mix. Employees of lumber and paper mills, secondary wood manufacturing facilities, forest workers, service and supply vendors, local communities and forest-based recreation businesses all depend either directly or indirectly on the forest. In the northeast region direct employment in the forest products industry exceeds 115,000 jobs with annual income in excess of $4.3 billion. In Maine, forest-based industry is the largest segment of the state's manufacturing base, contributing close to $6 billion to the economy. We are interdependent and are all dependent on the biologic, economic, and social health of the forest in our region. The health and productivity of that whole forest, regardless of ownership, is critical to our well being.
 Page 130       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We manage our land under the standards of the American Forest and Paper Association's Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), standards that assure the sustainable management of our forests to meet the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. SFI focuses on prompt reforestation, water quality protection, wildlife habitat enhancement, minimization of visual impacts, protection of special places and contributions to biodiversity, among other standards. Champion recently committed to having an independent third party verify that the management of all our lands in the United States are in compliance with the SFI standards.
    Champion has a history of over 100 years of forest management and we've learned a few things along the way. We know that active management of our forests to keep them healthy and growing vigorously is the best way to minimize the risk of insects, disease, and fire and to assure our ability to sustainably grow and harvest timber, as well as manage our forest for water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation, and other values important to the public.
    There's an insect or disease for every tree out there. Some are part of natural cycles, some are introduced. While the impacts of insects and disease cannot be totally eliminated, forests can be managed to minimize the risk of these elements. Insect and disease attack are often symptoms of a larger, preventable condition—over-mature, unmanaged forests in which trees have low vigor and are more susceptible to attack by damaging elements. Active management to keep the forest healthy, vigorous and productive is a key to preventing this condition.
    There is an appropriate place in forest management for monitoring the symptoms or risks, but most efforts should be focused on encouraging forest management that minimizes those risks. Elements of active management to minimize risk include:
    1. Harvesting, using a variety of appropriate techniques to maintain a diversity of age classes and species on the landscape.
 Page 131       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    2. Regeneration of mature forests through planting or natural seeding to maintain an appropriate proportion of younger, more vigorously growing forest.
    3. Early stand management of these regenerated forests to encourage development of healthy, vigorously growing trees. These activities can include thinning, weeding, fertilizing and pruning of young stands where needed to improve growth and value. Controlling competing vegetation with an application of herbicide once or twice early in the life of the forest can actually minimize the need for more aggressive pest control measures later on.
    Examples of insect and disease activity that have affected forests in the northeast include spruce budworm, gypsy moth, spruce bark beetle, European larch canker, Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, declines in maple, white birch, and ash, saddled prominent moth, hemlock looper, balsam wooly aphid, hemlock wooly adelgid, white pine weevil, and white pine blister rust among others.
    I'd like to comment on two examples from the northeast. The spruce budworm outbreak of the late 1970's and early 1980's affected over 8 million acres of mature and over-mature spruce/fir forest in northern Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. If a national risk assessment map similar to the current product from the U.S. Forest Service were prepared in the mid–1970's, the northern portions of these three states would have been colored solid red.
    Landowners impacted by the outbreak focused on three management strategies.
    1. Salvage harvests in parts of the forest where mortality was imminent or had already occurred.
    2. Control efforts through an insecticide spray program available to landowners through cooperative efforts of the State Forest Service with support from the U.S. Forest Service.
    3. Allowing nature run to it's course in some areas where salvage or control were not viable options.
 Page 132       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The impacts of this event are still being felt. Maine forests lost over 10 million cords of merchantable spruce and fir that was not able to be salvaged. That's equivalent to a stack of wood 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and over 15,000 miles long. Champion lost over 1 million cords on our land alone, enough to completely supply our mills in Maine for over two years. The increased level of salvage harvest has created a temporary shortfall of merchantable spruce and fir until the new, young forest which started after the outbreak grows to usable size. The social fallout over the relatively rapid changes in the forest continues to drive the policy debates around forest practices in the region. Misunderstanding and lack of timely information on the condition of the forest has created an unstable forest policy climate and public distrust.
    A more recent example can be found in the spruce forests of central and east coastal Maine. The land in this region was cleared by Maine's early European settlers beginning in the 1700's and farmed actively until the turn of this century. The forests growing on these abandoned agricultural lands historically received little active management and are now biologically mature. In a physically declining state, they are now very susceptible to root rots, windthrow, and mortality from the spruce bark beetle, which preys on over-mature, weakened trees. There are few options for landowners other than salvage harvesting or letting their forest die and blow down, with the resulting risk of fire. Either choice is a difficult alternative in an area with significant residential development and cherished aesthetic values that are the backbone of tourism in the area.
    Lessons learned from both examples: More active management earlier in the lives of these forests through harvesting and regeneration activities before they became over-mature might have resulted in a forest with an age and species mix that was less susceptible to budworm, bark beetle, and other factors. Early and swift control efforts are more effective than trying to control a widespread epidemic.
 Page 133       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Risks can be minimized and public and private resources can be impacted in the future by current management. Managed forests are less likely to be impacted by insect and disease risks. They will provide better economic stability for the forestry community. They will better protect other public resources and values—wildlife habitat, aesthetics, recreation, etc.—that are impacted by large scale, catastrophic insect and disease events. Management should minimize the need for costly, controversial intervention and control measures.
    The young spruce/fir forest resulting from the budworm outbreak is receiving more management than it's predecessor. It will have a better distribution of ages and species and hopefully be less likely to allow the budworm to establish such widespread epidemic population levels that we saw in the last cycle.
    Management of the coastal spruce forest is behind the curve. Natural forces are likely to predominate change for the foreseeable future and landowners will remain in a reactive mode this time around.
    Unmanaged forests, on the other hand, are likely to become insect and disease risks to neighboring forests and will require increased resources for risk monitoring and assessment, and risk management where needed, including control, salvage, and fire suppression.
    Regeneration and early stand management are effective tools to maintain forest health, but are extremely expensive undertakings for private landowners who must carry those costs for 20 to 40 years or more. One thing Congress can do to encourage these activities is to minimize the tax barriers that discourage these investments. Currently, reforestation expenses are taxed at a higher level in the United States than in any of our major competitor countries. Last year, Representative Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) introduced the Reforestation Tax Act of 1998, one section of which would have reduced this disparity by providing a 10 percent tax credit and a five year amortization for all reforestation expenses. This is a good example of something that Congress can do to positively influence appropriate management.
 Page 134       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    U.S. Forest Service resources for risk assessment can be used most effectively by:
    1. Developing accurate risk information at a national level and focusing resources at a regional and state level on strategies to deal with the risks identified.
    2. Providing consistent technical and financial support for cooperative, state based and regional monitoring and assessment programs integrated with ongoing forest inventory efforts to provide all landowners timely information about forest health status and trends.
    3. Assuring that the majority of resources are directed to proactive, preventative measures to encourage better forest management on all types of forest land ownership.
    4. Providing adequate resources for quick and early intervention with appropriate tools to control insect and disease outbreaks when needed.
    I thank the committee for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you regarding forest health and would be pleased to address any questions you may have.
Testimony of Susan Andrew
    Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Susan Andrew, and I am an ecologist on staff with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition in Asheville, NC. My training and research interests have focused on the ecology and evolution of forests, rather than in forestry or plant pathology, and I am pleased that you have asked me to speak with you, and bring that perspective for your consideration. The Coalition is composed of seventeen national, state and local conservation organizations across the southern mountains from Virginia to Alabama. The Coalition was formed to promote the protection and sound stewardship of our public lands and to encourage citizen and scientist participation in decisions affecting the future of the southern Appalachian mountains, its communities, and natural heritage.
 Page 135       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The organizations that make up the Coalition and its partners involve thousands of individuals from across our region. The members of the Coalition and the individuals it represents have worked for years in Congress, back home in community meetings, sometimes in court, and sitting across countless tables with Forest Service employees and other interests to develop the management plans and rules by which our national forests are governed.
    Our science program staff interact with a diverse network of academic and agency scientists to develop conservation plans, make sound recommendations to land managers, and aid other partners throughout the region. We use a rich database of species, habitat, land use and other information using the analytical mapping tool known as a GIS (Geographic Information System), similar to the one that generated the maps we are examining today.
    I am pleased to be able to speak with you, because I have a personal interest in helping decision-makers make better use of scientific information in developing land management policy. Too often, non-scientists are at a disadvantage in interpreting maps, technical language and graphics, and other tools that could be helpful—or decidedly unhelpful—to the task of making sound forest management decisions.GIS is one such tool. Maps such as those on display at this hearing can make powerful statements to viewers, who are not always in a position to ask critical questions about the analytical methods underlying their development, or how the underlying data ought to be interpreted. For example, issues of scale are always a concern—both time and spatial scales. To illustrate the time scale issue, consider that during a period of relative drought, oaks in the mapped areas would be at a significantly greater risk of mortality owing to gypsy moths than during wetter years, when the trees are under less ecological stress. So the time period chosen for mapping would influence the picture that results.
    To illustrate the issue of spatial scale, consider that in attempting to depict things at a national scale, there is a necessary cost to the accuracy of the information being presented. The creators of the Risk of Mortality map can tell you that some of the largest red patches on the map denote areas of lower data accuracy—places where contributors were less certain of the boundaries or the exact locations of the areas of concern—not larger areas at risk.
 Page 136       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Finally, we simply don't know enough about forests at real risk of being lost to forest pests and disease (much less assess exactly what to do about them yet). This means that there is necessarily a certain degree of subjectivity to these maps; professional judgement, as opposed to hard data from on-the-ground inventories, significantly influenced their final appearance. The Risk of Mortality map is an effort to estimate risk for some 26 different insects and diseases. For a number of these, mapped areas intending to show forest lands most at risk of mortality are simply derived by mapping known occurrence of the host forest type—not known occurrences of stands actually affected with pests. In other words, healthy trees at a low risk of infestation will be included in the red areas, quite often in the vast majority.
    Armed with a basic understanding of what is actually being mapped, a critical observer may ask, what definition of forest health is being applied? Aren't all living things ultimately at risk of mortality? It is my experience that ''forest health'' can mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean—to wit, the recent examples of legislation proposed to ''arrest the dramatic decline in forest health on the Federal lands and restore forest health'' through logging and weakening of environmental safeguards.
