Text: S.3411 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (07/31/2008)


110th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3411


To authorize the sale of certain National Forest System lands in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 31, 2008

Ms. Klobuchar (for herself and Mr. Coleman) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry


A BILL

To authorize the sale of certain National Forest System lands in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.

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 “Superior National Forest Land Adjustment Act of 2008”.

SEC. 2. Findings and definitions.

(a) Findings.—The Congress finds the following:

(1) Fragmentation of property rights on certain lands described herein within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest in Minnesota hampers the ability of the Forest Service to manage associated forested areas as well as the ability of private mineral owners to utilize their mineral rights.

(2) The United States primarily owns the surface estate in the lands described in section 3, subject to reserved and outstanding mineral rights, with such lands located within a well-established mining district with a large open pit mine lying directly to the north and a mine railroad lying directly to the south.

(3) The public interest in selling the federally owned property estate interests in lands described in section 3 under the terms and conditions of this Act would appear to outweigh the interest served by maintaining such lands under Federal ownership subject to a final determination under this Act.

(4) The sale of some Federal surface and subsurface rights in land under this Act will facilitate mining in the areas described in section 3, and thereby improve the local and national economy by providing needed mineral resources, enhancing the property tax base, and promoting employment opportunities through expanded job creation and will allow for the acquisition of desirable public holdings that are located within or adjacent to Forest Service land by the Forest Service.

(5) Minnesota and the Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Forest Service, are preparing an environmental impact statement for the proposed mining operations by PolyMet Mining, Inc., on and adjacent to the lands authorized for conveyance by this Act, more fully described in the notice of intent of the Department of Defense (70 Fed. Reg. 38122 (July 1, 2005)) and a draft environmental impact statement is expected to be released for public review and comment in the near future.

(6) Proceeds from the sale of lands authorized by this Act shall be used by the Forest Service to purchase desirable private inholdings within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest consistent with the land and resource management plan for the Superior National Forest.

(b) Definitions.—In this Act:

(1) The term “lands” includes interests in lands.

(2) The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Agriculture.

(3) The term “surface mining” means the excavation of lands for the purposes of obtaining minerals, including excavation by such methods as contour, strip, auger, open pit, and area mining.

SEC. 3. Land conveyance authority, Superior National Forest, Minnesota.

(a) Conveyance authority.—

(1) After considering the public interest factors described in paragraph (2), the Secretary of Agriculture may sell in accordance with this Act any or all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the lands within the Superior National Forest in Minnesota described in subsection (b).

(2) The sale authorized by this Act may proceed if, based on the environmental documentation provided in accordance with section 5(b), or other information as the Secretary may choose to utilize, the Secretary determines that a sale will—

(A) result in better and more efficient management and development of Federal lands and resources taking into consideration the property interests and reservations for mining uses and surrounding use of the lands which are the subject of this Act;

(B) help consolidate the ownership of lands or interests in such lands, including mineral rights and surface ownership, thereby promoting economic development;

(C) result in receipt to the public of consideration equal to appraised market value as defined herein; and

(D) allow with proceeds from any sale the purchase of replacement lands which result in a net benefit to the multiple use resources of the Superior National Forest.

(3) This subsection prescribes the sole public interest determination required for any sale.

(b) Lands authorized for conveyance.—

(1) LANDS DESCRIBED.—The federally owned lands subject to sale under this Act are certain lands located in St. Louis County, Minnesota, comprising approximately 6,700 acres, more fully described as follows:

(A) Township 59 North, Range 13 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i) Sections 1 through 9, inclusive.

(ii) Sections 10, 11, 17, and 18, those portions lying north of and subject to the right-of-way held by the Erie Railroad.

(iii) The N½ of section 12.

(B) Township 59 North, Range 12 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i) Section 6: Lots 3, 4, and 9, inclusive.

(ii) Section 7: Lots 3 and 4, inclusive.

(C) Township 60 North, Range 13 West, 4th Principal Meridian:

(i) The S½SE¼ of section 33.

(ii) The S½S½ of section 34.

(iii) The S½S½ of section 35.

(2) MAP.—The lands described in paragraph (1) are generally depicted on a Forest Service map dated October 4, 2007, and entitled “PolyMet (Proponent) Case #4544”, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the Forest Supervisor, Superior National Forest, until such time as the lands are conveyed.

(3) MODIFICATION OF BOUNDARIES.—The Secretary may modify the boundaries of the lands described in paragraph (1) based on factors such as buffers and other land management considerations.

