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115th Congress  }                                       {      Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session    }                                       {     115-438

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

 
                 KEEP AMERICA'S REFUGES OPERATIONAL ACT

                                _______
                                

December 5, 2017.--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

                        [To accompany H.R. 3979]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3979) to amend the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 
to reauthorize the volunteer services, community partnership, 
and refuge education programs of the National Wildlife Refuge 
System, and for other purposes, 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 ``Keep America's Refuges Operational 
Act''.

SEC. 2. REAUTHORIZATION OF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM VOLUNTEER 
                    SERVICES, COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP, AND REFUGE 
                    EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

  Section 7 of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742f) is 
amended in subsection (g), by striking ``2011 through 2014'' and 
inserting ``2018 through 2022''.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 3979 is to amend the Fish and Wildlife 
Act of 1956 to reauthorize the volunteer services, community 
partnership, and refuge education programs of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages 566 
National Wildlife Refuges as well as associated fish 
hatcheries, wetland management districts, regional offices, and 
ecological services offices. Four hundred and sixty-two of 
these refuges are open to the public, and of those, 393 refuges 
have volunteer programs. These programs facilitate over 40,000 
volunteers who contribute more than 1.3 million hours each year 
providing assistance and support to U.S. Refuges. FWS estimates 
that these programs provide a labor value of over $30 
million.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\``Volunteer Program Stats'' provided by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service on November 8, 2017, to Natural Resources Committee 
staff.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks to assist with 
refuge operations, including habitat improvement projects, 
laboratory research assistance, leading refuge tours, and fish 
and wildlife population surveys.\2\ These tasks help the FWS 
more efficiently fulfill its mission while also providing an 
opportunity for individuals and groups to contribute to the 
fish and wildlife preservation and protection.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\Ibid.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The volunteer programs are authorized through the National 
Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and Community Partnership 
Enhancement Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-242), which amended the 
Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a et seq.) to 
promote volunteer programs, community partnerships, and 
educational activities for the benefit of National Wildlife 
Refuges. It authorized $2 million to be appropriated for the 
program. This statutory authority was reauthorized by the 
National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-
327), which reauthorized appropriations for fiscal years 2004 
through 2009 for these activities. In addition, the National 
Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010 (Public Law 
111-357) reauthorized these appropriations for fiscal years 
2011 through 2014. In the last two fiscal years, these programs 
have been appropriated $2 million.
    H.R. 3979 reauthorizes a cost-efficient resource that helps 
the FWS fulfill its mission to protect and preserve the 
nation's fish and wildlife. The volunteer programs are very 
popular with recreationists throughout the country, with more 
applications than there are current volunteer slots. This 
legislation has broad support from several recreation and 
conservation organizations as well as bipartisan Congressional 
support. A previous iteration of this bill in the 113th 
Congress (H.R. 1300) was favorably reported from the Natural 
Resources Committee with unanimous support and was then passed 
by the House under suspension of the rules by voice vote.
    Organizations that support the bill include: The American 
Bird Conservancy, American Fisheries Society, American Hiking 
Society, American Sportfishing Association, the Boy Scouts of 
America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks 
Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, Marine Conservation 
Institute, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife 
Federation, National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Corps 
Network, the Nature Conservancy, the Wilderness Society, 
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout 
Unlimited.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 3979 was introduced on October 5, 2017, by Congressman 
Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Federal Lands. On November 15, 2017, the 
Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. On November 29, 2017, 
the Natural Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The 
Subcommittee was discharged by unanimous consent. Congressman 
Garret Graves (R-LA) offered an amendment designated #1; it was 
adopted by unanimous consent. No further amendments were 
offered, and the bill, as amended, was ordered favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous consent 
on November 30, 2017.

