< Back to H.R. 5146 (107th Congress, 2001–2002)

Text of the Highlands Stewardship Act of 2002

This bill was introduced on July 17, 2002, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jul 17, 2002 (Introduced).

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HR 5146 IH

107th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 5146

To establish the Highlands Stewardship Area in the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

JULY 17, 2002

Mr. GILMAN (for himself, Mrs. ROUKEMA, Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN, Mrs. KELLY, Mrs. JOHNSON of Connecticut, Mr. HOLT, Mr. WALSH, Mrs. MCCARTHY of New York, and Mr. ENGEL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources


A BILL

To establish the Highlands Stewardship Area in the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, 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 ‘Highlands Stewardship Act of 2002’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--

      (1) the Highlands region is a geographic area that encompasses more than 2,000,000 acres extending from eastern Pennsylvania through the States of New Jersey and New York to northwestern Connecticut;

      (2) the Highlands region is an environmentally unique and economically important area that--

        (A) provides clean drinking water to over 11,000,000 people in metropolitan areas in the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania;

        (B) provides critical wildlife habitat, including habitat for threatened and endangered species;

        (C) maintains an important historic connection to early Native American culture, colonial settlement, the American Revolution, and the Civil War;

        (D) contains--

          (i) recreational resources; and

          (ii) cultural and multicultural landscapes relating to the development of commerce, transportation, the maritime industry, agriculture, and industry in the Highlands region; and

        (E) provides other significant ecological, natural, tourism, recreational, educational, and economic benefits;

      (3) an estimated 1 in 12 citizens of the United States live within a 2-hour drive of the Highlands region;

      (4) more than 1,000,000 residents live in the Highlands region;

      (5) the Highlands region forms a greenbelt adjacent to the Philadelphia-New York City-Hartford urban corridor that offers the opportunity to preserve natural and agricultural resources, open spaces, recreational areas, and historic sites, while encouraging sustainable economic growth and development in a fiscally and environmentally sound manner;

      (6) continued population growth and land use patterns in the Highlands region--

        (A) reduce the availability and quality of water;

        (B) reduce air quality;

        (C) fragment the forests;

        (D) destroy critical migration corridors and forest habitat; and

        (E) result in the loss of recreational opportunities and scenic, historic, and cultural resources;

      (7) the natural, agricultural, and cultural resources of the Highlands region, in combination with the proximity of the Highlands region to the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, make the Highlands region nationally significant;

      (8) the national significance of the Highlands region has been documented in--

        (A) the Highlands Regional Study conducted by the Forest Service in 1990;

        (B) the New York-New Jersey Highlands Regional Assessment Update conducted by the Forest Service in 2001;

        (C) the bi-State Skylands Greenway Task Force Report;

        (D) the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan;

        (E) the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan;

        (F) the Connecticut Green Plan: Open Space Acquisition FY 2001-2006;

        (G) the open space plans of the State of Pennsylvania; and

        (H) other open space conservation plans for States in the Highlands region;

      (9) the Highlands region includes or is adjacent to numerous parcels of land owned by the Federal Government or federally designated areas that protect, conserve, restore, promote, or interpret resources of the Highlands region, including--

        (A) the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge;

        (B) the Shawanagunk Grasslands Wildlife Refuge;

        (C) the Morristown National Historical Park;

        (D) the Delaware and Lehigh Canal Corridors;

        (E) the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area;

        (F) the Delaware River Basin;

        (G) the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area;

        (H) the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River;

        (I) the Appalachian National Scenic Trail; and

        (J) the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York;

      (10) it is in the interest of the United States to protect, conserve, restore, promote, and interpret the resources of the Highlands region for the residents of, and visitors to, the Highlands region;

      (11) the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, regional entities, and units of local government in the Highlands region have the primary responsibility for protecting, conserving, preserving, and promoting the resources of the Highlands region; and

      (12) because of the longstanding Federal practice of assisting States in creating, protecting, conserving, preserving, and interpreting areas of significant natural, economic, and cultural importance, and the national significance of the Highlands region, the Federal Government should, in partnership with the Highlands States, regional entities, and units of local government in the Highlands region, protect, restore, promote, preserve, and interpret the natural, agricultural, historical, cultural, and economic resources of the Highlands region.

SEC. 3. PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are--

      (1) to recognize the importance of the natural resources and the heritage, history, economy, and national significance of the Highlands region to the United States;

      (2) to assist the Highlands States, regional entities, and units of local government, public and private entities, and individuals in protecting, restoring, preserving, interpreting, and promoting the natural, agricultural, historical, cultural, recreational, and economic resources of the Highlands Stewardship Area;

      (3) to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial and technical assistance for the protection, conservation, preservation, and sustainable management of forests, land, and water in the Highlands region, including assistance for--

        (A) voluntary programs to promote and support private landowners in carrying out forest land and open space retention and sustainable management practices; and

        (B) forest-based economic development projects that support sustainable management and retention of forest land in the Highlands region;

      (4) to provide financial and technical assistance to the Highlands States, regional entities, and units of local government, and public and private entities for planning and carrying out conservation, education, and recreational programs and sustainable economic projects in the Highlands region; and

      (5) to coordinate with and assist the management entities of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Wallkill National Refuge Area, the Morristown National Historic Area, and other federally designated areas in the region in carrying out any duties relating to the Highlands region.

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) ELIGIBLE ENTITY- The term ‘eligible entity’ means any agricultural producer, regional entity, unit of local government, public entity, private entity, or other private landowner in the Stewardship Area.

      (2) HIGHLANDS REGION- The term ‘Highlands region’ means the region that encompasses nearly 2,000,000 acres extending from eastern Pennsylvania through the States of New Jersey and New York to northwestern Connecticut.

