Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

106th Congress                                            Rept. 106-841
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                      Part 1

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



 
                  BACKCOUNTRY LANDING STRIP ACCESS ACT
                                _______
                                

 September 12, 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

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 3661]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 3661) to help ensure general aviation aircraft access to 
Federal land and to the airspace over that land, 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 ``Backcountry Landing Strip Access 
Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  The Congress finds as follows:
          (1) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of 
        Agriculture should adopt a nationwide policy for governing 
        backcountry aviation issues related to the management of 
        Federal land under the jurisdiction of those Secretaries and 
        should require regional managers to adhere to that policy.
          (2) Aircraft landing strips serve an essential safety role as 
        emergency landing areas.
          (3) Aircraft landing strips provide access to people who 
        would otherwise be physically unable to enjoy national parks, 
        national forests, and other Federal lands and serve an 
        essential purpose in search and rescue, firefighting, forest, 
        and ecological management, research, and aerial mapping.

SEC. 3. PROCEDURE FOR CONSIDERATION OF ACTIONS AFFECTING AIRCRAFT 
                    LANDING STRIPS.

  (a) In General.--Neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the 
Secretary of Agriculture shall take any action which would permanently 
close or render or declare as unserviceable any aircraft landing strip 
located on Federal land under the administrative jurisdiction of either 
Secretary unless--
          (1) the head of the aviation department of each State in 
        which the aircraft landing strip is located has approved the 
        action;
          (2) notice of the proposed action and the fact that the 
        action would permanently close or render or declare as 
        unserviceable the aircraft landing strip has been published in 
        the Federal Register;
          (3) a 90-day public comment period on the action has been 
        provided after the publication under paragraph (2); and
          (4) any comments received during the comment period provided 
        under paragraph (3) have been taken into consideration by the 
        Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture, as 
        the case may be, and the head of the aviation department of 
        each State in which the affected aircraft landing strip is 
        located.
  (b) National Policy.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary 
of Agriculture shall--
          (1) adopt a nationwide policy that is in accordance with this 
        Act for governing backcountry aviation issues related to the 
        management of Federal land under the jurisdiction of those 
        Secretaries; and
          (2) require regional managers to adhere to that policy.
  (c) Requirements for Policies.--A policy affecting air access to an 
aircraft landing strip located on Federal land under the jurisdiction 
of the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture, 
including the policy required by subsection (b), shall not take effect 
unless the policy--
          (1) states that the Federal Aviation Administration has the 
        sole authority to control aviation and airspace over the United 
        States; and
          (2) seeks and considers comments from State governments and 
        the public.
  (d) Maintenance of Airstrips.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary of the Interior and the 
        Secretary of Agriculture shall consult with--
                  (A) the head of the aviation department of each State 
                in which an aircraft landing strip on Federal land 
                under the jurisdiction of that Secretary is located; 
                and
                  (B) other interested parties,
        to ensure that such aircraft landing strips are maintained in a 
        manner that is consistent with the resource values of the 
        adjacent area.
          (2) Cooperative agreements.--The Secretary of the Interior 
        and the Secretary of Agriculture may enter into cooperative 
        agreements with interested parties for the maintenance of 
        aircraft landing strips located on Federal land.
  (e) Exchanges or Acquisitions.--Closure or purposeful neglect of any 
aircraft landing strip, or any other action which would render any 
aircraft landing strip unserviceable, shall not be a condition of any 
Federal acquisition of or exchange involving private property upon 
which the aircraft landing strip is located.
  (f) New Aircraft Landing Strips Not Created.--Nothing in this Act 
shall be construed to create or authorize additional aircraft landing 
strips.
  (g) Permanently Close.--For the purposes of this Act, the term 
``permanently close'' means any closure the duration of which is more 
than 180 days in any calendar year.
  (h) Applicability.--
          (1) Aircraft landing strips.--This Act shall apply only to 
        established aircraft landing strips on Federal lands 
        administered by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary 
        of Agriculture that are commonly known and have been or are 
        consistently used for aircraft landing and departure 
        activities.
          (2) Actions, policies, exchanges, and acquisitions.--
        Subsections (a), (c), and (e) shall apply to any action, 
        policy, exchange, or acquisition, respectively, that is not 
        final on the date of the enactment of this Act.
  (i) FAA Authority Not Affected.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
construed to affect the authority of the Federal Aviation 
Administration over aviation or airspace.

