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Calendar No. 907
106th Congress Report
2d Session 106-460
COLORADO CANYONS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA AND BLACK RIDGE CANYONS
WILDERNESS ACT OF 2000
October 2 (legislative day, September 22), 2000.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 4275]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the Act (H.R. 4275) to establish the Colorado Canyons
National Conservation Area and the Black Ridge Canyons
Wilderness, and for other purposes, having considered the same,
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that
the Act do pass.
PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE
The purpose of H.R. 4275 is to designate the Colorado
Canyons National Conservation Area, comprising approximately
122,300 acres, and the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area,
comprising approximately 75,550 acres, in western Colorado and
BACKGROUND AND NEED
Located north and west of the rapidly growing city of Grand
Junction in western Colorado, the Colorado Canyons and Black
Ridge Canyons area in Mesa County, Colorado and Grand County,
Utah, contain unique and nationally important features. The
lands are diverse, ranging from pinyon juniper and sagebrush
mesas to steep red rock canyons cutting into the landscape,
forming natural arches, caves and alcoves. The Colorado Canyons
area includes tremendous wildlife, scenic, recreational, and
paleontological resources. Establishment of the Colorado
Canyons National Conservation Area and the Black Ridge Canyons
Wilderness Area seeks to protect and enhance these resources.
Each year, more than 100,000 visitors use these public
lands for a variety of recreational uses, including biking the
Kokopelli Trail, hiking through and among the sandstone arches
of Rattlesnake Canyon, floating the red rock canyons of the
Colorado River, viewing the dinosaur quarries and experiencing
the solitude of the wilderness. This recreational use is
expected to increase as the population of Grand Junction and
surrounding communities continues to grow. At the same time,
more and more Americans are discovering public lands as the
national interest in outdoor recreation continues to climb.
This increasing demand for high quality recreational
experiences can lead to unacceptable damage to fragile
landscapes if those landscapes are not appropriately managed.
The legislation will protect these fragile and important
lands through special designations which formally establish
long-term management objectives and describe the appropriate
balance between traditional uses, such as grazing and
recreation, and resource protection.
Central to the landscape is the Colorado River, which is
specifically excluded (up to the 100-year high water mark) from
both the Wilderness and National Conservation Area designations
because any claims on the River or its water could have an
extremely significant impact on water rights in Colorado
H.R. 4275 passed the House of Representatives by voice vote
and was referred to the Committee on Energy on Natural
Resources on July 25, 2000. The Subcommittee on Forests and
Public Land Management held a hearing on H.R. 4275 on September
13, 2000. At the business meeting on September 20, 2000, the
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered H.R. 4275
favorably reported without amendment.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on September 20, 2000, by a voice vote of
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 4275
Section 1 describes the short title.
Subsection 2(a) describes the findings of Congress.
Subsection 2(b) describes the purpose of the Act.
Subsection 3 defines key terms used in the Act.
Section 4 designates the Colorado Canyons National
Conservation Area encompassing approximately 122,300 acres of
public land in the States of Colorado and Utah.
Section 5 designates the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
encompassing approximately 75,550 acres in Mesa County,
Colorado and Grand County, Utah to be managed as a component of
the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Section 6(a) directs the Secretary to manage the
Conservation Area to conserve, protect and enhance resources in
accordance with applicable laws.
Subsection 6(b) directs the Secretary to allow only such
uses that benefit the purposes of the Conservation Area.
Subsection 6(c) directs the Secretary to withdraw the lands
within the Conservation Area and Wilderness Area from public
land laws and mining laws, subject to valid existing rights.
Nothing in the Act affects the discretionary authority of the
Secretary to grant, issue, renew rights-of-way or other land
Subsection 6(d) permits motorized vehicles on designated
roads and trail except for emergencies and administrative
Subsection 6(e) directs the Secretary to manage lands
designated as wilderness by the Act in accordance with the
Subsection 6(f) requires that hunting, fishing and trapping
be allowed in accordance with State laws and provides that the
heads of the Utah or Colorado Divisions of Wildlife or the
Secretary can issue regulations to restrict these activities
for reasons of safety, administration, public use and
Subsection 6(g) requires the Secretary to issue and
administer grazing permits on lands in the Conservation Area in
accordance with applicable laws and within the Wilderness in
accordance with provisions of the Wilderness Act and guidelines
set forth in Appendix A of House Report 101-405 of the 101st
Subsection 6(h) directs the Secretary to complete a
management plan within 3 years which describes appropriate
uses, considers existing information, provides for continued
management of a utility corridor, considers historical
involvement of local community and includes all public lands
between the boundary of the Conservation Area and the edge of
the Colorado River.
Subsection 6(i) describes Congress's intent that no buffers
around the Conservation Area or Wilderness be created or that
no activity on private lands up to the boundary be precluded.