    This example illustrates a basic problem in approach that the Committee should consider: I would offer that forests are not properly regarded as agricultural crops in the usual sense (their historical assignment to the Department of Agriculture notwithstanding!). Many of the most serious problems facing our forests are due to human-caused mistreatment in the past (e.g., road-building, logging, and introduction of exotic species). In the South, a history of overzealous forestry—removal of native forests, replanting with non-native species and monocultures of pine, massive soil disturbance and compaction, etc.—is at the root of many of our worst pest outbreaks (including southern pine beetle). In fact, forests planted in monoculture conditions are subject to insect and disease attacks of greater severity, because they provide abnormally high host abundance for the pest. Forests recovering from such insults need time to restore normal populations of a variety of fungi, insects (and insects and birds that control insects), and other natural elements that, in a crop, would be considered pathological. I strongly urge the Committee to avoid adopting logically-circular definitions of forest health that, in essence, state that such health is whatever management desires or prescribes it to be. Whenever possible, forest health should be measured against the native ecosystem's natural baselines of variability and resilience in the face of native pests and other natural disturbance.
 Page 137       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Forests everywhere are dynamic systems, made up of thousands of organisms designed to survive. This is certainly true of the Southern Appalachians, where hardwood forests dominate. Forest health is a complex issue here, as these forests are some of the oldest and most diverse in the world. A fundamental observation is that forests are never as tidy or as manageable as some might like them to be. Dead trees, for instance, do not equal forest sickness, but may be evidence of natural disturbance, successional changes, or other ecologically relevant features. We are only beginning to appreciate the complexity and patterns of tree death, but we do know that dead and dying trees provide many kinds of services within the web of forest life.
    Local pest outbreaks or other problems do not amount to a regional health crisis. Insect and disease outbreaks (e.g., gypsy moth or southern pine beetle infestation), along with lightening strikes, fire, ice storms, hurricanes, microbursts, heavy wet snows, and tornadoes are facts of life in our forests. Even in combination, most events do not constitute an emergency; these events are localized and are life as usual. The forests are tough enough to have evolved mechanisms to heal from most such assaults, without the help of the Federal Government. The recovery of our mountain forests after the period of industrial logging earlier this century is evidence of this proclivity. Life as usual in the southern forest is not an urgent situation that requires new forest health legislation; Federal Government would be well advised not to attempt to legislate the natural course of these ecological systems.
    Across the southern Appalachian region, the true threats to our forests are, unfortunately, mainly human-caused. This suggests that the Federal Government could play a role in ameliorating things. Many scientists here will agree that the top three threats to our forests are air pollution, invasion of exotic species, and destruction of forest habitat.
    Clearly, air pollution constitutes a growing forest health crisis here in a variety of ways, particularly in our rare, high-elevation forest communities. These could be made clear to you if you had enough time to visit Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, where these forests are devastated by rainfall and fog with an average pH of 3.4, which is between that of lemon juice and battery acid. Acid deposition here can occur at levels 300 to 1000 times those in the West. Last summer, the Great Smokey Mountains National Park recorded 44 days on which ozone levels exceeded EPA standards, signifying that the air is unhealthy to breathe. This puts the Park on a level with the worst urban areas in the South, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, and well above others, such as Raleigh (29 days exceeding standard), Chattanooga (25 days), and Washington, DC (24 days). In controlled laboratory experiments, Park researchers have found that thirty plant species, including commercially-important species such as black cherry, show measurable negative impacts including growth decline. An additional sixty species show such impacts in the field. University of Tennessee plant pathologist Scott Schlarbaum has conducted research on trees in the highly polluted areas in Eastern Europe showing chromosomal aberrations—defects that don't appear until the next generation (if the trees are able to breed at all).
 Page 138       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Let's not allow things get to that point here at home. Air pollution is one threat to forest health that the Federal Government can do something about. Research funding and aggressive intervention to reduce interstate pollution is a critical need now. I would encourage Committee members from our region to attend the Governor's Summit on Mountain Air Quality on April 6 and 7, and support this seven-state effort to deal with the problems of air pollution here.
    Exotic pests are another human-caused problem that the Federal Government can affect. Many ecologists believe the spread of invasive exotic species is one of the most serious, yet least appreciated, threats to biological diversity. Exotic species are the second most widespread cause of species endangerment (after habitat destruction and degradation, such as air pollution and forest fragmentation). I want to distinguish these from native pests, such as the southern pine beetle, which have been with our forests for millennia, and which occur under natural forest conditions in short-lived pulses or episodes that native tree species have evolved to survive. Exotic pests, on the other hand, are evolutionary novelties that can severely impact native species, and in our ultra-mobile modern economies, we are experiencing more of them. Exotic pests that have raised serious concern in our region include two adelgid insect species, which attack the eastern hemlock and the Fraser fir, and also the gypsy moth, which attacks oaks and other deciduous trees. But native biodiversity is not alone in suffering negative impacts from exotic pests; commercial industries have also suffered. The total economic impact of invasive plants alone on the U.S. economy is estimated by some experts to be $123 billion annually, including damage to crops and rangeland.
