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                                                       Calendar No. 522
111th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     111-252

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



 
        NORTH COUNTRY NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL ROUTE ADJUSTMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

                 August 5, 2010.--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 S. 553]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 553) to revise the authorized route of 
the North Country National Scenic Trail in northeastern 
Minnesota to include existing hiking trails along Lake 
Superior's north shore and in Superior National Forest and 
Chippewa National Forest, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
    Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``North Country National Scenic Trail 
Route Adjustment Act of 2010''.

SEC. 2. ROUTE ADJUSTMENT.

    Section 5(a)(8) of the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 
1244(a)(8)) is amended in the first sentence--
          (1) by striking ``thirty-two hundred'' and inserting 
        ``4,600''; and
          (2) by striking ``as `Proposed North Country Trail-Vicinity 
        Map' in'' and all that follows through the period at the end of 
        the sentence and inserting ``as `North Country National Scenic 
        Trail, Authorized Route' dated February 16, 2005, and numbered 
        649/80,002.''.

                                Purpose

    The purpose of S. 553 is to revise the route of the North 
Country National Scenic Trail in northeastern Minnesota to 
include existing hiking trails along Lake Superior's north 
shore and in the Superior and Chippewa National Forests.

                          Background and Need

    The North Country National Scenic Trail was established in 
1980 by Public Law 96-199. The Trail extends from New York to 
North Dakota and at the time of its creation, the length was 
estimated to be 3,200 miles. However, modern digital measuring 
equipment indicates that when construction is completed on the 
currently authorized route, the length of the trail will be 
approximately 4,200 miles.
    Trail partners in Minnesota have discovered that a portion 
of the authorized route west of Duluth is not feasible because 
much of it crosses tamarack swamp, making it unsuitable for use 
as a national trail. As an alternative, trail supporters have 
proposed the use of existing and planned hiking trails that 
follow the north shore of Lake Superior and cross the Boundary 
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to connect the cities of Duluth 
and Ely. These trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail, 
Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail, take hikers through a 
region known locally as the ``Arrowhead'' which is 
representative of North Country scenery.
    Several new trails will have to be built to connect these 
trails to the authorized North Country route. These new and 
existing trails of the Arrowhead Reroute will add another 400 
miles to the length of the North Country National Scenic Trail 
for a total of nearly 4,600 miles nationally.
    S. 553 would modify the route of the North Country National 
Scenic Trail to incorporate the trails in the Arrowhead and 
exclude the portions crossing through the tamarack swamp.

                          Legislative History

    S. 553 was introduced by Senator Klobuchar on March 9, 
2009. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on the 
bill on March 17, 2010. The Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources considered the bill and adopted an amendment in the 
nature of a substitute at its business meeting on June 16, 
2010. The Committee ordered S. 553 favorably reported with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute at its business meeting 
on June 21, 2010.

                        Committee Recommendation

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on June 21, 2010, by a voice vote of a quorum 
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 553, if amended as 
described herein.

                          Committee Amendment

    During the consideration of S. 553, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. The amendment 
revises the short title, removes the Congressional findings, 
adds language to conform the land acquisition language to 
reflect changes made by section 5301 of Public Law 111-11, the 
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and makes other 
technical and conforming amendments. The amendment is explained 
in detail in the section-by-section analysis below.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``North Country 
National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act of 2010''.
    Section 2 amends section 5(a)(8) of the National Trails 
System Act (16 U.S.C. 1244(a)(8)) by changing the overall 
length of the North Country National Scenic Trail to 4,600 
miles and changes the map referenced in the Act to reflect the 
revised route.

                   Cost and Budgetary Considerations

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

S. 553--North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act of 
        2010

    S. 553 would revise the route of the North Country National 
Scenic Trail, which currently spans an estimated 4,200 miles in 
seven states from New York to North Dakota. Specifically, the 
bill would reroute a segment of the trail that runs through 
northeastern Minnesota, adding about 400 miles to the overall 
length.
    Based on information provided by the National Park Service, 
which administers the trail, and assuming appropriation of the 
necessary amounts, CBO estimates that implementing S. 553 would 
cost about $5 million over the 2011-2015 period. Most of this 
amount would be spent to acquire private land (or easements on 
that land) along the new trail segment. We estimate that 
ongoing costs to develop, manage, and maintain the added 
property would be minimal. Enacting the bill would have no 
effect on revenues or direct spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply.
    S. 553 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 August 25, 2009, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for 
H.R. 481, the North Country National Scenic Trail Route 
Adjustment Act of 2009, as ordered reported by the House 
Committee on Natural Resources on July 29, 2009. The two bills 
are nearly identical, and the estimated costs are the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von 
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Peter Fontaine, 
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. 553.
    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. 553, as ordered reported.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    S. 553, as ordered reported, 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 testimony provided by the National Park Service at the 
March 17, 2010 Subcommittee hearing on S. 553 follows:

