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106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     106-659

======================================================================



 
         CAT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE ESTABLISHMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

  June 8, 2000.--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. 3292]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 3292) to provide for the establishment of the Cat Island 
National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge 
Establishment Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  The Congress finds that--
          (1) as the southernmost unleveed portion of the Mississippi 
        River, Cat Island, Louisiana, is one of the last remaining 
        tracts in the lower Mississippi Valley that is still influenced 
        by the natural dynamics of the river;
          (2) Cat Island supports one of the highest densities of 
        virgin bald cypress trees in the entire Mississippi River 
        Valley, including the Nation's champion cypress tree which is 
        17 feet wide and has a circumference of 53 feet;
          (3) Cat Island is important habitat for several declining 
        species of forest songbirds and supports thousands of wintering 
        waterfowl;
          (4) Cat Island supports high populations of deer, turkey, and 
        furbearers, such as mink and bobcats;
          (5) conservation and enhancement of this area through 
        inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System would help 
        meet the habitat conservation goals of the North American 
        Waterfowl Management Plan;
          (6) these forested wetlands represent one of the most 
        valuable and productive wildlife habitat types in the United 
        States, and have extremely high recreational value for hunters, 
        anglers, birdwatchers, nature photographers, and others; and
          (7) the Cat Island area is deserving of inclusion in the 
        National Wildlife Refuge System.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

  For purposes of this Act--
          (1) the term ``Refuge'' means the Cat Island National 
        Wildlife Refuge; and
          (2) the term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the 
        Interior.

SEC. 4. PURPOSES.

  The purposes for which the Refuge is established and shall be managed 
are--
          (1) to conserve, restore, and manage habitats as necessary to 
        contribute to the migratory bird population goals and habitat 
        objective as established through the Lower Mississippi Valley 
        Joint Venture;
          (2) to conserve, restore, and manage the significant aquatic 
        resource values associated with the area's forested wetlands 
        and to achieve the habitat objectives of the ``Mississippi 
        River Aquatic Resources Management Plan'';
          (3) to conserve, enhance, and restore the historic native 
        bottomland community characteristics of the lower Mississippi 
        alluvial valley and its associated fish, wildlife, and plant 
        species;
          (4) to conserve, enhance, and restore habitat to maintain and 
        assist in the recovery of endangered, and threatened plants and 
        animals;
          (5) to provide opportunities for priority public wildlife 
        dependent uses for compatible hunting, fishing, trapping, 
        wildlife observation and photography, and environmental 
        education and interpretation; and
          (6) to encourage the use of volunteers and facilitate 
        partnerships among the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 
        local communities, conservation organizations, and other non-
        Federal entities to promote public awareness of the resources 
        of the Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System and 
        public participation in the conservation of those resources.

SEC. 5. ESTABLISHMENT OF REFUGE.

  (a) Acquisition Boundary.--The Secretary is authorized to establish 
the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, consisting of approximately 
36,500 acres of land and water, as depicted upon a map entitled ``Cat 
Island National Wildlife Refuge-Proposed'', dated ____, 2000, and 
available for inspection in appropriate offices of the United States 
Fish and Wildlife Service.
  (b) Boundary Revisions.--The Secretary may make such minor revisions 
of the boundary designated under this section as may be appropriate to 
carry out the purposes of the Refuge or to facilitate the acquisition 
of property within the Refuge.
  (c) Acquisition.--The Secretary is authorized to acquire the lands 
and waters, or interests therein, within the acquisition boundary 
described in subsection (a) of this section.
  (d) Establishment.--The Secretary shall establish the Refuge by 
publication of a notice to that effect in the Federal Register and 
publications of local circulation whenever sufficient property has been 
acquired to constitute an area that can be efficiently managed as a 
National Wildlife Refuge.

SEC. 6. ADMINISTRATION.

  The Secretary shall administer all lands, waters, and interests 
therein acquired under this Act in accordance with the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.). 
The Secretary may use such additional statutory authority as may be 
available for the conservation of fish and wildlife, and the provision 
of fish- and wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities as the 
Secretary considers appropriate to carry out the purposes of this Act.

SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  There are authorized to be appropriated to the Department of the 
Interior--
          (1) such funds as may be necessary for the acquisition of 
        lands and waters designated in section 5(c); and
          (2) such funds as may be necessary for the development, 
        operation, and maintenance of the Refuge.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 3292 is to provide for the 
establishment of the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge in 
West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Cat Island, which is also known as Tunica Swamp, is located 
about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge in West Feliciana Parish, 
Louisiana. It is not really an island but a 36,500-acre 
peninsula comprised of bottomland hardwoods.
    Unlike most of the rest of the Mississippi River, Cat 
Island has never been leveed or altered by a major flood 
control project. It is one of the few natural areas along the 
river which still experiences seasonal overflows.
    Cat Island contains one of the highest densities of old-
growth bald cypress trees in the United States. It has been 
estimated that many of these trees are between 500 and 1,000 
years old, and the Nation's largest cypress tree, which is 17 
feet wide with a circumference of 53 feet, resides here. Cat 
Island also supports a wide variety of vegetation including 
hackberry-elm-ash, overcup oak-bitter pecan, and shrub-scrub 
swamps.
    Cat Island is located along the Mississippi River Flyway, 
which is a major migratory bird corridor for gadwalls, green-
winged teals, mallards, ring-necked ducks, and woodcocks. In 
fact, it has been estimated that these lands provide essential 
winter habitat for more than 25,000 mallards. This region is 
also home for many wading birds such as great egrets, snowy 
egrets, cattle egrets, glossy ibis, yellow-crowned night 
herons, black-crowned night herons, green herons, great blue 
herons, wood stocks, and bittens. Several rookeries are 
present, and the shallow lakes and flooded farm fields are 
prime wintering habitat for many shorebirds.
    In addition, Cat Island has large populations of bobcat, 
deer, mink, raccoon, and turkey. Within the 36,500 acres, some 
of the oldest hunting clubs in Louisiana have, in the past, 
leased land that has provided excellent wildlife-dependent 
recreational opportunities for thousands of Americans.
    In terms of fishery resources, Cat Island has several 
freshwater lakes that provide outstanding sport fishing. 
Species found within these lakes include bream, buffalo, 
catfish, crappie, gar, and largemouth bass. Crawfishing is also 
extremely popular. For generations, hunting and fishing has 
been a traditional and cherished pastime for local residents 
and tourists.
    H.R. 3292 will establish the Cat island National Wildlife 
Refuge. Under the terms of the legislation, the purposes of the 
refuge would be to conserve, restore, and manage habitat for 
migratory bird populations; conserve the native bottomland 
timber community characteristics of the Lower Mississippi 
alluvial valley; maintain and assist in the recovery of 
endangered and threatened plants and animals; provide 
opportunities for priority public wildlife-dependent uses for 
compatible hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, 
and photography; and encourage the use of volunteers to promote 
public awareness of the refuge. The bill directs the Secretary 
of the Interior to acquire by purchase or donation property 
that will form the basis of the proposed Cat Island National 
Wildlife Refuge.
    In Fiscal year 2000, Congress appropriated $500,000 for Cat 
Island land acquisition. On March 23, 2000, the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Commission voted to spend $500,000 to purchase 632 
acres of this land. The Administration has requested an 
additional $4 million for Cat Island in Fiscal Year 2001.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 3292 was introduced on November 10, 1999, by 
Congressman Richard H. Baker (R-LA). The bill was referred to 
the Committee on Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans.
    On March 30, 2000, the Subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 
3292. Testimony was heard from the Honorable Richard H. Baker 
(R-LA); Mr. Daniel Ashe, Assistant Director for Refuges and 
Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Mr. Robert C. 
Toombs, East Central Regional Manager, the Timber Company. In 
his testimony, the author of the bill stated, ``One of the 
reasons that Cat Island has not been overrun by development or 
stripped of its natural resources is because of the efforts of 
Louisiana sportsmen who love the outdoors and work hard to 
preserve areas for hunting and fishing.''
    On April 6, 2000, the Subcommittee met to mark up the bill. 
Subcommittee Chairman Jim Saxton (R-NJ) offered an amendment in 
the nature of a substitute that increased the size of the 
refuge from 9,477 acres to 36,500 acres and clarified the 
purposes for establishing this refuge. The amendment was 
adopted by voice vote. The bill, as amended, was reported 
favorably to the full Resources Committee by voice vote.
    On May 24, 2000, the full Resources Committee met to 
consider the bill. No further amendments were offered and the 
bill as amended was then ordered favorably reported to the 
House of Representatives by voice vote.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
Rule XIII 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 I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) 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 this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
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 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. Government Reform Oversight Findings. Under clause 
3(c)(4) of rule XIII 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 on this bill.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII 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 this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, June 7, 2000.
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. 3292, the Cat 
Island national Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3292--Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act

    H.R. 3292 would direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS) to establish the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge on 
about 36,500 acres in Louisiana. The bill would authorize the 
agency to acquire this acreage and manage the new refuge as a 
unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System. For the purposes 
of acquiring, developing, and operating the refuge, the bill 
would authorize the appropriation of whatever sums are 
necessary.
    Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, and based 
on information provided by the USFWS, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 3292 would cost about $30 million over the 
next five to seven years to acquire and manage all of the 
acreage for the new refuge. ($500,000 has already been 
appropriated for this purpose.) After the refuge has been 
established, we estimate that the agency would spend about 
$500,000 annually on operations, and to make payments to local 
governments under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act, assuming 
availability of the necessary amounts.
    H.R. 3292 would not affect direct spending or receipts; 
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. The bill 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would have no 
significant impact on the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. The 
estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.