Text: H.R.1964 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

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Shown Here:
Public Law No: 108-421 (11/30/2004)

 
[108th Congress Public Law 421]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ421.108]
Public Law 108-421
108th Congress

                                 An Act


 
     To assist the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and 
 Pennsylvania in conserving priority lands and natural resources in the 
Highlands region, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Nov. 30, 2004 -  [H.R. 
                                1964]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Highlands 
Conservation Act.>> 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Highlands Conservation Act''.

SEC. 2. PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are--
            (1) to recognize the importance of the water, forest, 
        agricultural, wildlife, recreational, and cultural resources of 
        the Highlands region, and the national significance of the 
        Highlands region to the United States;
            (2) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to work in 
        partnership with the Secretary of Agriculture to provide 
        financial assistance to the Highlands States to preserve and 
        protect high priority conservation land in the Highlands region; 
        and
            (3) to continue the ongoing Forest Service programs in the 
        Highlands region to assist the Highlands States, local units of 
        government, and private forest and farm landowners in the 
        conservation of land and natural resources in the Highlands 
        region.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Highlands region.--The term ``Highlands region'' means 
        the area depicted on the map entitled ``The Highlands Region'', 
        dated June 2004, including the list of municipalities included 
        in the Highlands region, and maintained in the headquarters of 
        the Forest Service in Washington, District of Columbia.
            (2) Highlands state.--The term ``Highlands State'' means--
                    (A) the State of Connecticut;
                    (B) the State of New Jersey;
                    (C) the State of New York; and
                    (D) the State of Pennsylvania.
            (3) Land conservation partnership project.--The term ``land 
        conservation partnership project'' means a land conservation 
        project--
                    (A) located in the Highlands region;
                    (B) identified by the Forest Service in the Study, 
                the Update, or any subsequent Pennsylvania and 
                Connecticut Update as having high conservation value; 
                and
                    (C) in which a non-Federal entity acquires land or 
                an interest in land from a willing seller to permanently 
                protect, conserve, or preserve the land through a 
                partnership with the Federal Government.
            (4) Non-federal entity.--The term ``non-Federal entity'' 
        means--
                    (A) any Highlands State; or
                    (B) any agency or department of any Highlands State 
                with authority to own and manage land for conservation 
                purposes, including the Palisades Interstate Park 
                Commission.
            (5) Study.--The term ``Study'' means the New York-New Jersey 
        Highlands Regional Study conducted by the Forest Service in 
        1990.
            (6) Update.--The term ``Update'' means the New York-New 
        Jersey Highlands Regional Study: 2002 Update conducted by the 
        Forest Service.
            (7) Pennsylvania and connecticut update.--The term 
        ``Pennsylvania and Connecticut Update'' means a report to be 
        completed by the Forest Service that identifies areas having 
        high conservation values in the States of Connecticut and 
        Pennsylvania in a manner similar to that utilized in the Study 
        and Update.

SEC. 4. LAND CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROJECTS IN THE HIGHLANDS REGION.

    (a) Submission of Proposed Projects.--Each year, the governors of 
the Highlands States, with input from pertinent units of local 
government and the public, may--
            (1) jointly identify land conservation partnership projects 
        in the Highlands region from land identified as having high 
        conservation values in the Study, the Update, or the 
        Pennsylvania and Connecticut Update that shall be proposed for 
        Federal financial assistance; and
            (2) submit a list of those projects to the Secretary of the 
        Interior.

    (b) <<NOTE: Reports.>>  Consideration of Projects.--Each year, the 
Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of 
Agriculture, shall submit to Congress a list of the land conservation 
partnership projects submitted under subsection (a)(2) that are eligible 
to receive financial assistance under this section.

    (c) <<NOTE: Contracts.>>  Eligibility Conditions.--To be eligible 
for financial assistance under this section for a land conservation 
partnership project, a non-Federal entity shall enter into an agreement 
with the Secretary of the Interior that--
            (1) identifies the non-Federal entity that shall own or hold 
        and manage the land or interest in land;
            (2) identifies the source of funds to provide the non-
        Federal share under subsection (d);
            (3) describes the management objectives for the land that 
        will ensure permanent protection and use of the land for the 
        purpose for which the assistance will be provided;
            (4) provides that, if the non-Federal entity converts, uses, 
        or disposes of the land conservation partnership project for a 
        purpose inconsistent with the purpose for which the assistance 
        was provided, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, 
        the United States--
                    (A) may seek specific performance of the conditions 
                of financial assistance in accordance with paragraph (3) 
                in Federal court; and
                    (B) shall be entitled to reimbursement from the non-
                Federal entity in an amount that is, as determined at 
                the time of conversion, use, or disposal, the greater 
                of--
                          (i) the total amount of the financial 
                      assistance provided for the project by the Federal 
                      Government under this section; or
                          (ii) the amount by which the financial 
                      assistance increased the value of the land or 
                      interest in land; and
            (5) provides that land conservation partnership projects 
        will be consistent with areas identified as having high 
        conservation value in--
                    (A) the Important Areas portion of the Study;
                    (B) the Conservation Focal Areas portion of the 
                Update;
                    (C) the Conservation Priorities portion of the 
                Update;
                    (D) land identified as having higher or highest 
                resource value in the Conservation Values Assessment 
                portion of the Update; and
                    (E) land identified as having high conservation 
                value in the Pennsylvania and Connecticut Update.

    (d) Non-Federal Share Requirement.--The Federal share of the cost of 
carrying out a land conservation partnership project under this section 
shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the land conservation 
partnership project.
    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be 
appropriated to the Secretary of the Interior $10,000,000 for each of 
fiscal years 2005 through 2014, to remain available until expended.

SEC. 5. FOREST SERVICE AND USDA PROGRAMS IN THE HIGHLANDS REGION.

    (a) In General.--To meet the land resource goals of, and the 
scientific and conservation challenges identified in, the Study, Update, 
and any future study that the Forest Service may undertake in the 
Highlands region, the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief 
of the Forest Service and in consultation with the Chief of the National 
Resources Conservation Service, shall continue to assist the Highlands 
States, local units of government, and private forest and farm 
landowners in the conservation of land and natural resources in the 
Highlands region.
    (b) Duties.--The Forest Service shall--
            (1) in consultation with the Highlands States, undertake 
        other studies and research in the Highlands region consistent 
        with the purposes of this Act, including a Pennsylvania and 
        Connecticut Update;
            (2) communicate the findings of the Study and Update and 
        maintain a public dialogue regarding implementation of the Study 
        and Update; and
            (3) assist the Highland States, local units of government, 
        individual landowners, and private organizations in identifying 
        and using Forest Service and other technical and financial 
        assistance programs of the Department of Agriculture.

    (c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be 
appropriated to the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out this section 
$1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2005 through 2014.

SEC. 6. PRIVATE PROPERTY PROTECTION AND LACK OF REGULATORY EFFECT.

    (a) Access to Private Property.--Nothing in this Act--
            (1) requires a private property owner to permit public 
        access (including Federal, State, or local government access) to 
        private property; or
            (2) modifies any provision of Federal, State, or local law 
        with regard to public access to, or use of, private land.

    (b) Liability.--Nothing in this Act creates any liability, or has 
any effect on liability under any other law, of a private property owner 
with respect to any persons injured on the private property.
    (c) Recognition of Authority To Control Land Use.--Nothing in this 
Act modifies any authority of Federal, State, or local governments to 
regulate land use.
    (d) Participation of Private Property Owners.--Nothing in this Act 
requires the owner of any private property located in the Highlands 
region to participate in the land conservation, financial, or technical 
assistance or any other programs established under this Act.
    (e) Purchase of Land or Interests in Land From Willing Sellers 
Only.--Funds appropriated to carry out this Act shall be used to 
purchase land or interests in land only from willing sellers.

    Approved November 30, 2004.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 1964:
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HOUSE REPORTS: No. 108-373, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Resources).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 108-376 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:
                                                        Vol. 149 (2003):
                                    Nov. 21, considered and passed 
                                        House.
                                                        Vol. 150 (2004):
                                    Oct. 10, considered and passed 
                                        Senate, amended.
                                    Nov. 17, House concurred in Senate 
                                        amendment.

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