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                                                        Calendar No. 50
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     109-36

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



 
               PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                 March 11, 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. 263]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 263) to provide for the protection of 
paleontological resources on Federal lands, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same reports favorably thereon 
with amendments and recommends that the bill, as amended, do 
pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    1. On page 6, line 22, strike ``section 9'' and insert 
``section 7''.
    2. On page 6, line 23, strike ``section 10'' and insert 
``section 8''.
    3. On page 12, line 18, strike ``section 11'' and insert 
``section 9''.
    4. On page 12, line 21, strike ``section 9 or 10'' an 
insert ``section 7 or 8''.
    5. On page 13, line 12, strike ``section 9 or 10'' and 
insert ``section 7 or 8''.
    6. On page 15, lines 9 and 10, strike ``the Mining in the 
Parks Act'' and insert ``Public Law 94-429 (commonly known as 
the `Mining in the Parks Act') (16 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.)''.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S. 263 is to establish a comprehensive 
national policy for preserving and managing paleontological 
resources on Federal lands administered by the Secretary of the 
Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Over the past several years, there has been increasing 
discussion about the need to develop a coordinated policy for 
the disposition of fossils found on public lands. Federal 
agency officials, paleontologists and others have expressed 
concern that the lack of a clear policy for the treatment of 
fossil resources, and uncertainty in legislative authority, 
make it more difficult for Federal land managers to properly 
protect fossil resources.
    A 1988 Congressional Research Service report concluded that 
while specific statutes or executive actions may protect fossil 
resources in specific areas, and while generic land management 
laws permit Federal agencies to protect fossil resources, there 
are no laws that require the protection and regulation of these 
resources. The report also noted each agency has different land 
management laws, so there is often inconsistent administration 
of fossil resources among different agencies.
    The Senate Committee report accompanying the Department of 
the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 (S. 
Rept. 105-227) directed the Secretary of the Interior, in 
consultation with appropriate scientific, educational and 
commercial entities, to develop a report assessing the need for 
a unified Federal policy on the collection, storage, and 
preservation of fossils on public lands.
    In May 2000, the Secretary of the Interior issued a report 
to Congress (entitled Fossils on Federal & Indian Lands) 
setting forth several recommendations for the management of 
paleontological resources on Federal lands. Specifically, the 
report identified the need for agencies to conduct field 
inventories and monitoring of fossil resources, and to limit 
the collection of rare fossils to scientific and educational 
uses. The report also identified the need to strengthen civil 
and criminal penalties for the unauthorized removal of fossils 
from Federal lands.
    S. 263 incorporates many of the recommendations from this 
report and establishes a comprehensive policy for protecting 
fossil resources on Federal lands administered by the Secretary 
of the Interior and National Forest System lands administered 
by the Secretary of Agriculture.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 263 was introduced by Senator Akaka and others on 
February 2, 2005. During the 108th Congress, the Committee 
considered identical legislation, S. 546. S. 546 was introduced 
by Senator Akaka and others on March 6, 2003. The Subcommittee 
on National Parks held a hearing on S. 546 on June 10, 2003.
    At the business meeting on June 25, 2003, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 546 favorably reported 
with amendments. S. 546 passed the Senate as amended by 
unanimous consent on July 17, 2003. 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 9, 2005, the Committee 
on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 263 favorably 
reported, with technical amendments.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an 
open business session on February 9, 2005, by a unanimous voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
263.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS

    During its consideration of S. 263, the committee adopted 
several technical amendments.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 titles the bill the ``Paleontological Resources 
Preservation Act.''
    Section 2 includes definitions used in this Act.
    Section 3 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture (collectively referred to as the 
``Secretary'') to coordinate the management and protection of 
paleontological resources on Federal lands using scientific 
principles and expertise. The section also directs the 
Secretary to develop appropriate plans for paleontological 
resources addressing inventory, monitoring, and scientific and 
educational use.
    Section 4 directs the Secretary to establish a program to 
increase public awareness about the significance of 
paleontological resources.
    Section 5(a) states that paleontological resources may not 
be collected from Federal lands without a permit issued by the 
Secretary except that casual collection may be allowed as 
defined in section 2, and permits issued prior to this Act 
shall not be affected.
    Subsection (b) states the criteria by which a permit may be 
issued.
    Subsection (c) states the terms and conditions contained in 
a permit issued by the Secretary.
    Subsection (d) authorizes the Secretary to modify, suspend, 
or revoke a permit for certain considerations or violations.
    Subsection (e) authorizes the Secretary to restrict access 
to or close areas under the Secretary's jurisdiction to the 
collection of paleontological resources.
    Section 6 states that any paleontological resource, and 
associated data and records, collected under a permit shall be 
deposited in an approved repository. In addition, the Secretary 
is authorized to enter into agreements with non-Federal 
repositories.
    Section 7 describes criminal penalties associated with 
prohibited acts.
    Section 8 describes civil penalties associated with 
prohibited acts.
    Section 9 authorizes the Secretary to pay, from penalties 
collected under section 7 or 8, rewards to any person who 
furnishes information leading to the finding of a civil 
violation, or the conviction of a criminal violation and 
establishes forfeiture authority.
    Section 10 protects information concerning the nature and 
specific location of paleontological resources unless the 
Secretary determines that disclosure would further the purposes 
of this Act, not create a risk of harm to or theft or 
destruction of the resource, and be in accordance with other 
applicable laws.
    Section 11 directs the Secretary to issue regulations as 
appropriate to carry out this Act, providing opportunities for 
public notice and comment.
    Section 12 includes several savings provisions, making 
clear that this Act does not interfere with or restrict the 
listed laws and activities.
    Section 13 authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may 
be necessary to carry out this Act.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.

S. 263--Paleontological Resources Preservation Act

    S. 263 would codify current administration policy regarding 
the preservation and use of paleontological resources on 
federal lands. (Paleontological resources include fossilized 
remains, traces, or imprints of organisms that are preserved in 
or on the Earth's crust.) The bill also would establish 
criminal and civil penalties for unlawful activities related to 
paleontological resources. CBO estimates that any budgetary 
impact of implementing the bill would be negligible.
    The bill would prohibit taking or damaging paleontological 
resources located on federal lands without a permit or 
permission, selling or purchasing such resources received from 
federal lands, or submitting false records or identification 
for such resources removed from federal lands. As a result, the 
federal government would be able to pursue cases that it 
otherwise would not be able to prosecute. CBO expects that any 
increase in federal costs for law enforcement, court 
proceedings, or prison operations would not be significant, 
however, because of the small number of cases likely to be 
involved. Any such additional costs would be subject to the 
availability of appropriated funds.
    Because those prosecuted and convicted under S. 263 could 
be subject to criminal fines and civil penalties, the federal 
government might collect additional fines or penalties if the 
bill is enacted. Collections of such fines and penalties are 
recorded in the budget as revenues. Under existing law, 
criminal fines are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund and 
spent without further appropriations in subsequent years. Under 
the provisions of this bill, certain civil penalties also would 
be available to be spent without further appropriation. CBO 
expects that any additional revenue and direct spending as a 
result of enacting S. 263 would be less than $500,000 each year 
and would offset each other over time.
    S. 263 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 contacts for this estimate are Deborah Reis 
and Megan Carroll. 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. 263. 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 S. 263, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the Department of the Interior 
and the Department of Agriculture at the Subcommittee hearing 
on S. 546 in the 108th Congress follows:

   Statement of Christopher Kearney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
       Policy, Management and Budget, Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the 
Department of the Interior's views on S. 546, the 
Paleontological Resources Preservation Act. The Department 
supports the purpose of S. 546 to protect paleontological 
resources on federal lands but would like to work with the 
Committee on the amendments provided at the end of this 
testimony.
    S. 546 adopts the recommendation of a report submitted to 
Congress in May 2000, titled ``Fossils on Federal and Indian 
Lands'' (the Interagency Fossil Report). Concerned about the 
lack of unified policies and standards for the management of 
fossils on federal lands and the resulting deterioration and 
loss of fossils, Congress directed the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of 
Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, 
the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and the 
U.S. Geological Survey to develop a report assessing the need 
for a unified federal management policy. During development of 
the report, three major themes emerged from the public comments 
received. First, a majority of people who commented viewed 
fossils on federal lands as part of America's heritage. Second, 
they recommended that vertebrate fossils continue to be 
protected as rare and within the ownership of the federal 
government. Third, they supported the involvement of amateurs 
in the science and enjoyment of fossils, including the 
availability of most plant and invertebrate fossils for casual 
collection on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management 
and the Forest Service. To meet these and other goals, the 
report recommended the establishment of a framework for fossil 
management, analogous to the Archaeological Resources 
Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA).
    Fossils are non-renewable resources which, with the 
exception of microfossils and those that make up commercially 
developed minerals, such as coal, are relatively rare and have 
significant scientific, educational and recreational values. 
Federal lands, the majority of which are in the western part of 
the United States, contain a rich array of plant, invertebrate 
and vertebrate fossils. For more than a century, land 
management agencies have managed fossils within their unique 
missions. These agencies have protected all vertebrate fossils, 
requiring permits for their excavation and removal, with the 
stipulation that the resources remain in federal ownership in 
perpetuity.
    In recent years, public interest in fossils has grown 
rapidly and with this interest, the commercial value of fossils 
also has increased. The unfortunate consequence has been a loss 
of fossils from federal lands, through theft and vandalism, and 
from the United States itself, through international 
trafficking. These crimes reduce scientific and public access 
to scientifically significant and instructive fossils and 
destroy the contextual information critical for interpreting 
the fossils.
    S. 546 would provide a unified federal policy to ensure 
that scientifically significant fossils on certain federal 
lands are inventoried, monitored, protected, and curated 
consistently, while accommodating the agencies' distinct 
missions. The provisions in this bill do not apply to Indian 
lands. As we understand it, the bill, in large measure, 
reflects the current practice of agencies in the management of 
fossils on federal land. Streamlining the practices of the 
various land management agencies into a unified approach will 
enhance overall management of fossils on federal lands by 
reducing public confusion and improving collaboration and 
cooperation among agencies, scientists, and the public.
    Under the agencies' existing regulations and policies, 
vertebrate fossils may only be collected with a permit for 
scientific and educational purposes. S. 546 would codify this 
collection policy and standardize the permitting requirements 
among the various agencies, as recommended in the Interagency 
Fossil Report. It would ensure that these fossils are retained 
