Summary: H.R.2691 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Public Law No: 108-108 (11/10/2003)

Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 - Makes appropriations for the Department of the Interior and related agencies for FY 2004.

Title I: Department of the Interior - Makes appropriations for FY 2004 to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for: (1) land and resource management; (2) wildland fire management (including funds to repay prior year advances from other appropriations for wildfire suppression and emergency rehabilitation activities); (3) remedial action of hazardous waste substances; (4) construction; (5) land acquisition; (6) Oregon and California grant lands; (7) range improvements; (8) service charges, deposits, and forfeitures with respect to public lands; and (9) miscellaneous trust funds.

Appropriates funds for FY 2004 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for: (1) resource management; (2) construction; (3) land acquisition; (4) the establishment of a Landowner Incentive Program that provides assistance to private landowners for private conservation efforts; (5) the establishment of a Private Stewardship Grants Program; (6) expenses related to carrying out the Endangered Species Act of 1973; (7) the National Wildlife Refuge Fund; (8) expenses related to carrying out the North American Wetlands Conservation Act; (9) financial assistance for projects to promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds; (10) expenses related to carrying out the African Elephant Conservation Act, the Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994, and the Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000; and (11) wildlife conservation grants to States, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes.

Makes appropriations for FY 2004 to the National Park Service (NPS) for: (1) the National Park System; (2) the U.S. Park Police; (3) expenses for national recreation and preservation programs; (4) expenses to carry out the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act of 1978; (5) expenses related to carrying out the Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996; (6) construction; and (7) land acquisition and State assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Prohibits the use of any funds for planning, design, or construction of any underground security screening or visitor contact facility at the Washington Monument until such facility has been approved by the congressional appropriations committees.

Makes appropriations for FY 2004 to: (1) the U.S. Geological Survey for surveys, investigations, and research; (2) the Minerals Management Service for royalty and offshore minerals management and oil spill research; (3) the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for regulation and technology and the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund; (4) the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for operation of Indian programs, construction, Indian land and water claim settlements and miscellaneous payments to Indians, and Indian guaranteed loans; (5) assist U.S. territories and to carry out the Compacts of Free Association with respect to Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau; (6) the Department of the Interior for departmental management; (7) payments in lieu of taxes to local governments; (8) the Offices of the Solicitor and of the Inspector General; (9) trust programs for Indians; (10) a program for consolidation of fractional interests in Indian lands by direct expenditure or cooperative agreement; and (11) the Department of the Interior for natural resource damage assessment and restoration.

Extends the period for the enactment of legislation approving the agreements between the United States, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia regarding certain Federal grants and payments pursuant to the Compact of Free Association Act of 1985.

Directs the Secretary of the Interior to report to Congress on the amount of acquisitions of articles, materials, or supplies purchased by the Department of the Interior that were manufactured outside the United States, including an itemized list of all waivers under the Buy American Act.

Earmarks funds for the acquisition of a departmental financial and business management system.

Limits the amount of funds available under the heading of Office of Special Trustee for American Indians, Federal trust programs to be available for records collection and indexing, imaging and coding, accounting for per capita and judgment accounts, accounting for tribal accounts, reviewing and distributing funds from special deposit accounts, and program management of the Office of Historical Trust Accounting, including litigation support. States that nothing in the American Indian Trust Management Reform Act of 1994 nor in any other statute and no principle of common law shall be construed to require the Department of the Interior to commence or continue historical accounting activities with respect to the Individual Indian Money Trust until Congress amends such Act to delineate the specific historical accounting obligations of the Interior Department with respect to the Trust or December 31, 2004, whichever occurs first.

Sets forth authorized and prohibited uses of specified funds.

(Sec. 112) Declares that appropriations made in this Act under the headings Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Special Trustee for American Indians and any unobligated balances under the same headings shall be available for expenditure or transfer for Indian trust management and reform activities, except that total funding for historical accounting activities shall not exceed amounts specifically designated for such purpose in this Act.

(Sec. 132) Prohibits any funds appropriated for the Department of the Interior by this Act or any other Act from being used to study or implement any plan to drain Lake Powell or reduce the water level of the lake below the range of water levels required for the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam.