    The invasive species problem is one issue where environmental and economic interests can work together to combat a common enemy. President Clinton's executive order of February 3, 1999 directs Federal agencies to use their authorities in a more coordinated effort to address these problems, and creates an Invasive Species Council that is charged to develop a comprehensive plan to minimize the negative ecological and economic impacts of exotic species and determine further steps to prevent their introduction and spread. I urge the members of the Committee to become familiar with this effort and to support it—even if it may mandate restrictions on trade in certain goods from some foreign nations. Two gaps in policy that currently exist are: 1) conservation of the genetic material (seeds) of afflicted species, perhaps in national or state arboreta, as a last-resort insurance against the extirpation of species now seriously threatened by exotic pests and disease, and 2) a program to restore populations of these same species in the wild later—for instance, a blight-resistant chestnut species has been developed, but there is no team or agency engaging the work of re-planting. Help us avoid beginning a new geologic epoch, which would have to be entitled ''The Homogecene'' for being characterized by the homogenization of the world's biota on a global scale.
 Page 139       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Finally, the list of serious forest health problems in our region certainly includes forest fragmentation. Fragmentation refers to the cutting up of the forest at the landscape scale with non-forest uses such as new road projects, subdivisions, and strip development. Almost anyone who has lived in the southern Appalachians for a period of years will tell you that their own town or valley has changed this way. The addition of new roads to our region, for example, means that unroaded, forested areas have been reduced in size, with a significant increase in the number that are 50 acres and smaller. Nationally, the number of tracts of forestland of 50 acres or less doubled from 1978–1994. While air pollution risks the underlying productivity of our forests, fragmentation degrades habitat for wildlife, and threatens to make our public land holdings into islands of vulnerable habitats. These small islands are repeatedly shown to be detrimental to area-sensitive forest species such as certain migratory songbirds, who suffer increased predation or fail to breed altogether in these places.
    One of the solutions to forest fragmentation will focus on the ecological problems presented by roads. Roads have been called the number one forest health problem on the national forests. Roads are barriers to the movement of many creatures, and roads in poor condition cause erosion and mudslides that are harmful to aquatic organisms and water quality. In the southern Appalachians, as in many mountains, unstable soils are underlain by sloping rock that gives way in storms; roads built in these places can erode badly. In Idaho, the Forest Service conceded that 70 percent of mudslides in the winter of 1996/97 were associated with road building. Forest Service roads are also a fiscal problem, amounting to an $8.5 billion backlog of repair and maintenance needs, according to Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck's estimate. The Forest Service has requested funding for FY 2000 to support the decommissioning and stabilization of roads; I urge you to support that request. The agency also has a team of scientists and other staff putting together a new, comprehensive transportation policy that should help improve the situation with roads; I ask you to study it with an eye toward its ecological merits.
 Page 140       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    We understand that the solutions to these problems will not be easily rendered, and that they will likely require some sacrifices. We need better science to support our understanding of these issues, and to justify and guide agency expenditures in the name of restoring forest health. But to address these threats effectively, this Committee must avoid the thinking that has plagued earlier legislative efforts, namely the promotion of logging, salvage or otherwise, as the solution to these broad-scale problems.
    Recent legislative initiatives have featured logging (or salvage) as the ''cure'' for various forest health problems. With proper safeguards, the Coalition does not oppose logging per se in the national forests. We are concerned, however, that there is a danger in oversimplifying both the issues of forest health and the role that cutting trees can play in improving it. We are equally concerned that we allocate our investments in public land management cautiously and strategically.
    Logging may salvage timber, but the justification given is economic, not ecological. Silvicultural solutions are sharply limited, almost irrelevant, in repairing causes of forest health decline in this region. It is important not to oversimplify forest management and rush in with the wrong tool to fix a problem, any problem. There is no single tool that can fix the large-scale forest health issues in this region.
    Unfortunately, the economic justification fails as well. Salvage logging rarely generates positive income for the Forest Service (according to their own data). The fact is that in the southern Appalachians, conditions work against salvage. Most instances of timber damage are localized and scattered, making salvage logging relatively expensive. Even getting out some high-value, isolated oak trees (a typical situation) very often will not pay. Then there is the damage done during logging operations to other trees and wildlife habitat by road-building, skidding damage, soil compaction, or to aquatic habitat from siltation. On the opposite side, there is little risk or cost associated with not doing salvage logging. Western proponents of salvage logging point to the risk of fire from excessive fuel loadings (which are a direct result of excluding fire in those ecosystems). However, the risk of extensive fire is rare here. While isolated forest fires do occur in the Southern Appalachians, our mountains are classified as temperate rainforest, and fires here are limited by wet weather and moist ground conditions and mountain topography cut by hundreds of streams. Sparks from heavy machinery and slash left behind after logging can, on the other hand, contribute to fire risk, as history has shown here.
 Page 141       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Logging in the National Forests has its place, not everywhere, anytime, but in some places at some times, for specific reasons. In the southern Appalachian hardwood forest, there is no ecological reason to salvage dead and dying timber, or timber considered at risk of dying. Determining whether or not logging should take place must consider our values and uses other than timber: watershed integrity, recreation, wildlife, archaeology. Other laws and the Forest Plans need to be consulted. Also, the potential to compete with the flow of timber from private lands needs to be considered.
    The Committee has asked the panelists here to assess current forest management practices, and their impacts on forest health in the foreseeable future. One disturbing recent comes from Virginia, whose Department of Forestry has the twin role of both promoting and policing the timber industry. Land owners and state officials cite cases in which loggers disregard property lines, bulldoze roads on adjacent property to get access to timber under contract, and destroy springs and streams that supply drinking water and aquatic species habitat. According to the department's own audit database, only 4 percent of the 57 sites examined met all the requirements for Best Management Practices. The 1998 audits show the lowest compliance rate with the anti-erosion guidelines since 1989, when none of the sites examined passed.
    Virginia's Division of Water Pollution Control has imposed penalties on loggers who tear up forest land that destroys free-flowing streams and creeks. But those penalties can be hard to collect from small timber operators, and by then the damage is already done. The Division of Forestry should be relieved of its dual role of both promoting and policing timber operators; Best Management Practices need a stronger mandate.
    There is cause for hope, however, here on the House Agriculture Committee. The Committee has leadership from Virginia now—a significant change from the past, when the perspectives on forest health were coming from western Representatives. Forest health issues here in the East are different, and the conversation should be fortified by the inclusion of our perspectives. Our problems with air pollution, exotic pests, and forest fragmentation stand a real chance of being ameliorated with the new leadership.
 Page 142       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    ''Sustainable'' is another recent buzzword, often used with little elaboration to explain exactly what the user means. I would encourage the Committee to use the term sensu Chief Dombeck, who said in his recent State of the Forests Address that ''our challenge today is to ensure that the incentives that drive all aspects of our programs promote ecological sustainability.''
    What kinds of policy will promote ecological sustainability? Promote restoration of ecological processes, such as fire, in the ecosystems that have featured them historically; e.g., when longleaf pine forests of the Southeast are burned (as they are in nature) they have very few exotic invaders, and the number of plant species (including the rare species) increases. Promote regulations that slow the spread of invasive exotics. Probably the single greatest need right now is an effective early warning system for biological invasions, and that means much more monitoring. (The maps we examined today underscore the need for more on-the-ground monitoring.) Protect undisturbed watersheds and integrate them into watershed plans to protect and restore the ecological integrity of watersheds. Take every opportunity to avoid fragmenting intact forests. We must be willing to make investments in land health that may not yield short-term profit but will result in long-term ecological dividends.
    A recent paper by American, Canadian, and Austrian forest economists (Nilsson et al. 1999) analyzes current wood supply estimates for North America. The result of the analysis casts doubt on whether North American timber supplies are sustainable into the future. The report argues that current estimates do not consider many aspects of sustainable forest management, but are based on a concept of the availability of timber. Of particular interest to us, the report predicts a shift in the timber supply to the Southeast over the next forty years: of all timber harvested in the U.S., 90 percent of the coniferous harvest and 70 percent of the deciduous harvest through 2040 is projected to come from the Southeast. That forecast is supported by similar predictions from other American sources (e.g., Cubbage et al. 1995). It is extremely unlikely that such demands would be ecologically sustainable.
 Page 143       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    What does this suggest to those who wish to be strong leaders in the protection of our natural resources? If I were in your shoes, I would start by boosting support to the Forest Service's Forest Legacy program—the voluntary program that helps private landowners protect their timberland through conservation easements even as they continue earning income from uses including timber harvest. This program has been funded at such a low level ($4 million in FY 1997) that many states don't participate! The program got a boost in FY 1999 ($7 million) but it needs more; $50 million annually would enable the program to expand to more states, respond more effectively to more landowners, and conserve a significant amount of threatened forestland. Combating forest fragmentation on private lands will best happen this way, one landowner at a time.
    On the public forests, the Committee should support Chief Dombeck in his efforts to de-couple the revenue generated by timber harvest from that provided to counties to maintain schools and roads. It is pure folly for the richest country in the world to finance the education of rural school children on the back of a destructive Federal timber program. We need to provide communities with the same diversity and resiliency forests have had for millennia, so they are not dependent on the results of litigation, the whims of nature or unrelated social values to educate their children and pave their roads. The Forest Service needs to stay the course in planning efforts that focus on the long-term sustainability of watersheds and forests, and the ecological, economic, and social benefits they can provide.
    Cubbage, F.W., T. Harris Jr., D.N. Wear, R.C. Abt, and G. Pacheco, 1995. Timber Supply in the South: Where is All the Wood? Journal of Forestry 93: 16–20.
    Nilsson, S., R. Colberg, R. Hagler and P. Woodbridge, 1999. How Sustainable Are North American Wood Supplies? IR–99–003. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.
 Page 144       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
Statement of Daniel R. Dessecker
    One measure of forest health is the ability of a forested landscape to support vibrant populations of native wildlife species. In order to maintain a full array of forest wildlife, a landscape must support a full array of forest types of various ages—very young, very old, and all ages in between.
    Wildlife populations fluctuate over time and space in response to fluctuations in vegetation composition and structure. Insect infestations, disease outbreaks and associated disturbance events can greatly alter the composition and structure of existing vegetation and, therefore, the composition and abundance of wildlife populations. These vegetation changes will benefit certain wildlife species and harm others. Although society evaluates these changes based on anthropocentric criteria, from a purely ecological perspective, changes resulting from infestations or epidemics of native insect or disease agents are neither ''bad'' nor ''good'' unless the severity of the change is outside of the range of ''natural'' events.
