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                                                       Calendar No. 592
111th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     111-306

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



 
                UPPER CONNECTICUT RIVER PARTNERSHIP ACT

                                _______
                                

               September 27, 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. 1117]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1117) to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to provide assistance in implementing cultural 
heritage, conservation, and recreational activities in the 
Connecticut River watershed of the States of New Hampshire and 
Vermont, 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 ``Upper Connecticut River Partnership 
Act''.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
          (1) Commissions.--The term ``Commissions'' means the 
        Connecticut River Joint Commissions of New Hampshire and 
        Vermont.
          (2) Management plan.--
                  (A) In general.--The term ``management plan'' means 
                the management plan developed by the Commissions 
                entitled ``Connecticut River Corridor Management Plan'' 
                and dated May 1997.
                  (B) Inclusions.--The term ``management plan'' 
                includes any updates to the management plan described 
                in subparagraph (A).
          (3) Program.--The term ``program'' means the Connecticut 
        River Grants and Technical Assistance Program established by 
        section 3(a).
          (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (5) State.--The term ``State'' means each of the States of 
        New Hampshire and Vermont.
          (6) Watershed.--The term ``watershed'' means the upper 
        Connecticut River watershed.

SEC. 3. CONNECTICUT RIVER GRANTS AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

    (a) In General.--There is established in the Department of the 
Interior the Connecticut River Grants and Technical Assistance Program.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of the program is to provide financial 
and technical assistance to the States, through the Commissions, to 
improve management of the watershed in accordance with the management 
plan.
    (c) Financial and Technical Assistance.--
          (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary may 
        provide financial and technical assistance to the Commissions 
        in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.
          (2) Limitation.--No financial assistance shall be provided 
        under this Act until the date on which the Secretary has 
        approved criteria for financial assistance in accordance with 
        subsection (d).
    (d) Criteria.--
          (1) Development.--The Commissions shall develop criteria 
        for--
                  (A) prioritizing and determining the eligibility of 
                applicants for financial and technical assistance under 
                the program; and
                  (B) reviewing and prioritizing applications for 
                financial and technical assistance under the program.
          (2) Review; approval.--
                  (A) Submission.--The Commissions shall submit the 
                criteria developed under paragraph (1) to the Secretary 
                for review.
                  (B) Approval or disapproval.--
                          (i) In general.--Not later than 180 days 
                        after the date on which the Commissions submit 
                        the criteria under subparagraph (A), the 
                        Secretary shall approve or disapprove the 
                        criteria.
                          (ii) Disapproval.--If the Secretary 
                        disapproves the criteria under clause (i), the 
                        Secretary shall--
                                  (I) advise the Commissions of the 
                                reasons for disapproval;
                                  (II) make recommendations for 
                                revisions to the criteria; and
                                  (III) not later than 180 days after 
                                the date on which the Commissions 
                                submit revised criteria to the 
                                Secretary, approve or disapprove the 
                                revised criteria.
                  (C) Considerations.--In reviewing the criteria 
                submitted under this paragraph, the Secretary shall 
                consider the extent to which the criteria--
                          (i) are consistent with the purposes and 
                        goals of the management plan; and
                          (ii) provide for protection of the watershed, 
                        including the natural, cultural, historic, and 
                        recreational resources within the watershed.
    (e) Authorities of the Commissions.--The Commissions may use funds 
made available under this Act to provide financial and technical 
assistance to State and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and 
other public and private entities to protect the watershed in 
accordance with the approved criteria and consistent with the 
management plan.

SEC. 4. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) In General.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry 
out this Act $10,000,000, of which not more than $1,000,000 may be made 
available for any 1 fiscal year.
    (b) Cost-sharing Requirement.--
          (1) In general.--The Federal share of the total cost of any 
        activity under this Act shall be not more than 50 percent of 
        the total cost.
          (2) Form.--The non-Federal contribution may be in the form of 
        in-kind contributions of goods or services fairly valued.

SEC. 5. TERMINATION OF AUTHORITY.

    The authority of the Secretary to provide financial assistance 
under this Act terminates on the date that is 10 years after the date 
of enactment of this Act.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 1117 is to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to provide financial and technical assistance to carry 
out projects for conservation and protection of the natural, 
cultural, historic, and recreational resources of the upper 
Connecticut River watershed.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    The upper Connecticut River forms the border between 
Vermont and New Hampshire, and the watershed encompasses 
roughly 35 percent of the States' total combined land area. The 
watershed and several sites located within it have been 
recognized as containing significant cultural, natural, and 
scenic resources, including Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National 
Historical Park, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, and 
sections of the Appalachian Trail. It also includes the Silvio 
O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Connecticut 
River Byway, which was recognized as a National Scenic Byway in 
2005.
    The upper Connecticut River watershed provides many 
opportunities for river-based recreation, such as swimming, 
boating, camping, fishing, bicycling, and hiking. There has 
been sustained local interest in developing and managing the 
area to support outdoor recreation while protecting the 
watershed's scenic and natural value. The loss of private land 
to development, erosion along riverfront land, and mercury and 
other toxins in fish threaten the watershed's recreational 
value as well as its natural resources.
    The Connecticut River Joint Commissions were formed in 
1989, uniting separate commissions that had been formed by the 
States of Vermont and New Hampshire, to serve as a catalyst to 
preserve and protect the resources of the Connecticut River 
Valley, and to guide its growth and development. In 1997, the 
Commissions completed the Connecticut River Corridor Management 
Plan. The management plan identifies several focus areas for 
protecting the Connecticut River, including river quality, flow 
management and dams, sustaining habitat for fish and wildlife, 
and economic opportunities. The management plan encourages the 
Connecticut River Joint Commissions to work with state and 
federal agencies to meet the Plan's goals for restoring, 
conserving, and preserving the Connecticut River. The 
Connecticut River Joint Commissions have secured funding from 
federal agencies in the past, but the Commissions are seeking a 
dedicated individualized grant program that would address a 
backlog of projects that would benefit the river and the 
region. Legislation is needed to establish a grant and 
technical assistance program to award grants to local 
communities and organizations that seek to achieve the 
management plan's goals of preserving, conserving and restoring 
the upper Connecticut River watershed and its resources.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 1117 was introduced by Senators Leahy, Shaheen, Sanders, 
and Gregg on May 21, 2009. The Subcommittee on National Parks 
held a hearing on the bill on July 15, 2009. 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 July 21, 2010. The Committee ordered S. 1117 favorably 
reported, as amended, at its business meeting on August 5, 
2010.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on August 5, 2010, by a voice vote of a quorum 
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1117, if amended as 
described herein.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During the consideration of S. 1117, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. The amendment makes 
the authorization consistent with authorities provided for 
National Heritage Areas. In particular, the amendment deletes 
the Congressional finding and purpose section, and expands the 
definitions section to clarify several terms used in the bill. 
It clarifies that financial and technical assistance for the 
Connecticut River Grants and Technical Assistance Program will 
not be provided by the Secretary of the Interior until he has 
approved criteria developed by the Commissions. The amendment 
includes requirements detailing how the Secretary will review 
the criteria and the process for approving or disapproving the 
criteria. The amendment also changes the Federal cost share 
from 75 percent to 50 percent, and adds a sunset clause that 
terminates the Secretary's authority to provide financial 
assistance after 10 years. The Committee amendment is further 
explained in detail in the section-by-section analysis below.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``Upper Connecticut 
River Partnership Act.''
    Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
    Section 3(a) establishes the Connecticut River Grants and 
Technical Assistance Program.
    Subsection (b) describes the purpose of the program, which 
is to provide financial and technical assistance to improve 
management of the watershed in accordance with the management 
plan developed by the Connecticut River Joint Commissions of 
New Hampshire and Vermont (the ``Commissions'').
    Subsection (c) clarifies that the Secretary of the Interior 
may provide financial and technical assistance to the 
Commissions, but not until the Secretary has approved criteria 
for financial assistance in accordance with this Act.
    Subsection (d) instructs the Commissions to develop 
criteria for determining the eligibility of applicants for 
financial and technical assistance and for reviewing their 
applications. The Secretary must approve or disapprove the 
Commissions' criteria within six months after they are 
submitted for review, considering the extent to which the 
criteria are consistent with the purposes and goals of the 
Commissions' management plan. If the Secretary disapproves the 
criteria he must make recommendations for revisions to the 
criteria and approve or disapprove the revised criteria within 
six months after they are submitted.
    Subsection (e) authorizes the Commissions to use Federal 
funds to make grants, enter into cooperative agreements or 
provide technical assistance, hire staff, obtain funds or 
services from any source, contract for goods or services, and 
support activities of partners and any other activities that 
further the purposes of the heritage area and are consistent 
with the management plan.
    Section 4(a) authorizes total appropriations of $10 
million, of which not more than $1 million may be appropriated 
for any fiscal year.
    Subsection (b) requires Federal funding to be matched on a 
50:50 basis by funds from non-Federal sources, including in the 
form of in-kind contributions of goods or services.
    Section 5 provides that the authority of the Secretary to 
provide assistance under this Act terminates 10 years after the 
date of enactment.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