            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

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974. 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 enclosed cost estimate for 
the bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 4, 2017.
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. 3979, the Keep 
America's Refuges Operational Act.
    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,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3979--Keep America's Refuges Operational Act

    H.R. 3979 would authorize the appropriation of $2 million a 
year over the 2018-2022 period for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS) to carry out volunteer programs and community 
partnerships at national wildlife refuges. Under those 
programs, volunteers assist USFWS personnel in conducting 
recreation activities, restoring habitats, and performing 
administrative and maintenance work at national wildlife 
refuges. In 2017, those programs received appropriations of 
roughly $8 million.
    CBO assumes that the legislation will be enacted early in 
calendar year 2018 and that the authorized amounts will be 
appropriated for each fiscal year. As shown in the following 
table and based on historical spending patterns, CBO estimates 
that implementing the bill would cost $10 million over the 
2018-2022 period. The costs of this legislation fall within 
budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                  --------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     2018      2019      2020      2021      2022     2018-2022
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Authorization Levela.............................         2         2         2         2         2           10
Estimated Outlays................................         2         2         2         2         2           10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
aThe agency has not allocated any funds appropriated in fiscal year 2018 to programs that would be funded under
  H.R. 3979.

    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3979 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 3979 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 approved 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 amend the Fish and Wildlife Act of 
1956 to reauthorize the volunteer services, community 
partnership, and refuge education programs of the National 
Wildlife Refuge System.

                           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 Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

                     FISH AND WILDLIFE ACT OF 1956




           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
                 policies, procedures, recommendations

