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                                                       Calendar No. 158
105th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 1st Session                                                     105-78
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                 HELLS CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

                                _______
                                

               September 11, 1997.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 360]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 360) to require adoption of a management 
plan for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area that allows 
appropriate use of motorized and non-motorized river craft in 
the recreation area, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                         Purpose of the Measure

    The purpose of S. 360 is to amend the Hells Canyon National 
Recreation Area Enabling Act to require that motorized and non-
motorized craft will be permitted access to, and use of, the 
entire portion of the Snake River within the recreation area at 
all times of the year.

                          Background and Need

    Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) was 
established by Congress in 1975 and is located in the northeast 
corner of Oregon and west central Idaho. The recreation area is 
administered by the National Forest Service as part of the 
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The Recreation Area lies 
within Baker and Wallowa Counties in Oregon, and Nez Perce, 
Adams and Idaho Countries in Idaho. Principal nearby 
communities include Lewiston and the Boise/Caldwell/Nampa area 
in Idaho, Clarkson in Washington, and Baker City and La Grande 
in Oregon.
    The principal physical feature of the HCNRA is Hells 
Canyon. Measuring 7,993 feet deep and 10 miles from rim to rim 
at places, it forms the deepest river canyon in North America. 
The HCNRA contains habitat for a wide variety of fish and 
wildlife. Cultural resources include old homesteads, mining 
sites, and prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs. Historical 
resources include sites associated with the history of the Nez 
Perce Tribe. There are 652,488 acres within the HCNRA boundary, 
including approximately 33,000 acres which are in private 
ownership.
    Approximately 71 miles of the Snake River in the HCNRA is 
designated as a component of the Wild and Scenic River System: 
a ``wild'' segment from Hells Canyon Dam north to Pittsburg 
Landing (31.5 miles), and a ``scenic'' segment from Pittsburg 
Landing north to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest's north 
boundary (36 miles). The original 1975 enabling Act and later 
amendments designated about 215,000 acres within the recreation 
area as wilderness. The one half mile wide (average width) 
Snake River corridor, however, was excluded from the wilderness 
designation.
    The Snake River segment of the HCNRA is a high volume 
river, with class IV rapids (on a scale of I to VI) located in 
the upper 16.3 miles of the river--the deepest part of Hells 
Canyon.
    Commercial power boats have navigated the Snake River 
through what is now the HCNR since the age of steamboats in the 
mid-nineteenth century. Commercial jet boats have been used on 
the Snake River since the early 1960s. The jet boats used at 
the HCRA vary from 18 to 42 feet, and have a cruising speed of 
28 to 35 MPH and a top speed of 50 MPH. Since they have no 
projecting propellers, they can run in relatively shallow 
water.
    Commercial non-motorized use at Hells Canyon began to be 
popular when surplus rafts from World War II made river running 
more available and inexpensive. Float outfitter permits and 
launches have been regulated by the National Forest Service 
since the 1970s. During the 1992 regulated season, 12,168 
people floated on the HCNRA. During this same period, 23,220 
people accessed the HCNRA by power boat.
    The Forest Service completed a comprehensive management 
plan (CMP) for Hells Canyon in 1982. This plan was appealed by 
private citizens and business owners based on proposed 
restrictions on power boating in the Wild and Scenic river 
portions of the HCNRA. In 1983, the Assistant Secretary of 
Agriculture settled the appeals by removing powerboating 
limitations from the plan until 1985, at which point powerboat 
use could be reassessed.
    In October, 1994, the Forest Supervisor for the Wallowa-
Whitman National Forest issued a ``Recreation Management Plan 
for the Wild and Scenic Snake River.'' This management plan 
proposed limitations on power boat use at the HCNRA. The plan 
proposed establishing eight three-day periods of non-motorized 
use during the summer season. During these time periods, which 
fall after July 4th weekend and before the Labor Day weekend, 
motorized use would be prohibited from a 21-mile segment of the 
Snake River. The plan was developed using data from a visitor 
use study that was conducted by the University of Idaho for the 
Forest Service in 1988-89. The plan was appealed to the 
Regional Forester in July, 1995.
    The Regional Forester upheld many of the decisions in the 
plan, but requested further analysis on the economic impact of 
the plan on commercial outfitters and access to private 
inholdings. An environmental analysis specific to the Regional 
Forester's concerns on private land access and on environmental 
analysis specific to the Regional Forester's concerns on 
private land access and on the economic effects of proposed use 
allocations on commercial operators was undertaken in late 
1996. According to the Forest Service, a decision on the 
analysis of economic effects on commercial operators was 
completed and incorporated into the 1997 use plan, implemented 
this summer. The analysis on the effects of the plan on private 
access is projected by the Forest Service to be complete by the 
1998 summer use season. In the meantime, the Snake River 
Management Plan is being implemented by the Forest Service, 
without inclusion of the motorless boating provision, until the 
private access analysis is completed. As revised, the plan 
proposes a three-day non-motorized window to run from June 
through Labor Day, roughly every other week, with no 
restriction on motorized use over the July 4th week-ends.

                          Legislative History

    S. 360 was introduced by Senator Craig on February 26, 1997 
and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources. The Subcommittee on National Parks, Historic 
Preservation and Recreation held a hearing on the bill on June 
26, 1997.
    At the business meeting on July 30, 1997, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 360 favorably reported 
without amendments.

           Committee Recommendations and Tabulation of Votes

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on July 30, 1997, by a unanimous vote of a 
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 360 without 
amendment.
    The rollcall vote on reporting the measure was 11 yeas, 9 
nays, as follows:

        YEAS                          NAYS
Mr. Murkowski                       Mr. Bumpers
Mr. Domenici \1\                    Mr. Ford
Mr. Nickles                         Mr. Bingaman \1\
Mr. Craig                           Mr. Akaka \1\
Mr. Campbell \1\                    Mr. Dorgan
Mr. Thomas \1\                      Mr. Graham \1\
Mr. Kyl                             Mr. Wyden
Mr. Grams                           Mr. Johnson \1\
Mr. Smith                           Ms. Landrieu \1\
Mr. Gorton
Mr. Burns \1\

    \1\ Indicates voted by proxy.

                           Summary of S. 360

    Section 1 amends Section 10 of P.L. 94-199, the 1975 
enabling Act for Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, by 
adding a new paragraph (a)(4).
    The new paragraph (4) amends the Act by providing for 
control of the use and number of motorized and non-motorized 
craft as necessary, but only to the extent necessary to ensure 
that the uses are compatible with the Act.
    The bill also adds a new subsection (b) to section 10, as 
follows:
    Subsection (b)(1) states that the use of motorized and non-
motorized river craft is recognized as a valid and appropriate 
use of the Snake River within the recreation area.
    Paragraph (b)(2) directs that motorized and non-motorized 
craft be permitted access to, and use of, the entire river 
within the recreation area at all times during the year.
    Paragraph (b)(3) directs that the concurrent use of the 
river within the recreation area by motorized and non-motorized 
river craft not be considered a conflict.
    Paragraph (b)(4) states that the use of commercial and 
private motorized and non-motorized river craft be allowed at 
levels that optimize recreational use, within the reasonable 
capacity for the resources to sustain that level use; and while 
recognizing established use patterns and the economic well-
being of the surrounding communities.
    Paragraph (b)(5) provides that access to private property 
by motorized or non-motorized river craft by property owners in 
their usual and accustomed manner not be restricted.

                   Cost and Budgetary Considerations

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

               congressional budget office cost estimate

S. 360--A bill to require adoption of a management plan for the Hells 
        Canyon National Recreation Area that allows appropriate use of 
        motorized and nonmotorized river craft in the recreation area, 
        and for other purposes

    CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have no 
significant impact on the federal budget. Because S. 360 could 
affect offsetting receipts in 1998, pay-as-you-go procedures 
would apply; however, CBO estimates that any such effects would 
be negligible. S. 360 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.
    Enacting S. 360 would require the Secretary of Agriculture 
to adopt rules and regulations for managing the Hells Canyon 
National Recreation Area that recognize the use of motorized 
and nonmotorized river craft as a valid and appropriate use of 
the Snake River within the recreation area and that permit such 
river craft access to, and use of, the entire river within the 
recreation area throughout the year. The U.S. Forest Service is 
currently planning to adopt a river management plan for the 
area that would revise certain restrictions on the use of river 
craft and place new restrictions on the use of motorized river 
craft. Enacting S. 360 would prohibit the Forest Service from 
implementing some of the planned restrictions. Because 
outfitters pay recreation use fees to the federal government 
based on a percentage of their gross revenue and their revenues 
might decrease if the Forest Service implemented operational 
limitations, enacting the bill could result in greater receipts 
to the federal government. However, CBO estimates that any such 
effects on federal offsetting receipts would be negligible.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Victoria V. 
Heid. This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Evaluation

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 360. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 360, as ordered reported.

                        Executive Communications

    On July 30, 1997, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of 
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting 
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 360. These reports 
had not been received at the time the report on S. 360 was 
filed. When these reports become available, the Chairman will 
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for 
the advice of the Senate. The testimony of the Department of 
the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing follows:

  Statement of Lyle Laverty, Director of Recreation, National Forest 
           System, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture

    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to present the Administration's views on S. 
360, a bill which would require the ``adoption of a management 
plan for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area that allows 
appropriate use of motorized and nonmotorized river craft in 
the recreation area, and for other purposes.''
    The Department of Agriculture opposes S. 360.
    Our basis for this recommendation is that the legislation 
would require changing the river management plan currently 
being adopted after many years of development. The forest 
planning process in place under the National Forest Management 
Act, providing for substantial public participation, guides 
management plan development. This process works well and also 
provides the flexibility to make adjustments over time as 
public demands and resource conditions change.
    S. 360 would amend section 10 of the Hells Canyon National 
Recreation Area Act by requiring the Forest Service to issue 
regulations for the control of the use and number of motorized 
and nonmotorized craft as necessary to ensure that such uses 
are compatible with the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area 
(HCNRA). While the Forest Service is pleased the legislation 
recognizes the need for managed use levels on the Snake River, 
specific regulations for managing the Federal portion of the 
HCNRA were issued in 1994.
    These regulations specifically address standards for the 
use of motorized and nonmotorized river craft. These standards 
were the subject of extensive public comment, and the final 
rule strikes a careful and reasoned balance between preserving 
the unique natural resource values for which the HCNRA and 
Snake River were designated, and the continued balanced use of 
motorized and nonmotorized river craft.
    The use levels established in the 1994 river management 
plan provide for recreation experiences consistent with wild 
and scenic river settings. Since 1975, increasing use levels 
have changed the river canyon setting from the primitive or 
semi-primitive experience normally associated with wild and 
scenic river designations. This change is directly associated 
with increased levels of both motorized and nonmotorized river 
craft.
    When Congress passed the HCNRA Act in 1975, the Act 
required that a comprehensive management plan (CMP) be 
developed. That plan was issued in 1984, and was incorporated 
into the Wallowa--Whitman National Forest land and resource 
management plan (forest plan) in 1990. The CMP then became 
subject to the procedures for modifying management direction 
found in the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and 
implementing regulations (36 CFR 219).


