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Congress to vote on revisions to Forest Service law

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Changes to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) law are about to be voted on in Congress. Congressional conferees filed a report on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 2642), a major agricultural policy bill. The bill includes a bunch of measures dealing with USFS.

Conferees officially filed the bill on Monday, Jan. 27. But as of Tuesday morning, the report was not available yet. You can view the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c113:5:./temp/~c113jWMBza::.

The House Rules Committee on Monday approved a schedule for debate on the bill so the House can vote as early as Wednesday.

But the bill would extend the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Forest & Open Space Conservation Program through FY 18. And it would require a new strategic plan for forest inventory and analysis to be developed within six months.

Conferees dropped a provision that would have given USFS three months to report to Congress on the state of roads in national forests, including the number of miles “not meeting forest plan standards and guidelines," the backlog of maintenance, an accounting of funds used for road maintenance and improvement how road closures are affecting recreation, and how land acquisition affects the maintenance backlog.

The bill also calls for selling about .7 acre of land in Jefferson National Forest in Virginia to the Mullins and Sturgill Cemetery Association of Pound, Virginia. For background on this, see stories linked to below.

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