      (3) HIGHLANDS STATE- The term ‘Highlands State’ means--

        (A) the State of Connecticut;

        (B) the State of New Jersey;

        (C) the State of New York; and

        (D) the State of Pennsylvania.

      (4) LAND CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROJECT- The term ‘land conservation partnership project’ means a project in which a non-Federal entity acquires land or an interest in land from a willing seller for the purpose of protecting, conserving, or preserving the natural, forest, agricultural, recreational, historical, or cultural resources of the Stewardship Area.

      (5) OFFICE- The term ‘Office’ means the Office of Highlands Stewardship established under section 6(a).

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

      (7) STEWARDSHIP AREA- The term ‘Stewardship Area’ means the Highlands Stewardship Area established under section 5(a).

      (8) STUDY- The term ‘study’ means the Highlands Regional Study conducted by the Forest Service in 1990.

      (9) UPDATE- The term ‘update’ means the New York-New Jersey Highlands Regional Assessment Update conducted by the Forest Service in 2001.

      (10) WORK GROUP- The term ‘Work Group’ means the Highlands Stewardship Area Work Group established under section 6(c).

SEC. 5. ESTABLISHMENT OF HIGHLANDS STEWARDSHIP AREA.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior shall establish the Highlands Stewardship Area in the Highlands region.

    (b) CONSULTATION AND RESOURCE ANALYSES- In establishing the Stewardship Area, the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior shall--

      (1) consult with appropriate officials of the Federal Government, Highlands States, regional entities, and units of local government; and

      (2) utilize the study, the update, and relevant State resource analyses.

    (c) MAP-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior shall prepare a map depicting the Stewardship Area.

      (2) AVAILABILITY- The map shall be on file and available for public inspection at the appropriate offices of the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior.

SEC. 6. OFFICE OF HIGHLANDS STEWARDSHIP.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency, the Chief of the Forest Service, and the Under Secretary for Rural Development, shall establish within the Department of Agriculture the Office of Highlands Stewardship.

    (b) DUTIES- The Office shall implement in the Stewardship Area--

      (1) the strategies of the study and update; and

      (2) in consultation with the Highlands States, other studies consistent with the purposes of this Act.

    (c) HIGHLANDS STEWARDSHIP AREA WORK GROUP-

      (1) ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary shall establish an advisory committee to be known as the ‘Highlands Stewardship Area Work Group’ to assist the Office in implementing the strategies of the studies and update referred to in subsection (b).

      (2) MEMBERSHIP- The Work Group shall be comprised of members that represent various public and private interests throughout the Stewardship Area, including private landowners and representatives of private conservation groups, academic institutions, local governments, and economic interests, to be appointed by the Secretary, in consultation with the Governors of the Highlands States.

      (3) DUTIES- The Work Group shall advise the Office, the Secretary, and the Secretary of the Interior on priorities for--

        (A) projects carried out with financial or technical assistance under this section;

        (B) land conservation partnership projects carried out under section 7;

        (C) research relating to the Highlands region; and

        (D) policy and educational initiatives necessary to implement the findings of the study and update.

    (d) FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Office may provide financial and technical assistance to an eligible entity to carry out a project to protect, restore, preserve, promote, or interpret the natural, agricultural, historical, cultural, recreational, or economic resources of the Stewardship Area.

      (2) PRIORITY- In determining the priority for financial and technical assistance under paragraph (1), the Office shall consider the recommendations of the study and update.

      (3) CONDITIONS-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The provision of financial assistance under this subsection shall be subject to the condition that the eligible entity enter into an agreement with the Office that provides that if the eligible entity converts, uses, or disposes of the project for a purpose inconsistent with the purpose for which the financial assistance was provided, as determined by the Office, the United States shall be entitled to reimbursement from the eligible entity in an amount that is, as determined at the time of conversion, use, or disposal, the greater of--

          (i) the total amount of the financial assistance provided for the project by the Federal Government under this section; or

          (ii) the amount by which the financial assistance has increased the value of the land on which the project is carried out.

        (B) COST-SHARING REQUIREMENT- The Federal share of the cost of carrying out a project under this subsection shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the project.

    (e) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $7,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2010, to remain available until expended.

SEC. 7. LAND CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROJECTS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary, the Office, and the Governors of the Highlands States, shall annually designate land conservation partnership projects that are eligible to receive financial assistance under this section.

    (b) CONDITIONS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- To be eligible for financial assistance under subsection (a), a non-Federal entity shall enter into an agreement with the Secretary of the Interior that--

        (A) identifies--

          (i) the non-Federal entity that will own or hold the land or interest in land; and

          (ii) the source of funds to provide the non-Federal share under paragraph (2);

        (B) provides that if the non-Federal entity converts, uses, or disposes of the project for a purpose inconsistent with the purpose for which the assistance was provided, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, the United States shall be entitled to reimbursement from the non-Federal entity in an amount that is, as determined at the time of conversion, use, or disposal, the greater of--

          (i) the total amount of the financial assistance provided for the project by the Federal Government under this section; or

          (ii) the amount by which the financial assistance increased the value of the land or interest in land; and

        (C) provides that use of the financial assistance will be consistent with--

          (i) the open space plan or other plan of the Highlands State in which the land conservation partnership project is being carried out; and

          (ii) the findings and recommendations of the study and update.

      (2) COST-SHARING REQUIREMENT- The Federal share of the cost of carrying out a land conservation partnership project under this subsection shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the land conservation partnership project.

    (c) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of the Interior from the Treasury or the Land and Water Conservation Fund to carry out this section $25,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2013, to remain available until expended.

      (2) USE OF LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND- Appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund under paragraph (1) shall be considered to be for Federal purposes under section 5 of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C. 460l-7).