                  historical management of use levels


    Recreation use restrictions on the Snake River began in the 
1970's when commercial floatboat outfitters were placed under 
special use permits in response to concerns about increasing 
numbers of outfitters. Restrictions on private and commercial 
floatboat launches were also started at this time on the wild 
portion of the river during the primary (summer) use season. 
The Forest Service proposed limitations on commercial and 
private powerboats in 1982 in order to keep recreation use 
levels within the carrying capacity of the river and to reduce 
encounters between float and powerboat use. Powerboat use had 
been unlimited under previous management plans. The decision to 
limit powerboat use was reversed in 1983 by the Assistant 
Secretary of Agriculture, thus unlimited use of powerboats 
continued, while floatboat launches continued to be restricted.
    In 1988, following the provisions of the Assistant 
Secretary's 1983 appeal decision, the Forest Service conducted 
an extensive survey of all river users. With the survey results 
as a basis, the Forest Service contracted with the University 
of Idaho to follow up with management recommendations. The 
University convened a task force, which presented 
recommendations for the management of the Snake River in 1991. 
In 1992, the Forest Service began to involve the public in 
developing an environmental impact statement (EIS), using the 
1991 task force recommendations as a proposed action. In 1994, 
the Forest Supervisor issued a record of decision for the EIS, 
amending the forest plan with new management direction for the 
Wild and Scenic Snake River.
    Limitations on powerboat use were proposed in this new 
Snake River plan. The decision on the plan was the subject of 
31 separate appeals by individuals, organizations, and 
commercial outfitters. Most appeals were by outfitters and 
guides concerning limitations on the use of powerboats. The 
Deputy Regional Forester upheld most components of the river 
plan in resolving the appeals.
    However, the Deputy Regional Forester also determined that 
the potential effects of the proposed plan on the economic 
viability of outfitter-guides had not been adequately analyzed 
or disclosed. The Forest Supervisor was directed to conduct 
additional analysis to determine the economic effects of the 
proposed use allocations and operating limits on each of the 
existing commercial outfitters. This analysis is complete and 
the Forest is incorporating the findings concerning economic 
effects into the river management plan.
    The appeal decision also addressed the issue of access to 
private lands within the river corridor, and directed further 
review and analysis. This analysis should be completed in time 
to implement any proposed changes by the 1998 season. In the 
meantime, there will be no change in the current policy which 
provides for unrestricted motorized access to these private 
lands.
    The decision to delay implementation of the non-motorized 
window portion of the final Snake River management plan pending 
the private land access analysis was itself the subject of 
litigation. The Hells Canyon Preservation Council had sought a 
preliminary injunction forcing the Forest Service to implement 
the non-motorized launch schedule identified in the plan. In 
May, the court denied the preliminary injunction, and the Snake 
River plan is currently being implemented for the 1997 primary 
season without the non-motorized window. The Forest Service has 
provided the court with an anticipated schedule for completion 
of the private land access analysis before the 1998 primary use 
season.


                                summary


    The Snake River plan is an example of the process the 
Forest Service follows to reach resource management decisions. 
This collaborative process is open and inclusive, allowing the 
public ample opportunity to make their concerns known and have 
them considered. As resource stewards, we have the 
responsibility, by law, to seek to balance the needs of the 
people with the available resources.
    Although this process is sometimes slower than is desired, 
I am convinced that it works. We prefer that the forest 
planning process be given the opportunity to complete its 
course. We think that is fair to the people who have 
participated, and local forest managers, that they see the 
results of many years of effort carried forward. The proposed 
legislation would force this process to start over again.
    This concludes my prepared statement. I would be pleased to 
answer questions that you or other members of the Subcommittee 
may have.

              MINORITY VIEWS OF SENATORS BUMPERS AND WYDEN

    If enacted, S. 360 would overturn the Forest Service's 
management plan for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. 
The bill would favor one class of recreational users over 
another--in this case, operators of motorized ``jet boats'' 
over non-motorized ``float boats.'' We see no need to supersede 
a management plan developed by the Forest Service after years 
of public debate and involvement, designed to accommodate both 
motorized and non-motorized river craft users within the 
recreation area.
    The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Oregon and 
Idaho was established in 1975 ``to assure that the natural 
beauty, historical, and archaeological values of the Hells 
Canyon area and the 71-mile segment of the Snake River'' 
running through the recreation area were ``preserved for this 
and future generations.'' Over sixty-seven miles of the Snake 
River within the recreation area have been designated as 
components of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, with 36 miles 
designated as ``scenic'' and 31\1/2\ miles designated as 
``wild.''
    The 1975 enabling legislation for the recreation area 
authorized the Forest Service to develop regulations necessary 
to accomplish the purpose of the Act, ``including provision for 
the control of the use and number of motorized and non-
motorized river craft.'' While the enabling legislation made it 
clear that the operation of both motorized and non-motorized 
river craft were recognized as valid uses in the recreation 
area, the Act is also clear that the Forest Service is 
authorized to regulate the use and number of river craft in 
order to minimize conflicts between the different recreational 
experiences.
    The Forest Service testified before the Committee that 
increasing use levels within the recreation area ``have changed 
the river canyon setting from the primitive or semi-primitive 
experience normally associated with wild and scenic river 
designations. This change is directly associated with increased 
levels of both motorized and non-motorized river craft.''
    The number of commercial and private non-motorized river 
craft within the recreation area have been regulated by the 
Forest Service since the 1970s. Until the new regulations were 
developed, no similar restrictions have been imposed on 
motorized river craft. Under the new regulations, motorized 
river craft would not be allowed on the river for three days 
every other week during the summer (and not even then if the 
three-day period encompasses a major holiday such as the Fourth 
of July), and only within the Snake River segment designated as 
a ``wild'' component of the Wild and Scenic River Systems. 
While use ceilings would also be imposed on motorized use in 
the rest of the recreation area, according to the Forest 
Service the new caps exceed the current level of use. By 
comparison, non-motorized use would continue to be limited to 
five launches per day within the recreation area.
    S. 360 would require the Forest Service to adopt a 
management plan for the recreation area that would permit the 
use of motorized boats on the Snake River within Hells Canyon 
on all portions of the river during all times of the year. The 
bill would also prohibit any restriction on the use of private 
powerboats for access to and from private property, even though 
the Forest Service testified that no private inholdings are 
within the segment proposed for closure to motorized river 
craft.
    In our opinion, the Forest Service has acted properly and 
responsibly to try and balance two potentially conflicting uses 
within the recreation area. The agency has correctly 
interpreted the 1975 enabling Act by proposing a management 
plan which allows both motorized and non-motorized uses to 
continue while imposing reasonable limitations to minimize 
conflicts and enhance the recreational experience for both 
users.

                                   Dale Bumpers.
                                   Ron Wyden.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill S. 360, as ordered 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):

                   (public law 94-199--dec. 31, 1975)

    Sec. 10. [The Secretary] (a) Rules and Regulations._The 
Secretary shall promulgate, and may amend, such rules and 
regulations as he deems necessary to accomplish the purposes of 
this Act. Such rules and regulations shall include, but are not 
limited to--
          [(a)] (1) standards for the use and development of 
        privately owned property within the recreation area, 
        which rules or regulations the Secretary may, to the 
        extent he deems advisable, implement with the 
        authorities delegated to him in section 9 of this Act, 
        and which may differ among the various parcels of land 
        within the recreation area;
          [(b)] (2) standards and guidelines to insure the full 
        protection and preservation of the historic, 
        archaeological and paleontological resources in the 
        recreation area;
          [(c)] (3) provision for the control of the use of 
        motorized and mechanical equipment for transportation 
        over, or alteration of, the surface of any Federal land 
        within the recreation area; and
          [(d) provision for the control of the use and number 
        of motorized and nonmotorized rivercraft: Provided, 
        That the use of such craft is hereby recognized as a 
        valid use of the Snake River within the recreation 
        area; and]
          (4) subject to subsection (b), provision for control 
        of the use and number of motorized and non-motorized 
        river craft as necessary, but only to the extent 
        necessary to ensure that such uses are compatible with 
        this Act.
    (b) Use of Motorized and Nonmotorized River Craft._For the 
purposes of subsection (a)(4)--
          (1) the use of motorized and nonmotorized river craft 
        is recognized as a valid and appropriate use of the 
        Snake River within the recreation area;
          (2) motorized and nonmotorized river craft shall be 
        permitted access to, and use of, the entire river 
        within the recreation area at all times during the 
        year;
          (3) concurrent use of the river within the recreation 
        area by motorized and nonmotorized river craft shall 
        not be considered a conflict;
          (4) use of commercial and private motorized and 
        nonmotorized river craft shall be allowed to continue 
        on the entire Snake River within the recreation area 
        throughout each year at levels that optimize the 
        opportunity of the American people to utilize the 
        recreation area within the reasonable capacity of the 
        resources to sustain that use, recognizing as 
        acceptable established daily and seasonal use patterns 
        and considering the economic well-being of surrounding 
        communities; and
          (5) use of motorized or nonmotorized river craft on 
        the Snake River within the recreation area by owners of 
        private property for the purpose of traveling to or 
        from their property in their usual and accustomed 
        manner shall not be restricted.