                          purpose of the bill

    The purpose of H.R. 3661 is to help ensure general aviation 
aircraft access to federal land and to the airspace over that 
land.

                  background and need for legislation

    Backcountry aircraft landing strips serve the public in a 
variety of ways. Most important is the role they play in public 
safety. Backcountry airstrips are utilized in search and rescue 
activities and firefighting efforts, as well as provide areas 
for disabled aircraft to make emergency landings. These 
airstrips also serve general aviation purposes, providing 
access to those who would otherwise be physically unable to 
recreate on and enjoy public lands. Moreover, backcountry 
airstrips are often used in ecological management, research, 
and aerial mapping.
    Many backcountry airstrips have been closed or rendered 
unserviceable by federal agencies responsible for land 
management. The closures are frequently done without the 
benefit of public comment. This has led to several complaints 
by many private pilots who have used these airstrips for a 
number of years and desire to see them remain open unless there 
is sufficient and valid justification for their closure.
    H.R. 3661 addresses this situation by preventing the 
Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from 
permanently closing or rendering unserviceable backcountry 
airstrips without first consulting with the Administrator of 
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the State 
aviation department where the landing strip in located. The 
proposed closure would also need to be published in the Federal 
Register with a 90-day public comment period. H.R. 3661 also 
directs the Secretaries to adopt a nationwide policy in 
accordance with the bill governing general aviation on federal 
lands. H.R. 3661 also directs the Secretaries to consult with 
State aviation departments to ensure the airstrips are 
maintained in a manner that is consistent with the resource 
values of the adjacent area.
    During Subcommittee consideration of H.R. 3661, Congressman 
James V. Hansen offered an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute which was adopted and significantly changed the 
bill. The amendment removed the requirements for the Interior 
and Agricultural Departments to consult with the FAA, 
authorized the Secretaries to enter into cooperative agreements 
with interested parties for the maintenance of the airstrips, 
and assured that the bill did not authorize the creation of any 
additional landing strips.
    The amendment also defined airstrips as those identified on 
State or FAA aeronautical charts. It became clear, however, 
that this definition was inadequate because State and FAA 
aeronautical charts did not include many of the backcountry 
airstrips that were at issue. Because of this, the Full 
Resource Committee adopted an en bloc amendment which, in part, 
defined landing strips as those that are commonly known and 
consistently used. The Committee wants to make it clear that 
this definition is meant to be interpreted as inclusive rather 
than exclusive. Many backcountry landing strips covered by this 
bill are indicated on either State or FAA aeronautical charts, 
but not all of them. Backcountry landing strips not found on 
these charts are frequently indicated on other legitimate maps, 
for example, on United States Geological Survey Series maps, 
United States Forest Service maps, and Bureau of Land 
Management maps. Furthermore, backcountry and general aviation 
pilots, along with personnel from the federal agencies, are 
keenly aware of where landing strips are located and in what 
condition they are in. Both the pilots and federal personnel 
also are generally aware of how often the landing strips have 
been or are used for aircraft landing and departures. Combining 
the legitimate maps with the general knowledge of where landing 
strips are located, the federal agencies, State aeronautics 
boards, and pilots have a clear idea what landing strips are 
commonly known and consistently used. The Committee expects 
that personnel with the federal government, the State 
aeronautics boards, and the pilots complete an inventory in 
each State of the relevant landing strips and agree on what 
strips this bill will affect.
    The Committee makes one other note. The term 
``established'' as used in Section 3(h)(1) does not have the 
meaning of established by law or regulation. Rather, the term 
means that the landing strips are in existence, can be located, 
and have been or are being used for aircraft departures and 
landings.

                            committee action

    H.R. 3661 was introduced on February 15, 2000, by 
Congressman James V. Hansen (R-UT). The bill was referred to 
the Committee on Resources, and additionally to the Committee 
on Agriculture and the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure. Within the Resources Committee, the bill was 
referred to the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands 
and the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. On April 6, 
2000, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. On May 18, 
2000, the Subcommittee met to consider the bill. An amendment 
in the nature of substitute was offered by Congressman Hansen, 
as described above. Congressman Carlos Romero-Barcelo offered a 
substitute amendment to the Hansen amendment in the nature of a 
substitute. The Romero-Barcelo amendment failed by voice vote. 
The Hansen amendment was then adopted by voice vote. The bill, 
as amended, was then ordered favorably reported to the Full 
Committee by a roll call vote of 6-5, as follows:


    On June 20, 2000, the Resources Committee met to consider 
the bill. The Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health was 
discharged from further consideration of the bill by unanimous 
consent. Congressman Hansen offered an en bloc amendment which 
made technical changes, re-titled the bill, and clarified which 
landing strips are covered under the bill. The amendment was 
adopted by voice vote. Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) offered an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute which required a study 
of the issue. The amendment failed on a voice vote. 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, July 24, 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. 3661, the 
Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Megan 
Carroll.
            Sincerely,
                                           Steven Lieberman
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3661--Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act

    Summary: H.R. 3661 would establish new requirements related 
to aircraft landing strips on federal lands managed by the 
Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior. It would prohibit 
the secretaries from closing certain aircraft landing strips 
for more than 180 days a year without the approval of the head 
of the aviation department of the state in which the landing 
strip is located. The bill also would require the secretaries 
to maintain those landing strips in consultation with state 
aviation departments and other interested parties and would 
authorize them to enter into cooperative agreements for that 
purpose. Finally, the bill would direct the secretaries to 
develop a national policy for managing certain landing strips 
under their jurisdiction.
    Based on information from the Department of the Interior 
(DOI) and the Forest Service, CBO estimates that implementing 
this legislation would cost about $59 million over the 2001-
2005 period, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. 
H.R. 3661 would not affect direct spending or receipts; 
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply.
    H.R. 3661 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would benefit state and local governments by ensuring that 
they are consulted about the maintenance and potential closure 
of federally owned landing strips. Any costs that such 
governments would incur to consult with federal agencies or to 
approve the closing of a landing strip would not be 
significant.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 3661 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                                              2000     2001     2002     2003     2004     2005
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Estimated authorization level.............................        0        6       10       14       15       15
Estimated outlays.........................................        0        5       10       14       15       15
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: For the purposes of this estimate, CBO 
assumes that H.R. 3661 will be enacted by the end of fiscal 
year 2000 and that the amounts estimated to be necessary will 
be provided at the start of each fiscal year. Estimates of 
outlays are based on historical spending patterns for similar 
activities.
    According to the DOI and the Forest Service, thousands of 
aircraft landing strips exist or have existed on federal lands, 
and only a portion of them have been identified. Under current 
law, only a fraction of those landing strips are maintained 
routinely, resulting in a significant backlog of maintenance 
projects. Based on information from DOI and the Forest Service, 
CBO estimates that the land management agencies currently spend 
about $2 million annually to perform some maintenance on 
roughly 400 landing strips on federal land.
    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3661 would increase 
federal costs for two reasons. First, we expect that states and 
interested parties would ask federal agencies to maintain 
hundreds of landing strips that receive little, if any, 
maintenance under current law. Second, we expect that states 
would require the agencies to keep some airstrips open for 
longer periods of time, which would increase the costs of 
maintaining the affected sites.
    For this estimate, CBO assumes that the consultation and 
planning process outlined in the bill would take about two 
years. Thus, the estimated cost in the initial years primarily 
reflects added administrative expenses and increased spending 
for readily identifiable projects. Once the consultation 
process is completed, we estimate that additional maintenance 
costs would be $14 million in 2003, and would grow in 
subsequent years with inflation. We assume that, under H.R. 
3661, the agencies would maintain a total of about 1,400 high-
priority airstrips and that the average annual cost to meet the 
new standards would range between $1,000 and $35,000 per 
airstrip, averaging about $12,000. We also assume that the 
agencies would not spend significant amounts on other, lower-
priority airstrips on federal lands.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 3661 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA, and would benefit state and local governments 
by ensuring that they are consulted about the maintenance and 
potential closure of federally owned landing strips. Any costs 
incurred to consult with federal agencies or to approve the 
closing of a landing strip would not be significant.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Megan Carroll; impact 
on State, local, and tribal governments: Victoria Heid Hall; 
impact on the private sector; Sarah Sitarek.
    Estimate 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 makes no changes to existing law.