 Statement of Daniel N. Wenk, Deputy Director, National Park Service, 
                       Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to appear before you today to present the 
Department of the Interior's views on S. 553, a bill to revise 
the authorized route of the North Country National Scenic Trail 
in northeastern Minnesota to include existing hiking trails 
along Lake Superior's north shore and in Superior National 
Forest and Chippewa National Forest.
    The Department supports enactment of S. 553 with two 
amendments described later in this statement. This legislation 
would amend section 5(a)(8) of the National Trails System Act 
to revise the route of the North Country National Scenic Trail 
in northeastern Minnesota and increase the overall length of 
the trail to 4,600 miles. This reflects current measurements of 
the trail's length plus the additional 400 miles of the revised 
route in northeastern Minnesota. The bill includes the 
reference for a map that would depict the revised route of the 
trail.
    The North Country National Scenic Trail was authorized by 
Congress in 1980 to provide superlative outdoor recreation 
opportunities and conservation of nationally significant 
scenic, historic, natural and cultural qualities along the 
trail corridor, to provide a premier hiking trail facility, and 
to encourage and assist volunteer citizen involvement in the 
planning, development, maintenance and management of the trail. 
The National Park Service (NPS) administers this trail. The 
comprehensive management plan for the trail was issued in 1982.
    The authorized route of the trail in northeastern Minnesota 
traverses more than 70 miles of black spruce and tamarack 
swamp, extending westward from Jay Cooke State Park, south of 
Duluth, to the Chippewa National Forest, southwest of Grand 
Rapids. Because of the location and difficult environmental 
conditions within the swamp, no portion of this section of the 
trail has been constructed. The proposed revised route uses 
three existing hiking trails all developed or redeveloped by 
volunteers since the Comprehensive Management Plan for the 
North Country Trail was written. These trails, totaling over 
300 miles of existing hiking trail, follow the north shore of 
Lake Superior and traverse the Boundary Waters Canoe Area 
Wilderness in the Superior National Forest, a region of the 
state known locally as the ``Arrowhead.'' The proposed change 
has become known in the North Country Trail community as the 
``Arrowhead Reroute.''
    Since 1987, Minnesota hiking groups have requested the NPS 
to study the revised route and consider their recommendation 
for a change due to the location and the existing environmental 
conditions of the present segment. As a result, the NPS 
conducted the Northeastern Minnesota Route Assessment between 
1999 and 2004. This study evaluated and compared two routes--
the one authorized by Congress in 1980 and the Arrowhead 
Reroute. In 2003 and 2004 public meetings were held in Duluth, 
Ely, Grand Rapids, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. No comments 
opposing the proposed change in the route were received, either 
at the public meetings or by mail or email during the widely-
publicized public comment period. The plan and environmental 
assessment was approved by the NPS Midwest Regional Director on 
September 30, 2004. The National Trails System Act states that 
segments of a national scenic trail may be relocated upon a 
determination that the relocation is necessary to preserve the 
purposes of the trail and to promote a sound land management 
program. The authorized route through 70 miles of densely 
wooded wetlands does not provide a superlative outdoor 
recreation experience. To provide a premier hiking experience 
and preserve the landscape would require the construction of 
many miles of boardwalk in order to successfully traverse those 
wetlands. This factor alone has not and will not encourage 
volunteers to become involved in establishing that route.
    In stark contrast, the revised Arrowhead Reroute connects 
nationally significant natural, cultural, and recreational 
resources with outstanding scenery that epitomizes the ``North 
Country'' and has already encouraged volunteers to become 
involved in planning, developing, maintaining, and managing 
trails. Additionally, the relocation promotes a sound land 
management program, using established trails and proposing 
additional trail segments that are appropriately located and 
managed in accordance with established multiple-use principles.
    Approximately three-quarters of the Arrowhead Reroute 
already exists, having been built as part of the three existing 
hiking trails--the Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail, 
and Kekekabic Trail. New sections that would need to be 
constructed to complete the reroute in the Chippewa and 
Superior National Forests, Minnesota state parks and forests, 
and county-owned lands would be reviewed for environmental 
impacts on critical habitat, endangered species, wetlands, and 
cultural resources. Where no public land exists, the trail 
would be developed on private property but only with the 
owners' permission and support.
    There is strong support for the trail relocation among 
public agencies and jurisdictions. The Minnesota Department of 
Natural Resources (DNR) has been a strong proponent of the 
relocation since the late 1980s. Also, the supervisors of the 
Superior National Forest and the Chippewa National Forest have 
indicated their support for the proposed relocated route. Local 
governments in Duluth, Ely, and Grand Rapids have been 
supportive.
    Duluth and St. Louis County have already approved the 
extension of the Superior Hiking Trail across city and county 
parkland to connect Jay Cooke State Park to the south with Two 
Harbors to the north, the former southern terminus of the 
Superior Hiking Trail. More than 39 miles of new trail have 
been built in the city along with six additional miles between 
Duluth and Two Harbors. Recently, one city along the authorized 
route voiced opposition because they will no longer be on the 
official route--a route that is environmentally unfeasible. 
However, they did not voice this opposition during the study 
and public comment period back in 2004.
    The North Country Trail Association and the Parks and 
Trails Council of Minnesota are committed to developing the 
connecting trail segments that will be needed between Ely and 
the Chippewa National Forest. The Council has pledged not only 
the workers to build and maintain the trail, but also the 
effort and funding needed to secure private lands.
    The NPS anticipates the cost of adding this route and 
constructing a footpath to be very low. The construction would 
be done primarily by volunteers using hand tools. Current NPS 
staff would provide route planning and support for the 
volunteers who help develop and maintain the path. Funding 
would be needed to supply trail markers, signage, tools, 
equipment, and materials to the volunteers for the 400 
additional miles of trail. The average cost is estimated to be 
$100 per mile per year, or $40,000 per year.
    The portions of the North Country Trail reroute yet to be 
built have not been laid out in detail. No specific landowners 
have been identified or contacted. Rather, the route assessment 
(study) identified a corridor several miles wide within which 
the trail will eventually be laid out. This will allow the NPS 
and its partners to design a route that will minimize the 
amount of private land involved and to work with landowners on 
a voluntary basis--if one landowner is not interested in having 
the trail on his property, perhaps a neighbor will be amenable. 
Consequently, no estimates of land acquisition costs have been 
developed.
    Up until March 30, 2009, the Federal government was 
prohibited from spending funds to acquire lands for the North 
Country National Scenic Trail outside the exterior boundaries 
of existing Federal areas. However, Federal funds could be 
granted to others to assist them in acquiring these lands. In 
FY 2000 Congress directed the NPS to grant $500,000 from the 
Land and Water Conservation Fund to the state of Wisconsin for 
acquisition of lands for the North Country Trail. Public Law 
111-11, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, 
provides authority for Federal agencies to acquire lands or 
interests in lands from willing sellers for the North Country 
National Scenic Trail.
    We recommend that S. 553 be amended to increase the overall 
length of the trail to 4,600 miles and to insert language 
reflecting the revised map. The proposed amendments are 
attached to this testimony.
    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be glad 
to answer any questions that you or other members of the 
subcommittee may have.
Suggested amendments to H.R. 481
    On page 4, line 3 strike ``SEC. 3'' and all that follows 
through line 17 and insert the following:

SEC. 3. ROUTE REAUTHORIZATION.

    Section 5(a)(8) of the National Trails System Act (16 
U.S.C. 12244(a)) is amended as follows:
          (1) strike ``thirty-two hundred miles'' and insert 
        ``forty-six hundred miles'', and
          (2) strike ``Proposed North Country Trail'' through 
        ``June 1975'' and insert ```North Country National 
        Scenic Trail, Authorized Route', dated February 16, 
        2005, and numbered 649/80,002.''

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill S. 553 as ordered reported, are shown as follows 
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

                       NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT

  AN ACT To establish a national trails system, and for other purposes

(Approved October 2, 1968; Public Law 90-543; 16 U.S.C. 1241 et seq.)

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 5. NATIONAL SCENIC AND NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAILS.

    (a) Authorization.--National scenic and national historic 
trails shall be authorized and designated only by Act of 
Congress. There are hereby established the following National 
Scenic and National Historic Trails:

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (8) The North Country National Scenic Trail, a trail 
        of approximately [thirty-two hundred] 4,600 miles, 
        extending from eastern New York State to the vicinity 
        of Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, following the 
        approximate route depicted on the map identified [as 
        ``Proposed North Country Trail-Vicinity Map'' in the 
        Department of the Interior ``North Country Trail 
        Report'', dated June l975.] as ``North Country National 
        Scenic Trail, Authorized Route'' dated February 16, 
        2005, and numbered 649/80,002. The map shall be on file 
        and available for public inspection in the office of 
        the Director, National Park Service, Washington, 
        District of Columbia. The trail shall be administered 
        by the Secretary of the Interior. No land or interest 
        in land outside the exterior boundaries of any 
        federally administered area may be acquired by the 
        Federal Government for the trail except with the 
        consent of the owner of the land or interest in land.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *