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                                                      Calendar No. 214
114th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session       }                                    {      114-134

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



 
                   CERROS DEL NORTE CONSERVATION ACT

                                _______
                                

               September 9, 2015.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1240]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1240) to designate the Cerro del Yuta and 
Rio San Antonio Wilderness Areas in the State of New Mexico, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with amendments and recommends that the bill, 
as amended, do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    On page 2, lines 1 and 2, strike ``May 2, 2013'' and insert 
``July 28, 2015''.
    On page 2, line 24, strike ``8,000'' and insert ``8,120''.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 1240 is to designate the Cerro del Yuta 
and Rio San Antonio Wilderness Areas in the State of New 
Mexico, and for other purposes.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    On March 25, 2013, President Obama established the Rio 
Grande del Norte National Monument by Presidential Proclamation 
under the authority of the Antiquities Act. The Rio Grande del 
Norte National Monument lies north of Taos on the border with 
Colorado. The area includes the Cerro de la Olla, Cerro San 
Antonio, and the Cerro del Yuta volcanic cones.
    S. 1240 would designate two wilderness areas in the Rio 
Grande del Norte National Monument--the 13,420-acre Cerro del 
Yuta Wilderness and the 8,120-acre Rio San Antonio Wilderness. 
These areas are currently managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management as wilderness study areas. S. 1240 would also 
release approximately 65 acres of land currently in wilderness 
study status to multiple use.
    S. 1240 is needed because only Congress can designate a 
component of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    In the 113th Congress, Senators Udall of New Mexico and 
Heinrich introduced S. 241, a similar bill to S. 1240, on 
February 7, 2013. In the House, Representative Lujan introduced 
a similar bill, H.R. 560, on February 6, 2013. The Subcommittee 
on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on the bill 
on April 25, 2013, and the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources reported S. 241, with an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute, by a majority vote of a quorum present, on June 27, 
2013 (S. Rept. 113-54).
    S. 1240 was introduced by Senators Heinrich and Udall on 
May 7, 2015. The Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and 
Mining held a hearing on the bill on May 21, 2015. In the House 
of Representatives, a companion bill, H.R. 1792, was introduced 
by Representative Stewart on April 14, 2015.
    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, met in open 
business session on July 30, 2015, and ordered S. 1240 
favorably reported as amended.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on July 30, 2015, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
1240, if amended as described herein.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During its consideration of S. 1240, the Committee adopted 
two technical and clarifying amendments.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 contains the short title, the ``Cerros del Norte 
Conservation Act.''
    Section 2 contains definitions.
    Section 3(a) designates approximately 13,420 acres of land 
as the Cerro del Yuta wilderness and approximately 8,120 acres 
of land as the Rio San Antonio Wilderness and designates these 
wilderness areas as components of the National Wilderness 
Preservation System. Section 3(b) requires that the wilderness 
areas be administered in accordance with the Wilderness Act (16 
U.S.C. 1131 et seq.), except that any reference to the 
effective date of the Wilderness Act shall be considered to be 
a reference to the date of enactment of this act and any 
reference to the Secretary of Agriculture shall be a reference 
to the Secretary of Interior. Section 3(c) requires that any 
land or interest in land acquired by the United States that is 
within the boundary of the wilderness area become part of the 
wilderness area and be managed in accordance with all 
applicable laws. Section 3(d) continues grazing of livestock in 
the wilderness areas where established before the date of 
enactment of this Act and in accordance with the Wilderness Act 
and the guidelines set forth in appendix A of House Report 101-
405. Section 3(e) clarifies that nothing in this Act creates a 
protective buffer zone around the wilderness areas and that 
activities outside the wilderness boundaries shall not be 
precluded by the fact they can be seen or heard within the 
boundary of the wilderness areas. Section 3(f) releases those 
portions of the San Antonio Wilderness Study Area that are not 
designated as wilderness in this Act are no longer subject to 
the wilderness study provisions under section 603(c) of the 
Federal Land Policy and Management Act and shall be managed in 
accordance with this Act. Section 3(g) requires that the 
Secretary file a map and legal descriptions of the wilderness 
areas with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the 
Senate and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of 
Representatives and that the map and legal descriptions be on 
file and available for public inspection in the appropriate 
offices of the Bureau of Land Management. Section 3(h) directs 
the Secretary to manage the wilderness areas as components of 
the National Landscape Conservation System. Section 3(i) 
clarifies that nothing in this Act affects the jurisdiction of 
the State of New Mexico with respect to fish and wildlife 
located on public lands in the State. Section 3(j) removes any 
land within the areas designated by this Act, except where 
subject to valid existing rights, from entry, appropriation, or 
disposal under the public lands laws, location, entry, and 
patent under the mining laws, and operation of the mineral 
leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws. 
Section 3(k) states that nothing in this Act enlarges, 
diminishes, or otherwise modifies any treaty rights.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

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

S. 1240--Cerros del Norte Conservation Act

    S. 1240 would designate two parcels of land within the Rio 
Grande del Norte National Monument as wilderness areas. Based 
on information provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 
CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would have no 
significant effect on the federal budget. Because enacting S. 
1240 would not affect direct spending or revenues, pay-as-you-
go procedures do not apply.
    Under S. 1240, roughly 22,000 acres of federal land would 
be designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation 
System. BLM, which manages the affected acreage, would be 
required to create new maps for the area. In addition, under 
the bill, the affected lands would not be available for 
developing natural resources but would still be available for 
grazing under existing agreements.
    Because the affected lands are already protected for 
conservation and wilderness values, CBO estimates that 
implementing the bill would have no significant effect on the 
cost of administering the area. We also expect that any costs 
to modify existing maps and other materials would be minimal. 
Finally, because the affected lands currently produce no income 
(and are not expected to do so in the future), we estimate that 
enacting the bill would not affect offsetting receipts.
    S. 1240 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 H. Samuel Papenfuss, 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. 1240. 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. 1240, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 1240, 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 Bureau of Land Management at 
the May 21, 2015, Public Lands, Forests and Mining Subcommittee 
hearing on S. 1240 follows:

  Statement of Timothy M. Murphy, Acting Assistant Director, National 
Conservation Lands & Community Partnerships, Bureau of Land Management, 
                       Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 1240, the 
Cerros del Norte Conservation Act. On March 25, 2013, President 
Obama designated the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument on 
242,555 acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) in northern New Mexico. This legislation 
includes the designation of two wilderness areas within the new 
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument--the proposed 13,420-
acre Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and 8,000-acre Rio San Antonio 
Wilderness. The Department supports the designation of these 
two new wilderness areas.


                               background


    The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument lies north of 
Taos on the border with Colorado and straddles New Mexico's 
Taos and Rio Arriba Counties. Rising in stark contrast from the 
monument's broad expanse, the Cerro de la Olla, Cerro San 
Antonio, and Cerro del Yuta volcanic cones provide visible 
reminders of the area's volatile past. Between these mountains, 
the dramatic gorge of the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River is 
carved into the landscape, revealing the dark basalt beneath 
the surface of the Taos plateau.
    The proposed Cerro del Yuta Wilderness has at its 
centerpiece a symmetrical volcanic dome soaring to over 10,000 
feet in altitude. Covered by ponderosa, Douglas fir, aspen, and 
spruce on the north side, and pinyon and juniper on the south 
side, the mountain provides important habitat for wildlife, 
including the herds of elk that draw hunters to the area. The 
volcanic dome provides an outstanding opportunity for peak 
climbing, and the forested slopes create a strong sense of 
solitude.
    The proposed Rio San Antonio Wilderness consists of a flat 
plain bisected by the Rio San Antonio. This grassland plain is 
dotted with occasional juniper, while the river sits 200 feet 
below the surface of the plateau at the bottom of a rugged 
gorge, the depths of which provide a microclimate for riparian 
vegetation, Douglas fir, and spruce. Visitors can find 
outstanding opportunities for solitude as they explore the 
gorge, which abruptly drops out of sight from the rest of the 
area. Protecting these characteristics will help to ensure that 
recreationists will continue to visit the area, bringing 
economic benefits to the local community.


                                s. 1240


    S.1240 designates two wilderness areas on BLM-managed lands 
within the new National Monument--the proposed 13,420-acre 
Cerro del Yuta Wilderness and 8,000-acre Rio San Antonio 
Wilderness. Both of these areas meet the definition of 
wilderness in the Wilderness Act of 1964: they are largely 
untouched by humans, have outstanding opportunities for 
solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation, are over 5,000 
acres in size, and contain important geological, biological, 
and scientific features. We support the designation of these 
areas as wilderness, and would appreciate the opportunity to 
work with the sponsor on potential boundary modifications for 
manageability.


                               conclusion


    President Obama's designation of the Rio Grande del Norte 
National Monument was a tribute to both the area's 
extraordinary value and the steadfast support of the 
surrounding community for protecting this magnificent place. 
The Department supports S. 1240 in its designation of some of 
the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument's wildest lands 
as wilderness.

                        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. 1240, as 
ordered reported.

                                  [all]