Report text available as:

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

110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    110-397

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



 
   REFUGE ECOLOGY PROTECTION, ASSISTANCE, AND IMMEDIATE RESPONSE ACT

                                _______
                                

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 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 767]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 767) to protect, conserve, and restore native fish, 
wildlife, and their natural habitats at national wildlife 
refuges through cooperative, incentive-based grants to control, 
mitigate, and eradicate harmful nonnative species, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as 
amended do pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, 
and Immediate Response Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

  (a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
          (1) The National Wildlife Refuge System is the premier land 
        conservation system in the world.
          (2) Harmful nonnative species are the leading cause of 
        habitat destruction in national wildlife refuges.
          (3) More than 675 known harmful nonnative species are found 
        in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
          (4) Nearly 8 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge 
        System contain harmful nonnative species.
          (5) The cost of early identification and removal of harmful 
        nonnative species is dramatically lower than removing an 
        established invasive population.
          (6) The cost of the backlog of harmful nonnative species 
        control projects that need to be carried out in the National 
        Wildlife Refuge System is over $361,000,000, and the failure to 
        carry out such projects threatens the ability of the System to 
        fulfill its basic mission.
  (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to encourage partnerships 
among the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, other Federal 
agencies, States, Indian tribes, and other interests for the following 
objectives:
          (1) To protect, enhance, restore, and manage a diversity of 
        habitats for native fish and wildlife resources within the 
        National Wildlife Refuge System through control of harmful 
        nonnative species.
          (2) To promote the development of voluntary State assessments 
        to establish priorities for controlling harmful nonnative 
        species that threaten or negatively impact refuge resources.
          (3) To promote greater cooperation among Federal, State, and 
        local land and water managers, and owners of private land, 
        water rights, or other interests, to implement ecologically 
        based strategies to eradicate, mitigate, and control harmful 
        nonnative species that threaten or negatively impact refuge 
        resources through a voluntary and incentive-based financial 
        assistance grant program.
          (4) To establish an immediate response capability to combat 
        incipient harmful nonnative species invasions.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

  For the purposes of this Act:
          (1) Advisory committee.--The term ``Advisory Committee'' 
        means the Invasive Species Advisory Committee established by 
        section 3 of Executive Order 13112, dated February 3, 1999.
          (2) Appropriate committees.--The term ``appropriate 
        Committees'' means the Committee on Natural Resources of the 
        House of Representatives and the Committee on Environment and 
        Public Works of the Senate.
          (3) Control.--The term ``control'' means, as appropriate, 
        eradicating, suppressing, reducing, or managing harmful 
        nonnative species from areas where they are present; taking 
        steps to detect early infestations on at-risk native habitats; 
        and restoring native species and habitats to reduce the effects 
        of harmful nonnative species.
          (4) Environmental soundness.--The term ``environmental 
        soundness'' means the extent of inclusion of methods, efforts, 
        actions, or programs to prevent or control infestations of 
        harmful nonnative species, that--
                  (A) minimize adverse impacts to the structure and 
                function of an ecosystem and adverse effects on 
                nontarget species and ecosystems; and
                  (B) emphasize integrated management techniques.
          (5) Harmful nonnative species.--The term ``harmful nonnative 
        species'' means, with respect to a particular ecosystem in a 
        particular region, any species, including its seeds, eggs, 
        spores, or other biological material capable of propagating 
        that species, that is not native to that ecosystem and has a 
        demonstrable or potentially demonstrable negative environmental 
        or economic impact in that region.
          (6) Indian tribe.--The term ``Indian tribe'' has the meaning 
        given that term in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination 
        and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b).
          (7) National management plan.--The term ``National Management 
        Plan'' means the management plan referred to in section 5 of 
        Executive Order 13112 of February 3, 1999, and entitled 
        ``Meeting the Invasive Species Challenge''.
          (8) Refuge resources.--The term ``refuge resources'' means 
        all lands and waters, including the fish and wildlife species 
        and the ecosystems and habitats therein, that are owned and 
        managed by the Federal Government through the United States 
        Fish and Wildlife Service and located within the National 
        Wildlife Refuge System administered under the National Wildlife 
        Refuge Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), 
        including any waterfowl production area.
          (9) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior, acting through the Director of the United States 
        Fish and Wildlife Service.
          (10) State.--The term ``State'' means each of the several 
        States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the 
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American 
        Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, any 
        other territory or possession of the United States, and any 
        Indian tribe.

SEC. 4. REFUGE ECOLOGY PROTECTION, ASSISTANCE, AND IMMEDIATE RESPONSE 
                    (REPAIR) GRANT PROGRAM.

  (a) In General.--The Secretary may provide--
          (1) a grant to any eligible applicant to carry out a 
        qualified control project in accordance with this section; and
          (2) a grant to any State to carry out an assessment project 
        consistent with relevant State plans that have been developed 
        in whole or in part for the conservation of native fish, 
        wildlife, and their habitats, and in accordance with this 
        section, to--
                  (A) identify harmful nonnative species that occur in 
                the State that threaten or negatively impact refuge 
                resources;
                  (B) assess the needs to restore, manage, or enhance 
                native fish and wildlife and their natural habitats and 
                processes in the State to compliment activities to 
                control, mitigate, or eradicate harmful nonnative 
                species negatively impacting refuge resources;
                  (C) identify priorities for actions to address such 
                needs;
                  (D) identify mechanisms to increase capacity building 
                in a State or across State lines to conserve and 
                protect native fish and wildlife and their habitats and 
                to detect and control harmful nonnative species that 
                might threaten or negatively impact refuge resources 
                within the State; and
                  (E) incorporate, where applicable, the guidelines of 
                the National Management Plan.
The grant program under this section shall be known as the ``Refuge 
Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Grant Program'' 
or the ``REPAIR Program''.
  (b) Functions of the Secretary.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary shall--
                  (A) publish guidelines for and solicit applications 
                for grants under this section not later than 6 months 
                after the date of enactment of this Act;
                  (B) receive, review, evaluate, and approve 
                applications for grants under this section;
                  (C) consult with the Advisory Committee on the 
                projects proposed for grants under this section, 
                including regarding the scientific merit, technical 
                merit, feasibility, and priority of proposed projects 
                for such grants; and
                  (D) consult with the Advisory Committee regarding the 
                development of the database required under subsection 
                (j).
          (2) Delegation of authority.--The Secretary may delegate to 
        another Federal instrumentality the authority of the Secretary 
        under this section, other than the authority to approve 
        applications for grants and make grants.
  (c) Functions of the Advisory Committee.--The Advisory Committee 
shall--
          (1) consult with the Secretary to create criteria and 
        guidelines for grants under this section;
          (2) consult with the Secretary regarding whether proposed 
        control projects are qualified control projects; and
          (3) carry out functions relating to monitoring control 
        projects under subsection (j).
  (d) Eligible Applicant.--To be an eligible applicant for purposes of 
subsection (a)(1), an applicant shall--
          (1) be a State, local government, interstate or regional 
        agency, university, or private person;
          (2) have adequate personnel, funding, and authority to carry 
        out and monitor or maintain a control project; and
          (3) have entered into an agreement with the Secretary or a 
        designee of the Secretary, for a national wildlife refuge or 
        refuge complex.
  (e) Qualified Control Project.--
          (1) In general.--To be a qualified control project under this 
        section, a project shall--
                  (A) control harmful nonnative species on the lands or 
                waters on which it is conducted;
                  (B) include a plan for monitoring the project area 
                and maintaining effective control of harmful nonnative 
                species after the completion of the project, that is 
                consistent with standards for monitoring developed 
                under subsection (j);
                  (C) be conducted in partnership with a national 
                wildlife refuge or refuge complex;
                  (D) be conducted on lands or waters, other than 
                national wildlife refuge lands or waters, that, for 
                purposes of carrying out the project, are under the 
                control of the eligible applicant applying for the 
                grant under this section and on adjacent national 
                wildlife refuge lands or waters administered by the 
                United States Fish and Wildlife Service referred to in 
                subparagraph (C), that are--
                          (i) administered for the long-term 
                        conservation of such lands and waters and the 
                        native fish and wildlife dependent thereon; and
                          (ii) managed to prevent the future 
                        reintroduction or dispersal of harmful 
                        nonnative species from the lands and waters on 
                        which the project is carried out; and
                  (E) encourage public notice and outreach on control 
                project activities in the affected community.
          (2) Other factors for selection of projects.--In ranking 
        qualified control projects, the Director may consider the 
        following:
                  (A) The extent to which a project would address the 
                operational and maintenance backlog attributed to 
                harmful nonnative species on refuge resources.
                  (B) Whether a project will encourage increased 
                coordination and cooperation among one or more Federal 
                agencies and State or local government agencies or 
                nongovernmental or other private entities to control 
                harmful nonnative species threatening or negatively 
                impacting refuge resources.
                  (C) Whether a project fosters public-private 
                partnerships and uses Federal resources to encourage 
                increased private sector involvement, including 
                consideration of the amount of private funds or in-kind 
                contributions to control harmful nonnative species or 
                national wildlife refuge lands or non-Federal lands in 
                proximity to refuge resources.
                  (D) The extent to which a project would aid the 
                conservation of species that are listed under the 
                Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
                seq.).
                  (E) Whether a project includes pilot testing or a 
                demonstration of an innovative technology having the 
                potential for improved cost-effectiveness in 
                controlling harmful nonnative species.
                  (F) The extent to which a project considers the 
                potential for unintended consequences of control 
                methods on ecosystems and includes contingency 
                measures.
  (f) Distribution of Control Grant Awards.--In making grants for 
control projects under this section the Secretary shall, to the 
greatest extent practicable, ensure--
          (1) a balance of smaller and larger projects conducted with 
        grants under this section; and
          (2) an equitable geographic distribution of projects carried 
        out with grants under this section, among all regions and 
        States within which such projects are proposed to be conducted.
  (g) Grant Duration.--
          (1) In general.--Each grant under this section shall be to 
        provide funding for the Federal share of the cost of a project 
        carried out with the grant for up to 2 fiscal years.
          (2) Renewal.--(A) If the Secretary, after reviewing the 
        reports under subsection (h) regarding a control project, finds 
        that the project is making satisfactory progress, the Secretary 
        may renew a grant under this section for the project for an 
        additional 3 fiscal years.
          (B) The Secretary may renew a grant under this section to 
        implement the monitoring and maintenance plan required for a 
        control project under subsection (e)(1)(B) for up to 5 fiscal 
        years after the project is otherwise completed.
  (h) Reporting by Grantee.--
          (1) In general.--(A) A grantee carrying out a control project 
        with a grant under this section shall report to the Secretary 
        every 24 months or at the expiration of the grant, whichever is 
        of shorter duration.
          (B) A State carrying out an assessment project with a grant 
        under this section shall submit the assessment pursuant to 
        subsection (a)(2) to the Secretary no later than 24 months 
        after the date on which the grant is awarded.
          (2) Report contents.--Each report under this subsection shall 
        include the following information with respect to each project 
        covered by the report:
                  (A) In the case of a control project--
                          (i) the information described in 
                        subparagraphs (B), (D), and (F) of subsection 
                        (k)(2);
                          (ii) specific information on the methods and 
                        techniques used to control harmful nonnative 
                        species in the project area; and
                          (iii) specific information on the methods and 
                        techniques used to restore native fish, 
                        wildlife, or their habitats in the project 
                        area.
                  (B) A detailed report of the funding for the grant 
                and the expenditures made.
          (3) Interim update.--Each grantee under subsection (h)(1)(A) 
        of this section shall also submit annually a brief synopsis to 
        the Secretary, either electronically or in writing, that 
        includes--
                  (A) a chronological list of project progress; and
                  (B) use of awarded funds.
  (i) Cost Sharing for Projects.--
          (1) Federal share.--Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and 
        (3), the Federal share of the cost of a project carried out 
        with a grant under this section shall not exceed 75 percent of 
        such cost.
          (2) Innovative technology costs.--The Federal share of the 
        incremental additional cost of including in a control project 
        any pilot testing or a demonstration of an innovative 
        technology described in subsection (e)(2)(E) shall be 85 
        percent.
          (3) Projects on refuge lands or waters.--The Federal share of 
        the cost of the portion of a control project funded with a 
        grant under this section that is carried out on national 
        wildlife refuge lands or waters, including the cost of 
        acquisition by the Federal Government of lands or waters for 
        use for such a project, shall be 100 percent.
          (4) Application of in-kind contributions.--The Secretary may 
        apply to the non-Federal share of costs of a control project 
        carried out with a grant under this section the fair market 
        value of services or any other form of in-kind contribution to 
        the project made by non-Federal interests that the Secretary 
        determines to be an appropriate contribution equivalent to the 
        monetary amount required for the non-Federal share of the 
        activity.
          (5) Derivation of non-federal share.--The non-Federal share 
        of the cost of a control project carried out with a grant under 
        this section may not be derived from a Federal grant program or 
        other Federal funds.
  (j) Monitoring and Maintenance of Control Grant Projects.--
          (1) Requirements.--The Secretary, in consultation with the 
        Advisory Committee, shall develop requirements for the 
        monitoring and maintenance of a control project to ensure that 
        the requirements under subsections (e)(1)(A) and (B) are 
        achieved.
          (2) Database of grant project information.--The Secretary 
        shall develop and maintain an appropriate database of 
        information concerning control projects carried out with grants 
        under this subsection, including information on project 
        techniques, project completion, monitoring data, and other 
        relevant information.
          (3) Use of existing programs.--The Secretary shall use 
        existing programs within the Department of the Interior to 
        create and maintain the database required under this 
        subsection.
          (4) Public availability.--The Secretary shall make the 
        information collected and maintained under this subsection 
        available to the public.
  (k) Reporting by the Secretary.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary shall, by not later than 3 
        years after the date of the enactment of this Act and 
        biennially thereafter in the report under section 8, report to 
        the appropriate Committees on the implementation of this 
        section.
          (2) Report contents.--A report under paragraph (1) shall 
        include an assessment of--
                  (A) trends in the population size and distribution of 
                harmful nonnative species in the project area for each 
                control project carried out with a grant under this 
                section, and in the adjacent areas as defined by the 
                Secretary;
                  (B) data on the number of acres of refuge resources 
                and native fish and wildlife habitat restored, 
                protected, or enhanced under this section, including 
                descriptions of, and partners involved with, control 
                projects selected, in progress, and completed under 
                this section;
                  (C) trends in the population size and distribution in 
                the project areas of native species targeted for 
                restoration, and in areas in proximity to refuge 
                resources as defined by the Secretary;
                  (D) an estimate of the long-term success of varying 
                conservation techniques used in carrying out control 
                projects with grants under this section;
                  (E) an assessment of the status of control projects 
                carried out with grants under this section, including 
                an accounting of expenditures by the United States Fish 
                and Wildlife Service, State, regional, and local 
                government agencies, and other entities to carry out 
                such projects;
                  (F) a review of the environmental soundness of the 
                control projects carried out with grants under this 
                section;
                  (G) a review of efforts made to maintain an 
                appropriate database of grants under this section; and
                  (H) a review of the geographical distribution of 
                Federal money, matching funds, and in-kind 
                contributions for control projects carried out with 
                grants under this section.
  (l) Cooperation of Non-Federal Interests.--The Secretary may not make 
a grant under this section for a control project on national wildlife 
refuge lands or lands in proximity to refuge resources before a non-
Federal interest has entered into a written agreement with a national 
wildlife refuge or refuge complex under which the non-Federal interest 
agrees to--
          (1) monitor and maintain the control project in accordance 
        with the plan required under subsection (e)(1)(B); and
          (2) provide any other items of cooperation the Secretary 
        considers necessary to carry out the project.

SEC. 5. CREATION OF AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE CAPABILITY TO HARMFUL 
                    NONNATIVE SPECIES.

  (a) Establishment.--The Secretary may provide financial assistance 
for a period of one fiscal year to enable an immediate response to 
outbreaks of harmful nonnative species that threaten or may negatively 
impact refuge resources that are at a stage at which rapid eradication 
or control is possible, and ensure eradication or immediate control of 
the harmful nonnative species.
  (b) Requirements for Assistance.--The Secretary shall provide 
assistance under this section, with the concurrence of the Governor of 
a State, to local and State agencies, universities, or nongovernmental 
entities for the eradication of an immediate harmful nonnative species 
threat only if--
          (1) there is a demonstrated need for the assistance;
          (2) the harmful nonnative species is considered to be an 
        immediate threat to refuge resources, as determined by the 
        Secretary; and
          (3) the proposed response to such threat--
                  (A) is technically feasible; and
                  (B) minimizes adverse impacts to the structure and 
                function of national wildlife refuge ecosystems and 
                adverse effects on nontarget species.
  (c) Amount of Financial Assistance.--The Secretary shall determine 
the amount of financial assistance to be provided under this section 
with respect to an outbreak of a harmful nonnative species, subject to 
the availability of appropriations.
  (d) Cost Share.--The Federal share of the cost of any activity 
carried out with assistance under this section may be up to 100 
percent.
  (e) Monitoring and Reporting.--The Secretary shall require that 
persons receiving assistance under this section monitor and report on 
activities carried out with assistance under this section in accordance 
with the requirements that apply with respect to control projects 
carried out with assistance under section 4.

SEC. 6. COOPERATIVE VOLUNTEER HARMFUL NON-NATIVE SPECIES MONITORING AND 
                    CONTROL PROGRAM.

  (a) In General.--Consistent with the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act of 1998 (Public Law 
105-242), the Secretary shall establish a cooperative volunteer harmful 
non-native species monitoring and control program to administer and 
coordinate projects implemented by volunteer or other civic 
organizations concerned with national wildlife refuges to address 
harmful non-native species that threaten national wildlife refuges or 
adjacent lands.
  (b) Eligible Activities.--Each project administered and coordinated 
under this section shall include one of the following activities:
          (1) Habitat surveys.
          (2) Detection and identification of new introductions or 
        infestations of harmful nonnative species.
          (3) Harmful non-native species control projects.
          (4) Public education and outreach to increase awareness 
        concerning harmful non-native species and their threat to the 
        refuge system.

SEC. 7. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER AUTHORITIES.

  (a) Authorities, etc. of Secretary.--Nothing in this Act affects 
authorities, responsibilities, obligations, or powers of the Secretary 
under any other statute.
  (b) State Authority.--Nothing in this Act preempts any provision or 
enforcement of State statute or regulation relating to the management 
of fish and wildlife resources within such State.

SEC. 8. BIENNIAL REPORT.

  The Secretary shall prepare and submit to the Congress by not later 
than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act and biennially 
thereafter--
          (1) a comprehensive report summarizing all grant activities 
        relating to invasive species initiated under this Act 
        including--
                  (A) State assessment projects;
                  (B) qualified control projects;
                  (C) immediate response activities; and
                  (D) projects identified in the Refuge Operations 
                Needs database or the Service Asset and Maintenance 
                Management System database of the United States Fish 
                and Wildlife Service.
          (2) a list of grant priorities, ranked in high, medium, and 
        low categories, for future grant activities in the areas of--
                  (A) early detection and rapid response;
                  (B) control, management, and restoration;
                  (C) research and monitoring;
                  (D) information management; and
                  (E) public outreach and partnership efforts; and
          (3) information required to be included under section 4(k).