                        committee correspondence

                          House of Representatives,
                                    Committee on Resources,
                                   Washington, DC, August 16, 2000.
Hon. Larry Combest,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture,
Longworth HOB, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On June 20, 2000, the Committee on 
Resources ordered favorably reported with amendments H.R. 3661, 
the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act. The bill was referred 
primarily to the Committee on Resources, with an additional 
referral to the Committee on Agriculture because it affects the 
management of small airstrips in national forests by the 
Secretary of Agriculture. I have forwarded a copy of the draft 
bill report for your review.
    The author of the bill, Congressman Hansen, would like to 
see it considered on the Floor before we adjourn the 106th 
Congress. Knowing that we have only a few weeks at most left, I 
ask that you allow the Committee on Agriculture to be 
discharged from further consideration of the bill so that it 
may be scheduled under suspension of the rules as soon as 
possible. This discharge in no way affects your jurisdiction 
over the subject matter of the bill and it will not serve as 
precedent for future referrals.
    Thank you for your consideration of my request and I look 
forward to bringing H.R. 3661 to the Floor soon.
            Sincerely,
                                               Don Young, Chairman.
                              ----------                              

                          House of Representatives,
                                    Committee on Resources,
                                   Washington, DC, August 18, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
Longworth HOB, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On June 20, 2000, the Committee on 
Resources ordered to be reported H.R. 3661, the Backcountry 
Landing Strip Access Act. As you are aware, the Committee on 
Agriculture was granted an additional referral of this 
legislation because it affects the management of small 
airstrips in national forests by the Secretary of Agriculture.
    Knowing of your interest in expediting this legislation and 
in maintaining the continued consultation between our Committee 
on these matters, I agree to discharge H.R. 3661 from 
consideration by the Committee on Agriculture. I do so with the 
understanding that by discharging the bill the Committee on 
Agriculture does not waive any future jurisdictional claim over 
this or similar measures. In addition, in the event a 
conference with the Senate is requested on this matter, the 
Committee on Agriculture reserves the right to seek appointment 
of conferees from this Committee, if one should become 
necessary.
    Thank you very much for your courtesy in this matter and I 
look forward to continued cooperation between our Committees as 
we deal with these issues in the future.
            Sincerely,
                                           Larry Combest, Chairman.
                              ----------                                


                          House of Representatives,
                                    Committee on Resources,
                                   Washington, DC, August 16, 2000.
Hon. Bud Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On June 20, 2000, the Committee on 
Resources ordered favorably reported with amendments H.R. 3661, 
the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act. The bill was referred 
primarily to the Committee on Resources, with an additional 
referral to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 
I have forwarded a copy of the draft bill report for your 
review.
    The author of the bill, Congressman Hansen, would like to 
see it considered on the Floor before we adjourn the 106th 
Congress. Knowing that we have only a few weeks at most left, I 
ask that you allow the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure to be discharged from further consideration of 
the bill so that it may be scheduled as soon as possible. This 
discharge in no way affects your jurisdiction over the subject 
matter of the bill and it will not serve as precedent for 
future referrals. If a conference on the measure is convened, I 
would support your request to have the Committee on 
Transportation represented on that conference. Finally, you 
should know that Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Congressman 
Duncan supported the bill during its consideration in the 
Resources Committee.
    Thank you for your consideration of my request and I look 
forward to bringing H.R. 3661 to the Floor soon.
            Sincerely,
                                               Don Young, Chairman.
                              ----------                              

    Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
                                  House of Representatives,
                                 Washington, DC, September 8, 2000.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your letter regarding H.R. 
3881, the Backcountry Land Strip Access Act.
    I appreciate your strong interests and those of the bill's 
sponsor, Congressman Hansen, in moving this important 
legislation to the House Floor as soon as possible. 
Accordingly, I will support discharging the Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure from further consideration of 
the bill.
    As you know, our Committee has jurisdiction over H.R. 
3661's subject matter involving civil aviation. Our Aviation 
Subcommittee chaired by Congressman Duncan and your National 
Parks Subcommittee chaired by Congressman Hansen held a joint 
hearing on this bill in April. As a result of that hearing and 
the cooperative efforts of our two staffs, several changes to 
the introduced bill have been made that are incorporated in the 
version approved by your Committee. As a result, I see no need 
for a separate review by the Transportation and Infrastructure 
Committee.
    I appreciate your assurances that a decision to be 
discharged from further consideration of the bill should not be 
considered as precedent for future referrals of similar 
measures or as affecting the Transportation and Infrastructure 
Committee's subject matter jurisdiction and that you would 
support the appointment of conferees from the Committee should 
a conference with the Senate become necessary. In addition, I 
would appreciate your support for any further clarifications or 
revisions that our staff agree might be helpful or necessary 
and would appreciate your inclusion of this letter in any Floor 
debate accompanying House consideration of H.R. 3661.
    I congratulate you for your leadership on H.R. 3661 and 
look forward to working with you and your colleagues as the 
legislation advances.
            Sincerely,
                                             Bud Shuster, Chairman.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    We oppose H.R. 3661 because it represents unwise federal 
land management policy. According to the Majority, this 
legislation is necessary because the National Park Service 
(NPS), Forest Service (FS), Fish and Wildlife Service (F&W;) and 
the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) frequently close landing 
strips located on federally owned land without public notice. 
Bill proponents argue that, because such actions endanger pilot 
safety and hamper search and rescue operations, requiring 
federal land managers to obtain permission from state aviation 
officials before closing a strip is justified.
    However, none of the witnesses testifying in support of 
this legislation before the National Parks and Public Lands 
Subcommittee in April \1\ provided any evidence that such 
arbitrary strip closings actually take place. To the contrary, 
agency witnesses made clear that established strips can only be 
closed after completion of the public process mandated by the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.). The few strip-closure anecdotes offered during the 
hearing were completely refuted by agency witness and in most 
cases turned out to have taken place on private, not public, 
land.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Mr. Robert Barrett, Director, Utah Department of Transportation 
Aeronautical Operations; Mr. Barton Welsh, Aeronautics Administrator, 
Division of Aeronautics, Idaho Transportation Department; Mr. Phil 
Boyer, President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots' Association; Mr. Steve 
Durtchi, President, Utah Backcountry Pilots' Association.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The real purpose of H.R. 3661 is not to prevent federal 
land managers from closing landing strips without notice but to 
prevent them from closing landing strips at all. If enacted, 
this legislation would provide state aviation officials with a 
veto over decisions made by federal land managers regarding 
public lands. Even if an agency has completed the public NEPA 
process and determined that continued aircraft usage poses a 
threat to resource values on federal land, a strip could not be 
closed without state permission. These public lands belong to 
all of the American people, but H.R. 3661 would allow state 
officials to dictate to the federal government when, where and 
how private pilots should have access to those lands.
    H.R. 3661 also places new and unreasonable requirements on 
federal land managers. Not only can NPS, FS, F&W; and BLM not 
close a strip without state permission, they are also 
prohibited from taking any action which would render a strip 
``unserviceable.'' While the bill fails to define this term, 
one reading of this provision is that federal land managers 
must begin performing maintenance on these strips. Of course, 
the bill provides no definitions, standards or enforcement 
provisions to guide the agencies in this new role. No inventory 
of existing strips has ever been created and the agencies are 
not assured of any additional funding for this new task. Given 
this lack of critical information and resources, the fiscal and 
management burdens created by H.R. 3661 will be substantial.
    In summary, H.R. 3661 will cede management of federal lands 
to state aviation officials while also saddling federal land 
managers with undefined and potentially expensive new 
responsibilities. Such a step would be a disservice to the 
taxpayers to whom these lands and their resources belong. We 
join with the Administration and others in opposing this 
misguided legislation and urge our colleagues to do likewise.

                                   George Miller.
                                   Neil Abercrombie.
                                   Frank Pallone, Jr.
                                   Eni Faleomavaega.