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106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     106-715

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



 
             NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM CENTENNIAL ACT

                                _______
                                

 July 10, 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. 4442]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 4442) to establish a commission to promote awareness of 
the National Wildlife Refuge System among the American public 
as the System celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2003, 
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. 4442 is to establish a commission to 
promote awareness of the National Wildlife Refuge System among 
the American public as the System celebrates its centennial 
anniversary in 2003, and for other purposes.

                  background and need for legislation

    The National Wildlife Refuge System is comprised of federal 
lands that have been acquired or reserved for the conservation 
and enhancement of fish and wildlife. The first wildlife refuge 
was established by President Theodore Roosevelt by Executive 
Order at Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903 to protect egrets, 
herons, and other birds that were being overharvested to 
provide feathers for the fashion industry. Today, the System is 
comprised of 524 refuges, 38 wetland management districts, and 
3,000 waterfowl production areas totaling about 93 million 
acres. These units range in size from the smallest of less than 
one acre at the Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge in 
Minnesota to the largest of 19.3 million acres in the Arctic 
National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. System units are located in 
all 50 States and the nine U.S. insular areas. The System 
provides habitat for hundreds of fish and wildlife species, 
including 258 species listed as threatened or endangered under 
the Endangered Species Act. The System offers priority public 
wildlife-dependent uses for 35 million visitors annually who 
participate in compatible hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife 
observation and photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation. Currently, 290 refuges are open for hunting and 
300 units are open to fishing, representing more than 90 
percent of all the refuge acreage.
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the 
Interior has principal authority for carrying out laws and 
treaties regarding migratory birds, threatened and endangered 
species, fish and wildlife and their habitats, and certain 
marine mammals. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages the 
Refuge System under its Refuges Division in accordance with 
three federal statutes: the Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, and 
the landmark National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 
1997 (Public Law 105-57). Public Law 105-57 created for the 
first time an organic law for the National Wildlife Refuge 
System. Funding for refuge land acquisition comes from annual 
appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and 
the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which is supported by the 
purchase of duck stamps, import duties collected on arms and 
ammunition, and wildlife refuge entrance fees.
    The FWS uses two systems to keep track of its operations, 
maintenance, and construction needs. The Maintenance Management 
System (MMS) is based on maintenance and construction backlog 
needs for existing facilities. The Refuge Operating Needs 
System (RONS) is based on needs identified in conservation 
management plans or in formally approved refuge goals for 
refuges which do not have conservation management plans. Based 
on these systems, FWS has developed a five-year deferred 
maintenance/construction plan which lists the projects of 
greatest need in priority order. The plan establishes priority 
deferred maintenance costs of $68.3 million for fiscal year 
2001, and a total of $232.4 million over five years (fiscal 
years 2000 through 2004). These costs include annual 
maintenance, equipment replacement, and deferred maintenance 
costs.
    Maintenance of refuge facilities has proven to be a 
continuing challenge for the FWS. As the System has expanded, 
FWS has not been able to keep pace with basic operations and 
maintenance needs. As of December 1999, the maintenance backlog 
contained 9,099 projects totaling $779 million. The 
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans 
held two hearings on the maintenance backlog at National 
Wildlife Refuges in 1996 and another on April 21, 1997. Since 
these hearings, the rate of increase of the maintenance backlog 
slowed from 21 percent in 1997 to 12 percent in 1999. The 
reduced rate of backlog growth can be attributed to increased 
Congressional oversight, larger annual appropriations, and 
better planning efforts designed to identify critical needs. 
However, the FWS has not completed the planning process for all 
of the refuges in the System. The National Wildlife Refuge 
System Improvement Act directed FWS to complete conservation 
plans for each unit within 15 years (by 2012). As these plans 
are completed, maintenance, operations, and construction needs 
will certainly grow.
    H.R. 4442 establishes a Commission to promote awareness of 
the System on the eve of the upcoming 100th Anniversary in 
2003. The National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Commission 
will consist of the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service 
and 10 persons recommended by the Secretary of the Interior and 
appointed by the President. The Chairman and Ranking Member of 
each of the House of Representatives Committee on Resources and 
the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will serve as 
ex officio members. The Secretary of the Interior, and the 
Congressional representatives of the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Commission shall also serve as ex officio members. 
The Commission is charged with developing a plan to commemorate 
the 100th Anniversary of the System and hosting a conference on 
the National Wildlife Refuge System in conjunction with 
federal, State, local, and nongovernmental partners.
    H.R. 4442 also directs the Secretary of the Interior to 
prepare and submit to Congress a long-term plan to address 
priority operations, maintenance, and construction needs of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System. The plan should address the 
operation and staffing needs identified through RONS and 
individual refuge comprehensive conservation plans; the 
maintenance and construction needs identified in the MMS, the 
five-year deferred maintenance list and the five-year 
construction list; and the transition costs identified by the 
Department of the Interior for newly acquired refuge lands. The 
plan should also take into account properties on the Lands 
Acquisition Priority System, and make the necessary adjustments 
to ensure that future acquisitions do not jeopardize higher 
priority needs in other System units. Finally, the plan should 
suggest ways to improve public use programs and facilities to 
meet increasing public needs for wildlife-dependent recreation.

                            committee action

    H.R. 4442 was introduced by Congressmen Jim Saxton (R-NJ) 
on May 11, 2000. The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee on 
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans. On June 15, 2000, 
the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. On June 20, 2000, 
the Subcommittee met to mark up the bill. The bill was ordered 
favorably reported to the Full Committee without amendment by 
voice vote. On June 28, 2000, the Full Resources Committee met 
to consider the bill. The bill was ordered favorably reported 
to the House of Representatives by unanimous consent, without 
amendment.

            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.

                  FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    The functions of the proposed advisory committee authorized 
in the bill are not currently being nor could they be performed 
by one or more agencies, an advisory committee already in 
existence or by enlarging the mandate of an existing advisory 
committee.

                   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, credit 
authority, or an increase or decrease in tax expenditures. 
According to the Congressional Budget Office, enactment of this 
bill would result in new government receipts and resulting 
direct spending, but these would be ``insignificant and largely 
offsetting.''
    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, July 6, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear M. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4442, the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Centennial 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. 4442--National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Act

    H.R. 4442 would establish the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Centennial Commission to prepare a plan to commemorate 
the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System in 
2003. The commission also would host a conference on the system 
and assist with conference activities. This commission's 
members would include the director of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS), specified Members of Congress, and up 
to 10 others. They would receive travel expenses but no 
compensation for serving on the commission. The commission 
would be allowed to accept and use donations of money, 
property, or service. In addition, section 4 of the bill would 
require the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a long-term 
plan for priority operations, maintenance, and construction 
needs of the refuge system.
    Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, and based 
on information provided by the USFWS, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 4442 would cost about $0.9 million over the 
next four years. Most of this amount would be spent on 
activities of the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial 
Commission. Costs to prepare the study of priority needs 
required by section 4 are not expected to be significant.
    Because H.R. 4442 would authorize the new commission to 
accept and spend donations, pay-as-you-go procedures would 
apply. CBO estimates, however, that any new governmental 
receipts and resulting direct spending would be insignificant 
and largely offsetting. 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 CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. 
This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, 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.