  Sec. 7. (a) The Secretary of the Interior, with such advice 
and assistance as he may require from the Assistant Secretary 
for Fish and Wildlife, shall consider and determine the 
policies and procedures that are necessary and desirable in 
carrying out efficiently and in the public interest the laws 
relating to fish and wildlife. The Secretary, with the 
assistance of the departmental staff' herein authorized, 
shall--
          (1) develop and recommend measures which are 
        appropriate to assure the maximum sustainable 
        production of fish and fishery products and to prevent 
        unnecessary and excessive fluctuations in such 
        production;
          (2) study the economic condition of the industry, and 
        whenever he determines that any segment of the domestic 
        fisheries has been seriously disturbed either by wide 
        fluctuation in the abundance of the resource supporting 
        it, or by unstable market or fishing conditions or due 
        to any other factors he shall make such recommendations 
        to the President and the Congress as he deems 
        appropriate to aid in stabilizing the domestic 
        fisheries;
          (3) develop and recommend special promotional and 
        informational activities with a view to stimulating the 
        consumption of fishery products whenever he determines 
        that there is a prospective or actual surplus of such 
        products; and
          (4) take such steps as may be required for the 
        development, advancement, management, conservation, and 
        protection of fish and wildlife resources including, 
        but not limited to, research, development of existing 
        facilities, and acquisition by purchase or exchange of 
        land and water, or interests therein.
  (b)(1) In furtherance of the purposes of this Act, the 
Secretary of the Interior is authorized to accept any gifts, 
devises, or bequests of real and personal property, or proceeds 
therefrom, or interests therein, for the benefit of the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service, in performing its activities 
and services. Such acceptance may be subject to the terms of 
any restrictive or affirmative covenant, or condition of 
servitude, if such terms are deemed by the Secretary to-be in 
accordance with law and compatible with the purpose for whch 
acceptance is sought.
          (2) Use of gifts, devises, and bequests.--
                  (A) In general.--Any gifts and bequests of 
                money and proceeds from the sales of other 
                property received as gifts or bequests pursuant 
                to this subsection shall be deposited in a 
                separate account in the Treasury and shall be 
                disbursed upon order of the Secretary for the 
                benefit of programs administered by the United 
                States Fish and Wildlife Service.
                  (B) Gifts, devises, and bequests to 
                particular refuges.--
                          (i) Disbursal.--Any gift, devise, or 
                        bequest made for the benefit of a 
                        particular national wildlife refuge or 
                        complex of geographically related 
                        refuges shall be disbursed only for the 
                        benefit of that refuge or complex of 
                        refuges and without further 
                        appropriations.
                          (ii) Matching.--Subject to the 
                        availability of appropriations and the 
                        requirements of the National Wildlife 
                        Refuge System Administration Act of 
                        1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.) and 
                        other applicable law, the Secretary may 
                        provide funds to match gifts, devises, 
                        and bequests made for the benefit of a 
                        particular national wildlife refuge or 
                        complex of geographically related 
                        refuges. With respect to each gift, 
                        devise, or bequest, the amount of 
                        Federal funds may not exceed the amount 
                        (or, in the case of property or in-kind 
                        services, the fair market value) of the 
                        gift, devise, or bequest.
          (3) For the purpose of Federal income, estate, and 
        gift taxes, property, or proceeds therefrom, or 
        interests therein, accepted under this subsection shall 
        be considered as a gift or bequest to the United 
        States.
  (c)(1) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of 
Commerce may each recruit, train, and accept, without regard to 
the provisions of title 5, United States Code, the services of 
individuals without compensation as volunteers for, or in aid 
of programs conducted by either Secretary through the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration.
          (2) The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary 
        of Commerce are each authorized to provide for 
        incidental expenses such as transportation, uniforms, 
        lodging, awards (including nominal cash awards) and 
        recognition, and subsistence of such volunteers without 
        regard to their places of residence.
          (3) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, 
        a volunteer shall not be deemed a Federal employee and 
        shall not be subject to the provisions of law relating 
        to Federal employment, including those relative to 
        hours of work, rates of compensation, leave, 
        unemployment compensation, and Federal employee 
        benefits.
          (4) For the purpose of the tort claim provisions of 
        title 28 of the United States Code, a volunteer under 
        this subsection shall be considered a Federal employee.
          (5) For the purposes of subchapter I of chapter 81 of 
        title 5 of the United States Code, relating to 
        compensation to Federal employees for work injuries, 
        volunteers under this subsection shall be deemed 
        employees of the United States within the meaning of 
        the term ``employees'' as defined in section 8101 of 
        title 5, United States Code, and the provisions of that 
        subchapter shall apply.
          (6) Senior volunteer corps.--The Secretary of the 
        Interior may establish a Senior Volunteer Corps, 
        consisting of volunteers over the age of 50. To assist 
        in the recruitment and retention of the volunteers, the 
        Secretary may provide for additional incidental 
        expenses to members of the Corps beyond the incidental 
        expenses otherwise provided to volunteers under this 
        subsection. The members of the Corps shall be subject 
        to the other provisions of this subsection.
  (d) Community Partnership Enhancement.--
          (1) Definition of partner organization.--In this 
        subsection, the term partner organization means an 
        organization that--
                  (A) draws its membership from private 
                individuals, organizations, corporations, 
                academic institutions, or State or local 
                governments;
                  (B) is established to promote the 
                understanding of, education relating to, and 
                the conservation of the fish, wildlife, plants, 
                and cultural and historical resources of a 
                particular refuge or complex of geographically 
                related refuges; and
                  (C) is described in section 501(c)(3) of the 
                Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is exempt 
                from taxation under section 501(a) of that 
                Code.
          (2) Cooperative agreements.--
                  (A) In general.--Notwithstanding chapter 63 
                of title 31, United States Code, the Secretary 
                of the Interior may negotiate and enter into a 
                cooperative agreement with a partner 
                organization, academic institution, State or 
