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105th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 1st Session                                                    105-106
_______________________________________________________________________


 
        NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1997

                                _______
                                

  May 21, 1997.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1420]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 1420) to amend the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966 to improve the management of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 1420 is to amend the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to improve the 
management of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The National Wildlife Refuge System is the only system of 
Federal lands acquired and managed for the conservation of 
fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat. The System has 
evolved into the world's most comprehensive system of lands 
devoted to wildlife conservation and management. President 
Theodore Roosevelt established the first refuge in 1903 on 
Florida's tiny Pelican Island to protect brown pelicans as well 
as egrets and herons, which were being hunted commercially for 
their plumes for use in the fashion industry. At the time, 
President Roosevelt lacked clear legal authority to establish 
wildlife refuges. However, during his term of office, Congress 
affirmed that authority, and the President went on to establish 
an additional 50 refuges.
    During the 1930s, the Refuge System grew substantially, 
largely in response to concerns by hunters over the loss of 
waterfowl caused by a variety of factors, including wetlands 
loss and drought. Today, the System, administered by the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has grown to 509 
refuges in all 50 States, and waterfowl production areas in 10 
States, totaling nearly 93 million acres. Refuges range in size 
from the less-than-one-acre Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge 
in Minnesota, to the 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife 
Refuge. Waterfowl Production Areas are scattered wetlands and 
potholes which are acquired, often by easement, as breeding 
habitat for migratory birds. There are nearly 2.4 million acres 
in this category, located almost entirely in the States of the 
Upper Midwest.
    While the vast majority of refuges were established 
administratively by the Secretary of the Interior under a 
variety of authorities, including the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715 et seq.), the Emergency 
Wetlands Resources Act of 1986 (16 U.S.C. 3901 et seq.), the 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the North 
American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 (16 U.S.C. 4401 et 
seq.), the Refuge Recreation Act of 1962 (16 U.S.C. 460k et 
seq.), the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742 et 
seq.), and the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp 
Tax Act (16 U.S.C. 718d (c)), over 40 refuges have been created 
by specific Acts of Congress. It is this variety that has led 
to inconsistency in the management of refuges within the 
System.
    Until 1966, there was no single Federal law that governed 
the administration of the various wildlife refuges that had 
been established. In fact, not all were called wildlife 
refuges. Some were known as ``game ranges'', ``wildlife 
ranges'', ``wildlife management areas'', and ``waterfowl 
protection areas''. In 1966, under the leadership of 
Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, Congress enacted 
legislation that assembled these diverse areas into a unified 
``National Wildlife Refuge System''. The System has been 
managed for the last 31 years pursuant to the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (NWRSAA) and other 
authorities. This law gives guidance to the Secretary of the 
Interior in the overall management of the System, places 
restrictions on the transfer, exchange, and other disposal of 
lands, and clarifies the Secretary's authority to accept 
donations for land acquisition. Significantly, it authorizes 
the Secretary of the Interior to permit any ``secondary'' use 
or activity within a refuge (which can range from birdwatching 
and photography to fishing and hunting to farming and oil 
development) only if the Secretary determines the use to be 
compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was 
established.
    The System has grown considerably since 1966. At that time, 
there were 300 refuges totaling 28 million acres, compared to 
more than 500 refuges totaling more than 92 million acres 
today. However, in addition to the increase in the size of the 
System during this period, both scientific understanding of 
wildlife conservation, management, endangered species 
conservation efforts, and demands for public recreational and 
economic use of refuges have substantially increased. As 
significant and forward-thinking as the NWRSAA was in 
establishing the System and giving guidance for its management, 
the problems of the System have outpaced the System's 
legislative authority.
    The NWRSAA does not establish a mission for the System or 
contain any planning requirements. Thus, unlike National Parks, 
National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands, the 
National Wildlife Refuge System remains the only major Federal 
public lands system without a true ``organic'' act, a basic 
statute providing a mission for the System, policy direction, 
and management standards for all units of the System.
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
amends and builds upon the NWRSAA in a manner that provides an 
organic act for the System similar to those which exist for 
other public lands. Its principal focus is to establish clearly 
the conservation mission of the System, provide clear 
Congressional guidance to the Secretary for management of the 
System, provide a mechanism for unit-specific refuge planning, 
and give refuge managers clear direction and procedures for 
making determinations regarding wildlife conservation and 
public uses of the System and individual refuges.

Management of refuges

    Currently, the law does not include a mission or a 
definition of a ``compatible use'' for the Refuge System. 
Refuge managers are responsible for determining, on a case-by-
case basis, whether activities on refuges are compatible. 
Management of the Refuge System has been the focus of numerous 
studies in the last two decades, including two General 
Accounting Office reports, two reports of advisory boards to 
the Interior Department, a report prepared by the USFWS, and 
several hearings by the former Committee on Merchant Marine and 
Fisheries, which then had jurisdiction over the Refuge System. 
These reports and hearings highlighted that refuges have not 
always been managed as a national system because of the lack of 
an overall mission for the System. These reports concluded that 
the lack of an overall mission and management procedures had 
allowed numerous incompatible uses to be tolerated on wildlife 
refuges.
    In 1992, several environmental groups sued the Secretary of 
the Interior for authorizing secondary uses on refuges without 
ensuring that these uses were compatible with those refuges.In 
October 1993, a settlement was reached in National Audubon Society v. 
Babbitt, in which USFWS agreed to expeditiously terminate secondary 
uses unless it determined in writing that the uses were compatible with 
the primary purposes of the refuge on which they occurred. In addition, 
the settlement agreement required the USFWS to determine whether funds 
were available for development and maintenance of recreational 
activities, consistent with the 1962 Refuge Recreation Act.
    The USFWS reviewed over 5,200 uses on over 500 units of the 
System. Walking, hiking, and backpacking occurred on over 130 
refuges; recreational fishing on over 200 refuges; and hunting 
programs--including big game and waterfowl hunting--at over 
220. Various combinations of wildlife observation or 
photography, interpretation, and environmental education 
occurred on over 300. A variety of non-wildlife dependent 
activities occurred on over one hundred refuges, and include 
power boating, jetskiing, horseback riding, and camping. As a 
result of the study, USFWS has resolved compatibility issues on 
40 refuges. Unresolved issues at 36 refuges are pending 
completion of public notification and outreach, planning, 
Memoranda of Understanding with other agencies, or Department 
of Interior Solicitor opinions. There were no cases where 
hunting and fishing were found incompatible, but modifications 
to two were necessary to assure compatibility.
    The Committee agrees with these findings. Further, the 
Committee also finds that this review demonstrates that 
traditional wildlife dependent recreation has been generally 
compatible and has a legitimate and valuable place on System 
lands.
    H.R. 1420 establishes that the conservation of fish, 
wildlife, plants and their habitats is the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System and sets forth the policy and 
procedures through which the System and individual refuges are 
to be managed in order to fulfill that mission for the long-
term benefit of the American people. H.R. 1420 requires that 
public use of a refuge may be allowed only where the use is 
compatible with the mission of the System and purpose of the 
individual refuge, and sets forth a standard by which the 
Secretary shall determine whether such uses are compatible. It 
establishes as the policy of the United States that wildlife-
dependent recreation, when it is compatible, is a legitimate 
and appropriate public use of the Refuge System, through which 
the American public can develop an appreciation for fish and 
wildlife. It establishes compatible wildlife-dependent 
recreational uses as the priority general public uses of the 
Refuge System. Finally, it also requires the Secretary to 
prepare a comprehensive conservation plan for each refuge and 
specifies the topics to be addressed and procedures for the 
adoption of such plans.
    The Committee expects that this legislation will diminish 
the likelihood of future litigation by providing a statutory 
compatibility standard, a process for making those 
determinations, a clear conservation mission for the System, 
and a planning process that will ensure greater public 
involvement in management decisions on refuges.

