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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
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
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
(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
SEC. 4. PURPOSES.
The purposes for which the Refuge is established and shall be managed
(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
(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
(4) to conserve, enhance, and restore habitat to maintain and
assist in the recovery of endangered, and threatened plants and
(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
(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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
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
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
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
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing