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                                                        Calendar No. 79

106th Congress                                                   Report
  1st Session                    SENATE                          106-36

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




 
              NEOTROPICAL MIGRATORY BIRD CONSERVATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                 March 26, 1999.--Ordered to be printed

  Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of March 25, 1999

                                _______


    Mr. Chafee, from the Committee on Environment and Public Works, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 148]

    The Committee on Environment and Public Works, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 148) to require the Secretary of the 
Interior to establish a program to provide assistance in the 
conservation of neotropical migratory birds, having considered 
the same, reports favorably and recommends that the bill do 
pass.

                    General Statement and Background

    Each autumn, some 5 billion birds from 500 species migrate 
between their breeding grounds in North America and tropical 
habitats in the Caribbean, Central and South America. These 
neotropical migrants--or New World tropical migrants--are birds 
that migrate between the biogeographic region stretching across 
Mexico, Central America, much of the Caribbean, and the 
northern part of South America. They comprise a vast array of 
birds well known to many in the Americas: ducks and other 
waterfowl; raptors; shorebirds such as sandpipers and plovers; 
terns and gulls; nightjars; swifts; martins; hummingbirds; 
woodpeckers; flycatchers; thrushes; vireos; tanagers; warblers; 
buntings; orioles; blackbirds; and dozens of other species. In 
some parts of the United States and Canada, almost all of the 
birds migrate to the tropics for the winter. Of those that 
breed in the northern coniferous forests, for example, 80 
percent of the species and 94 percent of the individuals 
migrate to the tropics. About 62 percent of the species and 75 
percent of the individuals that breed in the eastern deciduous 
forests migrate. Migrants breeding in the central grasslands 
comprise 76 percent of the species and 73 percent of the 
individuals.
    The aggregate figures tell only part of the story, however. 
A fuller appreciation of the nature of migratory birds can be 
acquired by considering the individual odysseys of some of 
these species. Turkey vultures, with a wingspan of greater than 
5 \1/2\ feet, migrate from the their winter home in the 
southern United States, Mexico or Central America so punctually 
each spring that in Hinckley, Ohio, a festival celebrates their 
return each March 15th. Although Sandhill cranes breed in 
relatively small and scattered populations across the northern 
United States, Canada and Alaska, during their northward 
migrations from Mexico and Central America, upward of half a 
million birds may be found at staging areas such as along the 
Platte River in Nebraska. Killdeer living in the northern 
United States migrate up to 6,000 miles, often straying far 
from their normal routes, observed in Europe, Greenland, and 
Hawaii. The Ruby-throated hummingbird, with a four-inch wing 
span, will travel up to 3,500 miles, making the 500 mile 
crossing of the Caribbean without stopping. The Blackpoll 
warbler, after migrating from Alaska to Nova Scotia, will first 
begin a southern journey over the Atlantic to Venezuela, with a 
staging area in Bermuda.
    The natural challenges facing these migratory birds are 
profound. Many migratory birds experience a relatively low 
survival rate, due to nest predation and brood parasitism, as 
well as natural competition among species, predation and 
general hazards along their migratory routes. Human induced 
threats have exacerbated these challenges. The greatest human 
induced threat is the continuing loss of habitat in the 
Caribbean and Latin America, both in staging areas and 
wintering areas of these species. Pollution, including 
widespread use of pesticides, and overharvesting have also 
taking their toll on migratory bird populations in the United 
States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some of these impacts 
are magnified because the birds assemble in relatively small 
patches of habitat during their migrations, so that adverse 
impacts to those areas can have exaggerated impacts on the 
species. Such is the case with the dickcissel, which breeds 
across much of the eastern United States, but winters in only a 
narrow stretch of Venezuelan grasslands. The species is 
threatened by continuing use of pesticides, and trapping, in 
these grasslands.