Executive order

    On March 25, 1996, President William J. Clinton issued 
Executive Order 12996, ``Management and General Public Use of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System''. In this Executive Order, 
the President declared that the ``mission of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System is to preserve a national network of 
lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, 
wildlife, and plant resources of the United States for the 
benefit of present and future generations''. Furthermore, the 
President identified four guiding principles and issued ten 
directives to the Secretary of the Interior on how the System 
should be managed in the future. The Executive Order identified 
opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreation, 
habitat protection, partnerships with sportsmen, other 
conservation interests, and public involvement as guiding 
principles of the Refuge System. In particular, the President 
identified ``compatible wildlife-dependent recreation 
activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, 
and photography, and environmental education and interpretation 
as priority general public uses of the Refuge System'' 
[emphasis added].

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 1420 was introduced on April 23, 1997, by Congressmen 
Don Young (R-AK), John Dingell (D-MI), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), John 
Tanner (D-TN), and Randy ``Duke'' Cunningham (R-CA). 
Congressmen George Miller (D-CA), Bob Clement (D-TN), and Neil 
Abercrombie (D-HI) have also cosponsored the bill. The bill, 
which was the product of extensive negotiations between the 
authors, the Department of the Interior, and representatives of 
conservation, environmental, hunting organizations, and State 
fish and wildlife agencies, was referred to the Committee on 
Resources.
    On March 6, 1997, the Subcommittee on Fisheries 
Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans held a hearing on the 
predecessor to this legislation, H.R. 511. Testimony was heard 
from the Honorable John S. Tanner; the Honorable Bruce Babbitt, 
Secretary, Department of the Interior; Mr. William P. Horn, 
Director of National and International Affairs and Washington 
Counsel, Wildlife Legislative Fund of America; Mr. R. Max 
Peterson, Executive Vice President, International Association 
of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Ms. Susan Lamson, Director of 
Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources Division, National 
Rifle Association; Mr. Gary Myers, Director, Tennessee Wildlife 
Resources Agency; Mr. Daniel Beard, Vice President, National 
Audubon Society; and Mr. Roger Schlickeisen, President, 
Defenders of Wildlife. The Subcommittee also received testimony 
from the Honorable John D. Dingell. In fact, in his submitted 
statement, Congressman Dingell, the author of the NWRSAA, noted 
that, ``First and foremost, any Refuge reform bill must protect 
each of our 509 Refuges and improve their management in a 
manner consistent with the purposes for which we have created 
these Refuges and the Refuge System''.
    On April 30, 1997, the Full Committee on Resources met to 
consider H.R. 1420. There were no amendments and the Committee 
ordered the bill favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by voice vote.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

                   SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES

    The short title of the legislation is ``The National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997''. When the bill 
makes amendments to existing law, it is amending the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966.

                          SECTION 2. FINDINGS

    This Section includes a series of Congressional findings 
which recognize that the National Wildlife Refuge System is:
          comprised of 92 million acres of Federal lands 
        incorporated within 509 individual units in all 50 
        States and territories;
          designed to conserve fish, wildlife, and plants and 
        their habitats and that the mission of the System has 
        been facilitated by providing Americans opportunities 
        to participate in compatible wildlife-dependent 
        recreation;
          pivotal in the conservation of migratory birds, 
        anadromous and interjurisdictional fish, marine 
        mammals, endangered and threatened species, and their 
        habitats;
          to assist in the fulfillment of international treaty 
        obligations;
          given substantial financial support by those 
        benefiting from and utilizing it;
          available for the enjoyment of the American people 
        when managed in accordance with the principles of sound 
        fish and wildlife management and administration;
          the focus of the President's Executive Order of March 
        15, 1996, that recognized ``compatible wildlife-
        dependent recreational uses involving hunting, fishing, 
        wildlife observation and photography, and environmental 
        education and interpretation as priority public uses of 
        the Refuge System'';
and finds that fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation in 
Refuges have been, and are expected to continue to be, 
generally compatible uses.

                         SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS

    This Section amends Section 5 of the NWRSAA to provide 
definitions for terms used in H.R. 1420. Several key 
definitions are discussed below.
    New Section 5(1) defines the term ``compatible use''. The 
standard here is the same as the definition that the USFWS has 
used for over a decade. It specifies that these are uses that 
do not have a tangible adverse impact on Refuge System 
resources.
    New Section 5(2) defines ``wildlife-dependent recreation'' 
and ``wildlife-dependent recreational use'' as a use involving 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or 
environmental education and interpretation.
    New Section 5(3) defines the term ``sound professional 
judgment'' as the collection of findings, determinations and 
decisions that support compatibility determinations. Such 
determinations are inherently complex and will require the 
manager to consider principles of sound fish and wildlife 
management and administration, available science and resources, 
and compliance with applicable laws. Implicit within this 
definition is that financial resources, personnel and 
infrastructure be available to manage permitted activities. The 
Committee expects the USFWS to be energetic and creative in 
seeking such resources, including partnerships with the States, 
local communities and private and nonprofit groups. The 
Committee also expects the USFWS to make reasonable efforts to 
ensure that lack of funding is not an obstacle to permitting 
otherwise compatible wildlife-dependent recreational uses.
    In the exercise of sound professional judgment, the refuge 
manager considers the biological resources and, based upon 
available science, whether they can sustain reasonable public 
use. The manager must then use principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management and administration in considering and 
designing a program of public use. The manager may need to 
balance between or among competing uses by moving uses in time 
and space to reduce or eliminate conflict or, if absolutely 
necessary, disallow one or more uses. As discussed above, the 
manager must then determine if available resources (funding, 
personnel, facilities and other infrastructure) are adequate to 
support the proposed use in a manner that will not materially 
interfere with or detract from fulfillment of the System 
mission or refuge purpose.
    The Committee is aware of concerns that the definition of 
sound professional judgment confers such a level of discretion 
that compatibility determinations might be held to be 
unreviewable as an agency action ``committed to agency 
discretion by law'' within the meaning of the Administrative 
Procedure Act (APA, 5 U.S.C. 701). Section 6 of H.R. 1420 
provides detailed standards and procedures to be followed in 
making compatibility determinations and, thus, while discretion 
resides in refuge officials, there is clearly law to apply so 
as to permit judicial review if other conditions of 
reviewability under the APA are met.
    New Section 5(4) defines the terms ``conserving'', 
``conservation'', ``manage'', ``managing'', and ``management'' 
to mean sustaining and, where appropriate, restoring and 
enhancing healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants by 
utilizing methods and procedures associated with modern 
scientific resource programs. The Committee understands that 
the list of methods in this definition is not inclusive and 
that any or all of these methods may be inappropriate in 
certain situations. One of the listed methods and procedures, 
``regulated taking'' encompasses management tools such as 
hunting, trapping and fishing.
    New Section 5(5) defines the term ``Coordination Area'' to 
mean a wildlife management area which has been acquired by the 
Federal Government and was made available to a State through 
either a cooperative agreement between the USFWS and a State 
fish and wildlife agency pursuant to Section 4 of the Fish and 
Wildlife Coordination Act, or by long-term leases or agreements 
pursuant to the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, a Depression-
era Act designed to reclaim abandoned and eroded farmland.
    Coordination Areas have been well managed by the States 
under State laws and regulations, in many cases for decades. 
However, they are part of the Refuge System. They are 
specifically excluded from the definition of the term 
``refuge'' in new Section 5(11) so as not to require every 
State management decision to be approved by the USFWS through 
the processes established by H.R. 1420.
    The definition is intended to apply to existing areas, as 
set forth in ``Table 5'' of the document ``Annual Report of 
Lands under Control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service'', 
dated September 30, 1996, or any future areas which may be 
created by transfer of lands acquired by a Federal project to a 
State under Section 4 of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination 
Act. It is not intended to allow any present or future National 
Wildlife Refuges to be transferred to State control by their 
redesignation as a Coordination Area.
    New Section 5(10) defines ``purposes of the refuge'' and 
``purposes of each refuge'' as the purpose specified in or 
derived from the law or any of a number of specified documents 
which establish, authorize or expand a refuge. This includes 
acquisition purposes in cases where land at a refuge has been 
acquired under authority other than the establishing authority.
    New Section 5(11) defines the term ``refuge'' as a 
designated area of land, water, or an interest in land or water 
within the System. The USFWS has consistently interpreted this 
language, used in Title 16 of the United States Code, to refer 
to lands, waters, or interests in land or waters owned by the 
United States. The Committee concurs that the language refers 
to property interests of the United States, including partial 
interests less than fee, such as easements.
    New Section 5(15) defines the terms ``take'', ``taking'', 
or ``taken'' to mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, 
or kill, or to attempt such actions. This is similar to the 
definition of this term found in other Federal conservation 
laws.

                    SECTION 4. MISSION OF THE SYSTEM

    Section 4 establishes an overall mission for the System. A 
common thread running through many of the hearings and reports 
on operation and management of the System referenced previously 
was that the National Wildlife Refuge System has been managed 
more as a collection of disparate units than as a true system. 
Until now, Congress has never set forth a mission for the 
Refuge System.
    This sentiment was expressed nearly 30 years ago by the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Advisory Board on Wildlife 
Management appointed by Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. 
Udall. In 1968, the Advisory Board wrote, ``What is still 
lacking is a clear statement of policy or philosophy as to what 
the National Wildlife Refuge System should be and what are the 
logical tenets of its future development.''
    Section 4 of the legislation is designed to remedy this 
shortcoming by establishing an over-arching mission statement 
for the National Wildlife Refuge System to guide overall 
management of the System and to supplement the purposes for 
which individual refuges have been established.
    The mission of the System is to ``administer a national 
network of lands and waters for the conservation, management 
and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and 
plant resources and their habitats within the United States for 
the benefit of present and future generations of Americans''. 
National Wildlife Refuges are often important components of the 
ecosystems in which they are located and contribute 
significantly to the conservation of those ecosystems. 
Nonetheless, they cannot fulfill the mission set forth in this 
Section unless they are consistently directed and managed as a 
national system. This includes managing a series of refuges in 
a coordinated manner to meet the life-cycle needs of migrating 
species, providing habitat for threatened or endangered 
species, or representing the various habitats that provide for 
the conservation of the Nation's wildlife resources.
    Additionally, States have broad trustee responsibilities 
for fish and resident wildlife within their borders, and have 
statutory responsibility for the conservation of those 
resources. Accordingly, this Act elsewhere requires that, to 
the extent practicable, the USFWS should seek opportunities to 
coordinate the management of National Wildlife Refuges with the 
management of fish and wildlife resources generally by the 
State or States in which the refuges are located. Such 
coordination will also help ensure that the System mission is 
broadly served.

                SECTION 5. ADMINISTRATION OF THE SYSTEM

    Section 5 amends the NWRSAA to establish national policy in 
several areas relating to administration of the System. First, 
it is clearly stated that each refuge shall be managed to 
fulfill both the mission of the System and the individual 
refuge purposes. This policy serves to underscore that the 
fundamental mission of our Refuge System is wildlife 
conservation: wildlife and wildlife conservation must come 
first. As characterized in the Department of the Interior 
Leopold Report, the Refuge System should stand as a monument to 
the science and practice of wildlife management. This policy 
section further recognizes that wildlife-dependent recreational 
uses, when determined to be compatible, are appropriate and 
legitimate uses of the System. Because priority uses like 
hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and environmental 
education are dependent upon healthy wildlife populations, they 
are directly related to the mission of the System and the 
purposes of many refuges. If our refuges and the Refuge System 
are managed well, then these priority uses will, in turn, 
prosper into the future. Further, it is the policy of the 
United States that where a proposed wildlife-dependent use is 
determined to be compatible on an individual refuge, the 
activity should be facilitated.
    The term ``facilitated'' was deliberately chosen to 
represent a strong sense of encouragement, but not a 
requirement, that ways be sought to permit wildlife-dependent 
uses to occur if they are compatible. As Secretary Babbitt 
stated during the negotiations leading to H.R. 1420: ``The law 
will be whispering in the manager's ear that she or he should 
look for ways to permit the use if the compatibility 
requirement can be met.'' By the same token, however, the 
Committee recognizes that there will be occasions when, based 
on sound professional judgment,the manager will determine that 
such uses will be found to be incompatible and cannot be authorized.
    For example, consider a hypothetical situation wherein a 
manager determines that a bird-watching program could be 
conducted in accordance with principles of sound fish and 
wildlife management and administration, but that the program is 
incompatible because adequate financial resources are not 
available to design, operate, and maintain the use so as to 
prevent trespassing on sensitive nesting areas and adjacent 
private lands. It is the Committee's expectation in this case 
that the manager would take reasonable steps to obtain outside 
assistance from States and other conservation interests before 
determining that the activity is incompatible.
    Another example might be the situation which occurs at 
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. This refuge is 
managed, in support of broad regional conservation goals, as a 
non-hunted resting and feeding grounds for migratory birds. The 
refuge is surrounded by private and other public lands that are 
extensively hunted within the region. To manage this refuge to 
allow waterfowl hunting may be inconsistent with principles of 
sound fish and wildlife management and, in such circumstances, 
may not be permitted.
    Section 5 also provides a set of affirmative stewardship 
responsibilities for the Secretary with respect to the Refuge 
System. It requires the Secretary to ensure that the mission of 
the System and the purposes of the individual refuges are 
carried out, to ensure that opportunities are provided for the 
compatible priority public uses identified above, and that such 
uses receive enhanced consideration over other uses in planning 
and management. It also requires the Secretary to provide 
enhanced opportunities for families to experience compatible 
wildlife-dependent recreation, and to protect the System and 
individual refuges from threats to their biological integrity, 
diversity and environmental health.
    The Secretary must also provide for conservation of fish 
and wildlife and their habitat within the System; ensure 
effective coordination, interaction and cooperation with 
adjoining landowners; assist in maintaining adequate quantity 
and quality of water supplies to support the System mission and 
refuge purposes; and plan the expansion of the Refuge System in 
a manner which accomplishes the goals of the System and 
complements the efforts of other State and Federal conservation 
efforts.
    New paragraph (4)(F) of Section 4(a) of the NWRSAA directs 
the Secretary to assist in the maintenance of adequate 
quantities and quality of water to fulfill the mission of the 
System and the needs of each refuge. In doing so, the provision 
imposes a new, more specific, obligation on the Secretary. It 
does not, however, expand or diminish existing authority with 
respect to water or water rights. Therefore, in meeting the 
obligation imposed by new paragraph (4)(F), the Secretary must 
rely on existing authority, such as the authority to: acquire 
water rights with appropriated funds; improve the operations of 
Federal agencies with respect to the identification and 
protection of relevant water rights; purchase water; and 
participate in State water rights adjudications to perfect and 
defend relevant water rights.
    New paragraph (4)(L) provides that the Secretary shall 
continue, consistent with existing laws and interagency 
agreements, authorized or permitted uses of refuges by other 
Federal agencies. The term ``existing laws and interagency 
agreements'' means applicable laws in force at any given time 
and agreements consistent with those laws. It does not grant 
permanence to all agreements existing as of enactment. 
Virtually all such agreements were either entered into based on 
specific provisions of other laws, or were made by the USFWS 
under the authority of the NWRSAA after a determination of 
compatibility. Inasmuch as this Act codifies the current agency 
standard for compatibility, there should be few, if any, 
changes to current agency uses of Refuge System lands resulting 
from enactment of this provision.
    Section 5(b) of H.R. 1420 also authorizes the Secretary to 
enter into cooperative agreements with State fish and wildlife 
agencies for the management of programs on a refuge, subject to 
standards established by, and the overall management oversight 
of, the USFWS. On some existing refuges, State agencies 
cooperate with the USFWS by participating in the management of 
specific programs, such as hunting law enforcement or other 
public use-related activities. States also manage habitat on 
parts of individual refuges, particularly in cases where refuge 
lands are adjacent to or surrounded by State lands. In all 
these situations, the USFWS retains management oversight and is 
ultimately responsible to ensure that allowed uses remain 
compatible and that habitat is managed consistently with the 
purposes for which the refuges were established.

