Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

109th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     109-562

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



 
                   PARTNERS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE ACT

                                _______
                                

 July 13, 2006.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Pombo, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 260]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(S. 260) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to provide 
technical and financial assistance to private landowners to 
restore, enhance, and manage private land to improve fish and 
wildlife habitats through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife 
Program, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of S. 260 is to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to provide technical and financial assistance to 
provide landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private land 
to improve fish and wildlife habitats through the Partners for 
Fish and Wildlife Program.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In 1987, using the statutory authority of the Fish and 
Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.), the 
Department of the Interior decided to administratively create a 
voluntary incentive-based partnership program to assist public 
and private landowners to conserve, manage and restore wetlands 
and other fish and wildlife habitat on their lands. This 
program, known as the Partners for Fish and Wildlife, has been 
administered for the past 19 years by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service. During this period, $463 million in federal 
funds have been appropriated to this program which is a 
separate line-item in the Service's budget but operates without 
a specific Congressional authorization.
    With more than 80 percent of fish and wildlife in the 
United States residing on private lands, an innovative program 
was needed to encourage public and private landowners to enter 
into cooperative agreements to conserve valuable wildlife 
resources. The type of projects funded include: the removal of 
exotic plants and animals, reestablishing fish passages, 
prescribed burns and restoring wetland hydrology. The most 
critical habitat for many species are wetlands. Wetlands are 
among the earth's most important ecosystems, providing many 
environmental and economic benefits, including habitat and food 
for fish and wildlife; flood protection; erosion control; water 
quality improvement; food for human consumption and 
opportunities for recreation, education and research. An 
estimated one-third of our Nation's endangered or threatened 
species live only in wetlands, and nearly half use wetlands at 
some point in their lives. Sadly, despite these attributes, the 
majority of wetlands in the United States have been destroyed. 
In response to this problem and because of the growing interest 
of private landowners to conserve and protect wildlife habitat, 
particularly those whose property contains endangered or 
threatened species or is adjacent to units of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife 
Program was born.
    Under this program, State resource agencies work closely 
with the Fish and Wildlife Service to identify and establish 
priority sites. Once selected, an individual landowner, tribe, 
conservation organization, academic institution, business or 
industry, or State and local government signs a restoration 
agreement that normally covers a 15-year period. Upon entering 
the agreement, the entity receives financial assistance to 
conserve, manage and restore federal trust species on their 
property. Unlike federal land acquisition programs, under the 
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the property owner 
retains full control and title over his or her land. The only 
stipulations for receiving assistance are that the federal 
funds are matched and that the recipient satisfies the 
requirements of the agreement.
    Since the creation of this program, there have been nearly 
35,000 partnership agreements with the Fish and Wildlife 
Service. In these cases, the Service provides landowners with 
biological data about their property, restoration designs, a 
strategy on cost-sharing on materials and services and 
construction supervision. As a result of these agreements, 
722,550 acres of wetlands, 1,573,700 acres of prairie and 
native grasslands and 5,900 miles of riparian and instream 
habitat has been restored.
    The fundamental purpose of S. 260 is to provide a 
Congressional authorization for the Partners for Fish and 
Wildlife Program. While this is not a new federal program, an 
authorization will provide stability, highlight the successes 
of the private partnerships and habitat conservation, recognize 
the importance of this program and allow for greater 
Congressional oversight in the future. This legislation also 
defines the term ``federal trust species'' to mean migratory 
birds, threatened species, endangered species, 
interjurisdictional fish, marine mammals, and other species of 
concern. It describes the kinds of activities that constitute 
habitat enhancement, restoration and improvement. In addition, 
it formally establishes the program within the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and authorizes appropriations of $75 million 
per year until September 30, 2011. In fiscal year 2006, 
Congress has appropriated $51.4 million for this program.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    S. 260 was introduced on February 2, 2005, by Senator James 
Inhofe (R-OK). It was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent 
on June 27, 2005. Within the House of Representatives, the bill 
was referred to the Committee on Resources, and within the 
Committee to the Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans. On 
September 23, 2005, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill. On June 21, 2006, the Full Resources Committee met to 
consider the bill. The Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans was 
discharged from further consideration of the bill by unanimous 
consent. No amendments were offered and the bill was ordered 
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous 
consent.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution of the 
United States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to provide technical and financial assistance to 
private landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private land 
to improve fish and wildlife habitat through the Partners for 
Fish and Wildlife Program.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 260--Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act

