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Calendar No. 30
109th Congress Report
1st Session 109-19
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2005
March 8, 2005.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 55]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 55) to adjust the boundary of Rocky
Mountain National Park in the State of Colorado, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.
PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE
The purpose of S. 55 is to direct the Secretary of Interior
to enter into a land exhange to benefit Rocky Mountain National
Park in the State of Colorado.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
Rocky Mountain National Park was established by Congress on
January 26, 1915. Encompassing approximately 266,000 acres, the
spectacular high alpine scenery and abundant wildlife of Rocky
Mountain National Park attracts over 3 million visitors
In the 1970's, hikers and rock climbers began using a
private access road near Estes Park, Colorado to reach the Twin
Owls Trailhead that is located just inside the park boundary
and adjacent to the MacGregor Ranch. Although the MacGregor
Ranch is located inside the authorized boundary of the national
park it remains in private ownership. Over the last 20 years
the popularity of the Twin Owls trailhead has grown steadily
and in recent years overflow parking from the trailhead has
negatively impacted the ranch. The increase in traffic on the
one-lane access road has affected the character of the historic
homestead by diminishing the quality of the historic scene that
visitors to the ranch come to experience.
For several years the National Park Service (NPS) and the
MacGregor Ranch have been working to find a solution to the
traffic and parking problems. In 2003, based on public
participation and an environmental assessment, the NPS decided
to relocate the Twin Owls parking lot to the east end of the
MacGregor Ranch, a location well away from the historic
homestead. Construction of a new access road and a larger
parking lot for the trailhead is planned at the new location.
In order to enforce NPS regulations on the new access road
and at the new trailhead, the land must be located within the
park boundary. Under S. 55 the MacGregor Trust will convey 5.9
acres of land to the NPS to facilitate the construction and
management of the new facilities. In exchange, the MacGregor
Trust will acquire up to 70 acres from the NPS to be used for
the purpose of growing hay and cattle. The Secretary of the
Interior will reserve a conservation easement on the 70 acres
that is transferred to the MacGregor Trust. S. 55 is necessary
to authorize the land exchange and to adjust the park boundary
to include the newly acquired lands.
S. 55 was introduced by Senator Allard on January 24, 2005.
During the 108th Congress, the Committee considered identical
legislation, S. 2181, sponsored by Senator Campbell. The
Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on S. 2181 on
July 15, 2004. At its business meeting on September 15, 2004,
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 2181,
as amended, favorably reported (S. Rept. 108-367). S. 2181
passed the Senate, as amended by unanimous consent on October
10, 2004. The House of Representatives did not consider the
bill prior to the sine die adjournment of the 108th Congress.
At its business meeting on February 16, 2005, the Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 55 favorably
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an open
business session on February 16, 2005, by a unanimous voice
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S.
Section 1 entitles this bill the ``Rocky Mountain National
Park Boundary Adjustment Act of 2004.''
Section 2 defines key terms used in the Act.
Section 3(a)(1) directs the Secretary of the Interior
(Secretary) to accept conveyance of all right, title and
interest in and to non-Federal parcels in exchange for the
Federal parcels, as described in section 2.
Paragraph (2) directs the Secretary to complete the land
exchange not later than 60 days after an offer is made.
Paragraph (3) directs the Secretary to reserve a permanent
easement to the Federal parcel for the purposes of protecting,
preserving and enhancing the conservation values of the Federal
Subsection (b)(1) directs the Secretary to adjust the
boundary of the Park to reflect the acquisition of the non-
Federal parcels described in section 2.
Paragraph (2) directs the Secretary to manage the non-
Federal parcels as part of the park in accordance with laws and
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
S. 55--Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Adjustment Act of 2005
S. 55 would direct the National Park Service (NPS) to
convey to a private landowner about 70 acres of federal land
within the boundaries of the Rocky Mountain National Park in
exchange for about 6 acres of property adjacent to the park.
Once acquired by the NPS, the new property would be added to
the national park and developed as an access site.
Based on information provided by the NPS, CBO estimates
that implementing S. 55 would cost about $1 million over the
next year or two, subject to the availability of appropriated
funds. This amount would be used to complete the required land
exchange and construct facilities such as a parking lot, access
road, and a rest area on the newly acquired property. Enacting
S. 55 would not affect revenues or direct spending. For this
estimate, CBO assumes that the properties to be exchanged would
be determined by NPS to be roughly equal in value.
S. 55 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.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis.
This 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 S. 55.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
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 S. 55.