           SECTION 6. COMPATIBILITY STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES

    Section 6 provides the standards and procedures for 
determining the compatibility of uses of a refuge with the 
purposes of the refuge and the mission of the System. This 
Section provides for regulations governing compatibility 
determinations and requires that the Secretary issue final 
regulations pursuant to the new requirements within two years 
of H.R. 1420's enactment. After that time, all new uses of a 
refuge and all expansions, renewals, and extensions of existing 
uses must be determined to be compatible pursuant to these 
regulations. Compatibility determinations can be made 
concurrently with the development of the refuge comprehensive 
conservation plan. Compatibility determinations must be made in 
writing, and must identify the anticipated effects of the 
proposed use on refuge resources. Provision is made for 
expedited consideration of uses likely to have no detrimental 
effect. Incompatible uses are to be eliminated or modified as 
expeditiously as possible. Uses are to be reevaluated when 
significant changes in conditions occur or significant new 
information exists and at least every 10 years for nonwildlife-
dependent uses and at least once every 15 years for wildlife-
dependent uses.
    Opportunity for public review and comment on individual 
compatibility determinations must be provided, unless such 
opportunities were adequately provided for during public 
involvement associated with the development or revision of a 
refuge conservation plan.
    Compatibility does not apply to overflights within the 
airspace of a refuge, nor to the actions of Federal agencies 
other than USFWS, which have primary jurisdiction over refuge 
lands, when those activities are provided for in the agreement 
which established the refuge. Thislater provision recognizes 
that the System includes many ``overlay'' refuges, over which an agency 
other than the USFWS holds primary jurisdiction.
    Since the 1966 Act, the Secretary has been required, before 
permitting any use of a refuge, to determine that such use is 
compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was 
established. However, hearings on related legislation in recent 
years have made it clear that this requirement was often not 
consistently or rigorously applied. The Committee has heard 
concerns from a number of witnesses in recent years that a 
major reason for this problem was the lack of a clear standard 
or formal process to evaluate compatibility.
    Section 6 of H.R. 1420 addresses this problem by requiring 
formal written determinations of compatibility. This Section is 
designed to increase the opportunity for public review and 
comment regarding compatibility determinations. The Section 
requires the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate 
regulations to govern determinations of compatibility. The 
Secretary is prohibited from allowing a new use or expanding, 
renewing or extending an existing use unless the Secretary 
makes an affirmative finding that the use is compatible.
    As mentioned earlier in this report, USFWS three years ago 
completed a comprehensive review of uses on the System. This 
thorough review identified relatively few problems and affirmed 
that the overwhelming number of existing uses of refuge lands 
are compatible. These compatibility determinations are 
expressly recognized and shall be relied upon until or unless 
modified by the USFWS. This recognition of the USFWS's existing 
work product can help to avoid costly duplication of effort and 
facilitate expeditious compliance with the new requirement.
    The Secretary is not required to independently generate 
data on which to base compatibility determinations. The 
Committee intends that for new compatibility determinations, 
the USFWS shall consider any existing information and data 
generated by the State agency possessing primary authority for 
fish and wildlife, or any other State or Federal agency or any 
other source of relevant data.
    Section 6 also codifies agency action to remedy a problem 
which previously accompanied refuge land acquisition. Until 
last year, USFWS policy provided that new refuge lands (with 
the exception of Waterfowl Production Areas) were closed to all 
uses until decisions were made to open them. This meant that 
all preexisting uses were terminated upon acquisition. In 
practice, the reopening of these lands many times did not occur 
until refuge management planning was completed, sometimes years 
after acquisition.
    New paragraph (3)(A)(ii) of NWRSAA Section 4(d) will 
address this concern by stipulating that on lands added to the 
System after March 25, 1996, the Secretary shall identify, 
prior to acquisition, withdrawal, transfer, reclassification, 
or donation of any such lands, existing compatible wildlife-
dependent uses that the Secretary determines shall be permitted 
to continue on an interim basis pending completion of a 
comprehensive conservation plan for the refuge. The Committee 
believes that this new policy will help to restore the public's 
confidence in the land acquisition process and will lead to a 
smoother process of acquiring additional acreage for the System 
in the future.
    New paragraph (3)(A)(iii) clarifies a provision of the 
Refuge Recreation Act of 1962 that requires that before any 
recreational use that is not directly related to the primary 
purposes and functions of the refuge is permitted, the 
Secretary make a finding that funds are available to administer 
and manage the use. In the future, no such determination is 
required to be made for wildlife-dependent recreational uses. 
However, this does not mean that limited financial and 
personnel resources must be directed toward maintenance or 
enhancement of these activities. As noted previously, one 
element of ``sound professional judgment'' which must be 
exercised in making a compatibility determination is the 
availability of resources. This facet of sound professional 
judgment is intended to allow the manager to consider whether 
adequate financial, personnel, law enforcement, and 
infrastructure exists or can be provided in some manner by the 
USFWS or its partners to properly manage a public use.
    New paragraph (3)(B)(v) requires the Secretary, in the new 
regulations, to develop a process for expeditious consideration 
of uses that are likely to be compatible. This paragraph is 
intended to reduce the administrative burden on the refuge 
manager for those uses that are likely to be found to be 
compatible, such as many instances of wildlife-dependent 
recreation or the routine maintenance of certain types of 
existing facilities such as power lines. There are numerous 
existing rights-of-way on National Wildlife Refuge System lands 
for roads, oil and gas pipelines, electrical transmission, 
communication facilities, and other utilities. The Committee 
does not intend for this Act to in any way change, restrict, or 
eliminate these existing rights-of-way, whether established by 
easement or permit, or to grant the USFWS any authority that 
does not already exist to do so. The Secretary need not seek 
public comment for each expedited determination under this 
provision if an adequate opportunity for public comment had 
been provided on the specific use previously, or on a use that 
may be subject to this provision during the planning process 
and the required reevaluations. However, prior to each such 
determination, public notice must be given and the written 
determination must be subject to public inspection.
    Pursuant to Section 4(d) of the NWRSAA, a determination of 
compatibility must be made by the USFWS prior to permitting an 
activity to occur, but a determination of compatibility does 
not require that a particular proposed use be permitted. This 
legislation does not change that provision. Determinations on 
whether to allow otherwise compatible uses are based on System 
mission, policy, refuge purposes, availability of resources to 
manage the use, possible conflicts with other uses, public 
safety, and other administrative factors. If a refuge manager 
has other valid reasons for not permitting a use on the refuge, 
a determination of compatibility does not require the use to be 
allowed. As referenced earlier, the manager should 
``facilitate'' wildlife-dependent recreational uses which have 
been determined to be compatible.
    New paragraph (3)(A)(iv) provides that all compatibility 
determinations in effect on the date of enactment of this Act 
shall remain in effect until and unless modified. Inasmuch as 
the current NWRSAA requirement that all uses be compatible is 
not revised by H.R. 1420, any decisions on uses during the 
period between enactment of H.R. 1420 and the implementation of 
the new regulations would be made under the existing standards 
and process.