                local government agency, or other person to 
                implement one or more projects or programs for 
                a refuge or complex of geographically related 
                refuges in accordance with the purposes of this 
                subsection and in compliance with the policies 
                of other relevant authorities, regulations, and 
                policy guidance.
                  (B) Projects and programs.--Subject to the 
                requirements of the National Wildlife Refuge 
                System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 
                668dd et seq.) and other applicable law, and 
                such terms and conditions as the Secretary 
                determines to be appropriate, the Secretary may 
                approve projects and programs for a refuge or 
                complex of geographically related refuges 
                that--
                          (i) promote the stewardship of 
                        resources of the refuge through habitat 
                        maintenance, restoration, and 
                        improvement, biological monitoring, or 
                        research;
                          (ii) support the operation and 
                        maintenance of the refuge through 
                        constructing, operating, maintaining, 
                        or improving the facilities and 
                        services of the refuge;
                          (iii) increase awareness and 
                        understanding of the refuge and the 
                        National Wildlife Refuge System through 
                        the development, publication, or 
                        distribution of educational materials 
                        and products;
                          (iv) advance education concerning the 
                        purposes of the refuge and the mission 
                        of the System through the use of the 
                        refuge as an outdoor classroom and 
                        development of other educational 
                        programs; or
                          (v) contribute financial resources to 
                        the refuge, under terms that require 
                        that the net revenues be used 
                        exclusively for the benefit of the 
                        refuge, through donation of net 
                        revenues from the sale of educational 
                        materials and products and through 
                        encouragement of gifts, devises, and 
                        bequests.
                  (C) Federal funding and ownership.--
                          (i) Matching.--Subject to the 
                        availability of appropriations and the 
                        requirements of the National Wildlife 
                        Refuge System Administration Act of 
                        1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.) and 
                        other applicable law, the Secretary may 
                        provide funds to match non-Federal 
                        funds donated under a cooperative 
                        agreement under this paragraph. With 
                        respect to each project or program, the 
                        amount of funds provided by the 
                        Secretary may not exceed the amount of 
                        the non-Federal funds donated through 
                        the project or program.
                          (ii) Use of federal funds.--Any 
                        Federal funds used to fund a project or 
                        program under a cooperative agreement 
                        may be used only for expenses directly 
                        related to the project or program and 
                        may not be used for operation or 
                        administration of any non-Federal 
                        entity.
                          (iii) Ownership of facilities.--Any 
                        new facility, improvement to an 
                        existing facility, or other permanent 
                        improvement to a refuge constructed 
                        under this subsection shall be the 
                        property of the United States 
                        Government.
                  (D) Treasury account.--Amounts received by 
                the Secretary of the Interior as a result of 
                projects and programs under subparagraph (B) 
                shall be deposited in a separate account in the 
                Treasury. Amounts in the account that are 
                attributable to activities at a particular 
                refuge or complex of geographically related 
                refuges shall be available to the Secretary of 
                the Interior, without further appropriation, to 
                pay the costs of incidental expenses related to 
                volunteer activities, and to carry out 
                cooperative agreements for the refuge or 
                complex of refuges.
  (e) Refuge Education Program Enhancement.--
          (1) Guidance.--Not later than 1 year after the date 
        of enactment of this subsection, the Secretary of the 
        Interior shall develop guidance for refuge education 
        programs to further the mission of the National 
        Wildlife Refuge System and the purposes of individual 
        refuges through--
                  (A) providing outdoor classroom opportunities 
                for students on national wildlife refuges that 
                combine educational curricula with the personal 
                experiences of students relating to fish, 
                wildlife, and plants and their habitat and to 
                the cultural and historical resources of the 
                refuges;
                  (B) promoting understanding and conservation 
                of fish, wildlife, and plants and cultural and 
                historical resources of the refuges; and
                  (C) improving scientific literacy in 
                conjunction with both formal and nonformal 
                education programs.
          (2) Refuge programs.--Based on the guidance developed 
        under paragraph (1), the Secretary of the Interior may 
        develop or enhance refuge education programs as 
        appropriate, based on the resources of individual 
        refuges and the opportunities available for such 
        programs in State, local, and private schools. In 
        developing and implementing each program, the Secretary 
        should cooperate with State and local education 
        authorities, and may cooperate with partner 
        organizations in accordance with subsection (d).
  (f) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
enactment of this subsection and every 5 years thereafter, the 
Secretary of the Interior shall submit a report to the 
Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives 
and the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the 
Senate--
          (1) evaluating the accomplishments of the volunteer 
        program, the community partnerships program, and the 
        refuge education programs authorized under this 
        section, and of the National Volunteer Coordination 
        Program and volunteer coordination strategy under 
        section 4(a) of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
        Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act of 
        1998 (16 U.S.C. 742f-1); and
          (2) making recommendations to improve the 
        effectiveness of such programs, including regarding 
        implementing subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of 
        paragraph (1) of subsection (e).
  (g) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to 
be appropriated to the Secretary of the Interior to carry out 
subsections (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f), $2,000,000 for each of 
fiscal years [2011 through 2014] 2018 through 2022 .

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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