PARTNERS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 118
(House of Representatives - September 20, 2006)

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[Pages H6797-H6799]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   PARTNERS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE ACT

  Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules 
and pass the Senate bill (S. 260) to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to provide technical and financial assistance to private 
landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private land to improve fish 
and wildlife habitats through the Partners For Fish and Wildlife 
Program.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                 S. 260

       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 ``Partners for Fish and 
     Wildlife Act''.

[[Page H6798]]

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

       (a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
       (1) approximately 60 percent of fish and wildlife in the 
     United States are on private land;
       (2) it is imperative to facilitate private landowner-
     centered and results-oriented efforts that promote efficient 
     and innovative ways to protect and enhance natural resources;
       (3) there is no readily available source of technical 
     biological information that the public can access to assist 
     with the application of state-of-the-art techniques to 
     restore, enhance, and manage fish and wildlife habitats;
       (4) a voluntary cost-effective program that leverages 
     public and private funds to assist private landowners in the 
     conduct of state-of-the-art fish and wildlife habitat 
     restoration, enhancement, and management projects is needed;
       (5) durable partnerships working collaboratively with 
     willing private landowners to implement on-the-ground 
     projects has lead to the reduction of endangered species 
     listings;
       (6) Executive Order No. 13352 (69 Fed. Reg. 52989) directs 
     the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and 
     Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency to pursue new 
     cooperative conservation programs involving the collaboration 
     of Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, private 
     for-profit and non-profit institutions, non-governmental 
     entities, and individuals;
       (7) since 1987, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program 
     has exemplified cooperative conservation as an innovative, 
     voluntary partnership program that helps private landowners 
     restore wetland and other important fish and wildlife 
     habitat; and
       (8) through 33,103 agreements with private landowners, the 
     Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has accomplished the 
     restoration of 677,000 acres of wetland, 1,253,700 acres of 
     prairie and native grasslands, and 5,560 miles of riparian 
     and in-stream habitat since 1987, demonstrating much of that 
     success since only 2001.
       (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to provide for the 
     restoration, enhancement, and management of fish and wildlife 
     habitats on private land through the Partners for Fish and 
     Wildlife Program, a program that works with private 
     landowners to conduct cost-effective habitat projects for the 
     benefit of fish and wildlife resources in the United States.

     SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

       In this Act:
       (1) Federal trust species.--The term ``Federal trust 
     species'' means migratory birds, threatened species, 
     endangered species, interjurisdictional fish, marine mammals, 
     and other species of concern.
       (2) Habitat enhancement.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``habitat enhancement'' means the 
     manipulation of the physical, chemical, or biological 
     characteristics of a habitat to change a specific function or 
     seral stage of the habitat.
       (B) Inclusions.--The term ``habitat enhancement'' 
     includes--
       (i) an activity conducted to increase or decrease a 
     specific function for the purpose of benefitting species, 
     including--

       (I) increasing the hydroperiod and water depth of a stream 
     or wetland beyond what would naturally occur;
       (II) improving waterfowl habitat conditions;
       (III) establishing water level management capabilities for 
     native plant communities;
       (IV) creating mud flat conditions important for shorebirds; 
     and
       (V) cross fencing or establishing a rotational grazing 
     system on native range to improve grassland nesting bird 
     habitat conditions; and

       (ii) an activity conducted to shift a native plant 
     community successional stage, including--

       (I) burning an established native grass community to reduce 
     or eliminate invading brush or exotic species;
       (II) brush shearing to set back early successional plant 
     communities; and
       (III) forest management that promotes a particular seral 
     stage.

       (C) Exclusions.--The term ``habitat enhancement'' does not 
     include regularly scheduled and routine maintenance and 
     management activities, such as annual mowing or spraying of 
     unwanted vegetation.
       (3) Habitat establishment.--The term ``habitat 
     establishment'' means the manipulation of physical, chemical, 
     or biological characteristics of a project site to create and 
     maintain habitat that did not previously exist on the project 
     site, including construction of--
       (A) shallow water impoundments on non-hydric soils; and
       (B) side channel spawning and rearing habitat.
       (4) Habitat improvement.--The term ``habitat improvement'' 
     means restoring, enhancing, or establishing physiographic, 
     hydrological, or disturbance conditions necessary to 
     establish or maintain native plant and animal communities, 
     including periodic manipulations to maintain intended habitat 
     conditions on completed project sites.
       (5) Habitat restoration.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``habitat restoration'' means the 
     manipulation of the physical, chemical, or biological 
     characteristics of a site with the goal of returning the 
     majority of natural functions to the lost or degraded native 
     habitat.
       (B) Inclusions.--The term ``habitat restoration'' 
     includes--
       (i) an activity conducted to return a project site, to the 
     maximum extent practicable, to the ecological condition that 
     existed prior to the loss or degradation, including--

       (I) removing tile drains or plugging drainage ditches in 
     former or degraded wetland;
       (II) returning meanders and sustainable profiles to 
     straightened streams;
       (III) burning grass communities heavily invaded by exotic 
     species to reestablish native grass and plant communities; 
     and
       (IV) planting plant communities that are native to the 
     project site;

       (ii) if restoration of a project site to its original 
     ecological condition is not practicable, an activity that 
     repairs 1 or more of the original habitat functions and that 
     involve the use of native vegetation, including--

       (I) the installation of a water control structure in a 
     swale on land isolated from overbank flooding by a major 
     levee to simulate natural hydrological processes; and
       (II) the placement of streambank or instream habitat 
     diversity structures in streams that cannot be restored to 
     original conditions or profile; and

       (iii) removal of a disturbing or degrading element to 
     enable the native habitat to reestablish or become fully 
     functional.
       (6) Private land.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``private land'' means any land 
     that is not owned by the Federal Government or a State.
       (B) Inclusions.--The term ``private land'' includes tribal 
     land and Hawaiian homeland.
       (7) Project.--The term ``project'' means a project carried 
     out under the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program 
     established by section 4.
       (8) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of the Interior.

     SEC. 4. PARTNERS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE PROGRAM.

       The Secretary shall carry out the Partners for Fish and 
     Wildlife Program within the United States Fish and Wildlife 
     Service to provide--
       (1) technical and financial assistance to private 
     landowners for the conduct of voluntary projects to benefit 
     Federal trust species by promoting habitat improvement, 
     habitat restoration, habitat enhancement, and habitat 
     establishment; and
       (2) technical assistance to other public and private 
     entities regarding fish and wildlife habitat restoration on 
     private land.

     SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

       There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this 
     Act not more than $75,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 
     through 2011.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
North Carolina (Mr. Jones) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Kildee) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina.


                             General Leave

  Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent 
that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from North Carolina?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  I am pleased to support S. 260, the Partners For Fish and Wildlife 
Act, and compliment the House and Senate authors of this legislation, 
Representative John Sullivan and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
  This is not a new Federal program. It has been administratively 
managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for over two decades. It 
is based on the innovative concept that wildlife populations and their 
habitats can be effectively conserved, managed and restored through 
voluntary agreements between private landowners and the Federal 
Government.
  During the past 20 years, more than 35,000 agreements have been 
signed throughout the United States. The result has been remarkable 
with the protection, restoration and enhancement of nearly 2.5 million 
acres of important fish and wildlife habitat. In specific terms, over 
700,000 acres of wetlands, 1.5 million acres of upland habitat and 
6,000 miles of riparian and instream habitat have been restored. In 
addition, over 120,000 acres have been treated for invasive species, 
and 194 barriers to the fish passage have been removed.
  What this legislation simply proposes is to build upon the existing 
successes by converting the line item within the Fish and Wildlife 
Service budget to a congressionally authorized program. By so doing, we 
will provide stability to the program, highlight the benefits of public 
and private partnership, and increase the amount of congressional 
oversight in the future.

[[Page H6799]]

  S. 260 is strongly supported by the Bush administration to States, 
private landowners and wildlife conservation organizations. The 
Partners Program has been a huge success, and we should ensure that 
this innovative program will flourish in the future.
  I urge an ``aye'' vote on this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, we support this legislation that will provide a 
statutory authorization for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. 
This popular program facilitates cooperation between the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and non-Federal organizations to voluntarily protect, 
conserve and restore habitat important to fish and wildlife.
  It is our understanding that this legislation ratifies the existing 
administrative program, and that the service will implement the act 
under its existing regulations. I urge Members to support S. 260.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as he 
may consume to the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Sullivan).
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of S. 260, 
the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act, which was introduced in the 
Senate by my friend and fellow Oklahoman, Senator Inhofe.
  I would like to thank some of the people that work on the staff, 
Nathan Richmond and the famous Ryan Jackson on the Public Works 
Committee for all their support. The bill is supported by 34 different 
sportsmen and conservation groups.
  I would like to thank my colleagues, Fisheries and Oceans 
Subcommittee Chairman Gilchrest and House Resources Chairman Pombo, for 
their consideration and leadership on this bill. I was proud to 
introduce companion legislation, H.R. 2018, in the House last year.
  Senate bill 260 will authorize the popular Partners for Fish and 
Wildlife program. The Partners Program provides technical and financial 
assistance to private landowners to voluntarily restore wetlands and 
other fish and wildlife habitat on their own land.
  With more than 80 percent of the fish and wildlife in the United 
States on private lands, S. 260 is needed to encourage public-private 
landowners in Oklahoma and around our Nation to enter into agreements 
with the Federal Government to conserve valuable natural habitat and 
wildlife.
  Since 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has operated the 
Partners Program as a separate line item under the President's budget, 
subjecting these funds to reprogramming within the Fish and Wildlife 
Services.
  Senate bill 260 authorizes up to $75 million through fiscal year 2011 
to allow this successful program to stabilize and expand. Given that 
thousands of landowners are eager to participate in the Partners 
Program, Senate bill 260 couldn't come at a better time.
  As a sportsman, I believe that it is our responsibility to protect 
and preserve our natural resources. There are few things I enjoy more 
than fishing with my kids, and we owe our future generations the same 
opportunity.
  Most people think that wildlife conservation and the rights of 
private landholders are a naturally combative force and are mutually 
exclusive. The Partners Program is a shining example of how we can 
protect wildlife and the property of individuals at the same time.
  The simple fact is the future of our natural resources depends on the 
conservation of habitat, the successful management of wildlife, and the 
control of invasive species on private land. Passage of S. 260 today is 
critical to ensure its continued success.
  Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield back my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Simpson). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 260.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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