as public property and curated in suitable repositories for 
current and future generations of scientists and the public to 
study and enjoy. Scientists use the information from specimens 
in repository collections to build on our understanding of the 
history of life and physical environment on Earth. Millions of 
visitors enjoy the displays offered by public repositories of 
their most spectacular and educational fossils, many 
originating from federal lands.
    One exception to the permitting requirements under S. 546 
is for casual collection of certain paleontological resources 
for personal, scientific, educational and recreational uses. 
This important provision would authorize the Secretary to allow 
the public to casually collect common invertebrate and plant 
fossils without a permit on certain federal lands. In other 
words, under this bill, visitors to BLM lands who enjoy 
paleontology as a hobby could continue to collect and keep for 
their personal use a wide variety of plant and common 
invertebrate fossils. The casual collection of such fossils can 
be an important component of the public's enjoyment of some 
federal lands and is generally consistent with scientific and 
educational goals.
    S. 546 would codify the land managing agencies' existing 
prohibition on commercial fossil collecting from federal lands. 
By prohibiting such collecting, this legislation ensures that 
vertebrate fossils on federal lands, a rich part of America's 
heritage, remain in public hands, that they are not bought or 
sold, and that the federal government does not have to use 
taxpayer funds to purchase fossils found on lands that it owns.
    S. 546 would provide additional protection by prohibiting 
the excavation, damage, transport or sale of paleontological 
resources located on federal lands. Criminal penalties for 
these acts would be set by classification, following fine and 
imprisonment penalties imposed under federal law.
    Keeping an appropriate inventory and monitoring are crucial 
components of fossil management. S. 546 would provide the 
Secretary with the flexibility to keep an inventory and monitor 
exposed fossils based on the site-specific geology and 
paleontology of their management units. The exposure of fossils 
by erosion varies, based on the type of rock in which they are 
found and local climate. Some fossils remain exposed at the 
surface for decades or centuries, while others weather away 
soon after exposure depending on the nature of their 
preservation.
    S. 546 would balance the need for public access to fossils 
with the recognition that the unlimited disclosure of certain 
information about particularly significant fossils can lead to 
the theft or vandalism of those fossils. In the National Parks 
Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Congress authorized the 
National Park Service to withhold information about the nature 
and specific location of paleontological resources in park 
units unless certain criteria were met. S. 546 would extend 
this same authority to the other federal land managing 
agencies.
    Last Congress, the Department testified before this 
Committee in support of the purpose of S. 2727, a similar bill, 
while also citing a number of concerns. After the hearing, the 
Department provided the Committee with general comments and 
suggested amendments to address our concerns with the bill. We 
appreciate that S. 546, as introduced, includes the vast 
majority of our proposed amendments. At the end of this 
testimony, we offer additional amendments for the Committee's 
further consideration. We look forward to working with the 
Committee on these remaining issues.
    As the prices of fossils rise, the federal land managing 
agencies will be under increasing pressure to both protect 
scientifically significant fossil resources and to ensure their 
appropriate availability to the general public. S. 546 would 
create a single legislative framework for paleontological 
resource management that will facilitate sharing of resources, 
personnel and partnership opportunities across agency lines.
    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be 
pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the 
Committee may have.


