< Back to H.R. 511 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997

This bill was introduced on February 4, 1997, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Feb 4, 1997 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 511 IH

105th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 511

To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to improve the management of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 4, 1997

Mr. YOUNG of Alaska (for himself, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. SAXTON, Mr. TANNER, and Mr. CUNNINGHAM) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources


A BILL

To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to improve the management of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES.

    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the ‘National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997’.

    (b) REFERENCES- Whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or provision of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.).

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:

      (1) The National Wildlife Refuge System is comprised of over 91,000,000 acres of Federal lands that have been incorporated within 511 individual units located in all 50 States and our territories.

      (2) The System was created to conserve fish, wildlife, and other habitats and this conservation mission has been facilitated by providing Americans opportunities to participate in wildlife-dependent recreation, including fishing and hunting, on System lands and to better appreciate the value of and need for fish and wildlife conservation.

      (3) The System includes lands purchased not only through the use of tax dollars but also through the sale of Duck Stamps and refuge entrance fees. It is a System paid for by those utilizing it.

      (4) On March 25, 1996, the President issued Executive Order 12996 which recognized ‘wildlife-dependent recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation as priority general public uses of the Refuge System’.

      (5) Executive Order 12996 is a positive step in the right direction and will serve as the foundation for the permanent statutory changes made by this Act.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Section 5 (16 U.S.C. 668ee) is amended to read as follows:

‘SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.

    ‘For purposes of this Act:

      ‘(1) The term ‘compatible use’ means a use that will not materially interfere with or detract from the fulfillment of the purposes of a refuge or the overall mission and purposes of the System specified in sections 4(a) (2) and (3), respectively, as determined by sound resource management, and based on reliable scientific information.

      ‘(2) The terms ‘conserving’, ‘conservation’, ‘manage’, ‘managing’, and ‘management’, when used with respect to fish and wildlife, mean to use, in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws, methods and procedures associated with modern scientific resource programs including protection, research, census, law enforcement, habitat management, propagation, live trapping and transplantation, and regulated taking.

      ‘(3) The term ‘Coordination Area’ means a wildlife management area that is acquired by the Federal Government and subsequently made available to a State--

        ‘(A) by cooperative agreement between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the State fish and game agency pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-666c); or

        ‘(B) by long-term leases or agreements pursuant to the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (50 Stat. 525; 7 U.S.C. 1010 et seq.).

      ‘(4) The term ‘Director’ means the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

      ‘(5) The terms ‘fish’, ‘wildlife’, and ‘fish and wildlife’ mean any wild member of the animal kingdom whether alive or dead, and regardless of whether the member was bred, hatched, or born in captivity, including a part, product, egg, or offspring of the member.

      ‘(6) The term ‘person’ means any individual, partnership, corporation or association.

      ‘(7) The term ‘plant’ means any member of the plant kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, including any plant community, seed, root, or other part of a plant.

      ‘(8) The terms ‘purposes of the refuge’ and ‘purposes of each refuge’ mean the purposes specified in or derived from the law, proclamation, executive order, agreement, public land order, donation document, or administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, or expanding a refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit.

      ‘(9) The term ‘refuge’ means a designated area of land, water, or an interest in land or water within the System, but does not include navigational servitudes or Coordination Areas.

      ‘(10) The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Interior.

      ‘(11) The terms ‘State’ and ‘United States’ mean the several States of the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the insular possessions of the United States.

      ‘(12) The term ‘System’ means the National Wildlife Refuge System designated under section 4(a)(1).

      ‘(13) The terms ‘take’, ‘taking’, and ‘taken’ mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill, or to attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill.’.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 4 (16 U.S.C. 668dd) is amended by striking ‘Secretary of the Interior’ each place it appears and inserting ‘Secretary’.

SEC. 4. MISSION AND PURPOSES OF THE SYSTEM.

    Section 4(a) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively;

      (2) in clause (i) of paragraph (6) (as so redesignated), by striking ‘paragraph (2)’ and inserting ‘paragraph (5)’; and

      (3) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraphs:

    ‘(2) The overall mission of the System is to conserve and manage fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats within the System for the benefit of present and future generations of the people of the United States.

    ‘(3) The purposes of the System are--

      ‘(A) to provide a national network of lands and waters designed to conserve and manage fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats;

      ‘(B) to conserve, manage, and where appropriate restore fish and wildlife populations, plant communities, and refuge habitats within the System;

      ‘(C) to conserve and manage migratory birds, anadromous or interjurisdictional fish species, and marine mammals within the System;

      ‘(D) to provide opportunities for compatible uses of refuges consisting of fish- and wildlife-dependent recreation, including fishing and hunting, wildlife observation, and environmental education;

      ‘(E) to preserve, restore, and recover fish, wildlife, and plants within the System that are listed or are candidates for threatened species or endangered species under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the habitats on which these species depend; and

      ‘(F) to fulfill as appropriate international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats.’.

SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION OF THE SYSTEM.

    (a) ADMINISTRATION, GENERALLY- Section 4(a) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)), as amended by section 3 of this Act, is further amended by inserting after new paragraph (3) the following new paragraph:

    ‘(4) In administering the System, the Secretary shall--

      ‘(A) ensure that the mission and purposes of the System described in paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively, and the purposes of each refuge are carried out, except that if a conflict exists between the purposes of a refuge and any purpose of the System, the conflict shall be resolved in a manner that first protects the purposes of the refuge, and, to the extent practicable, that also achieves the purposes of the System;

      ‘(B) provide for conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats within the System;

      ‘(C) ensure effective coordination, interaction, and cooperation with owners of land adjoining refuges and the fish and wildlife agency of the States in which the units of the System are located;

      ‘(D) assist in the maintenance of adequate water quantity and water quality to fulfill the purposes of the System and the purposes of each refuge;

      ‘(E) acquire under State law through purchase, exchange, or donation water rights that are needed for refuge purposes;

      ‘(F) plan, propose, and direct appropriate expansion of the System in the manner that is best designed to accomplish the purposes of the System and the purposes of each refuge and to complement efforts of States and other Federal agencies to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats;

      ‘(G) recognize compatible uses of refuges consisting of wildlife-dependent recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation as priority general public uses of the System through which the American public can develop an appreciation for fish and wildlife;

      ‘(H) provide expanded opportunities for these priority public uses within the System when they are compatible and consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management;

      ‘(I) ensure that such priority public uses receive enhanced attention in planning and management within the System;

      ‘(J) provide increased opportunities for families to experience wildlife-dependent recreation, particularly opportunities for parents and their children to safely engage in traditional outdoor activities, such as fishing and hunting;

      ‘(K) ensure that the biological integrity and environmental health of the System is maintained for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans;

      ‘(L) continue, consistent with existing laws and interagency agreements, authorized or permitted uses of units of the System by other Federal agencies, including those necessary to facilitate military preparedness;

      ‘(M) plan and direct the continued growth of the System in a manner that is best designed to accomplish the mission of the System, to contribute to the conservation of the ecosystems of the United States, and to increase support for the System and participation from conservation partners and the public;

      ‘(N) ensure timely and effective cooperation and collaboration with Federal agencies and State fish and wildlife agencies during the course of acquiring and managing refuges;

      ‘(O) ensure appropriate public involvement opportunities will be provided in conjunction with refuge planning and management activities; and

      ‘(P) identify, prior to acquisition, existing wildlife-dependent compatible uses of new refuge lands that shall be permitted to continue on an interim basis pending completion of comprehensive planning.’.

    (b) POWERS- Section 4(b) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(b)) is amended--

      (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1) by striking ‘authorized--’ and inserting ‘authorized to take the following actions:’;

      (2) in paragraph (1) by striking ‘to enter’ and inserting ‘Enter’;

      (3) in paragraph (2)--

        (A) by striking ‘to accept’ and inserting ‘Accept’; and

        (B) by striking ‘, and’ and inserting a period;

      (4) in paragraph (3) by striking ‘to acquire’ and inserting ‘Acquire’; and

      (5) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

      ‘(4) Subject to standards established by and the overall management oversight of the Director, and consistent with standards established by this Act, enter into cooperative agreements with State fish and wildlife agencies and other entities for the management of programs on a refuge or the management of parts of a refuge.’.

SEC. 6. COMPATIBILITY STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES.

    Section 4(d) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(d)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

      ‘(3)(A)(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), on and after the date that is 3 years after the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Secretary shall not initiate or permit a new use of a refuge or expand, renew, or extend an existing use of a refuge, unless the Secretary has determined that the use is a compatible use.

      ‘(ii) On lands added to the System after the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, any existing fish or wildlife-dependent use of a refuge, including fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and environmental education, shall be permitted to continue on an interim basis unless the Secretary determines that the use is not a compatible use.

      ‘(iii) The Secretary shall permit fishing and hunting on a refuge if the Secretary determines that the activities are consistent with the principles of sound fish and wildlife management, are compatible uses consistent with the purposes of the System under subsection (a)(3)), and are consistent with public safety. No other determinations or findings, except the determination of consistency with State laws and regulations provided for in subsection (m), are required to be made for fishing and hunting to occur. The Secretary may make the determination referred to in this paragraph for a refuge concurrently with the development of a conservation plan for the refuge under subsection (e).

      ‘(iv) A new use of a Coordination Area first made available to a State after the date of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 may not be initiated or permitted unless the Secretary determines that the use is a compatible use.

      ‘(B) Not later than 24 months after the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Secretary shall issue final regulations establishing the process for determining under subparagraph (A) whether a use of a refuge is a compatible use. These regulations shall--

        ‘(i) designate the refuge officer responsible for making initial compatibility determinations;

        ‘(ii) require an estimate of the timeframe, location, manner, and purpose of each use;

        ‘(iii) identify the effects of each use on refuge resources and purposes of each refuge;

        ‘(iv) require that compatibility determinations be made in writing and consider the best professional judgment of the refuge officer designated under clause (i);

        ‘(v) provide for the expedited consideration of uses that will likely have no detrimental effect on the fulfillment of the purposes of a refuge or the purposes of the System specified in subsection (a)(3);

        ‘(vi) provide for the elimination or modification of any use as expeditiously as practicable after a determination is made that the use is not a compatible use;

        ‘(vii) require, after an opportunity for public comment, reevaluation of each existing use, other than those uses specified in clause (viii), when conditions under which the use is permitted change significantly or when there is significant new information regarding the effects of the use, but not less frequently than once every 10 years, to ensure that the use remains a compatible use;

        ‘(viii) require after an opportunity for public comment reevaluation of each fish and wildlife-dependent recreational use when conditions under which the use is permitted change significantly or when there is significant new information regarding the effects of the use, but not less frequently than in conjunction with each preparation or revision of a conservation plan under subsection (e) or at least every 15 years;

        ‘(ix) provide an opportunity for public review and comment on each evaluation of a use, unless an opportunity for public review and comment on the evaluation of the use has already been provided during the development or revision of a conservation plan for the refuge under subsection (e) or has otherwise been provided during routine, periodic determinations of compatibility for fish- and wildlife-dependent recreational uses; and

        ‘(x) provide that when managed in accordance with principles of sound fish and wildlife management, fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and environmental education in a refuge are generally compatible uses.

      ‘(4) The provisions of this Act relating to determinations of the compatibility of a use shall not apply to--

        ‘(A) overflights above a refuge; and

        ‘(B) activities authorized, funded, or conducted by a Federal agency (other than the United States Fish and Wildlife Service) which has primary jurisdiction over the refuge or a portion of the refuge, if the management of those activities is in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between the Secretary or the Director and the head of the Federal agency with primary jurisdiction over the refuge governing the use of the refuge.

      ‘(5) Overflights above a refuge may be governed by any memorandum of understanding entered into by the Secretary that applies to the refuge.’.

SEC. 7. REFUGE CONSERVATION PLANNING PROGRAM.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Section 4 (16 U.S.C. 668dd) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating subsections (e) through (i) as subsections (f) through (j), respectively; and

      (2) by inserting after subsection (d) the following new subsection:

    ‘(e)(1)(A) Except with respect to refuge lands in Alaska (which shall be governed by the refuge planning provisions of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.)), the Secretary shall--

      ‘(i) propose a comprehensive conservation plan for each refuge or related complex of refuges (referred to in this subsection as a ‘planning unit’) in the System;

      ‘(ii) publish a notice of opportunity for public comment in the Federal Register on each proposed conservation plan;

      ‘(iii) issue a final conservation plan for each planning unit consistent with the provisions of this Act and, to the extent practicable, consistent with fish and wildlife conservation plans of the State in which the refuge is located; and

      ‘(iv) not less frequently than 15 years after the date of issuance of a conservation plan under clause (iii) and every 15 years thereafter, revise the conservation plan as may be necessary.

    ‘(B) The Secretary shall prepare a comprehensive conservation plan under this subsection for each refuge within 15 years after the date of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.

    ‘(C) The Secretary shall manage each refuge or planning unit under plans in effect on the date of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, to the extent such plans are consistent with this Act, until such plans are revised or superseded by new comprehensive conservation plans issued under this subsection.

    ‘(D) Uses or activities consistent with this Act may occur on any refuge or planning unit before existing plans are revised or new comprehensive conservation plans are issued under this subsection.

    ‘(E) Upon completion of a comprehensive conservation plan under this subsection for a refuge or planning unit, the Secretary shall manage the refuge or planning unit in a manner consistent with the plan and shall revise the plan at any time if the Secretary determines that conditions that affect the refuge or planning unit have changed significantly.

    ‘(2) In developing each comprehensive conservation plan under this subsection for a planning unit, the Secretary, acting through the Director, shall identify and describe--

      ‘(A) the purposes of each refuge comprising the planning unit and the purposes of the System applicable to those refuges;

      ‘(B) the distribution, migration patterns, and abundance of fish, wildlife, and plant populations and related habitats within the planning unit;

      ‘(C) the archaeological and cultural values of the planning unit;

      ‘(D) such areas within the planning unit that are suitable for use as administrative sites or visitor facilities;

      ‘(E) significant problems that may adversely affect the populations and habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants within the planning unit and the actions necessary to correct or mitigate such problems; and

      ‘(F) the opportunities for fish- and wildlife-dependent recreation, including fishing and hunting, wildlife observation, environmental education, interpretation of the resources and values of the planning unit, and other uses that may contribute to refuge management.

    ‘(3) In preparing each comprehensive conservation plan under this subsection, and any revision to such a plan, the Secretary, acting through the Director, shall, to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with this Act--

      ‘(A) consult with adjoining Federal, State, local, and private landowners and affected State conservation agencies; and

      ‘(B) coordinate the development of the conservation plan or revision of the plan with relevant State conservation plans for fish and wildlife and their habitats.

    ‘(4)(A) In accordance with subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall develop and implement a process to ensure an opportunity for active public involvement in the preparation and revision of comprehensive conservation plans under this subsection. At a minimum, the Secretary shall require that publication of any final plan shall include a summary of the comments made by States, adjacent or potentially affected landowners, local governments, and any other affected parties, together with a statement of the disposition of concerns expressed in those comments.

    ‘(B) Prior to the adoption of each comprehensive conservation plan under this subsection, the Secretary shall issue public notice of the draft proposed plan, make copies of the plan available at the affected field and regional offices of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and provide opportunity for public comment.’.

SEC. 8. EMERGENCY POWER; PRESIDENTIAL EXEMPTION; STATE AUTHORITY; WATER RIGHTS; COORDINATION.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Section 4 (16 U.S.C. 668dd) is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsections:

    ‘(k) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act the Secretary may temporarily suspend, allow, or initiate any activity in a refuge in the System in the event of any emergency that constitutes an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public or any fish or wildlife population, including any activity to control or eradicate sea lampreys, zebra mussels, or any other aquatic nuisance species (as that term is defined in section 1003 of the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 (16 U.S.C. 4702)).

    ‘(l) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to control or regulate hunting or fishing of fish and resident wildlife on lands or waters not within the System.

    ‘(m) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the authority, jurisdiction, or responsibility of the several States to manage, control, or regulate fish and resident wildlife under State law or regulations in any area within the System. Regulations permitting hunting or fishing of fish and resident wildlife within the System shall be, to the extent practicable, consistent with State fish and wildlife laws, regulations, or management plans.

    ‘(n)(1) Nothing in this Act shall--

      ‘(A) create a reserved water right, express or implied, in the United States for any purpose;

      ‘(B) affect any water right in existence on the date of enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; or

      ‘(C) affect any Federal or State law in existence on the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 regarding water quality or water quantity.

    ‘(2) Nothing in this Act shall diminish or affect the ability to join the United States in the adjudication of rights to the use of water pursuant to the McCarran Act (43 U.S.C. 666).

    ‘(o) Coordination with State fish and wildlife agency personnel or with personnel of other affected State agencies pursuant to this Act shall not be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.).

    ‘(p) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as requiring or prohibiting fishing or hunting on any particular refuge except pursuant to a determination by the Secretary in accordance with this Act.’.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 4(c) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(c)) is amended by striking the last sentence.

SEC. 9. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.

    Nothing in this Act is intended to affect--

      (1) the provisions for subsistence uses in Alaska set forth in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (Public Law 96-487), including those in titles III and VIII of that Act;

      (2) the provisions of section 102 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the jurisdiction over subsistence uses in Alaska, or any assertion of subsistence uses in the Federal courts; and

      (3) the manner in which section 810 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act is implemented in refuges in Alaska, and the determination of compatible use as it relates to subsistence uses in these refuges.

SEC. 10. REORGANIZATIONAL TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS.

    (a) REORGANIZATIONAL AMENDMENTS- The Act of October 15, 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), is amended--

      (1) by adding before section 4 the following new section:

‘SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    ‘This Act may be cited as the ‘National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966’.’;

      (2) by striking sections 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10;

      (3) in section 4 (16 U.S.C. 668dd)--

        (A) by striking ‘SEC. 4.’; and

        (B) by redesignating that section as section 2 and inserting immediately above the text of the section the following new heading:

‘SEC. 2. NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM.’;

      (4) in section 5(1), as amended by section 3 of this Act, by striking ‘sections 4(a)(2) and (3)’ and inserting ‘section 2(a)(2) and (3)’; and

      (5) in section 5(12), as amended by section 3 of this Act, by striking ‘section 4(a)(1)’ and inserting ‘section 2(a)(1)’.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS-

      (1) Section 12(f) of the Act of December 5, 1969 (83 Stat. 283) is repealed.

      (2) Section 5(b) of the Act of January 3, 1975 (88 Stat. 2123; 16 U.S.C. 459j-4) is amended by striking ‘Administration Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee),’ and inserting ‘Administration Act of 1966,’.

      (3) Section 320808(7) of the Recreational Hunting Safety and Preservation Act of 1994 (16 U.S.C. 5207(7)) is amended by striking ‘section 4’ and inserting ‘section 2’.