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                                                       Calendar No. 579
107th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 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.

                                PURPOSE

    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 
production.
    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 
resource.
    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.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    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.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    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:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               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.
            Sincerely,
                                         Robert A. Sunshine
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

               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 
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. 1776, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    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 
below:

                   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 
communities;
    (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 
opportunities;
    (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 
activity; and
    (H) has a conceptual boundary map that is supported by the 
public.
    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.
            Sincerely,
                                              Craig Manson,
               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 
ordered reported.