SEC. 9. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  (a) In General.--There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
this Act such sums as may be necessary.
  (b) Allowance for Immediate Response.--Of the amounts appropriated to 
carry out this Act no more than 25 percent shall be available in any 
fiscal year for financial assistance under section 5.
  (c) Continuing Availability.--Amounts appropriated under this Act may 
remain available until expended.
  (d) Administrative Expenses.--Of amounts available each fiscal year 
to carry out this Act, the Secretary may expend not more than 3 percent 
or up to $100,000, whichever is greater, to pay the administrative 
expenses necessary to carry out this Act.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 767 is to protect, conserve and restore 
native fish, wildlife, and their natural habitats at national 
wildlife refuges through cooperative, incentive-based grants to 
control, mitigate and eradicate harmful nonnative species, and 
for other purposes.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System) was 
established more than 100 years ago to protect important 
habitat areas vital to the conservation of fish and wildlife 
populations in the United States. Our nation's Refuge System 
protects and provides habitats for more than 700 bird species, 
220 mammal species, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 
1,000 fish, and a tremendous variety of plant and invertebrate 
species. Over the last 20 years, however, harmful nonnative or 
``invasive'' species have taken root throughout the Refuge 
System. Infestations have diminished the quality of habitat, 
negatively affected native wildlife and plant species, and 
increased the operating costs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (the Service).
    Examples of infestations of harmful nonnative species can 
be found at refuges around the country. At the Trempealeau 
National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, sand prairie, wetland 
and bottomland forest habitats are threatened by several 
invasive plants, notably leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, 
quackgrass, smooth brome grass and black locust trees. These 
noxious plants seriously compromise the ecological integrity 
and biodiversity of this key refuge along the Mississippi 
Flyway. At the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, the 
highly invasive Chinese tallow tree, which shades out native 
grasslands, prairies and brush lands, has destroyed more than 
55,000 acres of bird and wildlife habitat important to nearly 
400 species of migratory birds. At the Arthur R. Loxahatchee 
National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, two invasive plants 
Melaleuca and Old World climbing fern, have infested more than 
80 percent of the refuge. Regrettably, numerous other examples 
illustrating the disastrous harm to fish and wildlife and their 
habitats can be readily found throughout the Refuge System.
    The Service has identified invasive species as a management 
priority. As expressed during a survey taken during the 2001 
Conservation in Action Summit, refuge managers identified 
invasive species by a more than two-to-one margin as the most 
important environmental challenge facing the Refuge System. In 
2004, the Service's Refuge System Threats and Conflicts 
database identified invasive species as the single most 
important threat. Furthermore, the Service's own 2006 Refuge 
Annual Performance Planning (RAPP) data estimated that at least 
two million acres of refuge lands were infested by invasive 
plants. The Service now estimates that 4,471 invasive animal 
populations and at least 675 harmful nonnative species can be 
found on eight million acres of the Refuge System. This latest 
estimate by the Service corroborates a similar 2001 estimate 
provided in the report released by The National Audubon 
Society, Cooling the Hot Spots. These estimates reinforce the 
explosive growth of this threat. They also serve to underscore 
the critical need for the Service to initiate and complete 
surveys throughout the Refuge System to identify invasive 
species infestations, monitor new outbreaks, and characterize 
and control invasive species pathways.
    Funding shortfalls and competing environmental issues such 
as water rights, pollution and contaminants, and air quality, 
however, threaten to undermine the future of the Refuge System 
and the ability of the Service to address the growing threat of 
invasive species. The Service and the Cooperative Alliance for 
Refuge Enhancement estimate that there is nearly a $2.8 billion 
backlog in the operations and maintenance budgets for the 
Refuge System. Funding shortages for operations limit the 
Service's ability to address emerging threats affecting 
refuges, notably infestations and colonizations by invasive 
species. The Service estimates that at present, the portion of 
the operations budget backlog attributed to invasive species is 
$361 million. Unfortunately, the budget shortfall has limited 
the amount of funding the Service devotes to this activity. In 
fiscal year 2006, the Service spent just $9.7 million on 
activities to address invasive species, or roughly 2.6 percent 