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

S. 1117--Upper Connecticut River Partnership Act

    S. 1117 would establish the Connecticut River Grants and 
Technical Assistance Program to help New Hampshire and Vermont 
manage the upper Connecticut River watershed. For that purpose, 
the bill would authorize the appropriation of $10 million, up 
to $1 million annually. Assuming appropriation of the 
authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing S. 1117 
would cost the National Park Service, which would manage the 
program, $5 million over the 2011-2015 period and $5 million 
after 2015. Enacting the legislation would not affect revenues 
or direct spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not 
apply.
    S. 1117 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments. 
The states of New Hampshire and Vermont and local governments 
in those states would benefit from assistance authorized in the 
bill. Any costs to those governments would be incurred 
voluntarily as a condition of receiving federal assistance.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis. 
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 1117.
    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. 1117, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    In accordance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following identification of congressionally directed spending 
items contained in the bill, as reported:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Section                    Provision             Member
------------------------------------------------------------------------
4.............................  Authorization of        Senator Leahy
                                 Appropriations.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the National Park Service at the 
July 15, 2009 Subcommittee hearing on S. 1117 follows:

Statement of Katherine H. Stevenson, Deputy Director, Support Services, 
           National Park Service, Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear 
before you today to discuss the views of the Department of the 
Interior on S. 1117, the Upper Connecticut River Partnership 
Act, which would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
provide assistance in implementing cultural heritage, 
conservation and recreational activities in the Connecticut 
River watershed of the States of New Hampshire and Vermont.
    The Department appreciates the efforts of the Connecticut 
River Joint Commissions and their exemplary work in the upper 
Connecticut River watershed. Many local, state, regional and 
federal organizations have worked in partnership with the 
Commissions for many years to support numerous efforts to 
improve water quality, promote sustainable tourism, protect 
unique natural and rural resources, and improve recreational 
opportunities.
    While we support activities that conserve and enhance the 
cultural, environmental and recreational resources of the upper 
Connecticut River watershed, the Department cannot support S. 
1117. There are existing funding mechanisms within the National 
Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and possibly 
other federal agencies that can foster the type of partnership 
efforts envisioned in this bill. For example, technical 
assistance is available through the National Park Service's 
Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, while 
grants are available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service's North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants 
Program.
    The upper Connecticut River watershed encompasses 41 
percent of the state of Vermont's total area and 33 percent of 
the state of New Hampshire's. It has been the subject of many 
past studies, including National Park Service (NPS) studies, 
which document its natural and cultural resources. The upper 
Connecticut River watershed was recognized by Congress in 1991 
as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife 
Refuge; the refuge manages the Nulhegan Basin unit and sponsors 
education centers at the Montshire Museum in Norwich, Vermont 
as well as in Colebrook, New Hampshire and Turner's Falls, 
Massachusetts. The watershed also contains units of the 
National Park System including Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller 
National Historical Park, Saint Gaudens National Historic Site, 
and sections of the Appalachian Trail. The NPS Rivers, Trails 
and Conservation Assistance Program field office in Woodstock, 
Vermont has projects in the watershed, and the Hydropower 
Relicensing and Wild & Scenic River programs serve the region 
from the Northeast Region's office. The Connecticut River was 
designated an American Heritage River in 1998, and is home to 
the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, designated by the States of 
Vermont and New Hampshire in 1999. In 2005, it was also 
designated as a National Scenic Byway.
    The Connecticut River Joint Commissions was formed in 1989, 
uniting separate commissions that had been formed by the States 
of Vermont and New Hampshire previously. In 1997, working with 
5 bi-state local subcommittees, they produced the Connecticut 
River Corridor Management Plan. From 1992 to 1999 the NPS 
provided $1.325 million to the Connecticut River Joint 
Commissions, as well as technical assistance, for work in the 
upper Connecticut River watershed. The NPS will continue to 
support and work with the Joint Commissions.
    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment. 
This concludes my prepared remarks. I will be happy to answer 
any questions you or other committee members may have regarding 
this bill.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 1117, as 
ordered reported.