            section 7. refuge conservation planning program

    Under this Section, the Secretary must prepare a 
conservation plan for each refuge. A public comment period must 
be held on the draft conservation plan, and the plans must be 
reviewed at least every 15 years. Units are to be managed under 
existing plans until new plans are written. Activities 
consistent with H.R. 1420 and, until new regulations are 
issued, those found compatible under current procedures, may be 
allowed before existing plans are revised or new plans 
prepared.
    Plans must identify and describe: (1) the purposes of the 
refuge; (2) the fish, wildlife and plant populations, their 
habitats, and the archaeological and cultural values found on 
the refuge; (3) significant problems that may adversely affect 
wildlife populations and habitats and ways to correct or 
mitigate those problems; (4) areas suitable for administrative 
sites or visitor facilities; and (5) opportunities for fish- 
and wildlife-dependent recreation.
    The Secretary must ensure adequate public involvement in 
the preparation of plans.
    This Section requires the development of comprehensive 
conservation plans for each refuge or related complex of 
refuges. The National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and 
Bureau of Land Management conduct comprehensive planning of 
their lands pursuant to the organic legislation governing those 
agencies. The USFWS has prepared both System plans and 
individual refuge plans in the past, but the effort has been 
largely sporadic.
    Many individual refuges have developed comprehensive refuge 
plans, either pursuant to the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.), an agency directive, 
or by statute. This Section requires the development of 
conservation plans for all refuges and related complexes of 
refuges within 15 years of enactment of H.R. 1420 and every 15 
years thereafter.
    In developing a schedule for preparing or revising 
individual refuge plans, the USFWS should defer until the end 
of the planning cycle plans for refuges which have recently 
completed comprehensive planning efforts, unless conservation 
or management needs require expedited action.

 section 8. emergency power; presidential exemption: state authority; 
                       water rights; coordination

    This Section allows the Secretary to temporarily suspend, 
allow or initiate any activity in a refuge if the Secretary 
determines it is necessary to protect the health and safety of 
the public or any fish and wildlife populations, and includes 
three saving clauses providing that H.R. 1420:
          does not expand or diminish the Secretary's authority 
        to regulate hunting or fishing on lands or waters not 
        within the System;
          does not expand or diminish the authority, 
        jurisdiction or responsibility of States to manage, 
        control or regulate fish and resident wildlife under 
        State law or regulations within the Refuge System;
          does not create a reserved water right for the United 
        States, affect any water right, affect any Federal or 
        State law regarding water quality or water quantity in 
        existence on the date of enactment nor does it affect 
        the ability to join the United States in the 
        adjudication of rights to the use of water pursuant to 
        the McCarran Act.
    Finally, Section 8 provides that consultation with State 
agency personnel pursuant to H.R. 1420 is not subject to the 
Federal Advisory Committee Act.

                   section 9. statutory construction

    Section 9 provides a saving clause to maintain the status 
quo for the protection of subsistence uses in Alaska, as set 
forth in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 
(ANILCA), and for the provisions of ANILCA generally.
    The saving clause in H.R. 1420 is designed to ensure that 
these provisions are not altered in any manner by clarifying 
Congressional intent that the bill should not have any effect 
on subsistence rights in Alaska. If any conflict arises between 
any provision of H.R. 1420 and any provision of ANILCA, then 
the provision in ANILCA shall prevail.
    The Committee does not intend H.R. 1420 to be used to 
support any claims raised in Federal or State court on 
subsistence issues.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3) of Rule 
XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and clause 
2(b)(1) of Rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, 
the Committee on Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact H.R. 1420.

                        Cost of the Legislation

    Clause 7(a) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 1420. However, clause 7(d) of that Rule provides that this 
requirement does not apply when the Committee has included in 
its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
under Section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

                     Compliance With House Rule XI

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of 
Rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
Section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, H.R. 
1420 does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of 
Rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 1420.
    3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of 
Rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
Section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R. 
1420 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 9, 1997.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1420, the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.
    Enclosure.

   H.R. 1420--National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997

    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1420 would have no 
effect on the federal budget because the government is already 
carrying out activities similar to those mandated by the bill. 
The bill would not affect direct spending or receipts; 
therefore pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. H.R. 1420 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 and would 
impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    H.R. 1420 would amend the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966. In addition to creating a mission 
for the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), the bill also 
would codify Executive Order 12996, recognizing compatible 
wildlife-dependent recreation as an appropriate general public 
use of system lands. The bill defines the term ``wildlife-
dependent recreation'' to mean hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation, and similar uses and gives such activities 
priority consideration in refuge planning and management. 
Finally, H.R. 1420 would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS) to promulgate comprehensive conservation plans 
for each refuge or refuge complex (referred to in the bill as 
``planning units'') within 15 years of the bill's enactment. 
Such plans would be revised every 15 years.
    Enactment of this bill would not affect the federal budget 
because the USFWS is already in the process of preparing 
comprehensive plans for the more than 250 planning areas of the 
NWRS. For fiscal year 1997, about $2.6 million was appropriated 
for this purpose, an annual funding level sufficient to enable 
the agency to prepare and revise all plans within 15 years or 
less. The President's 1998 budget request for comprehensive 
planning is nearly $4.6 million. The requested funding increase 
of about $2 million would allow the USFWS to accelerate the 
planning process, so that all plans could be completed by 2006 
if annual funding is provided at the higher level. This 
estimate is based on information provided by the USFWS.
    The CBO contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. The 
estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    H.R. 1420 contains no unfunded mandates.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the 
bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new matter is 
printed in italic, existing law in which no change is proposed 
is shown in roman):

       NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION ACT OF 1966

          * * * * * * *
  Sec. 4. (a)(1) For the purpose of consolidating the 
authorities relating to the various categories of areas that 
are administered by the Secretary [of the Interior] for the 
conservation of fish and wildlife, including species that are 
threatened with extinction, all lands, waters, and interests 
therein administered by the Secretary as wildlife refuges, 
areas for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife 
that are threatened with extinction, wildlife ranges, game 
ranges, wildlife management areas, or waterfowl production 
areas are hereby designated as the ``National Wildlife Refuge 
System'' (referred to herein as the ``System''), which shall be 
subject to the provisions of this section, and shall be 
administered by the Secretary through the United States Fish 
and Wildlife Service. With respect to refuge lands in the State 
of Alaska, those programs relating to the management of 
resources for which any other agency of the Federal Government 
exercises administrative responsibility through cooperative 
agreement shall remain in effect, subject to the direct 
supervision of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as 
long as such agency agrees to exercise such responsibility.
  (2) The mission of the System is to administer a national 
network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, 
and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and 
plant resources and their habitats within the United States for 
the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
  (3) With respect to the System, it is the policy of the 
United States of America that--
          (A) each refuge shall be managed to fulfill the 
        mission of the System, as well as the specific purposes 
        for which that refuge was established;
          (B) compatible wildlife-dependent recreation is a 
        legitimate and appropriate general public use of the 
        System, directly related to the mission of the System 
        and the purposes of many refuges, and which generally 
        fosters refuge management and through which the 
        American public can develop an appreciation for fish 
        and wildlife;
          (C) compatible wildlife-dependent recreational uses 
        are the priority general public uses of the System and 
        shall receive priority consideration in refuge planning 
        and management;
          (D) when the Secretary determines that a proposed 
        wildlife-dependent recreational use is a compatible use 
        within a refuge, that activity should be facilitated, 
        subject to such restrictions or regulations as may be 
        necessary, reasonable and appropriate.
  (4) In administering the System, the Secretary shall--
          (A) provide for the conservation of fish, wildlife, 
        and plants, and their habitats within the System;
          (B) ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, 
        and environmental health of the System are maintained 
        for the benefit of present and future generations of 
        Americans;
          (C) plan and direct the continued growth of the 
        System in a manner that is best designed to accomplish 
        the mission of the System, to contribute to the 
        conservation of the ecosystems of the United States, to 
        complement efforts of States and other Federal agencies 
        to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats and to 
        increase support for the System and participation from 
        conservation partners and the public;
          (D) ensure that the mission of the System described 
        in paragraph (2) and the purposes of each refuge are 
        carried out, except that if a conflict exists between 
        the purposes of a refuge and the mission of the System, 
        the conflict shall be resolved in a manner that first 
        protects the purposes of the refuge, and, to the extent 
        practicable, that also achieves the mission of the 
        System;
          (E) ensure effective coordination, interaction, and 
        cooperation with owners of land adjoining refuges and 
        the fish and wildlife agency of the States in which the 
        units of the System are located;
          (F) assist in the maintenance of adequate water 
        quantity and water quality to fulfill the mission of 
        the System and the purposes of each refuge;
          (G) acquire, under State law, water rights that are 
        needed for refuge purposes;
          (H) recognize compatible wildlife-dependent 
        recreational uses as the priority general public uses 
        of the System through which the American public can 
        develop an appreciation for fish and wildlife;
          (I) ensure that opportunities are provided for 
        compatible wildlife-dependent recreational activities 
        within the System;
          (J) ensure that priority general public uses receive 
        enhanced consideration over other general public uses 
        in planning and management within the System;
          (K) provide increased opportunities for families to 
        experience compatible wildlife-dependent recreation, 
        particularly opportunities for parents and their 
        children to safely engage in traditional outdoor 
        activities, such as fishing and hunting;
          (L) continue, consistent with existing laws and 
        interagency agreements, authorized or permitted uses of 
        units of the System by other Federal agencies, 
        including those necessary to facilitate military 
        preparedness;
          (M) ensure timely and effective cooperation and 
        collaboration with Federal agencies and State fish and 
        wildlife agencies during the course of acquiring and 
        managing refuges.
  [(2)] (5) No acquired lands which are or become a part of the 
System may be transferred or otherwise disposed of under any 
provision of law (except by exchange pursuant to subsection 
(b)(3) of this section) unless--
          (A) the Secretary [of the Interior] determines with 
        the approval of the Migratory Bird Conservation 
        Commission that such lands are no longer needed for the 
        purposes for which the System was established; and
          (B) such lands are transferred or otherwise disposed 
        of for an amount not less than--
                  (i) the acquisition costs of such lands, in 
                the case of lands of the System which were 
                purchased by the United States with funds from 
                the migratory bird conservation fund, or fair 
                market value, whichever is greater; or
                  (ii) the fair market value of such lands (as 
                determined by the Secretary as of the date of 
                the transfer or disposal), in the case of lands 
                of the System which were donated to the System.
The Secretary shall pay into the migratory bird conservation 
fund the aggregate amount of the proceeds of any transfer or 
disposal referred to in the preceding sentence.
  [(3)] (6) Each area which is included within the System on 
January 1, 1975, or thereafter, and which was or is--
          (A) designated as an area within such System by law, 
        Executive order, or secretarial order; or
          (B) so included by public land withdrawal, donation, 
        purchase, exchange, or pursuant to a cooperative 
        agreement with any State or local government, any 
        Federal department or agency, or any other governmental 
        entity,
shall continue to be a part of the System until otherwise 
specified by Act of Congress, except that nothing in this 
paragraph shall be construed as precluding--
          (i) the transfer or disposal of acquired lands within 
        any such area pursuant to paragraph [(2)] (5) of this 
        subsection;
          (ii) the exchange of lands within any such area 
        pursuant to subsection (b)(3) of this section; or
          (iii) the disposal of any lands within any such area 
        pursuant to the terms of any cooperative agreement 
        referred to in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
  (b) In administering the System, the Secretary is 
[authorized--] authorized to take the following actions:
          (1) [to enter] Enter into contracts with any person 
        or public or private agency, through negotiation for 
        the provision of public accommodations when, and in 
        such locations, and to the extent that the Secretary 
        determines will not be inconsistent with the primary 
        purpose for which the affected area was established,
          (2) [to accept] Accept donations of funds and to use 
        such funds to acquire or manage lands or interests 
        therein[, and].
          (3) [to acquire] Acquire lands or interests therein 
        by exchange (A) for acquired lands or public lands, or 
        for interests in acquired or public lands, under his 
        jurisdiction which he finds to be suitable for 
        disposition, or (B) for the right to remove, in 
        accordance with such terms and conditions as he may 
        prescribe, products from the acquired or public lands 
        within the System. The values of the properties so 
        exchanged either shall be approximately equal, or if 
        they are not approximately equal the values shall be 
        equalized by the payment of cash to the grantor or to 
        the Secretary as the circumstances require.
  (4) Subject to standards established by and the overall 
management oversight of the Director, and consistent with 
standards established by this Act, enter into cooperative 
agreements with State fish and wildlife agencies for the 
management of programs on a refuge.
  (c) No person shall knowingly disturb, injure, cut, burn, 
remove, destroy, or possess any real or personal property of 
the United States, including natural growth, in any area of the 
System; or take or possess any fish, bird, mammal, or other 
wild vertebrate or invertebrate animals or part or nest or egg 
thereof within any such area; or enter, use, or otherwise 
occupy any such area for any purpose; unless such activities 
are performed by persons authorized to manage such area, or 
unless such activities are permitted either under subsection 
(d) of this section or by express provision of the law, 
proclamation, Executive order, or public land order 
establishing the area, or amendment thereof: Provided, That the 
United States mining and mineral leasing laws shall continue to 
apply to any lands within the System to the same extent they 
apply prior to the effective date of this Act unless 
subsequently withdrawn under other authority of law. With the 
exception of endangered species and threatened species listed 
by the Secretary pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 in States wherein a cooperative agreement 
does not exist pursuant to section 6(c) of that Act, nothing in 
this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to 
control or regulate hunting or fishing of resident fish and 
wildlife on lands not within the system. The regulations 
permitting hunting and fishing of resident fish and wildlife 
within the System shall be, to the extent practicable, 
consistent with State fish and wildlife laws and regulations. 
[The provisions of this Act shall not be construed as affecting 
the authority, jurisdiction, or responsibility of the several 
States to manage, control, or regulate fish and resident 
wildlife under State law or regulations in any area within the 
System.]
  (d)(1) * * *
  (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary 
[of the Interior] may not grant to any Federal, State, or local 
agency or to any private individual or organization any right-
of-way, easement, or reservation in, over, across, through, or 
under any area within the System in connection with any use 
permitted by him under paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection 
unless the grantee pays to the Secretary, at the option of the 
Secretary, either (A) in lump sum the fair market value 
(determined by the Secretary as of the date of conveyance to 
the grantee) of the right-of-way, easement, or reservation; or 
(B) annually in advance the fair market rental value 
(determined by the Secretary) of the right-of-way, easement, or 
reservation. If any Federal, State, or local agency is exempted 
from such payment by any other provision of Federal law, such 
agency shall otherwise compensate the Secretary by any other 
means agreeable to the Secretary, including, but not limited 
to, making other land available or the loan of equipment or 
personnel; except that (A) any such compensation shall relate 
to, and be consistent with, the objectives of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System, and (B) the Secretary may waive such 
requirement for compensation if he finds such requirement 
impracticable or unnecessary. All sums received by the 
Secretary [of the Interior] pursuant to this paragraph shall, 
after payment of any necessary expenses incurred by him in 
administering this paragraph, be deposited into the Migratory 
Bird Conservation Fund and shall be available to carry out the 
provisions for land acquisition of the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715 et seq.) and the Migratory Bird 
Hunting Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718 et seq.).
  (3)(A)(i) Except as provided in clause (iv), the Secretary 
shall not initiate or permit a new use of a refuge or expand, 
renew, or extend an existing use of a refuge, unless the 
Secretary has determined that the use is a compatible use and 
