The Senate Energy & Commerce Committee approved several bills designed to improve recreational opportunities in national forests. The committee took the action on Thursday, Dec. 19. The bills now have to be reported to the full Senate for consideration next year.
The committee passed the Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization and Improvement Act (S. 1300), which would amend the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to allow the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management to enter into land management contracts with private entities to improve conditions. Projects could include road and trail construction to protect water, removing invasive species, improving conditions for wildlife, etc. The program would last through FY 23.
The committee also approved the Cabin Fee Act of 2013 (S. 1341), which would simplify the method for determining fees for owners of cabins in national forests. USFS would get two years to set an 11-tier fee system. The bill would start a $1,200 transfer fee whenever someone sells a cabin. The act would replace the Cabin User Fees Fairness Act of 2000. For details, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d113:1:./temp/~bdC6EO:@@@D&summ2=m&|/home/LegislativeData.php|.
For background on the bill, see the stories linked to below.
The committee also approved a series of bills dealing with specific national forests. For a list, see http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/democratic-news?ID=b3e368b1-9c36-4d30-9d3a-a7757dd07ac7.