Summary: S.861 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (10/01/2003)

Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act - Directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Program to protect the environmental integrity of undeveloped coastal and estuarine areas that have significant conservation, recreation, ecological, historical, or aesthetic values, and that are threatened by conversion from their natural, undeveloped, or recreational state to other uses. Requires such program to be administered by the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

Authorizes the Secretary to make program grants to coastal States (except to ones that have lost less than one percent of their wetlands to development or conversion to other land uses) with approved coastal zone management plans or National Estuarine Research Reserve units for the purpose of acquiring property interests that will further the goals of: (1) a Coastal Zone Management Plan or Program approved under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972; (2) a National Estuarine Research Reserve management plan; or (3) a regional or State watershed protection plan involving coastal States with approved coastal zone management plans.

Prohibits: (1) the Secretary from making grants unless they are matched by non-Federal funds; and (2) any more than 75 percent of the grant funding from being derived from Federal sources. Allows the Secretary to waive such limitation for underserved communities, communities that have an inability to draw on other sources of funding, or for other appropriate reasons. Sets forth requirements for the use of land value and certain other costs to determine the non-Federal cost share.

Authorizes the Secretary to provide $5 million for a regional watershed protection demonstration project that: (1) leverages land acquisition funding from other Federal conservation or acquisition programs; (2) involves partnerships with Federal, State, and non-governmental entities; (3) creates conservation corridors and preserves unique coastal habitat; (4) protects habitats under imminent threat of development or conversion; (5) provides water quality protection for areas under the National Estuarine Research Reserve program; and (6) provides a model for future regional watershed protection projects.

Reserves 15 percent of program funds for acquisitions benefitting the National Estuarine Research Reserve. Prohibits any more than five percent of such funds from being used for planning or administrative costs. Requires the Secretary to provide a report to Congress with an account of all expenditures for FY 2004 and 2005 and triennially thereafter.

Specifies that when property is acquired under this program the grant recipient shall provide such assurances that: (1) title will be held by the grant recipient; (2) property will be managed in a manner that is consistent with the purpose of the program and shall not be converted to other uses; and (3) funds will be returned to the Secretary if the property is sold, exchanged, or divested.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out the program. Earmarks separate funds to carry out the regional watershed demonstration project.

Amends the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to allow the Secretary to enter into contracts or other arrangements with other Federal agencies (including interagency financing of Coastal America activities) as well as any other qualified person for the purposes of carrying out technical assistance and research to support coastal zone management. (Current law allows the Secretary to enter into such arrangements only with any qualified person).