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Calendar No. 579
107th Congress Report
2d Session 107-262
BUFFALO BAYOU NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA STUDY ACT
September 9, 2002.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1776]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the Act (H.R. 1776) to authorize the Secretary of the
Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of
establishing the Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area in West
Houston, Texas, having considered the same, reports favorably
thereon without amendment and recommends that the Act do pass.
The purpose of H.R. 1776 is to direct the Secretary of the
Interior, in consultation with the State of Texas, the city of
Houston, and other appropriate organizations, to study the
suitability and feasibility of establishing the Buffalo Bayou
National Heritage Area in west Houston, Texas.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
The Buffalo Bayou played a large role in the history and
development of Houston, Texas. In the 1820s, the Buffalo Bayou
was considered a reliable immigration and navigation route into
the interior of Texas, eventually leading to the development of
the Houston Ship Channel. The Houston Ship Channel, one of the
busiest waterways in the United States, ranks first in the
nation in foreign shipping and serves as home to the country's
largest concentration of oil refining and petrochemical
The Buffalo Bayou also played a role in the fight for
Texas' independence and is significant in American military
history. The Battle of San Jacinto was fought in 1836 at the
convergence of the Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River.
A number of Houston's oldest park areas, historic sites and
early ethnic neighborhoods line the banks of the Buffalo Bayou.
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership (``Partnership'') serves as a
liaison among groups pursuing development of the bayou's public
and private entities and has worked with Rivers, Trails and
Conservation Assistance Program and other local groups to
establish a 5 mile rail-trail that runs parallel to the Bayou.
There is a commitment by the Partnership to complete the
Buffalo Bayou Trail along the 12-mile segment of the Bayou. The
Bayou now serves as a focal point for downtown Houston,
encouraging its residents to enjoy and appreciate this valuable
Many groups and communities in the area value the Bayou's
heritage and open space and are interested in pursuing ways to
enhance these qualities. A study that examines the natural,
cultural, and recreational significance and values of the area,
while ensuring public involvement, could make recommendations
on the best method to protect and use these resources of this
part of Houston.
H.R. 1776 was introduced by Representative Gene Green on
May 9, 2001. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a
voice vote on October 30, 2001. Companion legislation, S. 1809,
was introduced by Senator Hutchison on December 12, 2001. The
Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on H.R. 1776 and
S. 1809 on April 18, 2002. At the business meeting on July 31,
2002 the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered H.R.
1776 favorably reported.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on July 31, 2002, by a voice vote of a quorum
present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 1776.
Section 1 entitles the bill the ``Buffalo Bayou National
Heritage Area Study Act.''
Section 2(a) sets forth congressional findings.
Subsection (b) directs the Secretary of the Interior to
conduct a suitability and feasibility study, sets forth
requirements for conducting the study and consultation.
Subsection (c) establishes the boundaries of the study as
an area roughly bounded by Shepherd Drive and extending to the
Turning Basin, commonly referred to as the ``Buffalo Bayou,''
in Houston, Texas.
Subsection (d) provides that a report on the findings,
conclusions, and recommendations of the study be submitted to
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and
the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives
within 3 years from the date on which funds are made available.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, August 12, 2002.
Hon. Jeff Bingaman,
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. 1776, the Buffalo
Bayou National Heritage Area Study Act.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
Robert A. Sunshine
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
H.R. 1776--Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area Study Act
H.R. 1776 would direct the Department of the Interior to
conduct a study to assess the feasibility and suitability of
establishing the Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area in
Houston, Texas. The study would identify cultural and other
resources in the area to be studied and would determine if
there is a suitable entity to manage it. The legislation would
require the department to report on its findings and
recommendations within three years of receiving funds.
Assuming the availability of appropriated funds, CBO
estimates that it would cost about $300,000 over the next three
years to complete the required study and report. Enacting H.R.
1776 would not affect direct spending or receipts; therefore,
pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply.
H.R. 1776 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis.
The estimate was 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. 1776. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of H.R. 1776, as ordered reported.
The pertinent legislative report received by the Committee
from the Department of the Interior setting forth Executive
agency recommendations relating to H.R. 1776 is set forth
U.S. Department of the Interior,
Office of the Secretary,
Washington, DC, July 16, 2002.
Hon. Jeff Bingaman,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: This letter sets forth the views of the
Department of the Interior on S. 1809 and H.R. 1776. These
bills would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study
the suitability and feasibility of establishing the Buffalo
Bayou National Heritage Area in west Houston, Texas.
The Department supports the intent of both S. 1809 and H.R.
1776 and we recommend approval of H.R. 1776, as passed by the
House of Representatives on October 30, 2001. However, the
Department did not request additional funding for this study in
Fiscal Year 2003. We believe that any funding requested should
be directed towards completing previously authorized studies.
Presently, there are 34 studies pending, of which we hope to
transmit 4 to Congress by the end of 2002. To meet the
President's Initiative to eliminate the deferred maintenance
backlog, we must continue to focus our resources on caring for
existing areas in the National Park System. Thus, we have
concerns about new funding requirements for a new heritage area
that could be required if the study recommends designation
while the Department is trying to eliminate the deferred
maintenance backlog. As such, the Department will identify in
each study all acquisition, one-time, and operational costs of
the proposed site. At this time, these costs are not known.
Both S. 1809 and H.R. 1776 outline the characteristics and
qualities of the Buffalo Bayou area in Houston, Texas including
the history and role of the Bayou in the creation and
development of the city. The bills authorize the Secretary of
the Interior to conduct a suitability and feasibility study to
determine if the area known as Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas
could be designated as a national heritage area. S. 1809 and
H.R. 1776, as introduced, authorize $200,000 in Fiscal Year
2002 to fund the study, with a report due to Congress
describing the results of the study.
In a July 17, 2001 hearing, the Department testified that
we could support H.R. 1776 if amended to make the bill similar
to previous national heritage area study bills. At the
subcommittee markup, H.R. 1776 was amended incorporating the
Department's suggestions. The amendments included providing a
more definitive boundary for the area to be studied and
inserting a new paragraph in the bill which states that the
study include analysis and documentation that the Study Area:
(A) has an assemblage of natural, historic, and cultural
resources that together represent distinctive aspects of
American heritage worthy of recognition, conservation,
interpretation, and continuing use, and are best managed
through partnerships among public and private entities and by
combining diverse and sometimes noncontiguous and active
(B) reflects traditions, customs, beliefs, and folklife
that are a valuable part of the national story;
(C) provides outstanding opportunities to conserve natural,
historic, cultural, and/or scenic features;
(D) provides outstanding recreational and educational
(E) contains resources important to the identified theme or
themes of the Study Area that retain a degree of integrity
capable of supporting interpretation;
(F) includes residents, business interests, non-profit
organizations, and local and state governments who are involved
in the planning, have developed a conceptual financial plan
that outlines the roles for all participants including the
federal government, and have demonstrated support for the
concept of a national heritage area;
(G) has potential management entity to work in partnership
with residents, business interests, non-profit organizations,
and local and state governments to develop a national heritage
area consistent with continued local and state economic
(H) has a conceptual boundary map that is supported by the
Again, H.R. 1776, as passed by the House of
Representatives, includes the amendments incorporating the
Department's suggestions; we therefore recommend its approval.
The National Park Service has not had extensive involvement
in the Houston area. However, the Rivers, Trails and
Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) has worked with the
Buffalo Bayou Partnership and other local groups to establish a
5 mile rail-trail that runs parallel to the Bayou. Through that
work, and from review of planning documents and activities
surrounding the Bayou, it is clear that this area of Houston
was central to the creation of city. The Bayou has now become a
focal point for downtown Houston, encouraging its residents to
enjoy, use, and appreciate their great resources today as the
city continues to renew and define itself.
It is also evident that the groups and communities in the
Houston area value their heritage and open space and are
looking for ways to maintain and enhance these qualities. A
study that looks at the natural, cultural, and recreational
significance and values of the area could make recommendations
on the best method to protect and use these resources while
retaining the character of this part of Houston.
As we have previously testified, there are several steps we
believe should be taken prior to Congress designating a
national heritage area to help ensure that the heritage area is
successful. Those steps are: a completion of a suitability/
feasibility study; public involvement in the suitability/
feasibility study; a demonstration of widespread public support
among heritage area residents for the proposed designation; and
commitment to the proposal from the appropriate players which
may include governments, industry, and private, non-profit
organizations, in addition to the local citizenry.
Previous work in the community demonstrates the commitment
to the idea of pursuing a study to look at further protection
and preservation options. It is also apparent that there is
widespread support for the Buffalo Bayou that will ensure
public involvement. A critical element of the study will be to
evaluate the integrity of the resources and nationally
distinctive character of the region before commending national
heritage area designation.
The Office of Management and Budget advises that there is
no objection to the presentation of this report from the
standpoint of the Administration's program.
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
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 the Act H.R. 1776, as