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                                                       Calendar No. 404
113th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     113-177

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



 
                   ROCKY MOUNTAIN FRONT HERITAGE ACT

                                _______
                                

                  June 2, 2014.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Ms. Landrieu, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 364]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 364) to establish the Rocky Mountain 
Front Conservation Management Area, to designate certain 
Federal land as wilderness, and to improve the management of 
noxious weeds in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, and for 
other purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purposes of S. 364 are to establish the 208,790-acre 
Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area in the State 
of Montana, to designate approximately 67,112 acres of national 
forest land in the State as additions to existing wilderness 
areas, and to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare a 
comprehensive management strategy for preventing, controlling, 
and eradicating noxious weeds in the Lewis and Clark National 
Forest.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Montana's Rocky Mountain Front is located where the Rocky 
Mountains meet the plains in the larger Crown of the Continent 
region of northwestern Montana. Its scenery, recreation 
opportunities, and habitat are renowned. For example, according 
to a 2011 environmental assessment prepared by the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, conservation biologists rank the Rocky 
Mountain Front in the top one-percent of wildlife habitat 
remaining in the United States, with a complete assemblage of 
native wildlife species (with the exception of free-ranging 
bison), including large carnivores, including the grizzly bear, 
gray wolf, wolverine, pine marten, and Canada lynx. It is the 
only place in the continental United States where grizzly bears 
still roam from the mountains to the prairie.
    Recognizing the importance of protecting the unique natural 
values of the area, Congress established the Bob Marshall 
Wilderness as one of the original wilderness designations in 
1964. The wilderness complex (which includes the adjacent 
Scapegoat and Great Bear wilderness in addition to the Bob 
Marshall) has been expanded over the years and now encompasses 
over 1.5 million acres. The Rocky Mountain Front Conservation 
Area (a unit of the Fish and Wildlife Service's National 
Wildlife Refuge System) was established in 2005 (and expanded 
in 2011) to protect the prairie lands at the base of the Front. 
Section 403 of Public Law 109-432, enacted in 2006 (102 Stat. 
3050), withdrew the area from entry and disposition under the 
public land and mineral leasing laws and provided tax 
incentives to acquire and conserve outstanding mineral 
interests.
    To help protect the Rocky Mountain Front, S. 364 would 
establish the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management 
Area, and add protected roadless areas to the existing Bob 
Marshall wilderness complex. The proposed Conservation 
Management Area and wilderness additions would be designated 
between the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas to the 
west and the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area to the 
east.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 364 was introduced by Senators Baucus and Tester on 
February 14, 2013. Senator Walsh is a cosponsor. A hearing was 
held on S. 364 by the Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, 
and Mining on July 30, 2013 (S. Hrg. 113-85). At its business 
meeting on November 21, 2013, the Committee ordered S. 364 
favorably reported, without amendment.
    Senator Baucus introduced similar legislation, S. 1774, in 
the 112th Congress, and Senator Tester was a cosponsor. The 
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests held a hearing on S. 
1774 on March 22, 2012 (S. Hrg. 112-642).