that the use is not inconsistent with public safety. The 
Secretary may make the determinations referred to in this 
paragraph for a refuge concurrently with development of a 
conservation plan under subsection (e).
  (ii) On lands added to the System after March 25, 1996, the 
Secretary shall identify, prior to acquisition, withdrawal, 
transfer, reclassification, or donation of any such lands, 
existing compatible wildlife-dependent uses that the Secretary 
determines shall be permitted to continue on an interim basis 
pending completion of the comprehensive conservation plan for 
the refuge.
  (iii) Wildlife-dependent recreational uses may be authorized 
on a refuge when they are compatible and not inconsistent with 
public safety. Except for consideration of consistency with 
State laws and regulations as provided for in subsection (m), 
no other determinations or findings are required to be made by 
the refuge official under this Act or the Refuge Recreation Act 
for wildlife-dependent recreation to occur.
  (iv) Compatibility determinations in existence on the date of 
enactment of this Act shall remain in effect until and unless 
modified.
  (B) Not later than 24 months after the date of the enactment 
of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, 
the Secretary shall issue final regulations establishing the 
process for determining under subparagraph (A) whether a use of 
a refuge is a compatible use. These regulations shall--
          (i) designate the refuge official responsible for 
        making initial compatibility determinations;
          (ii) require an estimate of the timeframe, location, 
        manner, and purpose of each use;
          (iii) identify the effects of each use on refuge 
        resources and purposes of each refuge;
          (iv) require that compatibility determinations be 
        made in writing;
          (v) provide for the expedited consideration of uses 
        that will likely have no detrimental effect on the 
        fulfillment of the purposes of a refuge or the mission 
        of the System;
          (vi) provide for the elimination or modification of 
        any use as expeditiously as practicable after a 
        determination is made that the use is not a compatible 
        use;
          (vii) require, after an opportunity for public 
        comment, reevaluation of each existing use, other than 
        those uses specified in clause (viii), when conditions 
        under which the use is permitted change significantly 
        or when there is significant new information regarding 
        the effects of the use, but not less frequently than 
        once every 10 years, to ensure that the use remains a 
        compatible use;
          (viii) require, after an opportunity for public 
        comment, reevaluation of each compatible wildlife-
        dependent recreational use when conditions under which 
        the use is permitted change significantly or when there 
        is significant new information regarding the effects of 
        the use, but not less frequently than in conjunction 
        with each preparation or revision of a conservation 
        plan under subsection (e) or at least every 15 years; 
        and
          (ix) provide an opportunity for public review and 
        comment on each evaluation of a use, unless an 
        opportunity for public review and comment on the 
        evaluation of the use has already been provided during 
        the development or revision of a conservation plan for 
        the refuge under subsection (e) or has otherwise been 
        provided during routine, periodic determinations of 
        compatibility for wildlife-dependent recreational uses.
  (4) The provisions of this Act relating to determinations of 
the compatibility of a use shall not apply to--
          (A) overflights above a refuge; and
          (B) activities authorized, funded, or conducted by a 
        Federal agency (other than the United States Fish and 
        Wildlife Service) which has primary jurisdiction over 
        the refuge or a portion of the refuge, if the 
        management of those activities is in accordance with a 
        memorandum of understanding between the Secretary or 
        the Director and the head of the Federal agency with 
        primary jurisdiction over the refuge governing the use 
        of the refuge.
  (5) Overflights above a refuge may be governed by any 
memorandum of understanding entered into by the Secretary that 
applies to the refuge.
  (e)(1)(A) Except with respect to refuge lands in Alaska 
(which shall be governed by the refuge planning provisions of 
the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 
3101 et seq.)), the Secretary shall--
          (i) propose a comprehensive conservation plan for 
        each refuge or related complex of refuges (referred to 
        in this subsection as a ``planning unit'') in the 
        System;
          (ii) publish a notice of opportunity for public 
        comment in the Federal Register on each proposed 
        conservation plan;
          (iii) issue a final conservation plan for each 
        planning unit consistent with the provisions of this 
        Act and, to the extent practicable, consistent with 
        fish and wildlife conservation plans of the State in 
        which the refuge is located; and
          (iv) not less frequently than 15 years after the date 
        of issuance of a conservation plan under clause (iii) 
        and every 15 years thereafter, revise the conservation 
        plan as may be necessary.
  (B) The Secretary shall prepare a comprehensive conservation 
plan under this subsection for each refuge within 15 years 
after the date of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act of 1997.
  (C) The Secretary shall manage each refuge or planning unit 
under plans in effect on the date of enactment of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, to the extent 
such plans are consistent with this Act, until such plans are 
revised or superseded by new comprehensive conservation plans 
issued under this subsection.
  (D) Uses or activities consistent with this Act may occur on 
any refuge or planning unit before existing plans are revised 
or new comprehensive conservation plans are issued under this 
subsection.
  (E) Upon completion of a comprehensive conservation plan 
under this subsection for a refuge or planning unit, the 
Secretary shall manage the refuge or planning unit in a manner 
consistent with the plan and shall revise the plan at any time 
if the Secretary determines that conditions that affect the 
refuge or planning unit have changed significantly.
  (2) In developing each comprehensive conservation plan under 
this subsection for a planning unit, the Secretary, acting 
through the Director, shall identify and describe--
          (A) the purposes of each refuge comprising the 
        planning unit;
          (B) the distribution, migration patterns, and 
        abundance of fish, wildlife, and plant populations and 
        related habitats within the planning unit;
          (C) the archaeological and cultural values of the 
        planning unit;
          (D) such areas within the planning unit that are 
        suitable for use as administrative sites or visitor 
        facilities;
          (E) significant problems that may adversely affect 
        the populations and habitats of fish, wildlife, and 
        plants within the planning unit and the actions 
        necessary to correct or mitigate such problems; and
          (F) opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent 
        recreation.
  (3) In preparing each comprehensive conservation plan under 
this subsection, and any revision to such a plan, the 
Secretary, acting through the Director, shall, to the maximum 
extent practicable and consistent with this Act--
          (A) consult with adjoining Federal, State, local, and 
        private landowners and affected State conservation 
        agencies; and
          (B) coordinate the development of the conservation 
        plan or revision of the plan with relevant State 
        conservation plans for fish and wildlife and their 
        habitats.
  (4)(A) In accordance with subparagraph (B), the Secretary 
shall develop and implement a process to ensure an opportunity 
for active public involvement in the preparation and revision 
of comprehensive conservation plans under this subsection. At a 
minimum, the Secretary shall require that publication of any 
final plan shall include a summary of the comments made by 
States, adjacent or potentially affected landowners, local 
governments, and any other affected parties, together with a 
statement of the disposition of concerns expressed in those 
comments.
  (B) Prior to the adoption of each comprehensive conservation 
plan under this subsection, the Secretary shall issue public 
notice of the draft proposed plan, make copies of the plan 
available at the affected field and regional offices of the 
United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and provide 
opportunity for public comment.
  [(e)] (f) Any person who violates or fails to comply with any 
of the provisions of this Act or any regulations issued 
thereunder shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, 
or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.
  [(f)] (g) Any person authorized by the Secretary [of the 
Interior] to enforce the provisions of this Act or any 
regulations issued thereunder, may, without a warrant, arrest 
any person violating this Act or regulations in his presence or 
view, and may execute any warrant or other process issued by an 
officer or court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the 
provisions of this Act or regulations, and may with a search 
warrant search for and seize any property, fish, bird, mammal, 
or other wild vertebrate or invertebrate animals or part or 
nest or egg thereof, taken or possessed in violation of this 
Act or the regulations issued thereunder. Any property, fish, 
bird, mammal, or other wild vertebrate or invertebrate animals 
or part or egg thereof seized with or without a search warrant 
shall be held by such person or by a United States marshal, and 
upon conviction, shall be forfeited to the United States and 
disposed of by the Secretary, in accordance with law. The 
Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is 
authorized to utilize by agreement, with or without 
reimbursement, the personnel and services of any other Federal 
or State agency for purposes of enhancing the enforcement of 
this Act.
  [(g)] (h) Regulations applicable to areas of the System that 
are in effect on the date of enactment of this Act shall 
continue in effect until modified or rescinded.
  [(h)] (i) Nothing in this section shall be construed to 
amend, repeal, or otherwise modify the provision of the Act of 
September 28, 1962 (76 Stat. 653; 16 U.S.C. 460K--460K-4) which 
authorizes the Secretary [of the Interior] to administer the 
areas within the System for public recreation. The provisions 
of this section relating to recreation shall be administered in 
accordance with the provisions of said Act.
  [(i)] (j) Nothing in this Act shall constitute an express or 
implied claim or denial on the part of the Federal Government 
as to exemption from State water laws.
  (k) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act the 
Secretary may temporarily suspend, allow, or initiate any 
activity in a refuge in the System if the Secretary determines 
it is necessary to protect the health and safety of the public 
or any fish or wildlife population.
  (l) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the 
Secretary to control or regulate hunting or fishing of fish and 
resident wildlife on lands or waters not within the System.
  (m) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the 
authority, jurisdiction, or responsibility of the several 
States to manage, control, or regulate fish and resident 
wildlife under State law or regulations in any area within the 
System. Regulations permitting hunting or fishing of fish and 
resident wildlife within the System shall be, to the extent 
practicable, consistent with State fish and wildlife laws, 
regulations, or management plans.
  (n)(1) Nothing in this Act shall--
          (A) create a reserved water right, express or 
        implied, in the United States for any purpose;
          (B) affect any water right in existence on the date 
        of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
        Improvement Act of 1997; or
          (C) affect any Federal or State law in existence on 
        the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife 
        Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 regarding water 
        quality or water quantity.
  (2) Nothing in this Act shall diminish or affect the ability 
to join the United States in the adjudication of rights to the 
use of water pursuant to the McCarran Act (43 U.S.C. 666).
  (o) Coordination with State fish and wildlife agency 
personnel or with personnel of other affected State agencies 
pursuant to this Act shall not be subject to the Federal 
Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.).
  [Sec. 5. (a) The term ``person'' as used in this Act means 
any individual, partnership, corporation, or association.
  [(b) The terms ``take'' or ``taking'' or ``taken'' as used in 
this Act mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, kill, 
or attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill.
  [(c) The terms ``State'' and the ``United States'' as used in 
this Act mean the several States of the United States, the 
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin 
Islands, and Guam.]

SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.

  For purposes of this Act:
          (1) The term ``compatible use'' means a use that, in 
        the sound professional judgment of the Director, will 
        not materially interfere with or detract from the 
        fulfillment of the mission of the System or the 
        purposes of a refuge.
          (2) The terms ``wildlife-dependent recreation'' and 
        ``wildlife-dependent recreational use'' mean a use of a 
        refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation 
        and photography, or environmental education and 
        interpretation.
          (3) The term ``sound professional judgment'' means a 
        finding, determination, or decision that is consistent 
        with principles of sound fish and wildlife management 
        and administration, available science and resources, 
        and adherence to the requirements of this Act and other 
        applicable laws.
          (4) The terms ``conserving'', ``conservation'', 
        ``manage'', ``managing'', and ``management'', mean to 
        sustain and, where appropriate, restore and enhance, 
        healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants 
        utilizing, in accordance with applicable Federal and 
        State laws, methods and procedures associated with 
        modern scientific resource programs. Such methods and 
        procedures include, consistent with the provisions of 
        this Act, protection, research, census, law 
        enforcement, habitat management, propagation, live 
        trapping and transplantation, and regulated taking.
          (5) The term ``Coordination Area'' means a wildlife 
        management area that is made available to a State--
                  (A) by cooperative agreement between the 
                United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the 
                State fish and game agency pursuant to section 
                4 of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 
                U.S.C. 664); or
                  (B) by long-term leases or agreements 
                pursuant to the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act 
                (50 Stat. 525; 7 U.S.C. 1010 et seq.).
          (6) The term ``Director'' means the Director of the 
        United States Fish and Wildlife Service or his 
        designee.
          (7) The terms ``fish'', ``wildlife'', and ``fish and 
        wildlife'' mean any wild member of the animal kingdom 
        whether alive or dead, and regardless of whether the 
        member was bred, hatched, or born in captivity, 
        including a part, product, egg, or offspring of the 
        member.
          (8) The term ``person'' means any individual, 
        partnership, corporation, or association.
          (9) The term ``plant'' means any member of the plant 
        kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, including any 
        plant community, seed, root, or other part of a plant.
          (10) The terms ``purposes of the refuge'' and 
        ``purposes of each refuge'' mean the purposes specified 
        in or derived from the law, proclamation, executive 
        order, agreement, public land order, donation document, 
        or administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, 
        or expanding a refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit.
          (11) The term ``refuge'' means a designated area of 
        land, water, or an interest in land or water within the 
        System, but does not include Coordination Areas.
          (12) The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (13) The terms ``State'' and ``United States'' mean 
        the several States of the United States, Puerto Rico, 
        American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the 
        insular possessions of the United States.
          (14) The term ``System'' means the National Wildlife 
        Refuge System designated under section 4(a)(1).
          (15) The terms ``take'', ``taking'', and ``taken'' 
        mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill, 
        or to attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, 
        or kill.
          * * * * * * *