    Summary: S. 260 would authorize appropriations for the 
Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Through that program, 
the Department of the Interior provides financial and technical 
assistance to private landowners for conservation projects on 
their land. Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, 
CBO estimates that implementing S. 260 would cost $45 million 
in 2007 and $350 million over the 2007-2011 period. Enacting 
the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues. 
S. 260 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 S. 260 will be enacted near the 
start of fiscal year 2007 and that authorized amounts would be 
provided as specified in the legislation. The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 260 is shown in the following table. The 
costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).
    S. 260 would authorize the appropriation of up to $75 
million a year over the 2006-2011 period for the Partners for 
Fish and Wildlife program. ($41 million has already been 
provided for that program in 2006; CBO assumes no additional 
appropriations will be enacted this year.) Base don historical 
spending patterns for the program, CBO estimates that fully 
funding it under S. 260 would cost $45 million in 2007 and $350 
million over the 2007-2011 period, with a total of $25 million 
in additional spending occurring in later years.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 260 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   2006       2007       2008       2009       2010       2011
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spending Under Current Law for the Partners
 for Fish and Wildlife Program:
    Budget Authority \1\......................         41          0          0          0          0          0
    Estimated Outlays.........................         39          8          3          1          0          0
Proposed Changes:
    Authorization Level.......................          0         75         75         75         75         75
    Estimated Outlays.........................          0         45         77         76         76         76
Spending Under S. 260 for the Partners for
 Fish and Wildlife Program:
    Authorization Level 1.....................         41         75         75         75         75         75
    Estimated Outlays.........................         39         53         80         77         76         76
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The 2006 level is the amount appropriated for that year for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.

    Previous CBO estimate: On June 15, 2005, CBO transmitted a 
cost estimate for S. 260 as ordered reported by the Senate 
Committee on Environment and Public works on June 8, 2005. The 
two versions of S. 260 are identical. Differences in our 
estimates of spending reflect a change in when we assume the 
legislation will be enacted.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Megan Carroll; Impact 
on State, local, and tribal governments: Marjorie Miller; 
Impact on the private sector: Craig Cammarata.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has become an 
important and popular tool in facilitating cooperation between 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and non-federal 
organizations to voluntarily protect, conserve and restore 
habitat important to fish and wildlife populations through on-
the-ground projects. Even though no one has ever questioned the 
legal authority used by the Service in 1987 to create this 
program, there is little disagreement that passage of a 
specific law authorizing the program would be beneficial.
    But it is equally important to note, however, that the 
stated intent of this legislation--to provide a statutory 
authorization for the Program--should retain all elements of 
the existing program, without exception, as specified under the 
Service's regulations (Part 640, Chapter 1, Partners for Fish 
and Wildlife Program). The Partners Program, after all, does 
more than simply promote and implement habitat improvement 
projects; these additional elements include, specifically:
           Provide conservation leadership and promote 
        partnerships
           Encourage public understanding and 
        participation
           Work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
        to implement USDA's conservation programs.
    This point was raised with the sponsors of this legislation 
during its consideration. They affirmed that it is their 
intention for the Service to implement the entire program, and 
consequently, I declined to offer any clarifying amendment. As 
a result, the broad language in subsection 2(b) regarding 
purposes, and corresponding language in section 4 authorizing 
the program, should be read with the explicit understanding 
that the Service will continue to implement these other 
existing program elements should this bill become law. For this 
reason I support this legislation, and it is with this 
understanding that the committee should conduct its future 
oversight regarding its implementation.

                                                 Frank Pallone, Jr.