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on November 21, 2013, by a voice vote of 
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 364.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 contains the short title, the ``Rocky Mountain 
Front Heritage Act of 2013.''
    Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
    Section 3(a) establishes the approximately 208,790-acre 
Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area in Montana, 
as depicted on the referenced map. Approximately 195,073 acres 
of the conservation management area includes lands managed by 
the Forest Service and approximately 13,087 acres are lands 
managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Any lands or interest 
in lands which are located within the conservation management 
area and which are later acquired by the United States from a 
willing seller shall become part of the area and managed in 
accordance with applicable laws.
    Subsection (b) states that the purposes of the conservation 
management area are to conserve, protect, and enhance for the 
benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations the 
recreational, scenic, historical, cultural, fish, wildlife, 
roadless and ecological values of the area.
    Subsection (c)(1) directs the Secretary of Agriculture 
(with respect to National Forest System lands and the Secretary 
of the Interior (with respect to BLM lands) to manage the 
conservation management area in a manner that conserves, 
protects, and enhances the resources of the area in accordance 
with laws applicable to the National Forest System (for the 
lands managed by the Forest Service) and the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act of 1976 (for the lands managed by the 
BLM), this section, and other applicable laws.
    Paragraph (2)(A) provides that the Secretaries shall allow 
only such uses of the conservation management area that they 
determine will further the purposes described in subsection 
(b).
    Subparagraph (B) states that the use of motorized vehicles 
in the area is allowed only on existing roads, trails, and 
areas designated for such use as of the date of enactment of 
this Act. No new or temporary roads may be constructed within 
the area except for the listed administrative exceptions in 
clause (iii).
    Subparagraph (C) clarifies that grazing is permitted to 
continue within the conservation management area, if 
established as of the date of enactment, subject to such 
reasonable regulations, policies and practices as the Secretary 
concerned determines to be appropriate, and consistent with 
applicable laws and the agency grazing guidelines set forth in 
H. Rept. 96-617, including associated motorized access 
consistent with those guidelines.
    Subsection (D) provides that nothing in this Act prevents 
the Secretary concerned from conducting vegetation management 
projects within the conservation management area, subject to 
applicable laws and reasonable regulations, policies, and 
practices that the Secretaries determine appropriate, and 
consistent with the purposes of the area.
    Section 4(a) designates 50,401 acres of land in the Lewis 
and Clark National Forest as depicted on the referenced map for 
addition to the Bob Marshall Wilderness designated in section 3 
of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1132) and 16,711 acres of land 
in the same national forest as depicted on the referenced map 
for addition to the Scapegoat Wilderness designated by the 
first section of Public Law 92-395.
    Subsection (b) provides that the lands designated as 
wilderness in subsection (a) are to be managed in accordance 
with the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.).
    Subsection (c) allows for the grazing of livestock within 
the wilderness areas (and the maintenance of existing 
facilities related to such grazing), if established before the 
date of enactment of this Act, to continue in accordance with 
section 4(d)(4) of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1133(d)(4)) 
and the wilderness grazing guidelines set forth in H. Rept. 96-
617.
    Subsection (d) authorizes the Secretary concerned to take 
any measures necessary to control fire, insects, and diseases 
within the wilderness additions in accordance with section 
4(d)(1) of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1133(d)(1)), including 
the coordination of those activities with a State or local 
agency if the Secretary determines that to be appropriate.
    Subsection (e) clarifies that the designation of the 
wilderness additions shall not be construed to create a 
protective perimeter or buffer zone around the areas, and the 
fact that non-wilderness activities or uses can be seen or 
heard within the wilderness additions shall preclude the 
conduct of those activities or uses outside the boundary of the 
wilderness.
    Section 5 directs the Secretaries to prepare maps and legal 
descriptions of the Conservation Management Area and the 
wilderness additions as soon as practicable after the date of 
enactment of this Act. The maps and legal descriptions shall 
have the same force and effect as if included in this Act 
except that the Secretaries may correct typographical errors. 
The maps and legal descriptions shall be available for public 
inspection in the appropriate offices of the Forest Service and 
Bureau of Land Management.
    Section 6(a) directs the Secretary of Agriculture, no later 
than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, to 
prepare a comprehensive management strategy for preventing, 
controlling and eradicating noxious weeds within the Rocky 
Mountain Ranger District of the Lewis and Clark National 
Forest.
    Subsection (b) lists the contents of the management 
strategy, which includes recommendations to protect wildlife, 
forage, and other natural resources from noxious weeds; to 
identify opportunities to coordinate prevention, control and 
eradication efforts in the State with State and local agencies, 
Indian Tribes, and others; to identify resources for 
preventing, controlling, and eradicating noxious weeds; and to 
coordinate with county weed districts and enter into agreements 
for weed control and eradication projects.
    Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to consult with the 
Secretary of the Interior, State, local, and tribal 
governmental entities and the public while developing the 
management strategy.
    Section 7 provides that the Secretary of Agriculture, 
within 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, is 
required to conduct a study to improve non-motorized recreation 
trail opportunities on land not designated as wilderness within 
the Rocky Mountain Ranger District of the Lewis and Clark 
National Forest.
    Section 8 clarifies that nothing in this Act affects the 
jurisdiction of the State of Montana with respect to fish and 
wildlife management (including the regulation of hunting and 
fishing) on public land in the State.
    Section 9 contains a savings clause that nothing in this 
Act affects the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation 
Administration with respect to the airspace above the 
wilderness additions or Conservation Management Area designated 
by this Act, and further, that nothing affects the continued 
use, maintenance, and repair of the Benchmark airstrip located 
within the Conservation Management Area.
    Section 10 authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may 
be necessary to carry out this Act.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

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

S. 364--Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act of 2013

    S. 364 would establish a conservation management area 
consisting of 208,000 acres of federal land in Montana. The 
bill also would add 67,000 acres to existing wilderness areas 
in the state. Finally, the legislation would require the 
Secretary of Agriculture to develop a strategy to mitigate the 
effects of noxious weeds in the Lewis and Clark National 
Forest.
    Based on information provided by the Forest Service and the 
Bureau of Land Management, CBO estimates that preparing new 
maps and legal descriptions for the affected lands would cost 
$40,000 over the 2014-2019 period, assuming appropriation of 
the necessary amounts. We also estimate that developing the 
noxious weed strategy, as required under the bill, would have 
no effect on the federal budget because the agency is already 
conducting similar activities.
    Finally, CBO expects that managing the affected lands for 
conservation purposes would not affect the amount of offsetting 
receipts generated from mineral production, grazing, or other 
activities on those lands over the next 10 years; such receipts 
are treated as offsets to direct spending. Enacting the 
legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; 
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    S. 364 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 
governments.
    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. 364.
    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. 364, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 364, as 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 Forest Service and Bureau of Land 
Management at the July 30, 2013, Subcommittee on Public Lands, 
Forests, and Mining hearing on S. 364 follows:

   Statement of Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief, National Forest System, 
               Forest Service, Department of Agriculture

    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to appear before you today and provide the 
Department of Agriculture's views regarding S. 364, the ``Rocky 
Mountain Front Heritage Act of 2013'', which would establish 
The Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area in 
Montana.
    The Department supports S. 364 and would like to work with 
the Committee to define and clarify questions of scope and 
timing for the noxious weed management and the non-motorized 
recreation opportunities.
    The Rocky Mountain Front area of Montana on the Lewis and 
Clark National Forest lies just to the south of Glacier 
National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It is an 
area where the plains meet the great continental divide. The 
area is marked by spectacular scenery and lush grasslands and 
that is home to a broad range of Montana's fauna and flora. The 
west side of the area is adjacent to the 1.5 million acre Bob 
Marshall Wilderness Complex most of which was designated by the 
original 1964 Wilderness Act. The east side of the area is 
bordered by vast private ranchlands that have helped define 
Montana's western heritage.
    S. 364 would designate approximately 195,000 acres of 
Federal land managed by the Forest Service and approximately 
13,000 acres of Federal land managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) as the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation 
Management Area (CMA). The bill would also designate additions 
to the National Wilderness Preservation System of approximately 
50,400 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and approximately 
16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness; both areas would be 
managed by the Forest Service. The Department defers to the 
Department of the Interior on the designation of lands managed 
by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
    The Rocky Mountain Front CMA would be managed to conserve, 
protect, and enhance its recreation, scenic, historical, 
cultural, fish, wildlife, roadless, and ecological values. 
Within the CMA, S. 364 would permit the use of motorized 
vehicles only on existing roads, motorized trails and 
designated areas. S. 364 would allow for the construction of 
temporary roads as part of a vegetation management project in 
any portion of the CMA not more than \1/4\ mile from designated 
roads. The bill also would authorize the use of motorized 
vehicles for administrative purposes including noxious weed 
eradication or grazing management. Livestock grazing would 
continue within the Conservation Area and Wilderness Areas 
where established prior to the date of enactment.
    S. 364 would require the Secretary to prepare a 
comprehensive management strategy for the Rocky Mountain Ranger 
District on the Lewis and Clark National Forest to prevent, 
control, and eradicate noxious weeds. The Secretary also would 
be required to conduct a study to improve non-motorized 
recreation trail opportunities.
    For decades, the Forest Service has worked in partnership 
with landowners to protect the economic and social value of the 
land considered for designation as the CMA. There are 21 
Federal land grazing allotments in the CMA. The landscape also 
provides some of the best backcountry recreation experiences in 
the world. Because of the popularity of the area, Federal and 
private land managers have realized that there must be specific 
management emphasis placed on how the lands are used and 
protected. As more people enjoy and use this area, influxes of 
noxious weeds have occurred that could change the native 
ecosystem structure and function and seriously impact the 
private ranches. S. 364 calls for measures that would direct 
Federal agencies to work with State and private organizations 
to implement projects that concentrate on the prevention, 
control and eradication of invasive plants such as spotted 
knapweed (Centaurea maculosa Lam.) that are threatening to 
change the ecosystem. The Lewis and Clark National Forest 
routinely works with other agencies and land owners to address 
noxious and invasive weed concerns. The Lewis and Clark 
National Forest is in the process of developing a memorandum of 
understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural 
Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) that addresses how 
the agencies will work together regarding noxious weed control 
measures on the interface between private and Federal lands.
    The Department supports the intent described in the bill to 
address noxious weeds. The Department also supports the 
National Forest System lands identified for motorized and non-
motorized recreation use, including mountain biking, in the 
conservation areas. The provisions in S. 364 are consistent 
with the current travel management plan for the Rocky Mountain 
Ranger District. The travel management plan was approved by the 
Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor in October of 2007 
after extensive public participation. Approximately 67,000 
acres of land are identified in the forest plan for the Lewis 
and Clark as either recommended to Congress for wilderness 
designation or for further study for their potential as 
wilderness. The Department supports the wilderness designations 
included in this bill.
    The Department recognizes the management of vegetation 
along current motorized forest roads is an important component 
of this bill. Public safety is an important consideration in an 
area that is impacted by mountain pine beetle, which has 
created physical risk to the roadways and possible increased 
fire risk due to ignitions from road users. The Beaver-Willow 
Road, a previously established road, crosses through the Bear-
Marshall-Scapegoat-Swan inventoried roadless area. As we 
understand the bill, the road's location in an inventoried 
roadless area would not preclude timber harvest within \1/4\ 
mile of the Beaver-Willow Road.

    Statement of Ned Farquhar, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Land and 
            Minerals Management, Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the invitation to testify on S. 364, the 
Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act which designates 
approximately 208,000 acres of Federal land in Montana as the 
Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area. S. 364 
primarily affects lands managed by the United States Forest 
Service (FS). The Department of the Interior defers to the 
Department of Agriculture regarding designations on lands 
managed by the FS. Over 13,000 of the acres proposed for 
special designation under the bill are managed by the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM). The Department of the Interior supports 
the designation of the BLM lands as part of the Rocky Mountain 
Front Conservation Management Area (CMA).


                               background


    A unique and stunningly beautiful area in west-central 
Montana, the Rocky Mountain Front is located within Pondera, 
Teton, and Lewis and Clark Counties and contains unparalleled 
cultural, recreational, scenic, and biological resources. The 
lands administered by the BLM are dominated by massive 
limestone cliffs rising to an elevation of 7,700 feet and 
include grasslands, shrub lands, and limber and white-bark pine 
forests. Numerous wildlife and fish populations are supported 
by the highly varied topography and diverse vegetation that for 
generations has provided an outstanding experience for hunters, 
anglers and other recreationists. Huntable populations of elk, 
mule deer, big horn sheep, mountain goats and black bear all 
occur within the area being considered in the proposed 
legislation. In addition, threatened species including grizzly 
bear, Canada lynx, and bull trout are found on these BLM-
managed lands.
    Congress recognized this priceless region in 2006 when it 
included the withdrawal of the entire area from new mining 
claims and mineral leasing in section 403(a) of Public Law 109-
432. The BLM currently manages these lands for their important 
resource values as administratively-designated Outstanding 
Natural Areas (Blind Horse, Ear Mountain, Chute Mountain and 
Deep Creek-Battle Creek).


                                 s. 364


    S. 364 designates over 200,000 acres of federal land in 
Montana's Rocky Mountain Front as the Rocky Mountain Front 
Conservation Management Area. Approximately 13,000 acres of 
public land managed by the BLM would be included in that 
designation. Running along the eastern edge of the CMA, the 
lands managed by the BLM are largely closed to motorized access 
and include a trail system popular with those seeking a wilder 
recreational experience.
    The overall management scheme envisioned for the CMA is 
consistent with current BLM management of these lands. Under 
the provisions of S. 364, motorized vehicles within the CMA 
would be limited to roads and trails designated for their use 
and grazing would be allowed to continue where it currently 
exists.
    The BLM recommends that the bill be amended to specify that 
the BLM-managed lands within the CMA be included in the BLM's 
National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The CMA is very 
similar to BLM's National Conservation Areas (NCAs) and 
inclusion in the NLCS is appropriate.


                               conclusion


    Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of S. 
364 as it applies to lands managed by the BLM.

                        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 S. 364 as ordered reported.