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Calendar No. 136
112th Congress Report
1st Session 112-56
GREAT LAKES SHIPWRECK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
August 30 (legislative day, August 2), 2011.--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. 404]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 404) to modify a land grant patent issued
by the Secretary of the Interior, having considered the same,
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that
the bill do pass.
The purpose of S. 404 is to modify a land grant patent
issued by the Secretary of the Interior pertaining to the
Whitefish Point Light Station in Michigan.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
On September 23, 1998, the Secretary of the Interior issued
a land patent (U.S. Patent Number 61-98-0040) to the Great
Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society for ownership of several
acres of land on Whitefish Point, a 43-acre spit of land
jutting into Lake Superior. The land, which contains the
historic Whitefish Point Lighthouse, was transferred to the
Historical Society for the purpose of interpreting maritime
history. On March 10, 2000, the Secretary reissued the
Historical Society's land patent (U.S. Patent Number 61-2000-
0007) to correct an error in the original conveyance.
Following the conveyance of the Whitefish Point property, a
dispute between the Michigan Audubon Society, which owns land
on Whitefish Point, and the Historical Society over the
management of Whitefish Point led to a lawsuit in 1999. The
resulting settlement agreement led to the development of a
management plan for Whitefish Point in 2002, titled Human Use/
Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point.
The reissued land patent, 61-2000-0007, does not reference
the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish
Point or the settlement agreement between the Michigan Audubon
Society and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. S.
404 will correct that error by directing the Secretary of the
Interior to modify the patent to reflect the current management
S. 404 was introduced by Senator Levin on February 17,
2011. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on the
bill on May 11, 2011. At its business meeting on July 14, 2011,
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee ordered
S. 404 to be favorably reported without amendment.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on July 14, 2011, by a voice vote of a quorum
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 404.
Section 1 contains Congressional findings.
Section 2(a) modifies United States Patent Number 61-2000-
0007, issued by the Secretary of the Interior by deleting the
reference in the patent to the Whitefish Point Comprehensive
Plan of October 1992 and instead referencing the Human Use/
Natural Resource Plan for Whitefish Point, dated December 2002.
Subsection (b) states that each other term of the
conveyance that is the included in the existing patent,
including any obligation to maintain the property in accordance
with the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f et
seq.), and any other appropriate law, shall remain in effect.
Section 3(a) provides that the modification shall become
effective on the date the modification is recorded in the
Office of the Register of Deeds in Chippewa County, Michigan.
Subsection (b) requests the Office of the Register of Deeds
in Chippewa County, Michigan, to endorse on the recorded copy
of the patent the fact that the patent has been modified in
accordance with this Act.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
S. 404--A bill to modify a land grant patent issued by the Secretary of
S. 404 would amend an existing land grant patent to ratify
a change in the use of the Whitefish Point Light Station in
Michigan and related property covered by that patent. (A land
grant patent is a method of conveying ownership of land.) Based
on information provided by the Department of the Interior, CBO
estimates that implementing S. 404 would have no effect on the
federal budget. The ratification would enable development plans
for the property to go forward, but those plans do not involve
federal spending. The Light Station was conveyed by the federal
government to two nonprofit organizations in 1996. Enacting S.
404 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore,
pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
The legislation contains no intergovernmental or private-
sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. 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. 404.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 404, as ordered reported.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING
S. 404, 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.
The testimony provided by the Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management at the May 11, 2011 Subcommittee
hearing on S. 404 follows:
Statement of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior
Thank you for the invitation to present testimony on S.
404, legislation to modify a land patent pertaining to the
Whitefish Point Light Station (Michigan). Although the Bureau
of Land Management's (BLM) role under the legislation is
ministerial, preservation of historic lighthouses such as the
Whitefish Point Light Station is a priority for the Department
of the Interior. The BLM supports S. 404.
In the late 18th and 19th centuries, the United States
built a series of lighthouses in and around Lake Michigan, Lake
Huron, and Lake Superior to aid in navigation of the Great
Lakes. The role played by these lighthouses in the westward
expansion and economic growth of the United States is part of
our national heritage, with ships and shipwrecks recalled in
story and song. The Great Lakes lighthouses--including the
Whitefish Point Light Station at issue in S. 404--are listed on
the National Register of Historic Properties.
The U.S. Coast Guard retains responsibility for aid to
navigation in the Great Lakes, as it (or its predecessor, the
Revenue Marine) has since 1790. In the mid-1990s, concerns
reached the Congress that the Coast Guard, in carrying out its
mission in the Great Lakes, was unable to assure preservation
of the historic lighthouses. Interest in preserving the
Whitefish Point Light Station led the Congress, in 1996, to
convey land adjacent to the Light Station to two non-profit
organizations dedicated to conservation and historic
preservation--an 8.27 acre parcel to the Great Lakes Shipwreck
Historical Society (Historical Society) and a 2.69 acre parcel
to the Michigan Audubon Society (Audubon Society) of Chippewa
County--and a 33 acre parcel to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS) (Public Law 104-208, Omnibus Consolidated
Appropriations Act, Fiscal Year 1997, Section 5505).
This law contains limitations on development at the
historic lighthouse, and explicitly requires compliance with
the ``Whitefish Point Comprehensive Plan of October 1992.'' The
patents the BLM issued under this authority (including the most
recent, number 61-2000-0007, issued March 10, 2000, to the
Historical Society) contain this reference.
In 1999, the Audubon Society brought suit against the
Historical Society and the FWS over plans to develop a museum
at the site. The parties reached a settlement agreement under
which the three groups developed the ``Human Use/Natural
Resource Plan for Whitefish Point, December 2002,'' to
supersede the Whitefish Point Comprehensive Plan of 1992.
S. 404 directs the Secretary of the Interior to modify
patent number 61-2000-0007 by striking reference to the
Whitefish Point Comprehensive Plan of October 1992 and
inserting the ``Human Use/Natural Resource Plan for Whitefish
Point, dated December 2002.'' S. 404 affirms the applicability
of the National Historic Preservation Act to the Whitefish
Point Light Station. S. 404 requires that the property be used
in a manner that does not impair or interfere with its
conservation values. The BLM supports this legislation.
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony in
support of S. 404.
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. 404, as ordered