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110th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 110-395
DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND ALASKA RAILROAD EXCHANGE ACT OF 2007
October 22, 2007.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Rahall, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 830]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 830) to authorize the exchange of certain lands
in Denali National Park in the State of Alaska, having
considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Denali National Park and Alaska
Railroad Exchange Act of 2007''.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) Corporation.--The term ``Corporation'' means the Alaska
Railroad Corporation owned by the State of Alaska.
(2) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of
SEC. 3. EXCHANGE.
(a) In General.--
(1) Easement expanded.--The Secretary is authorized to grant
to the Alaska Railroad Corporation an exclusive-use easement on
land that is identified by the Secretary within Denali National
Park for the purpose of providing a location to the Corporation
for construction, maintenance, and on-going operation of track
and associated support facilities for turning railroad trains
around near Denali Park Station.
(2) Easement relinquished.--In exchange for the easement
granted in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require the
relinquishment of certain portions of the Corporation's
existing exclusive use easement within the boundary of Denali
(b) Conditions of the Exchange.--
(1) Equal exchange.--The exchange of easements under this
section shall be on an approximately equal-acre basis.
(2) Total acres.--The easement granted under paragraph (1) of
subsection (a) shall not exceed 25 acres.
(3) Interests conveyed.--The easement conveyed to the Alaska
Railroad Corporation by the Secretary under this section shall
be under the same terms as the exclusive use easement granted
to the Railroad in Denali National Park in the Deed for
Exclusive Use Easement and Railroad Related Improvements filed
in Book 33, pages 985-994 of the Nenana Recording District,
Alaska, pursuant to the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982
(45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). The easement relinquished by the
Alaska Railroad Corporation to the United States under this
section shall, with respect to the portion being exchanged, be
the full title and interest received by the Alaska Railroad in
the Deed for Exclusive Use Easement and Railroad Related
Improvements filed in Book 33, pages 985-994 of the Nenana
Recording District, Alaska, pursuant to the Alaska Railroad
Transfer Act of 1982 (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).
(4) Costs.--The Alaska Railroad shall pay all costs
associated with the exchange under this section, including the
costs of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act
of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the costs of any surveys, and
other reasonable costs.
(5) Land to be part of wilderness.--The lands underlying any
easement relinquished to the United States under this section
that are adjacent to designated wilderness are hereby
designated as wilderness and added to the Denali Wilderness,
the boundaries of which are modified accordingly, and shall be
managed in accordance with applicable provisions of the
Wilderness Act (78 Stat. 892) and the Alaska National Interest
Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (94 Stat. 2371).
(6) Other terms and conditions.--The Secretary shall require
any additional terms and conditions under this section that the
Secretary determines to be appropriate to protect the interests
of the United States and of Denali National Park.
Amend the title so as to read:
A bill to authorize the exchange of certain interests in land in
Denali National Park in the State of Alaska
PURPOSE OF THE BILL
The purpose of H.R. 830, as ordered reported, is to
authorize the exchange of certain interests in land in Denali
National Park in the State of Alaska.
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
The Alaska Railroad Corporation is seeking to modify its
exclusive use easement in Denali National Park to give the
railroad surface use of approximately 25 acres on which to
construct a loop or ``wye'' track so that trains may turn
around at the Denali National Park Station, which is not
In consideration for the expanded easement, the railroad
has offered to relinquish its exclusive-use easement on
equivalent acreage elsewhere along its corridor through the
The railroad received an easement on the corridor along its
tracks through the park as part of the 1982 Alaska Railroad
Transfer Act, or ARTA (Public Law 97-468). Under ARTA, while
the federal railroad's holdings elsewhere were transferred to
the state, the rail properties within Denali National Park and
Preserve were transferred to the Secretary of the Interior as
part of the park, subject to an exclusive-use easement.
That easement affords the state, through the railroad, the
exclusive right to ``use, possess, and enjoy the surface state
of the land subject to this easement for transportation,
communication, and transmission purposes'' and for associated
support functions. That easement extends to as much of the
subsurface estate as is needed for those purposes. The land
itself, however, belongs to the park.
According to the railroad, adding a turnaround track at the
Denali Park Station would help accommodate the increasing
popularity of rail travel to the park, eventually leading to
more frequent and flexible train schedules. Increased train
service should mean increased visitation to the park without
further increasing car congestion. More frequent arrivals of
smaller trains would also help to disperse visitors, making it
easier for the park to handle the summer crowds.
The exchange of easements requires the consent of Congress
and the Alaska State Legislature.
H.R. 830 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to
enter into the exchange. The bill, as amended, would authorize
the exchange of easements on two equal parcels, each no more
than 25 acres.
Under the terms of the legislation, the railroad would
assume all costs associated with the exchange, estimated at
between $2 million and $3 million, including the cost of
environmental work to meet the requirements of the National
Environmental Policy Act.
The lands on which the existing easements are relinquished
would become part of the Denali Wilderness.
H.R. 830 was introduced on February 5, 2007, by
Representative Don Young (R-AK). The bill was referred to the
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. On
September 27, 2007, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the
On October 10, 2007, the Subcommittee was discharged from
further consideration of the legislation and the Full Natural
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. Representative
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) offered an amendment in the nature of a
substitute to clarify that the exchange involves only easements
(``interests in lands''), not a trade of lands owned in fee
simple by either party. The substitute would authorize the
Secretary of the Interior to negotiate a change in the terms of
the existing exclusive use easement to accommodate the
turnaround track; in consideration of that concession, the
railroad will relinquish its easement on an approximately equal
acreage elsewhere along the rail corridor.
The Grijalva amendment was adopted by unanimous consent and
the bill as amended 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 Natural Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT
Article I, section 8 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. This bill does
not authorize funding and therefore, clause 3(c)(4) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives does not
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
H.R. 830--Denali National Park and Alaska Railroad Land Exchange Act of
H.R. 830 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to
exchange easements on land within the Denali National Park with
the Alaska Railroad Corporation in order to build a turnaround
for train traffic arriving at the Denali Park Station. The bill
would not affect federal ownership of the land, and the Alaska
Railroad would be responsible for all costs associated with
completing the exchange. CBO estimates that implementing H.R.
830 would have no significant impact on the federal budget.
Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or
H.R. 830 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The bill would authorize the Secretary to grant to the
Alaska Railroad Corporation an exclusive-use easement--an
agreement that would allow the Alaska Railroad the right to use
a specified parcel of land for certain purposes to the
exclusion of all others--on up to 25 acres within the Denali
National Park. The easement would be for the purposes of
constructing and maintaining a turnaround for trains arriving
at Denali Park Station from Anchorage and Fairbanks. In
exchange, the Alaska Railroad would be required to relinquish
an equal amount of land that is subject to an exclusive-use
easement between the federal government and the railroad under
current law. Any exchange that takes place under the bill would
not affect federal ownership of either piece of land, and the
Alaska Railroad would be responsible for all costs associated
with completing the land exchange. As such, CBO estimates that
implementing H.R. 830 would have no significant impact on the
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Daniel Hoople.
This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4
This bill contains no unfunded mandates.
H.R. 830 does not contain any congressional earmarks,
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in
clause 9(d), 9(e) or 9(f) of rule XXI.
PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW
This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing