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                                                      Calendar No. 334
114th Congress    }                                {            Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session      }                                {           114-189

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



 
  ELKHORN RANCH AND WHITE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST CONVEYANCE ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

               December 16, 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. 1942]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1942) to require a land conveyance 
involving the Elkhorn Ranch and the White River National Forest 
in the State of Colorado, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 1942 is to require a land conveyance 
involving the Elkhorn Ranch and the White River National Forest 
in the State of Colorado.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Beginning in 1908, three families homesteaded near present-
day Rifle, Colorado, and for decades legally owned portions of 
the 148 acres identified in this bill. Shortly before the 
acreage was originally patented into private ownership, the 
General Land Office placed the homesteads in Section 18 with 
east-west fence lines, which conform to the present-day fence 
lines. In 1949, a new government survey was completed for the 
area that placed the boundary line at an angle rather than on a 
true east-west line. This resurvey led to the inclusion of 148 
acres in the White River National Forest rather than in private 
ownership. The landowners were never contacted concerning the 
resurvey and were unaware that their title to the land had been 
called into question. Since that time, the property, commonly 
called ``Elkhorn Ranch'' has changed hands several times, most 
recently in 1998 when the Gordman-Leverich Partnership 
purchased the ranch.
    In 2002, the boundary and title discrepancy came to light. 
The Surveyor of the White River National Forest began to 
examine the conflicting surveys and issued a report in 2014, 
``Short Summary of Boundary Status--Beaver Creek; Sections 18 
and 19, T. 7 S. R. 93 W., 6th PM.,'' confirming that the 
original patents were based on a proper survey. The report 
recommended a legislative boundary adjustment to correct the 
survey discrepancy and return the acreage to the rightful 
private landowner.
    The Bureau of Land Management issued Federal oil and gas 
lease COC-75070 in 2011. This lease includes part of Elkhorn 
Ranch. S. 1942 recognizes the lease as a valid existing right 
and reserves to the United States the right to collect rent and 
royalty payments from this lease.
    Since 1909, the law has guaranteed that resurveys are not 
to ``impair the bona fide rights or claims of any claimant, 
entryman, or owner of lands affected by such resurvey or 
retracement'' (43 U.S.C. 772). The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 
has never managed the 148-acre parcel as national forest system 
land. For decades, the landowners have paid property taxes on 
the land, made improvements to it, and used it for agricultural 
and ranching purposes. The parcel is currently fenced as part 
of the ranch and is occupied by stock ponds, roads, and other 
improvements.
    By transferring the 148-acre parcel to Gordman-Leverich 
Partnership, S. 1942 would correct a long-standing survey 
discrepancy and provide a free and clear title to the land 
subject to valid, existing rights, including the existing 
Federal oil and gas lease.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    In the House of Representatives, an identical companion 
bill to S. 1942, H.R. 1554, was introduced by Representatives 
Tipton and Polis on March 23, 2015. On June 16, 2015, the House 
Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing 
on H.R. 1554, and the Natural Resources Committee ordered the 
bill reported on July 9, 2015. The House of Representatives 
passed H.R. 1554 under suspension of the rules by a voice vote 
on September 16, 2015. H.R. 1554 was received in the Senate and 
referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on 
September 17, 2015.
    S. 1942 was introduced by Senator Gardner on August 5, 
2015. Senator Bennet is a cosponsor. The Subcommittee on Public 
Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on S. 1942 and H.R. 
1554 on October 8, 2015.
    On November 19, 2015, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources met in open business session and ordered both S. 1942 
and H.R. 1554 favorably reported without amendment.

            COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION AND TABULATION OF VOTES

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on November 19, 2015, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
1942.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 contains the short title, ``Elkhorn Ranch and 
White River National Forest Conveyance Act of 2015.''
    Section 2(a) conveys approximately 148 acres of Federal 
land to the Gordman-Leverich Partnership. Section 2(b) subjects 
the conveyance to valid existing rights, including oil and gas 
lease COC-75070, and reserves for the United States the right 
to collect rent and royalty payments on existing oil and gas 
leases. Section 2(c) makes clear that the conveyance does not 
modify the existing boundaries of the White River National 
Forest or Sections 18 and 19 of Township 7 South. Section 2(d) 
specifies that the conveyance should be completed within 180 
days following enactment of the Act, and that all costs related 
to surveying, platting, or other activities to process the 
conveyance shall be paid by the Gordman-Leverich Partnership.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

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

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 7, 2015.
Hon. Lisa Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Madam Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1942, the Elkhorn 
Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act of 2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

S. 1942--Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act 
        of 2015

    S. 1942 would require the Forest Service to convey 148 
acres of federal lands in Colorado to a private entity. Under 
the bill, the federal government would retain the right to 
collect rent and royalty payments from an existing oil and gas 
lease on those lands; however, if that lease expires, the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would not be allowed to offer 
the parcel for lease. Because CBO expects that enacting the 
bill could reduce offsetting receipts, which are treated as 
reductions in direct spending, from bonus bids over the next 10 
years, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, we estimate 
that net bonus bids from the affected parcel would total less 
than $500,000 over that period. Enacting the bill would not 
affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would not 
increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of 
the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.
    In 2012, BLM issued a federal oil and gas lease on a 
portion of the affected lands. If the firm holding that lease 
takes certain steps to begin producing oil and gas before the 
lease is set to expire in 2022, the firm would retain the lease 
until production ended. Under current law and under the bill, 
the federal government would collect rent and any royalties 
generated from oil and gas produced on that lease, and 49 
percent of those proceeds would be paid to the state of 
Colorado. In that case, enacting the bill would have no effect 
on direct spending.
    If the lease expires in 2022, BLM could offer the parcel 
for lease after that date under current law. However, the 
agency could not offer the affected parcel for lease under the 
bill. Because CBO has no basis for determining how the relevant 
parties would respond if the lease were allowed to expire, our 
estimate reflects a point within a range of possible outcomes. 
Based on the amount paid for the lease in 2012 ($335,000), CBO 
estimates that enacting the bill would reduce receipts by less 
than $500,000 over the 2022-2025 period.
    S. 1942 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    On September 9, 2015, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for 
H.R. 1554, the Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest 
Conveyance Act of 2015, as ordered reported by the House 
Committee on Natural Resources on July 9, 2015. The two pieces 
of legislation are similar, and the estimated costs are the 
same.
    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. 1942. 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. 1942, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 1942, 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 USFS at the October 8, 2015, 
Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining hearing on S. 
1942 follows:

 Statement of Glenn Casamassa, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest 
      System, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to present the views of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) regarding S. 1295, S. 1448, S. 1941, and S. 
1942.


    s. 1295, the ``arapaho national forest boundary adjustment act''


    S. 1295 would modify the boundary of the Arapaho National 
Forest in the State of Colorado to incorporate approximately 
92.95 acres of land currently outside the proclaimed National 
Forest boundary. All Federal land within the new boundary would 
be included in the Bowen Gulch Protection Area established 
under section 6 of the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993. S. 1295 
requires the Secretary to obtain written permission from the 
owners of lots to include the lots in the boundary adjustment. 
Private land owners have provided letters of support.
    The Federal lands within the new boundary would be closed 
to motorized use by the public. S. 1295 allows for continued 
motorized access over historical routes by owners of non-
Federal land within the new boundary.
    The Department supports S. 1295. It would provide National 
Forest status for parcels previously purchased. It would also 
allow the Forest Service to use its existing land exchange 
authorities to acquire additional parcels from willing 
landowners within the new boundary. Completion of these 
acquisitions would ensure protection of the Rocky Mountain 
National Park view-shed and the resource values of the Bowen 
Gulch Protection Area. We would also like to work with the 
Committee to clarify that motorized use for administrative 
purposes within the new boundary area is allowed.


 s. 1448, the ``frank moore wild steelhead sanctuary designation act''


    The Department supports S. 1448, which establishes the 
``Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary''. The area proposed for 
designation (Steamboat Creek) represents the major spawning 
tributary for wild steelhead in the North Umpqua River, and 
serves as an important sanctuary for conservation and long term 
persistence of this highly valued fisheries resource. 
Scientific studies and data indicate this area provides an 
important thermal refuge for wild steelhead production in the 
basin. Its designation and associated watershed restoration 
activities will aid in promoting a resilient landscape for wild 
steelhead conservation into the future in the face of changing 
climate.
    Frank Moore is a legendary fly angler, wild fish 
conservationist, and World War II veteran who stormed the 
beaches of Normandy, France in 1944 for the D-Day allied 
invasion. He survived and together with his wife of 70+ years, 
Jeanne, built and were the long-time proprietors of the world-
renowned Steamboat Inn along the North Umpqua River. In 2010, 
Frank Moore was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of 
Fame, and is also featured in the recent, critically acclaimed 
documentary ``Mending the Line.''
    This designation is a tribute to Frank Moore and his 
service to our country in more ways than one. In a TED Talk 
last year (TEDxPortland, May 15, 2014), one of the viewers 
commented: ``Absolutely amazing . . . I am 19 and my generation 
needs role models like this man.''


       s. 1941, the ``crags, colorado land exchange act of 2015''


    S. 1941 would require a land exchange between the United 
States and Broadmoor Hotel, Inc. (BHI). The United States would 
convey an 83 acre tract of National Forest System Land and a 
non-exclusive perpetual easement for access in exchange for a 
320 acre parcel and a permanent trail easement for a section of 
the Barr trail owned by BHI. Both exchange parcels are located 
within the Pike National Forest.
    The Department generally supports S. 1941 but would like to 
work with the committee on concerns with the bill. For example, 
we would like to help develop language that would ensure the 
northern boundary of the land conveyed is located to provide 
adequate space for Forest Service road maintenance and 
administration.
    The National Forest parcel that would be conveyed in the 
exchange has long been encumbered with significant resort 
improvements managed under special use authorization. In return 
for this parcel, the United States would receive an isolated 
inholding that the Forest Service has placed a high priority on 
acquiring. The inholding has significant recreational values 
and provides additional access for the public to the National 
Forest.
    As a result, the exchange will eliminate potentially 
significant development in a sensitive area in exchange for 
conveying Federal land where development impacts have already 
occurred. In addition, The United States would secure legal 
access on a segment of the very popular Barr trail. This trail 
provides an important recreational access to the Pike National 
Forest.


s. 1942, the ``elkhorn ranch and white river national forest conveyance 
                    act land exchange act of 2015''


    S. 1942 would direct the conveyance of a 148 acre parcel of 
National Forest System land to the Gordman-Leverich 
Partnership. The parcel is located within the White River 
National Forest.
    While the Administration has serious reservations about the 
use of Federal lands to compensate a private landowner, 
acknowledging the unusual circumstances in this specific case, 
the Department does not oppose S. 1942. The bill would resolve 
a long standing title issue associated with the property.
    A dependent resurvey, which is a survey dependent upon 
prior surveys of record, was completed in 1949, and established 
a property monument approximately 2,100 feet from the corner, 
relied upon by the original homesteaders. This meant that this 
parcel of national forest land had been managed as private 
land. 43 U.S.C. 772, enacted in 1909, provided for such 
resurveys and guaranteed that the bona fide rights of 
landowners would be protected.
    Because this land survey discrepancy only came to light 
within the past 15 years, and because the parcel has never been 
managed as National Forest, protection of the bona fide rights 
of the landowners is appropriate. Resolution of this title 
issue will end a long-standing title claim in an efficient, 
fair manner.
    This concludes my remarks. I would be happy to answer any 
questions. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

                        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 as ordered 
reported.