IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 22, 2017
Mr. Hatch (for himself and Mr. Heinrich) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works
To require the Secretary of the Interior to develop a categorical exclusion for covered vegetative management activities carried out to establish or improve habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2017.
In this Act:
Covered vegetation management activity
The term covered vegetation management activity means any activity described in subparagraph (B) that—
meets the objectives of the order of the Secretary numbered 3336 and dated January 5, 2015;
conforms to an applicable land use plan;
protects, restores, or improves greater sage-grouse or mule deer habitat;
will not permanently impair—
the natural state of the treated area;
outstanding opportunities for solitude;
outstanding opportunities for primitive, unconfined recreation; or
the identified values of a unit of the National Landscape Conservation System; and
restores native vegetation following a natural disturbance;
prevents the expansion into greater sage-grouse or mule deer habitat of—
juniper, piñon pine, or any other conifer; or
nonnative or invasive vegetation;
reduces the risk of loss of greater sage-grouse or mule deer habitat from wildfire or any other natural disturbance; or
provides emergency stabilization of soil resources after a natural disturbance.
Description of activities
An activity referred to in subparagraph (A) is—
manual cutting and removal of juniper trees, piñon pine trees, other conifers, or other nonnative or invasive vegetation;
mechanical mastication, cutting, or mowing, mechanical piling and burning, chaining, broadcast burning, or yarding;
removal of cheat grass, medusa head rye, other nonnative vegetation, or an invasive species;
collection and seeding or planting of native vegetation using a manual, mechanical, or aerial method;
seeding of nonnative vegetation only for the purpose of emergency stabilization;
use of an herbicide, pesticide, or biological control agent, subject to the condition that the use shall be in accordance with applicable legal requirements, Federal agency procedures, and land use plans;
targeted or late-season livestock grazing to mitigate hazardous fuels and control noxious and invasive weeds;
temporary removal of wild horses or burros in the area in which the activity is being carried out to ensure treatment objectives are met;
temporary suspension of permitted grazing use until restoration treatment objectives are met;
installation of new, or modification of existing, fencing or water sources intended to control use or improve wildlife habitat; or
construction of temporary roads.
The term covered vegetation management activity does not include—
any activity conducted in a wilderness area or wilderness study area; or
any activity for the construction of a permanent road or permanent trail.
The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.
The term temporary road means a road that is—
by a contract, permit, lease, other written authorization; or
pursuant to an emergency operation;
not intended to be part of the permanent transportation system of a Federal department or agency;
not necessary for long-term resource management; and
designed in accordance with standards appropriate for the intended use of the road, taking into consideration—
the cost of transportation; and
impacts to land and resources.
Improvement of habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall develop one or more categorical exclusions (as defined in section 1508.4 of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (or a successor regulation)) for covered vegetative management activities carried out to establish or improve habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer.
In developing and administering a categorical exclusion under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall—
be consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.);
apply the extraordinary circumstances procedures under section 220.6 of title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations), in determining whether to use the categorical exclusion; and
the relative efficacy of landscape-scale habitat projects;
the likelihood of continued declines in the populations of greater sage-grouse and mule deer in the absence of landscape-scale vegetation management; and
the need for habitat restoration activities after wildfire or other natural disturbances.
Long-Term monitoring and maintenance
Before commencing any covered vegetative management activity that is covered by a categorical exclusion under subsection (a), the Secretary shall develop a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan, covering at least the 20 year-period beginning on the date of commencement, to ensure that management of the treated area does not degrade the habitat gains secured by the covered vegetative management activity.
Disposal of vegetative material
Subject to applicable local restrictions, any vegetative material resulting from a covered vegetation management activity that is covered by a categorical exclusion under subsection (a) may be—
fuel wood; or
other products; or
piled or burned, or both.
Treatment for temporary roads
A temporary road constructed in connection with a covered vegetation management activity that is a categorical exclusion under subsection (a) shall be treated to ensure the reestablishment of native vegetative cover by artificial or natural means, as necessary to minimize erosion from any area disturbed by the construction or use of the temporary road.
A treatment under paragraph (1) shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover—
as soon as practicable; but
not later than 10 years after the date of completion of the applicable covered vegetation management activity.