Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (09/22/2008)

Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program Act - Amends the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program to protect important 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 or that could be managed or restored to effectively conserve, enhance, or restore ecological function. Requires the program to be administered by the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

Authorizes the Secretary to make Program grants to coastal states with approved coastal zone management plans or National Estuarine Research Reserve units for the purpose of acquiring property that will further the goals of an approved Coastal Zone Management Plan or Program, a National Estuarine Research Reserve management plan, a regional or state watershed protection or management plan, or a state coastal land acquisition plan.

Directs the Secretary to allocate funds to coastal states or National Estuarine Research Reserves through a competitive grant process with guidelines that meet specified requirements, including that: (1) each participating coastal state shall ensure that the acquisition of property or easements shall complement working waterfront needs; and (2) priority shall be given to lands that can be effectively managed and protected, that have significant ecological value, that are under an imminent threat of conversion to a use that will diminish their natural, undeveloped, or recreational state, and that serve to mitigate the adverse impacts caused by coastal population growth in the coastal environment.

Provides that grant awards may be used to purchase land, including an easement, only from a willing seller. Prohibits any such purchase from being the result of a forced taking.

Provides that grant funds under the Program shall require a 100% match from nonfederal sources, subject to a waiver by the Secretary for underserved and other specified communities or for other appropriate reasons. Reserves 15% of program funds for acquisitions benefiting the National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Specifies that when property is acquired under this program, the grant recipient shall provide assurances that: (1) title will be held by the recipient (or another public agency designated by the recipient) in perpetuity; (2) property will be managed consistent with the purpose of the Program; and (3) funds will be returned to the Secretary for redistribution if the property is sold, exchanged, or divested. Authorizes appropriations.