H.R. 4668 (106th): Puerto Rico Land and Water Conservation Act of 2000

106th Congress, 1999–2000. Text as of Jun 14, 2000 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

HR 4668 IH

106th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4668

To provide for the protection of critical lands in Puerto Rico, for intergovernmental cooperation in land and water conservation, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 14, 2000

Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources


A BILL

To provide for the protection of critical lands in Puerto Rico, for intergovernmental cooperation in land and water conservation, 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.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Puerto Rico Land and Water Conservation Act of 2000’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS, PURPOSE, AND DEFINITIONS.

    (a) FINDINGS- Congress finds that--

      (1) the Karst Region of Puerto Rico is a unique geological formation which is critical to the maintenance of aquifers which constitute a principal water supply for much of Puerto Rico;

      (2) the Karst Region is threatened by development which, if unchecked, could permanently damage aquifers supplying fresh water and cause irreparable damage to the natural and environmental assets which are unique to the United States and Puerto Rico;

      (3) the protection of the Karst Region is an imperative for the public health and welfare of the citizens of Puerto Rico;

      (4) the Karst Region possesses extraordinary ecological diversity, including the habitats of endangered and threatened species and tropical migrants and is, therefore, an area of critical value to research in tropical forest management;

      (5) coordinated efforts at land protection by agencies of the Federal Government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will be necessary to conserve this environmentally critical area; and

      (6) existing units of the National Forest System and the National Wildlife Refuge System also possess critical natural resources threatened by outside development.

    (b) PURPOSE- The purpose of this Act is to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, and other Federal departments and agencies to cooperate with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico--

      (1) in the acquisition, restoration, protection, and management of lands and waters of the Karst Region and units of the National Forest System and National Wildlife Refuge System in Puerto Rico;

      (2) in the establishment of new conservation areas administered by Puerto Rico and the Federal Government; and

      (3) in the protection and management of fresh water aquifers, tropical forest ecosystems, and threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

    (c) DEFINITIONS- For the purposes of this Act the following definitions apply:

      (1) AREA- The term ‘Area’ means the Karst Resource Protection Area established by section 3.

      (2) FUND- The term ‘Fund’ means the Puerto Rico Land Conservation Fund established by section 7.

      (3) GOVERNOR- The term ‘Governor’ means the Governor of Puerto Rico.

      (4) MAP- The term ‘Map’ means the map entitled ‘Karst Resource Protection Area’, dated January 2000.

      (5) NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION UNIT- The term ‘natural resource conservation unit’ means a national forest when administered by the Secretary of Agriculture, a National Wildlife Refuge when administered by the Secretary of the Interior, and a Commonwealth Forest when administered by the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

      (6) PUERTO RICO- The term ‘Puerto Rico’ means the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or its successor.

      (7) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Agriculture.

SEC. 3. THE KARST RESOURCE PROTECTION AREA.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is hereby established the Karst Resource Protection Area in order to provide for cooperative land conservation efforts by the Federal Government and Puerto Rico.

    (b) BOUNDARIES OF AREA-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Area shall comprise those lands and interests therein, as generally depicted on the Map.

      (2) MAP ON FILE- The Map shall be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the Chief, Forest Service, Washington, DC., the office of the Director, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC., and the office of the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

      (3) ADJUSTMENTS- The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, may make minor adjustments to expand the boundaries of any unit within the Area insofar as such expansion does not increase the area of such unit by more than 10 percent.

    (c) UNITS- The Area shall be divided into units as depicted on the Map with general management responsibility for each unit being divided among the Secretary, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Governor.

SEC. 4. ADMINISTRATION OF THE AREA.

    (a) IN GENERAL-

      (1) COOPERATIVE PROGRAM- The Secretary, acting with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry and the Caribbean National Forest, and in

cooperation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Governor, shall administer a cooperative program of land conservation and protection, research, and public use within the Area.

      (2) MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES- Lands within the Area administered under this program shall be managed primarily for the objectives of--

        (A) protecting watersheds and water quality;

        (B) maintaining and enhancing biodiversity; and

        (C) conserving fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

      (3) PRINCIPAL COMPONENT- Natural resources research shall be a principal component of the management of the Area.

      (4) USES- Public recreation and other uses shall be permitted within the Area to the extent that such recreation and uses are compatible with the primary management objectives for the Area.

    (b) COOPERATION- In order to carry out the purposes of this Act, the Secretary and Secretary of the Interior may enter into contracts, cooperative agreements and similar arrangements between themselves and with the Governor and other entities, including corporations, organizations, and individuals.

    (c) SUPPLEMENTAL AUTHORITIES- In administering the Area--

      (1) the Secretary may use any other authorities available including, the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act (92 Stat. 365), the International Forestry Cooperation Act of 1990 (104 Stat. 2070), and the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978 (92 Stat. 353);

      (2) the Secretary of the Interior may use any other authorities available, including the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-667e), the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 715-715r), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-711), the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), and the Act of May 19, 1948 (16 U.S.C. 667b-667d); and

      (3) the Governor may use any authorities available under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for land acquisition and restoration purposes.

SEC. 5. LAND PROTECTION.

    (a) LAND ACQUISITION- The Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior are authorized by this Act to acquire from willing sellers by purchase, exchange, donation, or otherwise, lands and interests therein, within the Area for the purposes of this Act.

    (b) FEDERAL LAND WITHIN THE AREA-

      (1) IN GENERAL- At the direction of the Secretary, any lands or interests in lands within the Area owned by the United States, including lands to which title is held by the Commodity Credit Corporation and any subsidiary entity, shall be managed in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.

      (2) TRANSFERS OF ADMINISTRATION JURISDICTION- Pursuant to such terms and conditions as the Secretary may prescribe, lands or interests in lands may be transferred without consideration to the administrative jurisdiction of land management agencies within the Department of Agriculture, to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior, or to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico, to be managed as part of the natural resource conservation units under their respective jurisdiction. Interdepartmental transfers of land between Federal agencies shall be effected through publication of a notice thereof in the Federal Register.

      (3) COMPELLING NEED EXCEPTION- This subsection shall not apply to Federal lands or interests in land if the head of the agency controlling the property determines that there is a compelling program need for any such property.

    (c) VALUATION- The Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior may acquire lands and interests therein, based on the fair market value of land within a unit or parts of units of the Area determined by a project appraisal report or other valuation methodology consistent with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions.

    (d) PROGRAMS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary may use any program of the Department of Agriculture in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.

      (2) ACQUISITIONS- The Secretary may acquire from the Government of Puerto Rico easements under the Wetlands Reserve Program if the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico agrees that any consideration paid for such easements shall be used for the acquisition, protection, and restoration of lands within those portions of the Area under its administration.

    (e) WITHDRAWALS- Subject to valid existing rights, all Federal lands and interests in lands within the Area

are withdrawn from all forms of appropriation under the mining laws and from disposition under all laws pertaining to mineral and geothermal leasing, including all amendments thereto.

    (f) HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the Secretary or the Secretary of the Interior to accept title to any land deemed to be contaminated with hazardous substances unless adequate provision is made for remediation, cleanup, and other actions deemed necessary and desirable by the acquiring agency for environmental restoration and protection.

SEC. 6. NATIONAL FOREST LANDS.

    (a) APPLICABLE LAWS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS- Federally owned lands within the Area which are managed by the Secretary shall be subject to this Act and the laws, rules, and regulations applicable to the National Forest System.

    (b) AUTHORITIES AVAILABLE- In furtherance of the purposes of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, for those portions of the Area under the administrative jurisdiction of the Secretary, the authorities of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.) shall be available, including those for the establishment of experimental forest research facilities.

    (c) DESIGNATION AS COMPONENT OF CARIBBEAN NATIONAL FOREST- At such time as the Secretary deems that sufficient lands and interests in land have been acquired in the Area in order to manage said lands as National Forests in conformity with this Act, the Secretary may designate the same as a component of the Caribbean National Forest or as another unit of the National Forest System by publication of notice thereof in the Federal Register.

