Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

115th Congress   }                                    {         Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session      }                                    {       115-1013

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



 
                       DESERT COMMUNITY LANDS ACT

                                _______
                                

November 9, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2365]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2365) to convey certain Federal land in 
California to Apple Valley, California, Twentynine Palms, 
California, Barstow, California, and Victorville, California, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Desert Community Lands Act''.

SEC. 2. CONVEYANCE FOR APPLE VALLEY OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE RECREATION 
                    AREA.

  (a) Definitions.--In this section:
          (1) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (2) Town.--The term ``Town'' means the town of Apple Valley, 
        California.
  (b) Conveyance of Federal Land to Town.--
          (1) Conveyance required.--At the request of the Town, not 
        later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
        the Secretary shall convey to the Town, without consideration, 
        all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to 
        the surface estate of the approximately 4,630 acres of land 
        generally depicted as ``Proposed Conveyance Area'' on the map 
        entitled ``Conveyance to Town of Apple Valley'' and dated June 
        1, 2015. Such land shall be known and designated as the ``Apple 
        Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area''.
          (2) Existing rights and mineral estate.--The conveyance under 
        this subsection--
                  (A) is subject to valid existing rights; and
                  (B) does not include the mineral estate.
  (c) Use of Conveyed Land.--
          (1) In general.--The land conveyed under subsection (b) may 
        be used by the Town for any public purpose authorized in 
        paragraph (2), consistent with the Act of June 14, 1926 
        (commonly known as the Recreation and Public Purposes Act; 43 
        U.S.C. 869 et seq.).
          (2) Authorized purposes.--The purposes of the conveyance 
        under subsection (b) are to allow the Town to use the conveyed 
        land to provide--
                  (A) a suitable location for the establishment of a 
                centralized off-road vehicle recreation park;
                  (B) the public with opportunities for off-road 
                vehicle recreation, including a location for races, 
                competitive events, training and other commercial 
                services that directly support a centralized off-road 
                vehicle recreation area and Town park; and
                  (C) a designated area and facilities that would 
                discourage unauthorized use of off-highway vehicles in 
                areas that have been identified by the Federal 
                Government, the State of California, or San Bernardino 
                County as containing environmentally sensitive land.
          (3) Disposal prohibited.--The land conveyed under subsection 
        (b) may not be disposed of by the Town without the approval of 
        the Secretary.

SEC. 3. CONVEYANCE TO CITY OF TWENTYNINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA.

  (a) Conveyance Required.--At the request of the city of Twentynine 
Palms, California, not later than 1 year after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall convey to 
the city of Twentynine Palms, California, without consideration, all 
right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the surface 
estate of the land generally depicted as ``Proposed Conveyance to 
Twentynine Palms'' on the map entitled ``Proposed Conveyance to 
Twentynine Palms'' and dated September 18, 2015.
  (b) Existing Rights and Mineral Estate.--The conveyance under this 
section--
          (1) is subject to valid existing rights; and
          (2) does not include the mineral estate.

SEC. 4. CONVEYANCE TO CITY OF BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA.

  (a) Conveyance Required.--At the request of the city of Barstow, 
California, not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of 
this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall convey to the city of 
Barstow, California, without consideration, all right, title, and 
interest of the United States in and to the surface estate of the land 
generally depicted as ``Proposed Conveyance'' on the map entitled 
``Proposed Conveyance to the City of Barstow'' and dated January 13, 
2017.
  (b) Existing Rights and Mineral Estate.--The conveyance under this 
section--
          (1) is subject to valid existing rights; and
          (2) does not include the mineral estate.

SEC. 5. CONVEYANCE TO CITY OF VICTORVILLE, CALIFORNIA.

  (a) Conveyance Required.--At the request of the city of Victorville, 
California, not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of 
this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall convey to the city of 
Victorville, California, without consideration, all right, title, and 
interest of the United States in and to the surface estate of the land 
generally depicted as ``Proposed Conveyance'' on the map entitled 
``Proposed Conveyance to the City of Victorville'' and dated April 25, 
2017.
  (b) Existing Rights and Mineral Estate.--The conveyance under this 
subsection--
          (1) is subject to valid existing rights;
          (2) does not include the mineral estate; and
          (3) is subject to the reservation of a permanent easement and 
        right of way for flood control, utility, pipeline, or 
        telecommunications facilities located within the strips of land 
        described in the right of way grant from the United States 
        Department of the Interior to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, 
        Serial Number R 06259, dated March 2, 1965, and the easement 
        from J. Harley Long to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, dated 
        February 4, 1957, and recorded in Book 4192, Official Records 
        at page 42, San Bernardino County Records. These easements 
        include the right, at any time and from time to time, to 
        construct, reconstruct, maintain, operate, replace, remove, 
        repair, renew, and enlarge facilities for public utility 
        purposes, the right to trim and cut down trees and brush that 
        the public utility may deem to be a hazard to its facilities, 
        and the requirement that the strips of land be kept open and 
        free of buildings, structures, and wells of any kind.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2365 is to convey certain Federal land 
in California to Apple Valley, California, Twentynine Palms, 
California, Barstow, California, and Victorville, California.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Like many cities and towns in the California desert, the 
communities of Apple Valley, Barstow, Twentynine Palms, and 
Victorville are set amidst an extensive land ownership pattern 
dominated by the federal government. In some cases, these 
federally-managed lands provide tremendous opportunity for 
outdoor recreation, such as off-highway vehicle use. In other 
cases, they are impeding the surrounding communities from 
responding to the pressures of population growth and fostering 
economic development. To meet key economic, community 
development, and recreation needs, H.R. 2365 would convey 
parcels of land currently managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) to local governments.
    H.R. 2365 would require that BML convey to Apple Valley 
approximately 4,630 acres of BLM-managed land located north and 
east of the town center. The conveyance would occur within five 
years of enactment, would be subject to valid existing rights, 
and would not include subsurface interests. The lands conveyed 
would be managed by the town as the Apple Valley Off-Highway 
Vehicle Recreation Area and would be used for off-road 
vehicles, competitive races, training and other recreation. 
According to town officials, the lands conveyed are already 
heavily used by off-road vehicles and managing this use will 
allow the town to meet obligations set forth in an Endangered 
Species Act Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan/Community 
Conservation Plan.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Letter from Scott Nassif, Town of Apple Valley Mayor, to 
Representative Paul Cook (June 13, 2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    H.R. 2365 would also require that BLM convey to Twentynine 
Palms approximately 80 acres located east of the city. The 
conveyance would occur within one year of enactment. The 
conveyed land would be subject to valid existing rights and 
would exclude subsurface interests. The parcel is located 
adjacent to an area known as the 29 Palms Motorsports Arena, 
which annually hosts the Hilltoppers Motorcycle Club Grand 
Prix, which draws more than 1,200 racers\2\ and 5,000 
attendees.\3\ According to local officials, the conveyed land 
will allow for more publicly accessible race events, which will 
bring much-needed economic stimulus to the area.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ Hilltoppers Motorcycle Club, http://hilltoppersmc.com/ (last 
visited May 3, 2018).
    \3\ Letter from John E. Cole, City of Twentynine Palms Mayor, to 
Representative Paul Cook (May 18, 2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    H.R. 2365 would also require BLM to convey to Barstow 
approximately 320 acres of BLM-managed land located entirely 
within the incorporated city limits. The conveyance would occur 
within one year of enactment, would be subject to valid 
existing rights, and would exclude subsurface interests. 
According to city officials, the parcel would contribute to 
improved vehicular circulation and reduced traffic congestion 
by allowing for secondary access to a key town center. This 
parcel is located adjacent to the I-15 freeway and its 
commercial development is estimated to bring in as much as 
$1,000,000 annually in sales tax revenue for Barstow. According 
to City Manager Charles Mitchell, the parcel ``is one of the 
most important pieces of vacant property in Barstow and its 
acquisition and development would be highly beneficial to [the] 
economically distressed community.''\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\ Letter from Charles C. Mitchell, Barstow City Manager, to 
Representative Paul Cook (May 23, 2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, H.R. 2365 would require BLM to convey to 
Victorville approximately 3,200 acres located either within the 
city limits or its sphere of influence. The conveyance would 
occur within one year of enactment, conveyed land would be 
subject to valid existing rights, and excludes subsurface 
interests. According to city officials, the conveyance would 
contribute to the Victorville's master plan, which is designed 
to respond to projected population growth and serve as a 
transit hub between a planned high-speed passenger rail network 
connecting southern Californian communities to Las Vegas, 
Nevada. Other conveyed parcels would be used for wastewater 
treatment, increased transportation access, and light 
industrial development.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ Letter from Gloria Garcia, City of Victorville Mayor, to 
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (May 17, 2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This Act may be cited as the ``Desert Community Lands 
Act''.

Section 2. Conveyance for Apple Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation 
        Area

    This section requires that no later than five years from 
enactment, the Secretary of the Interior conveys to the Town of 
Apple Valley, California, approximately 4,630 acres of land to 
be known as the Apple Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) 
Recreation Area. Conveyed lands would be subject to valid 
existing rights and would not include the underlying mineral 
estate. Conveyed lands would be used by Apple Valley for any 
public purpose related to the establishment of an off-road 
vehicle recreation park; the provision of off-road vehicle 
recreation, including races and competitive events; and the 
designation of an area to discourage unauthorized use of OHVs 
in areas that contain environmentally sensitive land. Lands 
conveyed are prohibited from disposal by the town, unless 
approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

Section 3. Conveyance to city of Twentynine Palms, California

    This section requires that no later than one year from 
enactment, the Secretary of the Interior conveys to the city of 
Twentynine Palms, California, approximately 80 acres of land, 
which would be subject to valid existing rights and would not 
include the underlying mineral estate.

Section 4. Conveyance to city of Barstow, California

    This section requires that no later than one year from 
enactment, the Secretary of the Interior conveys to the city of 
Barstow, California, approximately 320 acres of land, which 
would be subject to valid existing rights and would not include 
the underlying mineral estate.

Section 5. Conveyance to city of Victorville, California

    This section requires that no later than one year from 
enactment, the Secretary of the Interior conveys to the city of 
Victorville, California, approximately 3,200 acres of land, 
which would be subject to valid existing rights and would not 
include the underlying mineral estate. The conveyance is also 
subject to a permanent easement and right-of-way for flood 
control, utility, pipeline or telecommunications facilities.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2365 was introduced on May 4, 2017, by Congressman 
Paul Cook (R-CA). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Federal Lands. On May 17, 2018, the Subcommittee held a 
hearing on the legislation. On June 13, 2018, the Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee 
was discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman Cook offered 
an amendment designated #1; it was adopted by voice vote. No 
additional amendments were offered, and the bill, as amended, 
was ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by a roll call vote of 20 yeas and 15 nays, as follows:


            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

      COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET ACT

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act. 
With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and (3) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the following estimate for the 
bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, July 9, 2018.
Hon. Rob Bishop,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2365, the Desert 
Community Lands Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
            Sincerely,
                                             Mark P. Hadley
                                        (For Keith Hall, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2365--Desert Community Lands Act

    H.R. 2365 would require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 
to convey, without consideration, up to 8,200 acres of federal 
land to several cities in California. At the request of the 
affected cities, BLM would be required to convey up to four 
parcels of land ranging in size from 80 acres to 4,630 acres to 
the cities of Twentynine Palms, Barstow, Victorville, and Apple 
Valley. Under the bill, BLM would be required to cover any 
administrative costs associated with completing the 
conveyances. Using information provided by the agency, CBO 
estimates that administering the conveyances would cost less 
than $500,000; such spending would be subject to the 
availability of appropriated funds.
    Enacting the bill could reduce offsetting receipts, which 
are treated as reductions in direct spending, from rentals 
associated with rights-of-way on each parcel; however, using 
information provided by BLM, CBO estimates that any reduction 
in receipts would total less than $50,000 a year. Because 
enacting H.R. 2365 could affect direct spending pay-as-you-go 
procedures apply. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2365 would not 
significantly increase net direct spending or on-budget 
deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods 
beginning in 2029.
    H.R. 2365 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to convey certain Federal land in 
California to Apple Valley, California, Twentynine Palms, 
California, Barstow, California, and Victorville, California.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. This bill does not contain any 
directed rule makings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes to existing 
law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 2365 is another Republican proposal to transfer a 
significant amount of public land without any form of 
compensation. The bill authorizes four conveyances, totaling 
over 6000 acres, to promote access for recreation and economic 
development opportunities in San Bernardino County, California.
    This is a worthy goal, but it does not justify transferring 
land without any consideration for its value, either economic 
or ecological.
    Congress has a longstanding tradition of providing states 
and municipal governments with public land for specific public 
purposes, but federal land belongs to all Americans, and 
Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our constituents 
receive fair treatment whenever we consider a conveyance or any 
other proposal to dispose of federal land. There are situations 
in which a transfer or conveyance makes both economic and 
ecological sense, but we must ensure some form of compensation 
or guarantee that it will remain in public use.
    H.R. 2365 fails to include these important requirements.
    For example, the conveyance to the City of Apple Valley 
references the Recreation and Public Purpose Act (RPPA), a 
longstanding law that authorizes the BLM to provide local 
governments with land for certain public purposes. A conveyance 
under this title must be permanently used for a public purpose 
or ownership reverts to the United States. In addition to a 
standard reversionary clause, which the bill does not include, 
conveyances under the RPPA require a restriction on commercial 
activity on the conveyed land, another criterion the bill 
ignores. So, while it includes a reference to the Recreation 
and Public Purposes Act, it clearly does not follow the letter 
or spirit of that law.
    The remaining three conveyances authorized by the bill 
transfer federal land without any survey to determine the value 
or any form of compensation. This goes against reasonable 
standards for land conveyances established to ensure fair 
consideration of assets owned by all Americans.
    We welcome the opportunity to work with the majority to 
ensure that this bill includes these critical safeguards.

                                   Raul M. Grijalva,
                                           Ranking Member, House 
                                               Committee on Natural 
                                               Resources.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano.

                                  [all]