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                                                       Calendar No. 906
106th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     106-459

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



 
         CAT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE ESTABLISHMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

October 2 (legislative day, September 22), 2000.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Smith of New Hampshire, from the Committee on Environment and 
                 Public Works, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [to accompany H.R. 3292]

    The Committee on Environment and Public Works, to which was 
referred a bill to provide for the establishment of the Cat 
Island National Wildlife Refuge in West Feliciana Parish, 
Louisiana, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with amendments and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    On March 14, 1903, by Executive Order, President Theodore 
Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on 
Pelican Island. Pelican Island is a small island in Florida's 
Indian River; the refuge was established specifically to 
protect the brown pelican. At the turn of the century, brown 
pelicans were being hunted for their feathers for hats and 
quills, causing a significant decline in the population.
    Today, the National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System) 
has evolved into the most comprehensive system of lands devoted 
to wildlife protection and management in the world. Currently, 
there are 526 refuges in the United States and its territories, 
providing important habitat for 700 bird species, 220 mammal 
species, 250 species of amphibians and reptiles, and over 200 
fish species. The refuges range in size from less than one acre 
at the Mille Lac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota, to 19.2 
million in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Each 
year, the Refuge System attracts more than 34 million visitors 
who participate in a variety of recreational activities 
including observing and photographing wildlife, fishing, 
hunting and taking part in system-sponsored educational 
programs.
    The operation and management of the Refuge System is 
governed by numerous laws, treaties and executive orders 
pertaining to the conservation and protection of natural and 
cultural resources. The most important orders and laws 
affecting the Refuge System are the Fish and Wildlife Act of 
1956, the Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, and the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997. The management of individual refuges 
is determined by the legislation, executive order or 
legislative action that creates the refuge.
    H.R. 3292 would authorize the establishment of an 
approximately 36,500-acre National Wildlife Refuge in West 
Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Cat Island is a peninsula 
consisting of bottomland forest bordered on the west by the 
Mississippi River and on the east by the Tunica Hills. The 
yearly pattern of backwater flooding provided nourishment for 
the hardwood forests, diverse plant species, and numerous 
wildlife along the lower Mississippi River. Cat Island, unique 
for being unleveed, is one of the last remaining tracts in the 
lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley that is still 
influenced by the natural dynamics of the river.
    Numerous lakes formed by the Mississippi River provide 
excellent habitat for several types of waterfowl, songbirds, 
and neotropical migratory birds. Cat Island is also home to 
alligators, otter, mink, deer, and the threatened Louisiana 
black bear. In addition, the world's largest bald cypress tree 
and one of the densest stands of virgin bald cypress in the 
State are found in Cat Island.
    Although the bill authorizes such sums as are necessary for 
the purchase of the refuge land, the United States Fish and 
Wildlife Service has indicated that the estimated cost is $20 
million.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In compliance with section 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the committee makes the following 
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 H.R. 3292 would 
impose no Federal intergovernmental unfunded mandates on State, 
local, or tribal governments. All of the bills directives are 
imposed on Federal agencies. The bill does not directly impose 
any private sector mandates.

                          Legislative History

    On June 20, 2000, H.R. 3292 was referred to the Senate 
Committee on Environment and Public Works. No hearings were 
held on this bill. The Committee on Environment and Public 
Works held a business meeting to consider this bill on 
September 21; the business meeting was continued on Septemvber 
28, 2000. The committee adopted by voice vote an amendment 
offered by Chairman Smith to make the bill consistent with the 
National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997. On September 
28, 2000, H.R. 3292 was favorably reported by the committee on 
a voice vote.

                          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, September 29, 2000.

Hon. Robert C. Smith, 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 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, 
who can be reached at 226-2860.
            Sincerely,
                                            Dan L. Crippen.
                              ----------                              


               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

H.R. 3292, Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act, as 
        ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and 
        Public Works on September 28, 2000
    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 Act 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 Act 
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 5 to 7 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 
legislation 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.
    On June 7, 2000, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
3292, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Resources 
on May 24, 2000. The two versions of the legislation are very 
similar, and the cost estimates are identical.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis, 
who can be reached at 226-2860. The estimate was approved by 
Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget 
Analysis.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    Section 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate, provides that reports to the Senate should show changes 
in existing law made by the bill as reported. Passage of this 
bill will make no changes to existing law.