Summary: S.1144 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.1144. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (08/10/1995)


Title I: Concession Reform

Title II: National Park Fees

Title III: Ski Area Permits on National Forest System Lands

Title IV: National Park System Reform

Title V: Land Management Agency Housing

Title VI: Disposition of Fees

Title VII: National Park System Advisory Board

National Park Service Enhancement Act - Title I: Concession Reform - Revises Federal law to require the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to take appropriate action to encourage and enable private persons, corporations, and other entities to provide and operate facilities and services deemed to be desirable for the accommodation of visitors in areas administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

Requires (current law allows): (1) the Secretary to include in contracts for the providing of facilities and services such terms and conditions as are required to assure the concessioner of adequate protection against specified losses resulting from certain acts, policies, or decisions of the Secretary occurring after the contract has become effective; and (2) such terms and conditions to include an obligation of the United States to compensate the concessioner for loss of investment.

Revises provisions regarding: (1) rates and charges (requires rates to the public to be set by the concessioner or commercial use contractor, subject to the Secretary's approval only where the Secretary determines that sufficient competition for such facilities and services does not exist within or in close proximity to the relevant park); (2) the method of determining franchise fees (requires such fees to be fixed at the time of commencement of the contract as stated in the selected proposal, requires the Secretary to determine the suggested minimum franchise fee in any prospectus in a manner that will provide the concessioner or commercial use contractor with a reasonable opportunity to realize a profit, and permits the Secretary to reduce franchise fees under a contract if such reduction is equitable under the circumstances); and (3) new or additional services (authorizes the Secretary to grant extensions, renewals, or new contracts to any present concessioners for operations substantially similar to those authorized by their current contracts or permits).

Repeals provisions regarding existing renewal preferences, subject to specified limitations.

Revises provisions regarding protection of the concessioner's possessory interest to provide that just compensation shall be an amount equal to the sound value of such structure, fixture, or improvement at the time of taking by the United States or expiration of the contract. Requires the concessioner, no less than 12 months before the expiration of any contract which recognizes a possessory interest, if the amount of compensation was not previously agreed between the Secretary and the concessioner, to submit to the Secretary an independent appraisal of the sound value of the structures, fixtures, or improvements in which the concessioner has an investment interest, subject to specified requirements. Sets forth provisions regarding procedures if the Secretary disagrees with the appraisal submitted.

Sets forth provisions regarding the competitive selection process, contracts, and performance evaluation.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretaries) to adopt procedures consistent with those established by this title for the NPS for issuing contracts and non-recurring commercial-nonrecreational use permits for substantially similar services and activities taking place on Federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Title II: National Park Fees - Revises provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 to increase the fee for: (1) the Golden Eagle Passport (the annual admission permit for designated units of the National Park System (System) or National Conservation Areas and other specified areas) to $50; (2) annual admission into a specific designated unit of the System, or into several specific units located in a particular geographic area, to $25; and a (3) a single-visit permit at any designated area to not more than $6 per person.

Makes receipts from non-Federal Golden Eagle Passport sales available for specified resource protection, rehabilitation, and conservation projects.

Specifies that a lifetime admission permit for a U.S. citizen or person domiciled in the United States who is age 62 or older (Golden Age Passport) shall entitle the permittee (currently, the permittee and specified individuals accompanying him) to free admission into any area designated.

Prohibits fees of any kind from being collected from persons who have a right of access for hunting or fishing privileges under a specific provision of a law or treaty or who are engaged in the conduct of official Federal, State, or local government business.

Directs the Secretaries to establish procedures providing for the issuance of a lifetime admission permit to specified individuals who are permanently disabled. Limits the number of accompanying individuals, notwithstanding the method of travel.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) submit to specified congressional committees a report on the admission fees proposed to be charged at specific units of the National Park System; and (2) identify areas where such fees are authorized but not collected and the reasons why such fees are not collected.

Allows: (1) a charge for the use of a campground not having a majority of specified features and personal collection of the fee by an employee or agent of the Federal agency operating the facility; and (2) any National Park permit (currently, Golden Age Passport) holder to utilize special recreation facilities at a rate of 50 percent of the established use fee. Requires fees to be comparable to those charged by other public and private entities. Permits persons violating National Park rules or regulations to be fined any amount as provided by law.

Revises provisions regarding: (1) the time of reimbursement; (2) charges for transportation provided by the System; and (3) commercial tour use fees.

Directs the Secretary to establish reasonable fees for nonrecurring commercial or nonrecreational uses of System units that require special arrangements, including permits, which at a minimum will cover all costs of providing necessary services associated with such use, with exceptions. Permits receipts equal to the cost of providing the necessary services associated with use of an area within the System for activities which further NPS goals to be retained at the park unit in which the use takes place and to remain available to cover such costs.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes the Secretary to negotiate and enter into challenge cost-share agreements with any State or local government, public or private agency, corporation, individual, or other entity for the purpose of sharing costs or services in carrying out any authorized functions and responsibilities of the Secretary with respect to any System unit, affiliated area, or designated National Scenic or Historic Trail.

(Sec. 203) Redefines or defines: (1) "park system resource" to mean any living or non-living resource that is located within the boundaries of a System unit, except for resources owned by a non-Federal entity; and (2) "marine or aquatic park system resource" to mean any living or non-living resource that is located within or is a living part of a marine or aquatic regimen within such boundaries, except for such resources.

Makes any instrumentality that destroys, causes the loss of, or injures any marine or aquatic park (currently, park) system resource liable in rem to the United States for response costs and resulting damages to the same extent as a person is liable for such destruction, loss, or injury.

Title III: Ski Area Permits on National Forest System Lands - Amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to require that the fee for all ski area permits on National Forest System lands be calculated, charged, and paid according to a specified formula in order to: (1) return fair market value to the United States and provide ski area permittees and the United States with a simplified, consistent, predictable, and equitable permit fee; (2) simplify administrative, bookkeeping, and other requirements currently imposed on the Secretary of Agriculture and ski area permittees on national forest lands; and (3) save costs associated with the calculation of ski area permit fees.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) minimum rental fees; (2) time for payment; (3) exclusion of revenue obtained outside of national forest lands; (4) transitional ski area permit fees; and (5) withdrawal of ski areas from operation of mining laws.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study of ski areas on National Forest System lands to: (1) determine the feasibility and suitability of selling all or a portion of such lands to the current permittees or other interested parties; and (2) identify any continuing need for Federal retention of such lands, cost savings and revenues to the Federal Government which might accrue as a result of such sales as well as other benefits which might result from the disposal of such lands, and criteria which should be used in considering the sale of such assets.

Title IV: National Park System Reform - Requires the Secretary to prepare and transmit to specified congressional committees a National Park System Plan to guide the direction of the System into the next century.

(Sec. 402) Revises Federal provisions regarding the administration, findings, and purpose of the System.

Directs the Secretary: (1) at the beginning of each calendar year, to submit to specified congressional committees a list of areas recommended for study for potential inclusion in the System; (2) to consider those areas that have the greatest potential to meet the established criteria of national significance, suitability, and feasibility, giving special consideration to themes, sites, and resources not already adequately represented in the System as identified in the Plan; and (3) to complete the study for each area for potential inclusion into the System within three complete fiscal years following the date of enactment of specific legislation providing for the study of such area. Directs the Secretary, in conducting the study, to consider: (1) whether the area possesses nationally significant natural or cultural resources or outstanding recreational opportunities, represents one of the most important examples of a particular resource type in the country, and is a suitable and feasible addition to the System; and (2) any additional fiscal and personnel costs if the area were added to the System.

Requires the Secretary to submit to specified congressional committees with the annual budget submission at the beginning of each calendar year, in numerical order of priority for addition to the System considering factors such as threats to resource values and cost escalation, a list of areas previously studied which contain primarily cultural or historical resources and a list of areas which contain primarily natural resources.

Title V: Land Management Agency Housing - Authorizes the Secretaries, in order to promote recruitment and retention of qualified personnel necessary for the effective management of public lands, to: (1) make employee housing available, subject to specified limitations, on or off public lands; and (2) rent or lease such housing to employees of the respective Department at a reasonable value.

Specifies that: (1) housing made available to employees on public lands shall be limited to those areas designated for administrative use; and (2) no private lands outside of the boundaries of federally administered areas may be acquired for the purposes of this title except with the owner's consent.

Authorizes the Secretaries to enter into: (1) agreements with public and private entities to provide housing on or off public lands; and (2) cooperative agreements or joint ventures with local governmental and private entities, either on or off public lands, to provide utility and other infrastructure facilities in support of employee housing facilities.

(Sec. 503) Directs the Secretaries to conduct a survey of the availability of quarters at field units under each Secretary's jurisdiction at least every five years. Authorizes the Secretaries, if such survey indicates that Government-owned or suitable privately-owned quarters are not available for the personnel assigned to a specific duty station, to provide suitable quarters in accordance with this title.

(Sec. 504) Authorizes secondary quarters to be made available to employees, either on or off public lands, if either Secretary determines that such quarters for employees who are permanently duty stationed at remote locations and are regularly required to relocate for temporary periods are necessary for the effective administration of an area under the jurisdiction of the respective agency.

Requires that rental rates for such secondary facilities be established so that the aggregate rental rate paid by an employee for both primary and secondary quarters as a percentage of the employee's annual gross income shall not exceed the Census Bureau American Housing Survey median monthly housing cost for renters, inclusive of utilities as a percentage of current income, whether paid as part of rent or paid directly to a third party.

(Sec. 505) Directs the Secretaries to: (1) survey all existing Government-owned employee housing facilities under their jurisdictions to assess its physical condition and its suitability for the effective prosecution of the agency mission; (2) develop an agency-wide priority listing, by structure, identifying those units in greatest need of repair, rehabilitation, replacement, or initial construction; and (3) transmit the survey and priority listing study to specified congressional committees.

Requires expenditure of any funds appropriated for construction, repair, or rehabilitation to follow, in sequential order, the priority listing. Allows funding available from other sources for employee housing repair to be distributed as determined by the Secretaries.

(Sec. 506) Authorizes appropriations.

Title VI: Disposition of Fees - Establishes in the Treasury a Park Improvement Fund.

(Sec. 602) Requires that, beginning in FY 1996, 50 percent of all revenues received by the Government in excess of the amount that would have been received in 1995 without enactment of this Act from franchise fees, admission, special recreation, commercial tour use, and commercial-nonrecreational use fees (such fees) be covered into the Fund, with exceptions.

(Sec. 603) Provides that: (1) receipts in the Fund from the previous fiscal year shall be available to the Secretary without further appropriation; (2) each fiscal year, beginning in 1997, 75 percent of the total receipts deposited in the Fund for the previous fiscal year from each unit of the System collecting such fees shall be available for expenditure only by that unit; and (3) the remaining receipts in the Fund may be allocated among such units, including those not collecting such fees, as determined by the Secretary.

Directs that expenditures from the Fund be used solely for infrastructure and operational needs by System units. Requires the Secretary, by January of each year, to provide to specified congressional committees a list of proposed expenditures from the Fund for each unit for that fiscal year and a report detailing expenditures, by unit, for the previous fiscal year.

Title VII: National Park System Advisory Board - Revises provisions regarding the establishment of a National Park System Advisory Board to advise the Secretary on all matters pertaining to the System. Specifies that the Board, appointed by the Secretary for a term not to exceed four years, shall be comprised of no more than nine persons from among U.S. citizens having a demonstrated commitment to the System. Requires Board members to be selected to represent various geographic regions and to ensure that the Board contains expertise in natural or cultural resource management, recreation use management, financial management, business management, and land use planning. Sets forth provisions regarding vacancies, procedures, reimbursement for travel and per diem, limits on compensation, and powers of the Board (including the authority to establish task forces).

(Sec. 702) Directs the Board to: (1) conduct a review of each System unit, except for those designated as national parks, to determine whether there are management alternatives that would result in equal or better levels of resource protection, interpretation, and visitor access, use, and enjoyment; (2) review the organic legislation and history of the NPS and its units and develop criteria to guide the Congress and the Secretary in the addition of new units to the System; (3) conduct an analysis and evaluation of the current conditions and future needs of each System unit for adequate visitor service programs; (4) periodically monitor the performance evaluation process as conducted annually by the Secretary for concessioners and commercial use contractors for effectiveness and objectivity; and (5) report thereon to the Secretary and specified congressional committees.

(Sec. 703) Authorizes appropriations.