    For example, the mortality associated with a severe spruce budworm infestation in the northern Great Lakes region could decimate local populations of birds that breed in the forest canopy. At the same time, this infestation could produce localized population explosions of species that forage along the trunks of dead or dying trees, such as the black-backed woodpecker. However, if tree mortality adds to already ''excessive'' fuel loads caused by decades of fire protection, any resulting fire could burn far more severely than a ''natural'' wildfire and could damage the soil sufficiently to preclude the timely reestablishment of desirable vegetation.
    Forest conditions that can allow insect, disease, and associated health risks to become problematic include elevated stress due to drought or other environmental factors, senescence, and large tracts of relatively monotypic or single-aged forest vegetation. Climatic conditions are beyond the control of resource managers. However, the species composition and age-class structure of a forest landscape can be influenced by the thoughtful implementation of forest management practices.
 Page 145       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    A landscape that supports a variety of forest types and a variety of forest ages will support a variety of forest wildlife and will likely be less prone to significant mortality from insect infestation or disease. Due to past land use practices, much of the eastern United States supports forests that are approximately 60–80 years old and can be termed ''middle-aged''. Exceptions include the northern portions of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and the Great Lakes region, where substantial young forest has recently been established as a result of commercial harvest activity. Very old forest exists only in small, scattered tracts throughout the east.
    National Forests in Regions 8 and 9 largely mirror conditions exhibited across the landscape as a whole. Very old forest habitats will increase in abundance as a result of administrative constraints on habitat management activities on substantial portions of these National Forests. Very young forest habitats and associated wildlife species are declining and will likely continue to decline as a result of significant reductions in acreage regenerated using even-age habitat management methods that best mimic drastic, natural disturbance.
    On the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia, total acres of young forest habitat created through even-age management has not met goals outlined in the existing Forest Plans since 1988. In 1998, only 25 percent of the acreage identified for habitat regeneration was treated. Continued de-emphasis on the implementation of forest management activities as a surrogate for natural disturbance will exacerbate the ongoing decline of young forest habitats and constituent wildlife species—significant components of forest health.
    A diverse forest landscape can help to protect against significant tree mortality from insect infestations and disease outbreaks. In addition, a balance between young and old forest communities is essential to provide for the full complement of forest wildlife, a requisite of healthy, biologically diverse forest ecosystems.
 Page 146       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
Statement of T. Evan Nebeker
    Mr. Chairman, Committee Members, and Interested Parties:
    I am grateful to have the opportunity to address the topic of Forest Health Risk Assessment. I have a long-standing interest in the health of our forests of this nation. I have had the opportunity to work in the intermountain region, the Pacific Northwest and now the South. I have observed insect and disease problems first hand in these areas. I'm involved in the education of students as it pertains to Forest Pest Management and awakening the spirit of these students to the issues of Forest Health as it impacts this generation and the generations of the future. The decision they/we make, as forest resource managers will impact generations to come because of the time scale and importance of our forests to society.
    It is good to see that there is a potential movement to inform the public that our forests are at risk. Having developed hazard (risk) rating systems for the southern pine beetle (SPB) the notion of risk comes very easy for me to acknowledge. A hazard (risk) rating system in its simplest form utilizes information concerning site and stand conditions to predict the potential for loss given there are mortality causing agents in the area. With technological advances, and the ability to manipulate large data sets, the potential exists for more sophisticated predictions systems to be developed.
    It is my understanding that I am to focus my attention on insect and disease activity in the South and its implications for future forest management. With specific requests to; (1) examine the GIS maps identifying forest lands at risk of insects and disease on a national scale, (2) identify specific examples of abnormal insect activity or risk, (3) describe the management regime needed to contain or reduce the activity or risk, (4) provide an assessment of whether current Forest Service management practices are consistent with that regime, (5) identify the impact, if any, on Federal, state and private forest resources if current management practices are maintained into the foreseeable future, and (6) present any other information deemed relevant.
 Page 147       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    GIS Risk Mapping Activity—while the intent is admirable it certainly is weak and extremely misleading at this point in time. Numerous individuals that I have contacted as well as those that have contacted me have voiced serious reservations concerning this current set of maps. Many of the concerns relate to the source of the data utilized and the lack of input from individuals that are involved with the work at the state level. These are the non-Federal workers in the South that work in the area of forest health. There were concerns over the criteria and data utilized. Was the same criteria utilized in all sections of the Nation or were some weighted more than others? The oak wilt problem in Texas doesn't even show up on the maps. During the next 15 years there will be a great deal of mortality from this disease in the South. It appears that the ability to predict future mortality for this disease is as good, if not better, than for other root diseases. Forest Health Monitoring is also an issue that needs clarification and especially if the GIS predictions are going to be based on that data base for refinement purposes. We need to be certain that the right events are being measured in a proper way.
    The ability to state that a given amount of mortality is going to occur due to a given organism at this time in history is very crude and not based on sound data. We would certainly like to be able to predict when the next SPB outbreak will occur. But as of yet we cannot and the same is true for most of our forest pests. The database just isn't available. Simply a lack of research support to obtain the necessary information.
