Text: H.R.1964 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 108-421 (11/30/2004)
[108th Congress Public Law 421]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
Public Law 108-421
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.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Highlands
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;
(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
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
(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;
(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''
(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
(5) Study.--The term ``Study'' means the New York-New Jersey
Highlands Regional Study conducted by the Forest Service in
(6) Update.--The term ``Update'' means the New York-New
Jersey Highlands Regional Study: 2002 Update conducted by the
(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
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
(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
(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
(C) the Conservation Priorities portion of the
(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
(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
(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
(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:
HOUSE REPORTS: No. 108-373, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Resources).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 108-376 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources).
Vol. 149 (2003):
Nov. 21, considered and passed
Vol. 150 (2004):
Oct. 10, considered and passed
Nov. 17, House concurred in Senate