Text: S.548 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (03/08/2005)


109th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 548


To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land to voluntarily make their land available for access by the public under programs administered by States and tribal governments.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 8, 2005

Mr. Conrad (for himself and Mr. Roberts) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry


A BILL

To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land to voluntarily make their land available for access by the public under programs administered by States and tribal governments.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Voluntary Public Access and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program Act of 2005”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds that—

(1) according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2001, 82,000,000 individuals in the United States aged 16 years and older participated in wildlife-related recreation, including 34,000,000 individuals who hunted, and more than 66,000,000 who engaged in wildlife-related recreation such as observing, feeding, or photographing wildlife, in the United States;

(2) individuals who participated in wildlife-related activities in 2001 spent an estimated $108,000,000,000, including—

(A) more than $35,000,000,000 on fishing;

(B) nearly $21,000,000,000 on hunting; and

(C) more than $28,000,000,000 on food, lodging, and transportation;

(3) the growing public demand for outdoor recreational opportunities is increasingly constrained by the limits on both public and private land resources;

(4) limited public access on private land has often frustrated and disappointed hunters and other naturalists, and undermined the relationship between land owners and the general public;

(5) several States and tribal governments have established successful but modest walk-in programs to encourage public access on private farm, ranch, and forest land, yet the demand for such voluntary access programs remains largely unfulfilled;

(6) traditional agricultural markets have in recent years offered limited income opportunities for farm, ranch, and forest land owners and operators; and

(7) current proposals to reform world agricultural trade favor the development of new methods to support the income of agricultural producers that have minimal impact on agricultural production and prices.

SEC. 3. Voluntary public access and habitat incentive program.

(a) In general.—Chapter 5 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3839bb et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“SEC. 1240Q. Voluntary public access and habitat incentive program.

“(a) In general.—The Secretary shall establish a voluntary public access program under which States and tribal governments may apply for grants to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land to voluntarily make that land available for access by the public under programs administered by the States and tribal governments.

“(b) Applications.—In submitting applications for a grant under the program, a State or tribal government shall describe—

“(1) the benefits that the State or tribal government intends to achieve by encouraging public access on private farm, ranch, and forest land, through such activities as hunting, fishing, bird watching, and related outdoor activities; and

“(2) the methods that will be used to achieve those benefits.

“(c) Priority.—In approving applications and awarding grants under the program, the Secretary shall give priority to States and tribal governments that propose—

“(1) to maximize participation by offering a program the terms of which are likely to meet with widespread acceptance among landowners;

“(2) to ensure that land enrolled under the State or tribal government program has appropriate wildlife habitat;

“(3) to strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts on land enrolled in a special conservation reserve enhancement program described in 1234(f)(4) by providing incentives to increase public access on that land; and

“(4) to use additional Federal, State, tribal government, or private resources in carrying out the program.

“(d) Relationship to other laws.—Nothing in this section preempts a State or tribal government law (including any State or tribal government liability law).

“(e) Regulations.—The Secretary shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to carry out this section.”.

(b) Funding.—Section 1241(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3841(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(8) The voluntary public access program under section 1240Q, using, to the maximum extent practicable, $20,000,000 in each of fiscal years 2005 through 2009.”.

SEC. 4. Prevention of excess base acres.

Section 1101(g)(2) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 7911(g)(2)) is amended by striking subparagraph (C).