Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                       Calendar No. 811
110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     110-379

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



 
                  SNOQUALMIE PASS LAND CONVEYANCE ACT

                                _______
                                

                 June 16, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1285]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the Act (H.R. 1285) to provide for the conveyance of a 
parcel of National Forest System land in Kittitas County, 
Washington, to facilitate the construction of a new fire and 
rescue station, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the Act do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of H.R. 1285 is to provide for the conveyance 
of a parcel of National Forest System land on Snoqualmie Pass 
in Kittitas County, Washington, to facilitate the construction 
of a new fire and rescue station.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue serves King and Kittitas 
Counties Fire District #51. The District consists of about two 
dozen volunteers who serve a community of approximately 350 
full-time residents and 1,500 seasonal residents. During the 
winter, however, the weekend population can exceed 20,000 due 
to the many visitors to the nearby ski area, and approximately 
60,000 vehicles travel through Snoqualmie Pass along Interstate 
Highway 90 on a busy day. As a result, Snoqualmie Pass Fire and 
Rescue reports that non-residents generate up to 78% of its 
emergency response incidents.
    The Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue Station currently is 
located on National Forest System land that is leased from the 
Forest Service. The leased facility was built in the 1930s and 
is deficient in a number of important respects. As a result, 
the District has made building a new fire and rescue station a 
top priority.
    The parcel identified for conveyance by H.R. 1285 currently 
is vacant and is informally used as a parking lot by members of 
the public. Relocating the fire and rescue station to that site 
would significantly improve response times to many of the 
emergencies that occur in the area. The Forest Service and the 
Fire District have discussed conveying the property under 
existing law, but the Fire District does not have the funds 
available to acquire the parcel at fair market value.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.R. 1285 was introduced on March, 1, 2007. Hearings were 
held in the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 17, 
2007, and that Committee reported H.R. 1285 on July 23, 2007, 
with an amendment (H. Rept. 110-249). The House of 
Representatives passed H.R. 1285, as amended, by voice vote on 
July 23, 2007. A similar bill was introduced in the 109th 
Congress (H.R. 5999).
    Senators Cantwell and Murray introduced a companion bill 
(S. 2601) on February 6, 2008, and the Subcommittee on Public 
Lands and Forests held a hearing on S. 2601 and H.R. 1285 on 
February 27, 2008.
    At its business meeting on May 7, 2008, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered H.R. 1285 favorably 
reported, without amendment.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an 
open business session on May 7, 2008, by voice vote of a quorum 
present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 1285.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title for the Act.
    Section 2(a) directs the Secretary of Agriculture to 
convey, without consideration, a 1.5 acre parcel of National 
Forest System land to the King and Kittitas Counties Fire 
District #51 to build a new fire and rescue station.
    Subsection (b) reserves a reversionary interest in the 
conveyed land. If the Secretary determines (on the record and 
after an opportunity for a hearing) that the property is being 
used for something other than as a site for a fire and rescue 
station, the land shall, at the option of the Secretary, revert 
to the United States.
    Subsection (c) provides that the Secretary may determine 
the exact acreage and legal description of the land pursuant to 
a survey, if necessary, and that the District shall pay for 
such a survey.
    Subsection (d) authorizes the Secretary to require such 
additional terms and conditions in connection with the 
conveyance as the Secretary considers appropriate to protect 
the interests of the United States.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 1285--Snoqualmie Pass Land Conveyance Act

    H.R. 1285 would provide for the conveyance, without 
consideration, of 1.5 acres of Forest Service land to the King 
and Kittitas Counties Fire District #51. The land would be 
available only to the fire district to be used to construct a 
new firehouse. Based on information from the Forest Service, 
CBO expects that any cost to the government of implementing 
this legislation would not be significant. Enacting H.R. 1285 
would not affect direct spending or revenues.
    H.R. 1285 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.
    On July 10, 2007, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
1285, the Snoqualmie Pass Land Conveyance Act, as ordered 
reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources on June 
28, 2007. The versions of the legislation are identical, as are 
the estimated costs.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Tyler Kruzich. 
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Assisitant 
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 H.R. 1285.
    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 H.R. 1285.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    H.R. 1285 does not contain any congressionally directed 
spending items, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The views of the Administration were included in testimony 
received by the Committee at a hearing on H.R. 1285 on February 
27, 2008.

Statement of Melissa Simpson, Deputy Under Secretary, Natural Resources 
               and Environment, Department of Agriculture

    This testimony concerns both S. 2601 and H.R. 1285, as 
passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bills would 
require the Secretary of Agriculture to convey, without 
consideration, approximately 1.5-acres of land on the Wenatchee 
National Forest to the King and Kittitas Counties Fire District 
#51 for use as a site for a new Snoqualmie Pass fire and rescue 
station.
    The Fire District currently has a fire station located on 
National Forest System lands under a special use permit, 
several miles away from the property covered by this 
legislation. We understand that the Fire District wants to 
construct an updated facility situated at an interchange on 
Interstate 90 to improve response times to the many emergency 
situations that occur in that area. We agree that the proposed 
1.5-acre parcel will meet this need. Among other administrative 
procedures necessary to facilitate the conveyance, a land 
survey will be needed to properly locate and describe the 
property. As is required under the Townsite Act and exchange 
authorities, the Fire District would normally be expected to 
pay administrative costs of making the conveyance, such as the 
survey.
    The Department does not support the bills in their present 
form. We appreciate that the acreage has been reduced from the 
original House proposal of 3 acres to 1.5 acres. We do not 
object to conveying the lands, but we oppose the bills because 
they do not require market value compensation for the 
conveyance, although the bill does require the District to 
cover the survey costs associated with the conveyance. It is 
long-standing policy that the taxpayers of the United States 
should receive market value for the sale, exchange, or use of 
their National Forest System lands.
    We also believe that this legislation is unnecessary 
because the Forest Service can meet the bill's objectives 
through current statutes that allow the Forest Service to 
convey this parcel to the Fire District for land or cash value. 
For example, under the Townsite Act, the Secretary of 
Agriculture may convey, for market value, up to 640 acres of 
land to established communities located adjacent to National 
Forests. Under the General Exchange Act, the Secretary of 
Agriculture can conduct a land for land exchange with non-
Federal entities, including State and Local governments. These 
laws require the Secretary of Agriculture to obtain market 
value for exchanges or sales of National Forest lands.
    Although we can not support the bills, we are eager to 
continue discussions with the sponsors, the Fire District, and 
the committee, in the hopes of assisting the District in 
achieving its desire to improve its capacity to provide 
necessary fire and rescue services.

                        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 H.R. 1285 as 
ordered reported.