(Sec. 135) Designates Congaree Swamp National Monument as Congaree National Park.

(Sec. 138) Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Land Exchange Act of 2003 - Requires the Secretary of the Interior to exchange the Ravensford tract, currently in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, for the Yellow Face tract adjacent to the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Requires the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to deed the Yellow Face tract to the United States. Declares the Ravensford tract, upon completion of the exchange, to be held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Eastern Band as part of the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Prohibits gaming on the Ravensford tract.

(Sec. 140) Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Act of 2003 - Establishes the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in North Carolina, to be managed by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.

(Sec. 145) Bars the use of Federal funds to permit the use of the National Mall for a special event unless the permit expressly prohibits the erection, placement, or use of structures and signs bearing commercial advertising. Authorizes the Secretary to allow for recognition of sponsors of special events.

(Sec. 149) Provides for the issuance of permits for the importation of polar bear parts, other than internal organs, taken in sports hunts in Canada before February 18, 1997 (currently, April 30, 1994).

(Sec. 150) Directs NPS to issue a special regulation concerning continued hunting at New River Gorge National River.

Title II: Related Agencies - Makes FY 2004 appropriations for the Department of Agriculture for the Forest Service for: (1) forest and rangeland research; (2) State and private forestry; (3) the National Forest System (NFS); (4) wildland fire management (including funds to repay prior year advances from other appropriations for wildfire suppression and emergency rehabilitation activities); (5) capital improvement and maintenance; (6) land acquisitions, including specified National Forest areas in Utah, Nevada, and California; (7) range rehabilitation protection, and improvement; (8) gifts, donations, and bequests for forest and rangeland research; and (9) Federal land management in Alaska.

Defers funds made available in prior years for clean coal technology from being used until October 1, 2004, subject to a specified condition. Makes appropriations for the Department of Energy for: (1) fossil energy research and development that includes acquisition of real property, plants or facilities, technological investigations and research targeting mineral substances, and a Clean Coal Power Initiative; (2) naval petroleum and oil shale reserve activities; (3) installment payments pertaining to the Elk Hills School Lands Fund; (4) implementation of energy conservation activities; (5) implementation of activities of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, and of the Energy Information Administration; and (6) the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.

Specifies that, unless specifically provided for in an appropriations Act, funds made available to the Department of Energy under this Act may not be used to: (1) finance or implement authorized price support or loan guarantee programs; or (2) issue or process procurement documents for various enterprises.

Makes appropriations for FY 2004 to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Indian health facilities.

Makes appropriations for FY 2004 to: (1) the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation; and (2) the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development (including to assist with the Institute's efforts to develop a Continuing Education Lifelong Learning Center).

Makes appropriations in specified amounts for various purposes to: (1) the Smithsonian Institution (earmarking certain funds for the National Museum of the American Indian, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and other specified programs); (2) the National Gallery of Art; (3) the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (4) the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; (5) the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); (6) the National Endowment for the Humanities; (7) the Challenge America Arts Fund for Challenge America Grants for arts education and public outreach activities to be administered by the NEA; (8) the Commission of Fine Arts; (9) the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; (10) the National Capital Planning Commission; (11) the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for the Holocaust Memorial Museum; and (12) the Presidio Trust Fund.

Title III: General Provisions - Sets forth limitations on the use of funds under this Act.

(Sec. 305) Prohibits any assessments from being levied against any program, budget activity, subactivity, or project funded by this Act unless the congressional appropriations committees are notified of and approve those assessments.

(Sec. 324) Permits the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to make reciprocal agreements in which the individuals furnished by an agreement to provide wildfire services are considered, for tort liability, employees of the country receiving the services when the individuals are engaged in fire suppression. Prohibits the Secretaries from making any agreement in which a foreign country does not assume any and all responsibility for acts or omissions of American firefighters who are firefighting in such foreign country.

(Sec. 330) Allows the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, in awarding a Federal contract for any of specified purposes with funds made available by this Act, to give consideration to local contractors who are from economically disadvantaged rural communities and who provide employment and training for dislocated and displaced workers in such communities. Allows the Secretaries to award grants or cooperative agreements in certain areas to various entities, including local non-profits and the Youth Conservation Corps. Includes in such areas habitat restoration or management and forest hazardous fuels reduction.

(Sec. 332) Extends the recreational fee demonstration program to December 31, 2005.

(Sec. 338) Sets forth procedures regarding the process of any application for judicial review of a Record of Decision for any timber sale in Region 10 of the Forest Service that had a notice of intent prepared on or before January 1, 2003.

(Sec. 339) Allows the Secretary of Agriculture, under specified conditions, to cancel a maximum of 70 contracts for the sale of timber awarded between October 1, 1995, and January 1, 2002, on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Makes timber included in a canceled contract available for resale by such Secretary.

(Sec. 340) Requires amounts requested to perform competitive sourcing studies (studies on subjecting work performed by Federal employees or private contractors to public-private competition or on converting such employees or their work to private contractor performance) for programs, projects, and activities of the Department of the Interior, Forest Service, and Department of Energy to be set forth separately from other amounts requested in each budget submitted by the President to Congress beginning with FY 2005. Requires each Secretary concerned (Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, or Secretary of Energy), beginning December 31, 2003, to submit annual reports to the congressional appropriations committees on the competitive sourcing studies conducted. Directs such Secretaries to submit competitive sourcing proposals to such congressional committees for FY 2004. Limits the amounts that may be used to initiate or continue competitive sourcing studies in FY 2004 until the Secretary concerned submits a reprogramming proposal to the congressional appropriations committees and such proposal has been processed consistent with the FY 2004 reprogramming guidelines.

Bars any funds made available in this or any other Act from being used to covert to contractor performance an activity or function performed by more than ten Federal employees, unless: (1) the conversion is based on public-private competition that includes a more efficient and cost effective organization plan; and (2) the Competitive Sourcing Official determines that the cost of performance by a contractor would be less costly to the Government by the lesser of ten percent or $10 million. Excludes specified commercial and industrial type functions from such prohibition.

(Sec. 343) Requires that: (1) estimated overhead charges, deductions, reserves, or holdbacks from programs, projects, and activities to support government-wide, departmental, agency, or bureau administrative functions or headquarters, regional or central office operations be presented in annual budget justifications; and (2) changes to such estimates be presented to the congressional appropriations committees for approval.

(Sec. 344) Rescinds an amount equal to 0.646 percent of the budget authority provided: (1) for any discretionary account in this Act; and (2) in any advance appropriation for FY 2004 for any discretionary account in the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations, Act 2003. Requires any rescission to be applied proportionately to each discretionary account and item of budget authority and, within each such account and item, to each program, project, and activity.

Title IV: The Flathead and Kootenai National Forest Rehabilitation Act - Flathead and Kootenai National Forest Rehabilitation Act of 2003 - (Sec. 403) Authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary) to conduct projects that are necessary to rehabilitate and restore, and to conduct salvage harvests on, National Forest System lands in the North Fork drainage on the Flathead National Forest. Prohibits the Secretary, if an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement is required for a project, from being required to study, develop, or describe any alternative to the proposed agency action in the assessment or statement. Instructs the Secretary to facilitate collaboration among the State of Montana, local governments, Indian tribes, and interested persons during the preparation of each project in a manner consistent with the Implementation Plan for the ten-year Comprehensive Strategy of a Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment (May 2002).

(Sec. 405) Directs the Secretary to establish a multiparty monitoring group to monitor the performance and effectiveness of projects. Requires such Group to report to the Secretary annually on the progress of the projects in rehabilitating and restoring the North Fork drainage.

(Sec. 406) Terminates the Secretary's authority to issue decisions to carry out projects five years after the date of enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 407) Directs the Secretary to: (1) publish new information regarding forest-wide estimates of old growth from the administrative record in the case of Ecology Center v. Castenada for public comment for a 30-day period; and (2) review any comments received during the comment period and decide whether to modify the records of decision for the Pinkham, White Pine, Kelsey-Beaver, Gold/Boulder/Sullivan, and Pink Stone projects on Kootenai National Forest. States that such records shall not be deemed arbitrary and capricious under applicable law as long as each project area retains ten percent designated old growth below 5,500 feet elevation in third order watersheds.