During the 108th Congress, the Committee considered
identical legislation (S. 2181). The views of the
Administration on S. 2181 were included in testimony received
by the Committee at a hearing on the bill on July 15, 2004, as
Statement of A. Durand Jones, Deputy Director, National Park Service,
U.S. Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the
views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2181, a bill to
adjust the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park in the
State of Colorado. The Department supports S. 2181 with a
technical amendment to update the map reference. This bill
would direct the Secretary of the Interior to proceed with a
land exchange involving Federal land within Rocky Mountain
National Park and private lands owned by the MacGregor Ranch,
located near Estes Park, Colorado. This exchange would allow
the park to address significant access issues to improve public
access to the park while protecting the private property rights
of landowners. The Secretary would receive title to three
parcels of vacant land encompassing approximately 6 acres. Two
of the parcels are located within the authorized boundary of
Rocky Mountain National Park. This legislation would authorize
a boundary adjustment to include the third parcel within the
park boundary. In exchange for the three parcels, the Secretary
would convey up to 70 acres of Federal land to the MacGregor
Ranch. As a condition of the land exchange, the Secretary would
reserve a perpetual easement on the Federal parcel for the
purposes of protecting, preserving and enhancing the
conservation values of the Federal parcel. The parcel conveyed
to the MacGregor Ranch will remain within the authorized
boundary of the park, and will be used as an irrigated hay
meadow and for grazing cattle.
Rocky Mountain National Park was established by Congress on
January 26, 1915, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people
of the United States and to protect the natural conditions and
scenic beauties of this portion of the Rocky Mountains. The
park currently encompasses approximately 266,000 acres and has
some of the most beautiful mountain scenery to be found
anywhere in our country. Each year the park draws over 3
The MacGregor Ranch was homesteaded in 1873, which predates
the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park. In 1917,
shortly after the establishment of the national park, the
National Park Service built a residence for park employees just
inside the park boundary, with access via a one-lane dirt road
which crosses the MacGregor Ranch for about \3/4\ of a mile.
This access was provided with the permission of the MacGregor
family, but no easement, right-of-way, or other legal document
was ever recorded.
The MacGregor Ranch is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places and is owned by the charitable Muriel MacGregor
Trust. The mission of the Trust is to support youth education
through the preservation and interpretation of the historic
buildings and educational tours of this working high mountain
cattle ranch. In 1980, the boundary of Rocky Mountain National
Park was amended to include much of the MacGregor Ranch, and in
1983 the National Park Service purchased a conservation
easement covering 1,221 acres of the ranch. While much of the
ranch is located within the authorized boundary of the national
park, it remains private property.
In the early 1970's, hikers and rock climbers began using
the access road through the MacGregor Ranch to reach a small
parking lot located just inside the park boundary. Known as the
Twin Owls trailhead, the popularity of the area has grown
steadily. In recent years, overflow parking has negatively
impacted the ranch, and traffic on the one-lane access road has
negatively affected the character of the historic homestead and
has diminished the quality of the historic scene that visitors
to the ranch come to experience.
For several years, the National Park Service and the
MacGregor Ranch have been working to find a solution to the
traffic and parking problems. Several Environmental Assessments
have been prepared to examine various alternatives and gather
public input. In 2003, based on public input and an
Environmental Assessment, the National Park Service decided to
relocate the Twin Owls parking lot to the east end of the
MacGregor Ranch, some distance away from the historic
homestead. A new access road and a larger trailhead parking lot
that can accommodate 80 to 100 cars will be built at the new
So that the rules and regulations governing Rocky Mountain
National Park can be enforced at the new trailhead and along
the access road, the land needs to be incorporated into the
national park. To accomplish this, the MacGregor Trust and the
National Park Service have agreed to a land exchange. The three
parcels acquired by the National Park Service will be used for
the development of the new parking lot and access road. The
conveyance of up to 70 acres of Federal land to the MacGregor
Ranch with a conservation easement will ensure that the
property is used solely for ranching.
No appraisals have been done on the properties to be
included in the land exchange; however, the National Park
Service believes that the lands are of comparable value. It is
estimated that the cost of the exchange could be approximately
$13,000, which includes an environmental site assessment and
other closing costs.
The estimated development cost for the parking lot, access
road, vault toilet, connector trail and related improvements is
$800,000. Rocky Mountain National Park has already programmed
the funds for this development from 80% Fee Demonstration and
National Parks Pass revenues. Annual operating costs are not
expected to increase as the new development is replacing
existing facilities and employs sustainable design principles.
That concludes my prepared statement Mr. Chairman. I would
be pleased to answer any questions you or members of the
committee may have.
Proposed amendment: Page 2, line 4 strike ``121/60,467,
dated September 12, 2003.'' and insert ``121/80,154, dated June
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 bill S. 55 as ordered