(c) Form of conveyance.—The lands sold under this Act shall be conveyed by quitclaim deed executed by the Forest Service, Eastern Region, Director of Air, Soil, Water, Lands, and Minerals. The Secretary may reserve such rights-of-way or other rights or interests in the lands as the Secretary considers necessary for future public land management purposes or is otherwise in the public interest.

(d) Valuation.—Any appraisal of the lands to be sold under this Act shall conform to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions, and the appraisal shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary. For purposes of appraisal, it shall be assumed that the lands authorized for conveyance under this Act are subject to the right of the United States, as surface owner to allow or deny all forms of surface mining.

(e) Consideration.—Consideration for a sale of lands under this Act shall be in an amount not less than the appraised market value as determined in accordance with subsection (d).

(f) Method of Sale.—The Secretary may sell lands described in subsection (b) at public or private sale, including competitive sale by auction, bid, or otherwise, in accordance with such terms, conditions, and procedures as the Secretary determines are in the best interests of the United States, subject to the following:

(1) The Secretary shall first offer the sale of such lands for consideration at the appraised market value to Poly Met Mining, Inc., a Minnesota corporation, which shall have 90 days from the date of the offer during which to contract for the purchase of such lands.

(2) During the 90-day period referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not offer to sell such lands to any party other than Poly Met Mining, Inc.

(3) In the offer under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require Poly Met Mining, Inc., to cover the costs of survey, appraisal, and other expenditures directly associated with the proposed sale.

(4) The Secretary may reject any counteroffer made by Poly Met Mining, Inc., in response to the offer of the Secretary under paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that the counteroffer is less than fair market value or is not in the public interest.

(g) Brokers.—The Secretary may utilize brokers or other third parties in the disposition of the lands authorized by this Act and, from the proceeds of a sale, may pay reasonable commissions or fees.

SEC. 4. Treatment of proceeds.

(a) Deposit.—The Secretary shall deposit the proceeds of a sale authorized by this Act in the fund established under Public Law 90–171 (commonly known as the “Sisk Act”) (16 U.S.C. 484a).

(b) Availability.—Monies deposited under subsection (a) shall be available to the Secretary until expended, without further appropriation, only for the acquisition of lands within and adjacent to the Superior National Forest. Monies deposited into the fund described in subsection (a) shall not be subject to transfer or reprogramming for wildland fire management or any other emergency purpose.

(c) Priority land acquisitions.—In utilizing funds derived from any sale of lands or interests authorized by this Act, in acquiring lands the Secretary shall give priority to—

(1) privately owned inholdings within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness;

(2) lands having important recreational, scenic, or natural values; or

(3) eliminating nonconforming uses of land within the Superior National Forest when such uses are or may be reasonably expected to have detrimental impact on the area’s recreational, scenic, or natural values.

SEC. 5. Miscellaneous provisions.

(a) Wetlands offset.—For purposes of compliance with Executive Order 11990 (42 Fed. Reg. 26961 (May 24, 1977)) and Executive Order 11988 (42 Fed. Reg. 26951 (May 24, 1977)), the Secretary shall, within 7 years after the date of final conveyance of lands or interests under this Act, ensure that the total functional value of the wetlands acquired pursuant to section 4 is equal to or exceeds the functional value of the wetlands sold under this Act.

(b) Environmental analysis requirement.—

(1) For conveyances authorized by this Act, the Secretary shall assume that the future use of the lands so conveyed will be for surface mining.

(2) For conveyances authorized by this Act—

(A) the Secretary shall be a cooperating agency on the environmental impact statement described in section 2(a)(5); and

(B) the final environmental impact statement described in section 2(a)(5) shall disclose and document the material environmental effects, if any, from the anticipated sale of the land and property interests under this Act, to the extent required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder.

(3) In complying with the requirements of this subsection, the Corps of Engineers, the State of Minnesota, and the Forest Service shall not be required to repeat notice or comment procedures, including scoping, already accomplished as of the effective date of this Act with respect to the preparation of the environmental impact statement described in section 2(a)(5), or republish a revised draft environmental impact statement to the extent one is published prior to the effective date of this Act.

(4) For purposes of implementing this Act, the Forest Service shall only be required to utilize the final environmental impact statement described in section 2(a)(5), including the information required under paragraph (2) and shall not be required to do additional analysis or data gathering.

(5) The closing of any land sale authorized under this Act shall not occur before the date on which notice of the final environmental impact statement described in section 2(a)(5) is published in the Federal Register.

(c) Deadline for sale of lands.—To the extent practicable, the sale of lands authorized by this Act shall be completed within 180 days after the date described in subsection (b)(5).


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