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115th Congress    }                                 {         Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                 {        115-1092




 December 20, 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. 6939]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 6939) to protect and ensure multiple use and 
public access to public lands in Wyoming per the request of the 
respective counties, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 6939 is to protect and ensure multiple 
use and public access to public lands in Wyoming per the 
request of the respective counties.


    The Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.) 
established the National Wilderness Preservation System to 
maintain some of America's wildest areas for the ``use and 
enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave 
them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as 
wilderness.''\1\ The Act described wilderness lands as areas 
``where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by 
man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.''\2\ 
It required that the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior 
review within 10 years most of the public lands under their 
purview and evaluate ``primitive'' roadless areas greater than 
5,000 acres in size for their wilderness character and prepare 
suitability recommendations for the President to share with 
Congress. Under the Act, Congress reserves the sole authority 
to designate federal lands as wilderness. Generally, the 
Wilderness Act prohibits commercial activities, motorized uses, 
and the building of roads, structures and facilities in 
designated wilderness areas. In general, even though they have 
not been designated by Congress as part of the National 
Wilderness Preservation System, lands identified as wilderness 
study areas (WSAs) are managed as if they were wilderness.
    \1\16 U.S.C. 1131.
    Pursuant to the Wilderness Act, the Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) completed its wilderness inventories in 
Wyoming in 1981\3\ and made wilderness suitability 
recommendations in 1984\4\ and 1991.\5\ The Wyoming Wilderness 
Act of 1984 designated wilderness on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 
parcels and released other areas from study. It also 
established new WSAs on USFS-managed land.\6\ Currently, there 
are more than 750,000 acres of federally-managed WSAs in 
Wyoming. In Lincoln, Big Horn, and Sweetwater Counties alone, 
there are more than 400,000 acres in 21 WSAs.\7\ Without 
Congressional action, these areas will remain in limbo and will 
be managed as de facto wilderness, despite agency 
recommendations that many of the areas be released.
    \3\Bureau of Land Management. Wyoming Wilderness Study Areas: A 
Final Inventory Report. 1981.
    \4\Bureau of Land Management. Rock Springs District, Wyoming, 
Wilderness Study Report. 1984.
    \5\Bureau of Land Management. Wyoming Statewide Wilderness Study 
Report: Wilderness Study Area Specific Recommendations. 1991.
    \6\Public Law 98-550.
    \7\One of the WSAs is managed by the U.S. Forest Service with the 
remaining 20 managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
    H.R. 6939 intends to release all WSAs in Lincoln, Big Horn, 
and Sweetwater Counties. If enacted, this bill would release 
approximately 400,000 acres of BLM and USFS land for broader 
multiple use, ensuring greater diversity of access to public 
lands and a wider array of management options available to land 
managers. This bill would also prohibit any future wilderness 
designation in Wyoming, unless enacted by law. The bill also 
directs that any BLM or USFS land in Wyoming inventoried as 
``Land With Wilderness Characteristics'' or that was identified 
as having wilderness characteristics will no longer be 
inventoried or identified as such and shall be managed under 
multiple use and sustained yield mandates. Finally, the bill 
prohibits BLM and USFS from conducting any new wilderness 
inventories or identifying land as having wilderness character 
in Wyoming.
    H.R. 6939 is supported by Lincoln, Big Horn, and Sweetwater 
Counties. It also enjoys support from the following 
organizations: Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Advocates for 
Multiple Use of Public Lands, Wyoming Mining Association, 
Petroleum Association of Wyoming, American Farm Bureau, 
Sweetwater Snow Pokes Snowmobile and ATV Club, Wyoming State 
Snowmobile Association, and Teton Freedom Riders.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 6939 was introduced on September 27, 2018, by 
Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Federal Lands. On November 15, 2018, the 
Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The 
Subcommittee was discharged by unanimous consent. No amendments 
were offered, and the bill was ordered favorably reported to 
the House of Representatives by a roll call vote of 19 yeas and 
11 nays as follows:



    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.

                        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 requested but not received a cost 
estimate for the bill from the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office.
    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 protect and ensure multiple use 
and public access to public lands in Wyoming per the request of 
the respective counties.

                           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.


    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 

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    Despite its name, H.R. 6939 has little to do with restoring 
access to public lands or listening to local input.
    The bill would eliminate all Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) 
in three Wyoming Counties--effectively rolling back protections 
for nearly 400,000 acres of public land. A sober minded process 
for releasing WSAs would typically follow a deliberate process 
and release some lands to multiple-use management while 
protecting those most worthy of wilderness designation; 
however, this bill paints with a broad brush, removing all 
study areas regardless of their worthiness for protection.
    This is especially egregious as Bureau of Land Management 
(BLM) surveys in the mid-eighties and early-nineties determined 
that nearly half of the lands H.R. 6939 would release are 
worthy of wilderness designation. While we understand the bill-
sponsor's frustration that Congress has failed to formalize 
these protections, there is abundant and long-standing evidence 
that these areas merit increased protection rather than release 
from further study.
    In addition to releasing the WSAs, H.R. 6939 removes 
protections from approximately 3.3 million acres of US Forest 
Land managed under the 2001 national roadless rule and an 
additional 700,000 acres of BLM land managed to maintain 
wilderness characteristics. The bill also restricts either 
agency from future inventories to determine the wilderness and 
conservation value of these lands, shifting all the land 
covered by the bill to a management framework that would permit 
oil and gas development, mining, commercial timber operations 
and other potentially harmful activities. Taken together this 
would turn back the clock on years of conservation success and 
potentially decrease access for users like hunters, fishermen, 
and outdoor enthusiasts, who rely on functional, unimpaired 
    Furthermore, during the hurried effort to repeal these 
protections, the bill's sponsor has done little to incorporate 
local input. Only one of the three counties impacted had even a 
semblance of a public engagement process, which culminated in a 
hasty endorsement along a split, 3-2 vote. In this vote, the 
Chairman of the County Board of Commissioner's voted against 
the bill, noting in the press that this type of process 
requires ``a lot of public comment to make it right.'' This 
bill was clearly rushed through public comment: a haste 
mirrored in its incorporation into a lame-duck markup without 
receiving a hearing. That's just one of the reasons why 
organizations representing public land users across Wyoming--
from a group of state legislators to prominent outfitters and 
guides--oppose H.R. 6939.
    While we recognize the important role Congress plays in 
providing certainty for Federal lands management, this process 
ought to involve significant public and agency input. We cannot 
hastily undo decades worth of work and protection for 
wilderness-quality lands simply because it is easy. There is a 
deliberate process for handling Wilderness Study Areas and by 
following it we can come to a consensus-based bill that meets 
the needs of all stakeholders.

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