    The question to ask—why break down the information as to hydrologic units? In the South this doesn't make a great deal of sense. The data base that generated the map concerning Hydrologic Units at Risk to Mortality I would assume had to be really manipulated to get the data in an acceptable form to generate the maps. The utility in this is really questionable, as is the utility of the map with the red dots on it. They are misleading and of little real value at present. As I understand it, management decisions are not on a hydrologic unit basis over most of the landscape of the South.
 Page 148       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Abnormal Insect Activity—In the South there are some serious concerns about insect activity on the National Forests. For example, in Texas, National Forest Land represents about 6 percent of the forested acreage but during the past decade over 50 percent of the SPB infestations have occurred on this land. There are many reasons and they all point to current management practices or lack there of. Long rotation periods coupled with little or no management, such as thinning, provides ideal conditions for this native (non-exotic) species to thrive in. Anthropomorphically speaking the SPB simply says thanks for providing me with my desired food and habitat. As a result of this management philosophy SPB outbreaks will continue into the future. It is not a question of if it will occur, it is a matter of when and at what magnitude.
    Similar things can be said for other lands that are planted or regenerated to pine, loblolly and shortleaf pine in particular. Where little or no management takes place, after stand establishment, ideal habitat for the SPB develops. High basal area, overstocked stands and reduced radial growth are among the leading indicators of conditions favorable for the SPB. Thinning is one of the management tactics that can reduce the risk in stands with these conditions.
    The SPB is but one of the insects of major concern in the South. Yet, in a meeting last year I was told that the SPB is not even on the radar screen of the Forest Service administration. It certainly is on the radar screen of many of the State Foresters in the South. Especially for those that have had tremendous mortality in their states during SPB outbreaks. Some have declared states of emergency to deal with devastation of this single species. The SPB is very dynamic and until one has had to deal with the SPB during epidemic conditions it is easy to overlook its potential.
    In a survey of State Foresters conducted by Dr. Ronald F. Billings of the Texas Forest Service concerning major forest health issues the SPB was one of the insects mentioned specifically. It certainly is one that is not unique to a specific area of the South but throughout the region as a whole. Of the 13 State Foresters responding to the survey their response included the following concerns {SPB, SPB outbreaks, pre-suppression of insect and disease problems, gypsy moth, noxious-exotic plant species, forest fragmentation and the impact it has on prevention and suppression projects, insects, drought and heat stress, introduction of exotic plant and animal pests, and oak wilt}.
 Page 149       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Of concern to the State Foresters in general was how to protect and sustain forest health and productivity with changing forest conditions such as over-aged, overstocked forests. In the South, specifically, concerns centered around forest fragmentation, urban-wildland interface, increased harvesting, new pests associated with intensively-managed forests, SPB, fusiform rust, wind storms and drought.
    Other forest health issues also face the South. From the wetlands of Louisiana to the mountains of North Carolina there are unique issues facing these various sub-regions within the South. In Louisiana, the future of trees in our swamplands is threatened as a result of the degradation of our forested wetlands due to land subsidence, increased flooding levels, anthropomorphic changes in drainage patterns, salt-water intrusion, and insect feeding. We have had over a half million acres of baldcypress and tupelo affected by the forest tent catipellar and the fruit tree leafroller. The persistent nature of their feeding has caused extensive dieback and mortality of a significant magnitude. Because of flooding levels and nutria herbivory, plus salt-water intrusion, there is little chance that current silviculture can restore these areas. Once trees in these wetlands die, regeneration is nearly impossible. Intrusive exotics such as tallow tree are the only likely woody plants that may survive in many of these areas. Thus, insects, along with a series of environmental changes, have put our forested wetlands at severe risk.
    Other areas of the South that are at risk are the piedmont, the southern Appalachians, and riparian areas with hemlock. The preponderance of old fields in the piedmont still make it a prime area for SPB activity. The southern Appalachians have air pollution problems that may increase stand susceptibility to balsam woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, and hemlock woolly adelgid. There is also concern about the spread of the gypsy moth, as well as the introduction of other exotic pest species, into the upland and bottomland hardwoods of the South. With gypsy moth infestations in Arkansas the threat of spread is of real concern to forest resource managers throughout the South.
 Page 150       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Management Regime Required—It may seem simplistic but the answer to many of the questions concerning forest health gets back to understanding the silvics of the trees in question and doing the things that promote their growth and well being. Lack of management, after stand establishment, provides a setting that is ideal for insects and diseases to develop on private as well as public land. Practicing prevention, such as thinning pine stands to reduce competition, would be a strategic move of great importance in preserving the health of our forests. The Forest Service must be active in the management and protection of their land base. Long rotations in the South leads to increasing favorable habitat for the SPB.
    It would appear that the Forest Service is in a position to take a major leadership role in dealing with all issues that confront the forests of this nation. As a government funded agency, supported by the taxpayers of this nation, nothing should appear as a local problem. The Forest Service is in a unique position to focus resources to solve problems in cooperation with other agencies. I would like to reemphasize that the Forest Service should be in a leadership role. There have been indications that this is not the intent of the Forest Service, at least in research. The organizational structure is in place that can bring states together to address issues of this nation that is not in place elsewhere.
    In conclusion, it would be a mistake to take the current GIS generated maps and come away with the view that these are the only areas at risk. This is a very simplistic presentation to a very complicated set of issues. The definition of forest health is still subject to debate. Let alone how to measure it. GIS is an interesting approach but must be viewed in reality as to the quality of the data that was utilized and the assumptions that were made to place a dot on a map indicating at risk areas. There needs to be a great deal of research to back up the effort and possibly tying it in with other technologies such as remote sensing that are becoming more available. It is important that we know where the forest is and how it changes over the landscape in time and space. This must include species changes as well as site and stand level characteristics such as age, diameter, height, basal area, and density to mention a few. Such characteristics influence insect and disease populations. As forests age successional changes take place as a part of natural cycles. Forests grow old and die. Insects and disease respond to these changes. There is a critical need to understand host/insect and disease/interactions if we are going to fully understand the notion of forest health.
 Page 151       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
Statement of Charles C. Barnes
    My name is Charles C. Barnes. I'm from Craig County, Virginia, a small county tucked into the Appalachian Mountains, not far from Roanoke. We have a population of about 5,000 people and over half of the land area is owned by the Jefferson National Forest. I am proud to be invited here today to testify on behalf of the American Tree Farm System, and forest owners everywhere.
    Marilynn, my wife, and I live on a farm that was settled in the 1700's. We are proud of this 750 acre farm that boasts green pastures, clear trout streams, healthy forests and plentiful wildlife. We have lived on this farm for 37 years. Our forestland, which makes up about two-thirds of the farm and is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest, has been certified as sustainable by the American Tree Farm System, since 1965. We have raised three children on this land and have derived and continue to derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from this land.
    As you can see, our family has strong ties to the land we live on. That makes us very much like other non-industrial private forest landowners, particularly the other 66,000 certified Tree Farmers like me, who have pledged to leave their forests better than they found them. We are very much committed to excellent, sustainable forestry, and to making certain that future generations can enjoy all the values of the forest, both economic and non-economic.
    I am here to share with you my thoughts regarding the importance of a new series of maps prepared by the Forest Service, entitled ''Forest Lands Most at Risk of Mortality from Insects and Diseases.'' These maps carry with them a great deal of important information and great potential for the future health of forests. I'm not talking about just Federal forest lands, which comprise only 16 percent of the total commercially valuable forest land in the U.S., but non-industrial private forest land as well. They make up over 58 percent of our nation's commercially valuable forestland and are owned by 9.9 million Americans.
 Page 152       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    The positive impact these maps can have on the management of our National Forests is staggering when one envisions the potential impact they carry. Now, on a national scale, risk can be assessed and planned for. It is not hard to see how forest management, in relation to insect and diseases, has an even greater potential of becoming proactive instead of reactive. This proactive management most certainly will result in reduced management expenditures, reduced loss of timber value and ecological productivity, and improved overall forest health.
    Fortunately, the value these risk assessment maps hold is not limited to Federal lands. When adapted to and shared with private non-industrial forest landowners whose property is surrounded by, adjoining, or in the vicinity of National Forests, an essential part of sustainable forest management, planning, can take place. For many of us, these maps will provide an opportunity we previously never had; an opportunity to look into the future and to manage our forest lands in a manner that takes into account a risk potential as determined by credible science.
    However, I cannot stress enough that this new tool must not go unused. These maps and the money spent in developing them will be worthless if allowed to quietly lie in some back room in Washington. Their value is proven only if used.
     Insects and disease do not respect property boundaries. For the Forest Service to be aware of risk and not act in an environmentally responsible manner to prevent it would be a sin. In my opinion, that holds true for any forest steward.
    It has been called to my attention that this has happened before. In 1993, an infestation of Southern Pine Beetle occurred in Indian Mounds Wilderness in East Texas. By the end of that year nearly 12,600 acres of pine forest were killed. But, as I mentioned, insects respect no property boundary.
    Due to the delayed and ineffectual controls used by the Forest Service to manage the outbreak, at least 24 adjoining non-industrial and industrial landowners suffered losses amounting to an estimated 662 acres, as beetles spread directly across wilderness boundaries. 1999 holds the same fear for us in the Appalachian Mountains. We've had two mild winters and the beetle activity is increasing. Will prompt action be taken? With the present policy, I'm afraid not.
 Page 153       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    I mentioned to you earlier that the Jefferson National Forest surrounds our Tree Farm. And the health of that forest directly contributes to the health of our Tree Farm.
    A healthy forest is necessary to generate income from forest harvesting, camping, hunting and fishing. Any loss of health on our forestland would have serious impacts on my family's ability to sustain the farm. If our land cannot sustain itself, the result may be its being sold for recreational or residential tracts and further fragmentation.
    I depend upon the Forest Service to manage their lands in an environmentally responsible manner, as I do mine.
    Unfortunately, my situation is not unique. Today, many non-industrial private forest landowners face considerable risk in the long-term management of their forests.
    These new risk assessment maps offer another tool that may help lower that risk, help ensure the sustainability of our forest, and provide a greater chance to pass it on to my children in a better condition than when I received it.
    GPO "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."