                     proposed amendments for s. 546


    On p. 3, line 1, after ``personal'' strike ``('' insert 
``,''.
    On p. 3, line 2, after ``recreational'' strike ``)''.
    On p. 3, line 13, after ``means lands'' insert ``owned, 
controlled, or''.
    --clarifies the bill's inclusion of all lands (except 
Indian lands) managed by the Departments
    On p. 4, line 14, strike ``Rehabilitation'' insert 
``Repatriation''.
    On p. 5, line 17, after ``Federal lands'' insert ``owned, 
controlled, or''.
    --clarifies generally where casual collecting may be 
allowed
    On p. 8, line 4, after ``permit'' insert ``issued under 
this Act''.
    --ensures that the permit referenced is the permit 
established under this Act.
    On p. 8, line 8, after ``Acts;'' insert ``Criminal''
    --clarifies that Section 9 addresses criminal penalties, in 
contrast with Section 10 which addresses civil penalties
    On p. 9, line 8, strike ``Penalties'' insert ``Penalties''
    On p. 10, line 19, after ``involved.'', insert ``, as 
determined by the Secretary.''.
    On p. 11, line 12, strike entire subsection (b), insert:
    (b) Petition for Judicial Review; Collection of Unpaid 
Assessments--
    (1) Judicial review.--Any person against whom an order is 
issued assessing a penalty under subsection (a) may file a 
petition for judicial review of the order in the United States 
District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district 
in which the violation is alleged to have occurred within the 
30-day period beginning I on the date the order making the 
assessment was issued. The Secretary shall promptly file in 
such court a certified copy of the record on which the order 
was issued. The court shall hear the action on the record made 
before the Secretary and shall sustain the action if it is 
supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a 
whole.
    (2) Failure to pay.--If any person fails to pay a penalty 
under this section within thirty (30) days--
    (A) after the order making the assessment has become final 
and the person has not filed a petition for judicial review of 
the order in accordance with paragraph (1); or
    (B) after a court in an action brought in paragraph (1) has 
entered a final judgment upholding the assessment of the 
penalty,
the Secretary may request the Attorney General to institute a 
civil action in a district court to the United States for any 
district in which the person is found, resides, or transactions 
business, to collect the penalty (plus interest at currently 
resides, or transacts business, to collect the penalty (plus 
interest at currently prevailing rates from the date of the 
final order or the date of the final judgment, as the case may 
be). The district court shall have jurisdiction to hear and 
decide any such action. In such action, the validity, amount, 
and appropriateness of such penalty shall not be subject to 
review. Any person who fails to pay on a timely basis the 
amount of an assessment of a civil penalty as described in the 
first sentence and interest, attorneys fees and costs bugs 
collection processing.
    --Is the standard enforcement provision found in other laws 
including the Clean Water Act
    On p. 13, line 8 strike ``may be subject to forfeiture * * 
* involved in the violation.'' Insert ``shall be subject to 
civil forfeiture, or upon conviction, to criminal forfeiture. 
All provisions of law relating to the seizure, forfeiture, and 
condemnation of property for a violation of this Act, the 
disposition of such property or the proceeds from the sale 
thereof, and remission or mitigation of such forfeiture, as 
well as the procedural provisions of Chapter 46 to Title 18, 
United States Code, shall apply to the seizure and forfeitures 
incurred or alleged to have been incurred under the provisions 
of this Act.''
    --makes a distinction between civil forfeiture and ensures 
that criminal forfeiture only could occur upon conviction
    --makes clear that the protections of the Civil Asset 
Forfeiture Reform Act (CXAFRA), an act a more just and uniform 
procedure for Federal civil forfeitures, would apply.
    On p.13, after line 17, insert new (c):
    ``(c) Transfer of Seized Resources.--The Secretary is 
authorized to transfer ownership or administration of seized 
paleontological resources to Federal or non-Federal educational 
institutions to be used for scientific or educational 
purposes.''
    --allows the establishment of partnerships with schools and 
other entities to transfer seized resources (for example, some 
resources that are recovered with no record of their context 
may have lost value to a museum but may still have educational 
value)
    On p. 13, after line 18, strike entire section and insert:
    ``(a) Information concerning the nature or specific 
location of a paleontological resource the collection of which 
requires a permit under this Act or under any other provision 
of Federal law shall be withheld from the public--
    ``(1) in response to a request under subchapter II of 
chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code; or
    ``(2) notwithstanding any other provision of law that would 
authorize release.
    ``(b) The information described in subsection (a) shall be 
released if the responsible Secretary determines that 
disclosure would--
    ``(1) further the purposes of the Act;
    ``(2) not create a risk of harm to or theft or destruction 
of the resource or the site containing the resource; and
    ``(3) be in accordance with other applicable laws.''.
    On p. 15, line 3, after ``time'' insert ``under''.

Statement of Elizabeth Estill, Deputy Chief, Programs, Legislation and 
       Communications, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture

    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to be here today. I am Elizabeth Estill, Deputy 
Chief for Programs, Legislation and Communications, USDA Forest 
Service. I will provide the Department's comments on S. 546, 
the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act.
    During the 107th Congress, the Department supported the 
purpose of S. 2727; a similar bill also entitled the 
Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, and provided some 
recommended changes to the committee staff. I am pleased to see 
some of the Department's concerns addressed in S. 546. The 
Department supports the purpose of the bill, but we would like 
to work with the Committee to address some of our other 
recommendations.
    Unified guidelines for paleontological resources management 
and special protection for vertebrate paleontological resources 
are greatly needed on National Forest System lands. Forest 
users, amateurs and scientists alike, are demanding 
opportunities for recreation, education, interpretation, and 
the scientific study of fossils. As these legitimate demands 
increase so does the amount of illegal activity such as theft 
and vandalism. Therefore, clearly defined, consistent laws and 
penalties to deter theft and vandalism of fossils from federal 
lands are also needed.
    The Forest Service currently manages paleontological 
resources under a patchwork of laws that do not specifically 
address their unique characteristics nor provide adequate 
management and protection of the resource. These laws include 
the Organic Administration Act of 1897, the Archaeological 
Resources Protection Act of 1979, and the Federal Cave 
Resources Protection Act of 1988. The later statutes only 
protect paleontological resources when they are associated with 
archeological resources, or when they occur in caves, 
respectively.
    A consistent statutory framework will enhance overall 
management of paleontological resources on National Forest 
System lands. Between 1991 and 1996, one-third of all fossil 
sites inventoried in the Oglala National Grassland in Nebraska 
were found to have been vandalized, and as a result, valuable 
data was lost to science and to the public. In 1996, a case 
involving fossil theft on National Forest System lands in 
California, which was prosecuted under civil laws by the 
Department of Justice and ultimately settled out of court, 
pointed out the need for more specific statutes and regulations 
related to the theft of federal fossils.
    S. 546 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture to manage and protect 
paleotontological resources using scientific principles. The 
bill recognizes the nonrenewable nature of fossils and defines 
paleontological resources as fossilized remains preserved in or 
on the Earth's crust. This distinguishes these resources from 
archaeological resources, covered under the Archaeological 
Resources Protection Act (ARPA); cultural items, covered under 
the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American 
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); and mineral 
resources.
    If enacted, the bill would establish casual collection 
provisions including permitting requirements for scientific and 
educational purposes using uniform and consistent criteria. S. 
546 recognizes that paleontological resources are federal 
property, and that the fossil as well as the I associated field 
data and other records will be preserved and made available to 
the public. An important aspect of this bill to the Forest 
Service is its formal recognition of casual collecting of 
invertebrate and plant fossils for recreational, non-commercial 
use as a valid public activity on National Forests System lands 
for which a permit may not be required where the collecting is 
not: inconsistent with the laws governing the management of 
National Forest System lands and S. 546.
    S. 546 provides important uniform criminal and civil 
penalties for all the federal managing agencies for theft and 
damage of paleontological resources. Currently, there is a 
complex mix of laws, regulations and guidelines that have 
created significant jurisprudential challenges. For example, 
for the Forest Service, violations of regulations protecting 
paleontological resources are Class B Misdemeanors, punishable 
by up to six months imprisonment, or $5,000 fine, or both. For 
the Bureau of Land Management, violations are Class A 
Misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year imprisonment, or 
$100,000 fine, or both. The penalties defined in S. 546 are 
also consistent with recent amendments to the federal 
sentencing I guidelines of the U.S. Sentencing Commission for 
increased penalties for cultural heritage resources.
    S. 546 also provides that the proceeds arising from civil 
and criminal penalties established under the bill may be 
available for payment to those who provided information in 
investigations that lead to the civil violations or criminal 
convictions for which the penalties were assessed. However, the 
current reward language in Section 11 provides a maximum reward 
amount that we believe will be ineffective in most cases. We 
believe that the appropriate reward amount to be offered or 
paid for assistance in investigations is best determined by the 
agency and prosecutor based on the significance of the case and 
assistance provided or needed. We, recommend that references to 
any dollar amount be removed. Further, the Forest Service 
currently has differing regulations at 36 CFR 262.1 which 
regulate the payment of rewards along with other Department of 
Justice protocols.
    Mr. Chairman, paleontological resources, especially 
vertebrate fossils, are heritage resources. They are evidence 
of the past history of life on Earth. They provide 
opportunities for the public to learn more about ancient Earth 
ecosystems and the development of life from research and study 
of these resources. The Forest Service is a steward of these 
heritage resources and is committed to their protection while 
providing opportunities for research, education, and 
recreation. The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act 
would help secure the authority of the Forest Service to manage 
and protect all paleontological resources on National Forest 
System lands.
    This concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer 
questions.

                        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. 263, as ordered 
reported.