    As a result of these impacts, populations of migratory 
birds have declined generally in recent years. Approximately 
210 species of migratory birds in the United States are in 
serious decline, with 90 species either threatened or 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Mexican 
government has identified approximately 390 species of birds as 
being endangered, threatened, vulnerable or rare. Many of these 
are neotropical migratory birds.
    While there are numerous efforts underway to protect these 
species and their habitat, they generally focus on specific 
categories of migratory birds or specific regions in the 
Americas. For example, in 1986, Canada and the United States 
entered into the North American Waterfowl Conservation Plan, 
joined by Mexico in 1994. This plan emphasizes waterfowl and 
wetlands conservation, although efforts are now being made to 
include other species sharing wetlands habitat. In 1991, the 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation began the neotropical 
Migratory Bird Conservation program, commonly known as Partners 
in Flight. This program provides funding, in cooperation with 
the U.S. Agency for International Development, for conservation 
projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, but not the United 
States. The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a 
monitoring program that extends across the Americas, focuses on 
only shorebirds. Other monitoring plans and action plans exist 
for specific types of migratory birds and specific regions.
    These programs have improved protections for some species 
of birds. For example, a joint project among the U.S. 
Departments of the Interior, Defense, and Agriculture, the 
Canadian and Argentinean Governments, the Boise State 
University's Raptor Research Center, and the Fish and Wildlife 
Foundation discovered the cause of sharp declines in certain 
populations of the Swainson's hawk, and took actions to redress 
these declines. The Swainson's hawk is a neotropical migrant 
that breeds in grassland, shrubsteppe, and agricultural 
habitats in North America, and winters in Argentina. Certain 
populations that bred in the western United States and Canada 
were exposed to pesticides on their wintering grounds in the La 
Pampa province of Argentina. Under the program, the Ciba-Geigy 
Company voluntarily imposed a ban on the sale of certain 
agrochemical compounds in the areas where the high mortality 
was occurring, and the decline in these populations of 
Swainson's hawks seems to have halted.
    While this example illustrates progress in protecting 
migratory birds, it also underscores the need for additional 
projects. More importantly, as noted by the witnesses at a 
hearing before the committee on July 7, 1998 there is a need 
for a more comprehensive program to address the varied and 
significant threats facing the numerous species of migratory 
birds across their range. Frequently there is little, if any, 
coordination among the existing programs, nor is there any one 
program that serves as a link among them. A broader, more 
holistic approach would bolster existing conservation efforts 
and programs, fill the gaps between these programs, and promote 
new initiatives.
    Migratory birds, apart from their intrinsic value, 
contribute to our aesthetic, environmental, and economic well-
being. Many of these species protect crops and forests by 
feeding on insect pests. The ability of birds to control pest 
insects in both croplands and forests is well established, both 
by recent scientific studies, such as a U.S Department of 
Agriculture estimate that a population of 3,000 Swainson's 
hawks in the western United States eat more than one million 
rodents each summer, and by rich anecdotal evidence, such as 
the rescue of the Mormon pioneers from an outbreak of 
grasshoppers by a flock of gulls. Many migratory birds feed on 
nuisance and health pests, such as flies and mosquitoes, and 
further help maintain healthy ecosystems by dispersing seeds 
and pollinating plants.
    In addition to these environmental benefits, birds support 
a significant component of the economy. According to one study 
by the University of Georgia, bird watching is the fastest 
growing recreational activity in the country. Nearly 70 million 
Americans spend more than $20 billion each year participating 
in bird-related recreation. Bird festivals around the country 
have blossomed: from five in 1985, there were 60 held in 1997. 
No fewer than nine professional sports teams in all four 
organized team sports (hockey, football, baseball and 
basketball) are named after various species of birds. These 
statistics reinforce the fact that birds, particularly 
neotropical migratory birds, are popular and endearing symbols 
of our country.