of the funding level required to address this threat. At this 
funding level, the Service was able to treat and map a total of 
38,016 acres of refuge lands, or roughly 0.47 percent of the 
total estimated amount of lands infested by invasive species. 
In fiscal year 2007, the Service budgeted $9.2 million for 
Refuge System invasive species activities, a slight decrease. 
Unfortunately, the Administration requested only $8.6 for 
fiscal year 2008.
    To strengthen and supplement support, the Service has 
adopted new management innovations. For example, the Service 
has developed Invasive Species Strike Teams as mobile units 
designed to rapidly respond to new invasive species 
infestations and to eradicate these outbreaks in specific 
geographic locations. To compensate for staffing cuts, the 
Service has also supported local volunteer or ``Friends'' 
organizations to initiate projects, such as mapping and 
monitoring of new and existing invasive species infestations. 
In general, the sum of these activities still falls far short 
of the need as identified in the RAPP data. Moreover, should 
present trends in funding levels for the Refuge System hold, it 
is doubtful that these activities will persist in the 
foreseeable future.
    Legislation to prioritize this issue within the Service and 
provide a framework to address the threat of invasive species 
on a landscape basis would be beneficial to fulfill the goals 
and objectives of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act (Public Law 105-57). Considering that invasive 
species move across the landscape irrespective of political 
subdivisions of land, any framework should encourage the 
development of long-term cooperative partnerships between the 
Service, the states, and non-federal partners to address the 
threat on both refuge lands and adjacent non-federal lands, 
especially associated invasive species migration pathways. 
Moreover, it is clear that new financial incentives are 
necessary to support activities to respond, monitor, control, 
manage and eradicate harmful nonnative species if we hope to 
control the spread of invasive species and protect the 
ecological integrity, biological diversity and environmental 
health of the Refuge System.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 767 was introduced on January 31, 2007 by Congressman 
Ron Kind (D-WI). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans. The bill as introduced 
authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide under the 
Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response 
(REPAIR) Grant Program (1) grants to any eligible applicant to 
carry out a qualified control project to control harmful 
nonnative species; (2) grants to any state to carry out an 
assessment project to identify harmful nonnative species, 
assess the needs to restore, manage, or enhance native fish, 
wildlife and habitats, identify priorities, and identify 
mechanisms to increase capacity building for native fish, 
wildlife, and habitats. The Secretary is required to consult 
with the Invasive Species Advisory Committee on grant proposals 
regarding the development of a database concerning control 
projects carried out with such REPAIR grants. The Secretary is 
also authorized to provide financial assistance to enable 
entities to immediately respond to new outbreaks of harmful 
nonnative species that threaten or may negatively impact refuge 
resources when eradication or control is possible. The 
Secretary is also directed to establish a Cooperative Volunteer 
Invasive Species Monitoring and Control Program to document and 
combat invasive species in national wildlife refuges.
    On June 21, 2007, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the 
bill. On July 26, 2007, the Subcommittee met to mark up the 
bill. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) offered an amendment in the 
nature of a substitute to clarify the definition of refuge 
resources to include waterfowl production areas, limit the 
amount of financial assistance for immediate response in any 
fiscal year to 25 percent, revise the funding allowance for 
administrative expenses to mirror other matching grant 
programs, and make other minor technical corrections. The 
substitute was adopted by voice vote. The bill was then 
forwarded to the Full Committee.
    On October 10, 2007, the Full Natural Resources Committee 
met to consider the bill. Congressman Kind offered an amendment 
in the nature of a substitute to make other technical and 
clarifying changes to the bill requested by the Service and the 
States. In particular, the amendment inserted a savings clause 
regarding state authority to manage fish and wildlife 
resources, and a clarification that civic organizations, 
including organizations concerned with the Refuge System as 
defined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and 
Community Partnership Act, would be eligible to participate in 
the cooperative volunteer program. The amendment was adopted by 
unanimous consent. The bill as amended was then ordered 
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous 
consent.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 cites this Act as the ``Refuge Ecology 
Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act.''

Section 2. Findings and purpose

    Section 2 establishes that harmful nonnative invasive 
species are a leading cause of habitat destruction in National 
Wildlife Refuges, a problem resulting in a control project 
backlog exceeding $361 million. The Act encourages federal, 
state and private entities to help control harmful nonnative 
species in the Refuge System through development of voluntary 
state harmful nonnative species priority control assessments, 
an incentive-based financial assistance grant program promoting 
cooperative ecological control strategies, and establishes the 
capacity to take immediate responses to incipient invasions.

Section 3. Definitions

    Section 3 defines key terms included within the text of the 
proposed legislation, including ``advisory committee'', 
``control'', ``environmental soundness'', ``harmful nonnative 
species'' and ``refuge resources''.

Section 4. Refuge ecology protection, assistance, and immediate 
        response (REPAIR) grant program

    Section 4 authorizes the Secretary to provide grants to 
eligible applicants for qualified control projects and to 
states for assessment projects, by specific criteria. The 
Secretary is required, in consultation with the advisory 
committee, to publish guidelines and solicit applications for 
control projects within six months of enactment. Basic criteria 
for eligible applicants and control projects are provided as 
well as logistical grant details. Grants are initially approved 
for up to two fiscal years and percentage limits for government 
cost sharing are outlined. Deadlines regarding grantee reports 
on methods, technique, funding and expenditures are also set. 
Finally, the Secretary must ensure equal geographic 
distribution of grants, a balance between small and large grant 
projects, develop a database containing grant project 
information available to the public, and report to the Congress 
within three years after the date of enactment.

