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                                                        Calendar No. 20
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                      109-9

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



 
                  RIM OF THE VALLEY CORRIDOR STUDY ACT

                                _______
                                

               February 23, 2005.--Ordered to be printed

 Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of February 17, 2005

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 153]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 153) to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to conduct a resource study of the Rim of the Valley 
Corridor in the State of California to evaluate alternatives 
for protecting the resources of the Corridor, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S. 153 is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a joint 
resources study to evaluate the suitability and feasibility of 
establishing the Rim of the Valley Corridor as a unit of the 
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    S. 153 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture to study an area known as the, ``Rim 
of the Valley Corridor,'' the escarpment of the San Gabriel 
Mountains in southern California primarily within the Angeles 
National Forest, for possible addition to the Santa Monica 
Mountains National Recreation Area. The Santa Monica Mountains 
N.R.A. is the largest urban unit of the National Park System, 
comprising more than 150,000 acres near Los Angeles.
    The Rim of the Valley Corridor contains parts of an 
endangered habitat area, the Mediterranean chaparral ecosystem. 
Nearby mountains also provide notable recreation opportunities 
and a haven from the noise and commotion of the Los Angeles 
Basin. The State of California has adopted the Rim of the 
Valley Master Plan submitted by the Santa Monica Mountain 
Conservancy, but State and local efforts to protect the area 
have been hampered by a lack of financial resources and 
resource management expertise.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 153 was introduced by Senator Feinstein on January 25, 
2005.
    During the 108th Congress, the Committee considered 
identical legislation, S. 347. S. 347 was introduced by Senator 
Feinstein on February 11, 2003. The Subcommittee on National 
Parks held a hearing on S. 347 on March 4, 2003 (S. Hrg. 108-
14). At the business meeting on March 12, 2003, the Committee 
on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 347, as amended, 
favorably reported (S. Rept. 108-25). S. 347 passed the Senate 
with an amendment and an amendment to the Title by unanimous 
consent on April 7, 2004. The House of Representatives did not 
consider the bill prior to the sine die adjournment of the 
108th Congress.
    Similar legislation, S. 2571, was also introduced by 
Senator Feinstein during the 107th Congress. The Subcommittee 
on National Parks held a hearing on S. 2571 on July 18, 2002 
(S. Hrg. 207-829). At its business meeting on July 31, 2002, 
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 2571, 
as amended, favorably reported (S. Rept. 107-257).
    At its business meeting on February 9, 2005, the Committee 
ordered S. 153 favorably reported.

                       COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on February 9, 2005, by a unamimous vote of a 
quorum present recommends that the Senate pass S. 153.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 titles the bill the ``Rim of the Valley Corridor 
Study Act.''
    Section 2 directs the Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a joint resource study, 
sets forth requirements and criteria for conducting the study 
and consultation with affected governmental entities.
    Section 3 authorizes the appropriation of such sums as are 
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.

                                                 February 14, 2005.
Hon. Pete V. Dominici,
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 S. 153, the Rim of the 
Valley Corridor Study Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Megan 
Carroll and Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                       Douglas Holtz-Eakin,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

S. 153--Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act

    S. 153 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to 
evaluate alternatives for protecting the area known as the Rim 
of the Valley Corridor in California, including the possibility 
of designating the area as a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains 
National Recreation Area. Based on information obtained from 
the Department of the Interior, CBO estimates that the proposed 
study would cost about $500,000 over the next three years, 
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. Enacting S. 
153 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
    S. 153 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 contacts for this estimate are Megan Carroll 
and 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. 153. 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. 153, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    During the 108th Congress, the Committee considered 
identical legislation (S. 347). The testimony provided by the 
National Park Service at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 347 
follows:

  Statement of Deteel Patterson Tiller, Acting Associate Director for 
 Cultural Resources, National Park Service, Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the 
Department's views on S. 347, a bill to direct the Secretaries 
of Interior and Agriculture to conduct a joint special 
resources study to evaluate the suitability and feasibility of 
establishing the Rim of the Valley Corridor, in the Los Angeles 
region, as a unit of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation 
Area.
    The Department supports this bill with the minor 
clarification provided in this testimony. We believe that this 
study will provide a good opportunity to explore partnerships 
with a wide range of state, local, private, and other federal 
entities for the purpose of protecting and interpreting 
important natural and cultural resources.
    On July 18, 2002, the Department testified on S. 2571, a 
similar bill that would have directed the Secretary of the 
Interior to study the Rim of the Valley for addition to Santa 
Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. In our testimony, we 
recommended that the bill be amended to make the study a joint 
study between the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture and 
we suggested that the provision that established a 17-member 
advisory commission was unnecessary. At the committee markup, 
S. 2571 was amended incorporating the department's suggestions. 
S. 347 is identical to S. 2571 as it was amended in the 107th 
Congress.
    S. 347 directs the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture 
to conduct a joint Special Resource Study of the Rim of the 
Valley Corridor in Southern California. S. 347 further requires 
that the study evaluate the suitability and feasibility of 
establishing the area as a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains 
National Recreation Area. The Secretaries are directed to use 
the criteria for study of areas for inclusion in the National 
Park System and to consult with appropriate State, county, and 
local governments. The study is estimated to cost approximately 
$500,000.
    The National Park Service generally conducts special 
resource studies to evaluate the suitability and feasibility of 
an area to become a new unit of the National Park System. We 
understand that the intent of this bill is not to establish a 
new park, but rather to study the Rim of the Valley as a 
potential addition for Santa Monica Mountains National 
Recreation Area. As such, we suggest that `Special Resource 
Study' be replaced with `resource study' in all places where it 
appears in the bill. We would be happy to work with the 
subcommittee staff to develop any additional clarifying 
language that may be required.
    The study would assess habitat quality, access to urban 
open space, low-impact recreation and educational uses, 
wildlife and habitat restoration and protection and watershed 
improvements along the Rim of the Valley corridor surrounding 
the San Fernando and La Crescenta Valleys. This corridor 
consists of portions of the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa 
Susanna Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, Verdugo Mountains, 
San Rafael Hills and the connector to Los Padres, Angeles, and 
San Bernardino National Forests, which provide notable 
recreation opportunities close to the Los Angeles basin.
    In addition to natural and recreational opportunities, the 
area also includes properties found on the National Register of 
Historic Places. Old stagecoach stops and images of the Wild 
West still exist. Amtrak's Coast Starlight line travels past 
many of these rich cultural and natural motifs. The area 
supports a diverse system of plants and animals, including 26 
distinct plant communities and more than 400 vertebrate 
species.
    As the largest urban park area in the National Park System, 
the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area includes 
153,750 acres and provides recreational opportunities for 
approximately 530,000 visitors annually. During the 25 years 
since the national recreation area was authorized by Congress, 
this unit has become a model of collaboration of many local, 
state, and federal public land managers, as well as many 
private property owners--all working together as stewards of 
the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
    Recognizing the limitation of federal resources for 
acquiring and managing additional lands, the study would have 
to examine a number of alternatives for protecting significant 
areas of open space in the Rim of the Valley Corridor, 
including those that involve minimal cost to the federal 
government. With the study area encompassing 491,518 acres, the 
study would emphasize public-private partnerships. Given the 
large size and the diversity of stakeholders in the area, the 
study undertaken by the National Park Service would involve 
extensive outreach with members of the public, private 
landowners, and local governments. It would likely entail 
extended comment periods, and extensive analysis.
    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be happy 
to answer any questions you or any members of the subcommittee 
may have.

                        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. 153, as ordered 
reported.