                     Objectives of the Legislation

    The purpose of this legislation is to require the Secretary 
of the Interior to establish a program to provide assistance in 
the conservation of neotropical migratory birds.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short Title
    This section provides that the bill may be cited as the 
``Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.''
Section 2. Findings
    This section contains the findings of Congress. Of the 
nearly 800 bird species known to occur in the United States, 
approximately 500 migrate among nations, and the large majority 
of those species, the neotropical migrants, winter in Latin 
America and the Caribbean. Neotropical birds provide invaluable 
environmental, economic, recreational, and aesthetic benefits 
to the United States, as well as to the Western Hemisphere. 
Many neotropcial birds are in decline, some to the point that 
their long-term survival is in jeopardy. The primary reason for 
the declines is habitat loss and degradation across the 
species' range. Because their range extends across numerous 
international borders, their conservation requires the 
commitment and effort of all countries along their migration 
routes. While numerous initiatives exist to conserve migratory 
birds and their habitat, those initiatives can be significantly 
strengthened and enhanced by increased coordination.
Section 3. Purposes
    This section identifies the three following purposes of the 
bill: (1) to perpetuate healthy populations of neotropical 
migatory birds; (2) to assist in the conservation of 
neotropical migratory birds by supporting conservation 
initiatives in the United States, Latin America, and the 
Caribbean; and (3) to provide financial resources and to foster 
international cooperation for those initiatives.
Section 4. Definitions
    This section contains definitions of terms used in the 
bill. ``Account'' is defined as the Neotropical Migratory Bird 
Conservation Account. ``Conservation'' is defined as the use of 
methods and procedures necessary to bring a species of 
neotropical migratory bird to the point at which there are 
sufficient populations in the wild to ensure the long-term 
viability of the species. In order to perpetuate healthy 
populations of birds, it is expected that upon bringing a 
species to the point at which there are sufficient populations 
in the wild to ensure the long-term viability of the species, 
conservation could include the use of methods and procedures 
necessary to maintain a species at that point. ``Secretary'' is 
defined as the Secretary of the Interior.
Section 5. Financial Assistance
    This section requires the Secretary of the Interior to 
establish a program to provide financial assistance for 
projects to promote the conservation of neotropical migratory 
birds. Project proposals may be submitted by: an individual, 
corporation, partnership, trust, association or other private 
entity; an officer, employee, agent, department, or 
instrumentality of the Federal Government, of any State, 
municipality, or political subdivision of a State, or any 
foreign government; a State, municipality, or political 
subdivision of a State; any other entity subject to the 
juridiction of the United States or of any foreign country; and 
an international organization.
    A project proposal must meet seven requirements to be 
considered for financial assistance. First, the proposal must 
include the name of the individual responsible for the project, 
a succinct statement of purposes, a description of the 
qualifications of the individuals conducting the project, and 
an estimate of the funds and time necessary to complete the 
project. Second, the proposal must demonstrate that the project 
will enhance the conservation of neotropical migratory birds in 
the United States, Latin America or the Caribbean. Third, a 
proposal must include mechanisms to ensure adequate local 
public participation in project development and implementation. 
Fourth, it must contain assurances that the project will be 
implemented in consultation with relevant wildlife management 
authorities and other appropriate government officials with 
jurisdiction over the resources addressed by the project. 
Fifth, a proposal must demonstrate sensitivity to local 
historic and cultural resources and comply with applicable 
laws. Sixth, it must describe how the project will promote 
sustainable, effective, long-term programs to conserve 
neotropical migratory birds. Finally, it must provide any other 
information that the Secretary considers to be necessary for 
evaluating the proposal. In addition, the recipient of 
assistance for a project may be required to submit periodic 
reports to the Secretary for evaluating the progress and 
outcome of the project.
    The Federal share of the cost of each project shall be not 
greater than 33 percent. The non-Federal share cannot be 
derived from any other Federal grant program. For projects in 
the United States, the non-Federal share must be paid in cash. 
For projects outside the United States, the non-Federal share 
may be paid in cash or in kind. Countries in the Caribbean and 
Latin America may not have sufficient cash on hand for 
conservation projects. Allowing projects in those countries to 
use in-kind services for their non-Federal share will provide 
more opportunity, greater incentive, and more flexibility for 
participation in those countries.
Section 6. Duties of Secretary
    This section provides that the Secretary shall: develop 
guidelines for the solicitation of proposals for projects 
eligible for financial assistance under section 5; encourage 
submission of proposals for projects eligible for financial 
assistance under section 5, particularly proposals from 
relevant wildlife management authorities; select proposals for 
financial assistance that satisfy the requirements of section 
5, giving preference to proposals that address conservation 
needs not adequately addressed by existing efforts and that are 
supported by relevant wildlife management authorities; and 
generally implement the Act in accordance with its purposes.
Section 7. Cooperation
    This section states that, in carrying out this Act, the 
Secretary shall support and coordinate existing efforts to 
conserve neotropical migratory bird species and shall 
coordinate activities and projects under this Act with those 
existing efforts in order to enhance neotropical migratory bird 
conservation. The Secretary may convene an advisory group 
consisting of individuals representing public and private 
organizations actively involved in the conservation of 
neotropical migratory birds. The advisory group shall not be 
subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, although must 
ensure that each meeting is open to the public, with an 
opportunity for public statements. The Secretary must provide 
timely notice of each meeting to the public, and keep minutes 
of each meeting. Use of an advisory group is encouraged, as it 
could play an integral role in ensuring that existing migratory 
bird conservation programs are well coordinated, thereby 
helping to maximize the effectiveness of this Act and other 
programs.
Section 8. Report to Congress
    This section requires the Secretary to submit to Congress a 
report, not later than October 1, 2002, on the results and 
effectiveness of the program, including recommendations 
concerning how the Act may be improved and whether the program 
should be continued.
Section 9. Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Account
    This section establishes in the Multinational Species 
Conservation Fund of the Treasury a separate account called the 
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Account. The Secretary 
of the Treasury shall deposit into the Account appropriated 
amounts and donations. Donations may be given to the Secretary 
of the Interior, who will then transferr them to the Secretary 
of the Treasury for deposit into the account. The Secretary may 
use amounts in the Account to carry out the Act. Of the amounts 
in the Account available to carry out this legislation each 
fiscal year, the Secretary may use not more than 6 percent to 
pay administrative expenses.
Section 10. Authorization of Appropriations
    This section authorizes $8 million to be appropriated for 
each of the fiscal years from 2000 through 2003, to remain 
available until expended, of which not less than 50 percent of 
the amounts made available for each fiscal year shall be 
expended for projects carried out outside the United States.

                          Legislative History

    On January 19, 1999, Senator Abraham introduced S. 148, 
which was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public 
Works. On Wednesday, March 17, 1999, the committee held a 
business meeting to consider this bill. The bill was favorably 
reported out of the committee by voice vote.

                           Regulatory Impact

    In compliance with section 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the committee makes this 
evaluation of the regulatory impact of the reported bill. The 
reported bill will have no regulatory impact. This bill will 
not have any adverse impact on the personal privacy of 
individuals.

                          Mandates Assessment

    In compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Public Law 104-4), the committee finds that this bill would 
impose no Federal intergovernmental unfunded mandates on State, 
local, or tribal governments. The bill does not directly impose 
any private sector mandates.

                          Cost of Legislation

    Section 403 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act requires that a statement of the cost of the 
reported bill, prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, be 
included in the report. That statement follows:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 19, 1999.

Hon. John H. Chafee, Chairman,
Committee on Environment and Public Works,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 148, the Neotropical 
Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Deborah 
Reis, who can be reached at 226-2860 (for Federal costs) and 
Marjorie Miller (for State and local impact), who can be 
reached at 225-3220.

            Sincerely,
                                            Dan L. Crippen,
                                                          Director.
                                ------                                


               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

S. 148 Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act As ordered reported 
        by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on 
        March 17, 1999
Summary
    S. 148 would direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS) to create a new grant program for projects to conserve 
nontropical migratory birds in the United States and Caribbean 
and Latin American countries. The program would provide 
financial assistance to eligible government agencies, 
international or foreign organizations, and private entities. 
In order to provide financing for the new program, the bill 
would establish a nontropical migratory bird conservation 
account in the U.S. Treasury, into which the Secretary of the 
Treasury would deposit amounts donated to the government for 
this program as well as amounts appropriated by the Congress.
    For the purposes of developing and administering the 
program and making grants, S. 148 would authorize the 
appropriation of $8 million annually for fiscal years 2000 
through 2003. Because the bill would authorize the USFWS to 
accept and spend donations without further appropriation, pay-
as-you-go procedures would apply. CBO estimates, however, that 
any new revenues 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 (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on State, local, or tribal governments.
Estimated Cost to the Federal Government
    Assuming appropriation ofthe authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S.148 would cost the Federal 
Government $30 million through 2004. For purposes ofthis 
estimate, CBO assumes that S. 148 will be enacted by the 
beginning of fiscal year 2000 and that the entire amount 
authorized will be appropriated for each year. Outlay estimates 
are based on spending patterns for similar programs. The costs 
of this legislation fall within budget function 300 (natural 
resources and environment). The estimated budgetary impact of 
S. 148 is shown in the following table.


                 By Fiscal Year, In Millions of Dollars
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   1999    2000    2001    2002    2003
------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Spending Subject to
          Appropriation
Authorization Level.............       8       8       8       0       0
Estimated Outlays...............       3       6       8       8       5
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pay-as-you-go Considerations
    The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act sets 
up pay-as-you-go procedures for legislation affecting direct 
spending or receipts. S. 148 would affect both offsetting 
receipts (a credit against direct spending) and governmental 
receipts. CBO estimates, however, that any such effects would 
be insignificant and offsetting over the next five years.
Estimated impact on State, local, and tribal governments
    S. 148 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
UMRA and would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal 
governments. State and local governments would be among the 
entities eligible to receive the financial assistance 
authorized by this bill. In order to receive assistance for a 
project, these governments would be required to submit a 
proposal meeting certain criteria and to pay at least 67 
percent of the project costs. Any such costs incurred by State 
or local governments would be voluntary.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: This bill would 
impose no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Deborah Reis (226-
2860) Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie 
Miller (225-3220).
    Estimate approved by: Robert A. Sunshine Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    Section 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate 
requires publication of any changes in existing law made by the 
reported bill. This bill does not change existing law.