Section 5. Creation of an immediate response capability to harmful 
        nonnative species

    Section 5 enables the Secretary to provide financial 
assistance for immediate response to outbreaks of harmful 
nonnative species that can be controlled or eradicated. This 
assistance will only be administered if it is an immediate 
threat to refuge resources, and the proposed response is 
technically feasible and minimizes adverse impacts to the 
refuge ecosystem and non-target species. The amount of 
financial assistance is determined by the Secretary and is 
subject to the availability of appropriations.

Section 6. Cooperative volunteer harmful nonnative species monitoring 
        and control program

    Section 6 directs the Secretary to establish a cooperative 
volunteer harmful nonnative species monitoring and control 
program to administer and coordinate projects implemented by 
volunteers. Each project must include either habitat surveys, 
detection of new harmful nonnative species, control projects or 
public education and outreach.

Section 7. Relationship to other authorities

    Section 7 clarifies that nothing in this act affects the 
authorities, responsibilities, obligations, or powers of the 
Secretary under other statutes nor does it preempt state 
regulation of the management of fish and wildlife resources 
within a state.

Section 8. Biennial report

    Section 8 requires the Secretary to report to the Congress 
no later than two years after the implementation of the Act, 
and biennially thereafter, a summary of all grant activities 
and a list of grant priorities.

Section 9. Authorization of appropriations

    Section 9 authorizes appropriations in such amounts as may 
be necessary to carry out this Act and the funds are to remain 
available until expended.

            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.

                  FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    The functions of the proposed advisory committee authorized 
in the bill are not currently being nor could they be performed 
by one or more agencies, an advisory committee already in 
existence or by enlarging the mandate of an existing advisory 
committee.

                   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. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to protect, conserve and restore 
native fish, wildlife, and their natural habitats at national 
wildlife refuges through cooperative, incentive-based grants to 
control, mitigate and eradicate harmful nonnative species, and 
for other purposes.
    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:

H.R. 767--Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response 
        Act

    Summary: H.R. 767 would authorize the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS) to provide financial assistance for 
projects that control, mitigate, or eradicate harm from 
nonnative species to national wildlife refuges and surrounding 
lands and waters. CBO estimates that implementing the bill 
would cost $37 million in 2008 and $257 million over the 2008-
2012 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. 
H.R. 767 would not affect revenues or direct spending.
    The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA); 
any costs to state or local governments to match federal 
assistance authorized by the bill would be incurred 
voluntarily.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 767 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2008      2009      2010      2011      2012
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Estimated Authorization Level.................................        65        65        50        50        50
Estimated Outlays.............................................        37        60        60        50        50
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: H.R. 767 would authorize the USFWS to 
finance projects that help to address the harmful effects of 
nonnative species on wildlife refuges. Under the bill, the 
USFWS would provide grants to:
           states to identify harmful species and 
        assess the need for projects to restore native fish and 
        wildlife habitat,
           states, local governments, universities, or 
        other eligible applicants for projects to suppress, 
        reduce, or eradicate nonnative species in wildlife 
        refuges and on adjacent properties, and
           local and state agencies and nongovernmental 
        entities to respond to immediate threats from harmful 
        nonnative species.
    Based on information provided by the Department of the 
Interior, the USFWS, the National Invasive Species Council, and 
the Fish and Wildlife Foundation, CBO estimates that fully 
funding the three grant programs authorized by H.R. 767 would 
require appropriations of nearly $280 million over the 2008-
2012 period. Of that amount, we estimate that the USFWS would 
need about $30 million (over the first two years) for state 
assessments, $10 million annually for immediate response 
grants, and $40 million annually for species control projects. 
Assuming appropriation of those amounts, we estimate that 
discretionary outlays would increase by $37 million in 2008 and 
$257 million over the 2008-2012 period.
    For this estimate, we assume that H.R. 767 will be enacted 
near the beginning of fiscal year 2008 and that the amounts 
estimated to be necessary will be appropriated for each year 
through 2012. Estimated outlays are based on historical 
spending patterns for similar grant programs carried out by the 
USFWS.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 767 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA; any costs to state or local governments to 
match federal assistance authorized by the bill would be 
incurred voluntarily.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Deborah Reis; Impact 
on state, local, and tribal governments: Lisa Ramirez-Branum; 
Impact on the private sector: Amy Petz.
    Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    H.R. 767 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 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

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