SEC. 7. PUERTO RICO LAND CONSERVATION FUND.

    (a) FUND CREATION- There is hereby established in the Treasury of the United States a special account to be known as the Puerto Rico Land Conservation Fund which shall be administered by the Secretary. The Fund shall be available to the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior to carry out the protection of the Area and other National Forest and National Wildlife Refuge units in Puerto Rico through land acquisition as authorized herein, and the restoration of wetlands and other ecologically sensitive areas. Moneys made available for the Fund shall be supplemental to those that may be available from other sources.

    (b) DEPOSITS INTO THE FUND- The following funds and receipts shall be deposited into the Fund which shall be available, until expended and without further appropriation, to the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior in furtherance of the purposes of this Act:

      (1) TREASURY- On October 1, 2000, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the Secretary of the Treasury shall provide $100,000,000 to the Fund.

      (2) SURPLUS REAL PROPERTY SALES- All funds received by the Administrator of the General Services Administration from the disposal of surplus real property in Puerto Rico pursuant to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (40 U.S.C. 471 et seq.).

      (3) USER FEES- Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act of May 23, 1908 (16 U.S.C. 500), all net receipts generated from the use of the Caribbean National Forest.

      (4) Other funds received or appropriated for the purposes of this Act, including donations.

    (c) ALLOCATIONS FROM THE FUND-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Amounts in the Fund shall be allocated as follows:

        (A) No less than 90 percent for land acquisition and restoration within the Area.

        (B) No more than 10 percent for land acquisition and restoration within the unit of the Caribbean National Forest existing as of the date of the enactment of this Act.

      (2) LAND ACQUISITION EXPENDITURES- For purposes of this subsection, expenditures for land acquisition shall include the costs of the land and associated administrative costs including, valuation, title review, legal, and conveyance costs.

    (d) OTHER FUNDING- In addition to the Fund established under this section, the Secretary, the Secretary of the Interior, or the Governor may use any other authorized and appropriated sources of funding in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.

SEC. 8. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RIO ENCANTADO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.

    (a) AUTHORIZATION- The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to establish the Rio Encantado National Wildlife Refuge located in the municipalities of Ciales, Manati, Florida, and Arecibo, Puerto Rico, as identified in the preliminary project proposal entitled ‘Proposed Establishment of the Rio Encantado National Wildlife Refuge’, dated May 1999, as amended and approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

    (b) ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary of the Interior shall make such establishment by publication of notice thereof in the Federal Register upon the determination of the Secretary of the Interior that sufficient lands and interests in land have been acquired within the boundaries of the Refuge to enable management in furtherance of fish and wildlife conservation, particularly the reintroduction of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot. Upon establishment, the Rio Encantado National Wildlife Refuge shall be managed by the Secretary of the Interior as a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System in accordance with this Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.), and all other laws and regulations generally applicable to units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

    (c) DESCRIPTION- The boundaries of the Rio Encantado National Wildlife Refuge shall be as generally depicted on the Map. The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary, may include a description of the boundary, with any appropriate adjustments, in the publication of the notice of establishment required under subsection (b).

SEC. 9. WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS.

    (a) AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR STUDY- To provide for the study of potential additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, section 5(a) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1276(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

    ‘( ) RIO ENCANTADO, PUERTO RICO- The main underground river system.

    ‘( ) RIO GUAJATACA, PUERTO RICO- The river from the Lake Guajataca dam to the ocean.

    ‘( ) RIO CAMUY, PUERTO RICO- The entire river.

    ‘( ) RIO TANAMA, PUERTO RICO- The entire river.’.

    (b) REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDIES- The studies authorized by this section shall be conducted in conformity with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and the Governor. The studies shall be completed and reports thereon submitted to the Congress no later than three full fiscal years from the date of the enactment of this section.

SEC. 10. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There is hereby authorized to be appropriated $100,000,000 for the purposes of this Act.