Subsection 6(j) directs future acquisitions of private
inholdings be acquired by donation, exchange or purchase from
willing seller and be managed in accordance with the Act.
Subsection 6(k) permits the Secretary to establish minimal
interpretive facilities in cooperation with others as
appropriate to protect resources.
Subsection 6(l) describes water rights.
Paragraphs (1) and (2) documents Congress's findings in
regards to water rights, notes that nothing in the Act
constitutes reservation of a water right, affects any water
rights, establishes a precedent with regard to future
conservation area or wilderness designations of affects
existing interstate compacts or apportionment decrees.
Paragraph (3) directs the Secretary to follow requirements
of the law of the State of Colorado to obtain new water rights.
Paragraph (4) prohibits the Secretary to fund, assist,
authorize or permits new water resources facilities within the
wilderness area, except existing facilities may be used,
operated, maintained and modified as needed.
Paragraph (5) states neither the conservation area or
wilderness area includes the Colorado River within their
boundaries and notes the Act does not affect the Secretary's
authority to manage recreational uses of the Colorado or manage
use of the lands between the Colorado River and the boundary of
the conservation area. The Secretary is directed to withdraw
the lands between the Colorado River and the boundary of the
conservation area from public land laws and mining laws,
subject to valid existing rights.
Section 7 directs the Secretary to prepare a map for the
conservation area and wilderness area, and permits corrections
for clerical and typographical errors. The map is required to
be available to the public. In the case of discrepancy between
the map and the descriptions in the Act, the map shall control.
Section 8 directs the Secretaries to establish an advisory
committee in accordance with applicable law to advise in
regards to preparation and implementation of the management
plan and describes the representation to be included.
Section 9 directs the Secretary to continue to allow access
to private inholdings for private landowners and public access
to Glade Park, Colorado.
cost and budgetary considerations
The following estimates of costs of the measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, September 27, 2000.
Hon. Frank H. Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4275, the Colorado
Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge Canyons
Wilderness Act of 2000.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Felix
Barry B. Anderson
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
H.R. 4275--Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge
Canyons Wilderness Act of 2000
Summary: H.R. 4275 would establish the Colorado Canyons
National Conservation Area on about 122,300 acres of federal
land in Colorado and Utah. The legislation also would designate
the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, consisting of about 75,550
acres in those states.
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4275 would cost about
$3 million over the 2001-2005 period, assuming appropriation of
the necessary amounts. Enacting this legislation could affect
offsetting receipts (a form of direct spending); therefore,
pay-as-you-go procedures would apply, but CBO estimates that
any such effects would be less than $500,000 a year. H.R. 4275
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: For this
estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 4275 will be enacted near the
start of fiscal year 2001. We also assume that the necessary
funds will be appropriated starting in fiscal year 2001 and
that outlays will follow the historical spending pattern for
Spending subject to appropriation
Under H.R. 4275, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would
administer lands in the proposed conservation and wilderness
areas. The legislation would direct the Secretary of the
Interior to establish an advisory committee and would require
BLM to develop, within three years, a comprehensive management
plan for the proposed conservation and wilderness areas in
consultation with that committee.
Based on information from BLM, CBO estimates that
implementing H.R. 4275 would cost about $3 million over the
2001-2005 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary
funds. That estimate includes the cost of adding staff and
administrative services to the area, upgrading and maintaining
existing infrastructure and facilities, establishing and
operating the advisory committee, and preparing the management
plan required by the act. According to BLM, the agency does not
expect the management plan would require new activities or
facilities that would significantly increase federal costs. As
a result, we estimate that implementing the management plan
required by the legislation would cost less than $500,000 a
year. Because the agency would have three years to develop that
plan, we estimate that any spending to implement it would not
occur until 2004.
Direct spending (including offsetting receipts)
H.R. 4275 would withdraw federal land in the proposed
conservation and wilderness areas, as well as federal land
between the boundary of the conservation area and the high-
water mark of the Colorado River, from mining, mineral leasing,
and geothermal leasing, subject to valid existing rights.
Enacting those provisions could result in forgone receipts from
those lands over the next five years if, under current law, the
land would generate receipts from mineral and geothermal
development. Based on information from BLM, however, we
estimate that any such receipts would total less than $500,000
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. Because
provisions in H.R. 4275 that would withdraw certain lands from
mining, mineral leasing, and geothermal leasing could affect
offsetting receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply. CBO
estimates, however, that any such effects would not be
Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 4275
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in UMRA wand would impose no costs on state, local, or
Previous CBO estimate: On July 25, 2000, CBO transmitted a
cost estimate for H.R. 4275, as ordered reported by the House
Committee on Resources on July 19, 2000. The two versions of
the legislation are identical, as are our cost estimates.
Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Felix LoStracco.
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie
Miller. Impact on the Private Sector: Lauren Marks.
Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out H.R. 4275. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
and businesses. No personal information would be collected in
administering the program. Therefore, there would be no impact
on personal privacy. Little, if any, additional paperwork would
result from the enactment of H.R. 4275, as ordered reported.
On September 20, 2000, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth executive views on the bill. These reports had not been
received at the time the report on H.R. 4275 was filed. When
the reports become available, the Chairman will request that
they be printed in the Congressional Record for the advice of
The testimony provided by the Department of the Interior at
the Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement of Tom Fry, Director, Bureau of Land Management
Thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding S. 2784,
the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Act,
and S. 2956, the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area
and the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Act. Both of these
areas, the Santa Rosas in southern California and the Ruby
Canyon/Black Ridge area of western Colorado, are deserving of
the recognition and the meaningful protections that are
inherent in National Monument and National Conservation Area
(NCA) designations. The Administration supports both of these
The Administration has testified before Congress several
times this year on special protective legislation for public
lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While
each NCA or BLM-managed National Monument is unique, there are
certain common elements, and we have set a standard for what
these special areas must include. Critical components of a
Monument or NCA include: a land, mining, and mineral
withdrawal; off-highway vehicle (OHV) use limitations; and
language which charges the Secretary to allow ``only such
uses'' as further the purposes for which the monument or NCA is
established. In addition, we cannot consent to any language
that represents a step backward from current management. I'd
like to discuss with the subcommittee how each of these bills
successfully addresses these important criteria and describe
some of the important features of these very special places.
s. 2784, santa rosa and san jacinto mountains national monument act
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, covering 272,000
acres in this Monument proposal, are areas of great contrast.
Nowhere else can you find the juxtaposition of outstanding
biological, scenic, cultural and recreation values bordering a
rapidly growing population center and world-class resort
destination. Much of the growth and prosperity of the Coachella
Valley is a result of its proximity to these great natural
areas and that growth is now the biggest threat to its
The unique combination of extraordinary natural values of
the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains adjacent to a growing
urban complex has long been recognized as deserving special
protection. In 1990, Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan designated
the Santa Rosa Mountains as a National Scenic Area. A
cooperative effort among the BLM, State and local governments,
the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, private
organizations, and property owners, this administrative
designation was the first step to protect the 194,000 acres.
However, the current designation cannot provide the permanent
protection necessary to ensure that future generations visiting
the Santa Rosas will still be able to see a Golden Eagle soar
over them, a Peninsular Ranges Bighorn Sheep clamber through
them or a Desert Tortoise crawl across them. A National
Monument designation can provide that insurance. Early in 1999
a local, grass-roots effort was initiated to seek support for
just such a National Monument designation. Responding to that
call, Secretary Babbitt made the first of several visits in
August 1999 to begin listening to the local community on how
best to protect the area.
The resource values in this special area are as diverse as
any area that the Federal government manages. The area is home
to five distinct ``life zones'' from Sonoran Desert to Arctic
Alpine resulting in an exceptionally diverse biological
population. Over 500 species of plants and a suite of
Federally-listed threatened and endangered species call the
Santa Rosas home. Premier among these is the Federally-
endangered Peninsular Ranges Bighorn Sheep whose population has
plummeted so that today only about 300 remain. Desert oases,
natural hot springs, and verdant riparian areas dot this
Likewise the cultural and archaeological resources of the
region abound. A number of sites sacred to the Agua Caliente
Band of Cahuilla Indians, whose ancestors inhabited most of the
area, are within the proposed monument. Networks of trails
connect village sites, campsites and other areas of importance
to the Tribe. The Tribe presently manages portions of the
proposed Monument within its reservation boundaries and will
continue to do so after the designation.
Recreational use of the Santa Rosas is, and should continue
to be, an important use of the mountains. Hiking, biking,
camping and horseback riding are all legitimate uses which
should, and can, continue in a way compatible with meaningful
protection of the region.
S. 2784 meets the important tests that we have set out for
these special areas. First it contains a complete withdrawal
from land laws, mineral leasing laws and the mining laws. This
withdrawal, while protecting valid existing rights, assures us
that these public lands will not be disposed of in the future,
that they will not be pockmarked with mining claims and that no
new oil and gas wells or sand and gravel pits will appear
within the monument on public lands. As the Director of the
multiple-use agency managing the majority of the public lands
in the West, I believe that mineral production is an important
use of BLM's public lands when it occurs in the right place and
is done the right way. The protection of special areas, such as
the Santa Rosas, is also an important part of BLM's multiple-
use mandate as established by the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act. The legislation also includes new strong
limitations on off-highway vehicle use within the Monument and
states that the Secretary shall allow ``only such uses'' of the
lands within the Monument as further the purposes for which it
Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Bono have both worked
hard to see that the bill before us today is a good bill.
Through long negotiations and extensive compromise on all
sides, we have a bill we can support and will provide real
protections for this very special area.
s. 2956, colorado canyons national conservation area and black ridge
canyons wilderness act
Located north and west of the growing city of Grand
Junction in western Colorado, the Ruby Canyon/Black Ridge area
covered by the legislation encompasses over 122,000 acres of
magnificent lands, including over 75,00 acres that make up the
Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) that the bill
would designate as wilderness. Each year, more than 100,000
visitors come to these public lands to bike the Kokopelli
Trail, hike through and among the awe-inspiring sandstone
arches of Rattlesnake Canyon, float the red rock canyons of the
Colorado River, marvel at the dinosaur quarries and revel in
the solitude of extraordinary wilderness.
Carved over millions of years by the Colorado River and its
tributaries, this northern edge of the Colorado Plateau is home
to a wide range of geological and other natural wonders. The
evolution of life on earth can be read on the many canyon
walls. From the Precambrian crystalline rocks predating the
evolution of higher life forms at the bottom of the canyons, to
Triassic sandstone attesting to the ancient desert that was
once here, to the abundant dinosaur bones in the Jurassic
strata, the geologic history is accessible to scientists and
For over 100 years, paleontologists have appreciated the
incredible resource this area presents. Dinosaur Hill, Fruita
Paleontological Area, and the Mygatt-Moore Dinosaur Quarry have
been, and continue to be, the source for significant finds.
Brachiosaur, Apatosaur, Dipoldocus, and Ceratosaur bones have
all been recovered from these areas furthering our scientific
knowledge. Today, while scientific recovery work continues, the
BLM has created interpretive walks and provides information to
allow access and understanding to nonscientists as well as
This is a landscape where scale is important. From the
awesome 300-foot wide amphitheater carved in the side of Mee
Canyon to sheer cliff walls and waterfalls in the bottom of
many canyons, an individual is dwarfed by the sheer size of a
myriad of geological formations. Natural arches are found
throughout the area, but Rattlesnake Canyon has a wondrous
concentration of huge arches and related alcove features.
The area also is a haven for an incredible range of fauna.
Desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, antelope, mountain lions and
smaller mammals inhabit the region along with peregrine
falcons, eagles and other raptors. The Colorado River running
through the proposed NCA is home to four species of endangered
fish--the humpback chub, pike minnow, bonytail chub and
razorback sucker. In addition, the riparian communities found
along the Colorado River are a significant biological resource
of great importance to many forms of wildlife.
Recreation, including hiking, floating and mountain biking,
is a significant and appropriate use of the area. The Black
Ridge Canyons wilderness area provides accessible opportunities
for solitude and discovery for over 25,000 hikers annually.
Twenty-five miles of the world-renown mountain-bike Kokopelli
Trail traverses the NCA as it traces a 140-mile path from Grand
Junction to Moab, Utah. The Ruby Canyon/Black Ridge area is one
of stark beauty and tremendous natural assets--it deserves
designation as a National Conservation Area. S. 2956, which is
identical to H.R. 4275 as passed by the House of
Representatives, includes the important provisions that must be
in an NCA. It includes the complete land, mineral and mining
withdrawal, ``only such uses'' language and restrictions on
off-highway vehicle use that we have established as critical
elements. In addition, this bill designates over 75,000 acres,
including just over 5,000 acres in Utah, as the Black Ridge
Canyons Wilderness, and it does so clearly consistent with the
provisions of the Wilderness Act.
I would like to highlight briefly one provision of the
bill that may seem unusual at first glance, but we can support
it in the context of this legislation and in this particular
conservation area. Under the bill the Colorado river, to the
100-year flood plain, will not be included within the NCA.
While we would oppose such a provision in most cases, we can
support it because of the specifics of the situation. As the
Chairman and members of this Committee are well aware, water in
the West is a highly-charged issue and none more so than water
from the Colorado river. The Colorado River is a major source
of water for the states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and
California as well as for the northern states of the Republic
of Mexico. In the context of this politically-charged climate,
we believe that excluding the Colorado river from management
under the Act represents a reasonable compromise.
This does not, however, mean removing management of these
lands from the legislation and the important protections it
provides. The legislation not only withdraws the public lands
within the 100-year flood plain from the land laws, mining and
mineral leasing laws, but it also makes clear that the
Secretary shall manage recreation and other uses of these lands
in the same manner as the lands within the NCA. It is only with
these important provisions that we can support the legislation.
Mr. Chairman, these two bills, S. 2784 to create the Santa
Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and S. 2956
which establishes the Colorado Canyons National Conservation
Area and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, are good bills. They
provide important new protections to these special areas
without diminishing current management. We support both of
these bills and urge their speedy passage.
Changes in Existing Law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by H.R. 4275, as ordered