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H.R. 4901 (113th): Advancing Conservation and Education Act of 2014


The text of the bill below is as of Jun 19, 2014 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.


I

113th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4901

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 19, 2014

(for himself and Mr. DeFazio) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources

A BILL

To maximize land management efficiencies, promote land conservation, generate education funding, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Advancing Conservation and Education Act of 2014 .

2.

Findings

Congress finds as follows:

(1)

At statehood, Congress granted each of the western States lands to be held in trust by the States and used for the support of public schools and other public institutions.

(2)

Since the statehood land grants, Congress and the executive branch have created multiple Federal conservation areas on Federal lands within the western States, including national parks, national monuments, national conservation areas, national grasslands, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, and national wildlife refuges.

(3)

Because statehood land grant lands owned by the western States are typically scattered across the public land, creation of Federal conservation areas often include State land grant parcels with substantially different management mandates, making land and resource management more difficult, expensive, and controversial for both Federal land managers and the western States.

(4)

Allowing the western States to relinquish State trust lands within Federal conservation areas and to select replacement lands from the unappropriated public land within the respective western States, would—

(A)

enhance management of Federal conservation areas by allowing unified management of such areas; and

(B)

increase revenue from the statehood land grants for the support of public schools and other worthy public purposes.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Application

The term application means an application for State relinquishment and selection of lands made under this Act in accordance with section 5.

(2)

Federal conservation area

The term Federal conservation area means lands within the outer boundary of—

(A)

a unit of the National Park System;

(B)

a unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System;

(C)

a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System;

(D)

a unit of the National Landscape Conservation System; or

(E)

National Forest System land that have been designated as a national monument, national volcanic monument, national recreation area, national scenic area, inventoried roadless area, unit of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, or wilderness study area or Land Use Designation II (as described by section 201 of the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990 ( Public Law 101–626 )).

(3)

FLPMA

The term FLPMA means the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ( 43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. ).

(4)

Priority conservation unit

The term priority conservation unit means the lands within the outer boundary of any unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System or the National Park System.

(5)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.

(6)

State land grant parcel

The term State land grant parcel means—

(A)

any land granted to a western State by Congress through a statehood or territorial land grant for the support of public education or other public institutions, or subsequently acquired by the western State for such purpose; or

(B)

lands granted to the State of Alaska under sections 6 (a), (b), and (k) of the Act of July 7, 1958 (commonly known as the Alaska Statehood Act ; Public Law 85–508 , as amended by the Acts of September 14, 1960 and March 25, 1964).

(7)

Unappropriated public land

(A)

In general

The term unappropriated public land has the meaning of the term public land as that term is defined by section 102(e) of FLPMA ( 43 U.S.C. 1702(e) ).

(B)

Exclusions

The term unappropriated public land does not include Federal land that is—

(i)

within a Federal conservation area;

(ii)

within an area of critical environmental concern established pursuant to section 202(c)(3) of FLPMA ( 43 U.S.C. 1712(c)(3) );

(iii)

within an area identified as having wilderness characteristics by the Bureau of Land Management under an approved land use plan enacted under FLPMA; or

(iv)

within an area withdrawn or reserved by an Act of Congress, the President, or Public Land Order for a particular public purpose or program, including for the conservation of natural resources.

(8)

Western State

The term western State means any of the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

4.

Relinquishment of State land grant parcels and selection of replacement lands

(a)

Authority To select

In accordance with this Act, upon approval by the Secretary of an application under section 5 a western State may relinquish to the United States State land grant parcels wholly or primarily within Federal conservation areas and select in exchange unappropriated public land within the western State.

(b)

Valid existing rights

Land conveyed under this Act shall be subject to valid existing rights and each party to which land is conveyed shall succeed to the rights and obligations of the conveying party with respect to any lease, right-of-way, permit, or other valid existing right to which the land is subject.

(c)

Management after relinquishment

Any portion of a State land grant parcel acquired by the United States under this Act that is located within a Federal conservation area shall—

(1)

be incorporated in, and be managed as part of, the Federal conservation area in which the land is located; and

(2)

if located within the National Forest System, be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture in accordance with—

(A)

the Act of March 1, 1911 ( 16 U.S.C. 480 et seq. ; commonly known as the Weeks Law); or

(B)

any laws (including regulations) applicable to the National Forest System and the Federal conservation area in which it is located.

(d)

Limitation

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), until a western State has relinquished and conveyed to the United States substantially all of the State land grant parcels located in priority conservation units in that State, the State may not apply to relinquish State land grant parcels in other Federal conservation areas in that State.

(2)

Exception

The Secretary may waive the limitation in paragraph (1) upon a determination that—

(A)

a western State has relinquished and conveyed to the United States at least 75 percent, measured by land area, of the State land grant parcels that were located in priority conservation units in that State on the date of the enactment of this Act and not identified for conveyance pursuant to an exchange agreement or other statutory authority; and

(B)

the relinquishment and conveyance to the United States of substantially all State land grant parcels located in priority conservation units in that State is impractical or infeasible.

5.

Process

(a)

Process for application

(1)

In general

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and in accordance with this section, the Secretary shall create a process by which the western States may request the relinquishment of State land grant parcels inside Federal conservation areas and select unappropriated public lands in exchange therefor.

(2)

Timing

The process established by the Secretary under this section shall ensure that the relinquishment of State land grant parcels and the conveyance of unappropriated public land is concurrent.

(b)

Public notice

Prior to accepting or conveying any land under this Act, the Secretary shall provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on the proposed conveyances between the western State and the United States.

(c)

Environmental analysis

(1)

In general

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the Secretary shall acquire State land grant parcels and convey unappropriated public land under this Act in accordance with—

(A)

the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 ( 42 U.S.C. 4331 et seq. ); and

(B)

other applicable laws.

(2)

Environmental assessment or environmental impact statement

In preparing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement pursuant to section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)) for the acquisition of State land grant parcels and the conveyance of unappropriated public land under this Act, the Secretary is not required to study, develop, and describe more than—

(A)

the proposed agency action; and

(B)

the alternative of no action.

(d)

Agreements with States

The Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with any of the western States to facilitate processing of applications and conveyance of selected lands.

(e)

Approval or rejection

The Secretary

(1)

shall issue a final determination on an application not later than three years after a western State submits that application to the Secretary;

(2)

may approve an application in whole or in part, or as modified by the Secretary as necessary to balance the equities of the States and interest of the public;

(3)

shall not accept an application under this Act for selection of any parcel of unappropriated public land that in the judgment of the Secretary

(A)

is not reasonably compact and consolidated; or

(B)

will create significant management conflicts with respect to the management of adjacent Federal land;

(4)

shall not accept any State land grant parcels that, in the judgment of the Secretary, are not suitable for inclusion in a Federal conservation area;

(5)

shall, prior to approving an application, consult with the head of any Federal agency with jurisdiction over Federal land—

(A)

within which a western State proposes to relinquish a State land grant parcel; or

(B)

that is adjacent to unappropriated public land proposed for conveyance to a western State; and

(6)

shall convey any Federal lands approved for selection not later than 90 days after entering into a final agreement between the Secretary and the western State on the lands to be conveyed, subject to such other terms and conditions as may be appropriate.

(f)

Conveyance by western State

(1)

In general

The conveyance of any State land grant parcel under this Act shall be by patent or deed acceptable to the Secretary.

(2)

Concurrence

The Secretary of Agriculture shall concur in any determination to accept the conveyance of a State land grant parcel within the boundaries of any unit of the National Forest System.

(g)

Conveyance by United States

The conveyance of unappropriated public land by the United States shall include such terms and conditions as the Secretary may require.

6.

Mineral lands

(a)

Selection and conveyance

(1)

In general

Subject to the provisions of this Act, a western State may select, and the Secretary may convey, lands that are mineral in character under this Act.

(2)

Exclusion

A western State may not select, and the Secretary may not convey—

(A)

land that includes only a portion of a mineral lease or permit; or

(B)

only the Federal mineral estate, unless the United States does not own the associated surface estate.

(b)

Mining claims

(1)

In general

To facilitate the conversion of Federal mining claims to State mining leases on land selected by a western State, a Federal mining claimant may file with the Secretary a voluntary relinquishment of a Federal mining claim conditioned on conveyance of the land to the western State.

(2)

No relinquishment

If the land subject to a Federal mining claim for which a conditional relinquishment has been filed with the Secretary is not conveyed to the western State under this Act, the conditional relinquishment of land under paragraph (1) shall be of no effect.

7.

Construction with other laws

(a)

Consideration

In the application of laws, regulations, and policies relating to selections made under this Act, the Secretary shall consider the equities of the western States and the interest of the public.

(b)

Presumption of plan adequacy

Unless a land use plan enacted under section 202 of FLPMA ( 43 U.S.C. 1712 ) specifically identifies significant public values that would be lost or substantially impaired due to the conveyance of unappropriated public land to a western State, any western State selection under this Act shall be deemed to be in compliance with such plan even if the selected land is not otherwise identified for disposal.

8.

Valuation

(a)

Equal value

The overall value of the State land grant parcels and the unappropriated public land to be conveyed shall be equal, or if they are not equal, the values shall be equalized by the payment of money to the western State or to the Secretary as the circumstances require, so long as payment does not exceed 25 percent of the total value of the land or interests transferred out of Federal ownership.

(b)

Low value parcels

If a western State and the Secretary agree that the market value of a State land grant parcel or a parcel of unappropriated public land is less than $300 per acre, the Secretary may use a summary appraisal or statement of value made by a qualified appraiser in accordance with Internal Revenue Service standards instead of an appraisal compliant with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisition.

(c)

Ledger accounts

The Secretary and any western State may agree to use a ledger account to make equal the value of lands relinquished by the western State and conveyed by the United States to the western State under this Act.

(d)

Costs

The Secretary or the western State may, in accordance with section 206(f)(2)(B) of FLPMA (43 U.S.C. 1716(f)(2)(B))

(1)

assume costs or other responsibilities or requirements for conveying land under this Act that ordinarily are borne by the other party; and

(2)

make adjustments to the relative values involved in the conveyance of land under this Act to compensate the Secretary or the western State for assuming such costs or other responsibilities or requirements.

(e)

Adjustment

If value is attributed to any parcel of Federal land that has been selected by a western State because of the presence of minerals under a lease pursuant to the Mineral Lands Leasing Act ( 30 U.S.C. 191 et seq. ) that is in a producing or producible status, and the lease is to be conveyed under this Act, the value of such parcel shall be reduced by the percentage which represents the likely Federal revenue sharing obligation under the Mineral Lands Leasing Act, but such adjustment shall not be considered as reflecting a property right of the western State.

9.

Miscellaneous provisions

(a)

Hazardous materials

The Secretary and the western States shall make available for review and inspection any record relating to hazardous materials on land to be conveyed under this Act.

(b)

Appurtenant water rights

Any conveyance of a State land grant parcel or unappropriated public land under this Act may include the conveyance of water rights appurtenant to the land conveyed.

(c)

Grazing permits

(1)

In general

If land conveyed under this Act is subject to a lease, permit, or contract for the grazing of domestic livestock in effect on the date of the conveyance, the Secretary (or the Secretary of Agriculture for lands located within the National Forest System) and the western State shall allow the grazing to continue for the remainder of the term of the lease, permit, or contract, subject to the related terms and conditions of user agreements, including permitted stocking rates, grazing fee levels, access rights, and ownership and use of range improvements.

(2)

Renewal

On expiration of any grazing lease, permit, or contract described in paragraph (1), the party that has jurisdiction over the land on the date of expiration may elect to renew the lease, permit, or contract if permitted under applicable law.

(3)

Cancellation

(A)

In general

Nothing in this Act shall prevent the Secretary (or the Secretary of Agriculture for lands located within the National Forest System) or the western State from canceling or modifying a grazing permit, lease, or contract if the land subject to the permit, lease, or contract is sold, conveyed, transferred, or leased for nongrazing purposes.

(B)

Limitation

Except to the extent reasonably necessary to accommodate surface operations in support of mineral development, the Secretary (or the Secretary of Agriculture for lands located within the National Forest System) or the western State shall not cancel or modify a grazing permit, lease, or contract for land conveyed pursuant to this Act because the land subject to the permit, lease, or contract has been leased for mineral development.

(4)

Base properties

If land conveyed by the western State under this Act is used by a grazing permittee or lessee to meet the base property requirements for a Federal grazing permit or lease, the land shall continue to qualify as a base property for the remaining term of the lease or permit and the term of any renewal or extension of the lease or permit.

10.

Termination of authority

The provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective with regard to any State land grant parcel located within a Federal conservation area for which an application has not been filed by the date that is 10 years after the date of the enactment of this Act unless that application is for a State land grant parcel that is located within a Federal conservation area established after the date of enactment of this Act, in which case the provisions of this Act will remain effective for 10 years after the date on which the Federal conservation area is established.

11.

Savings provisions

Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to repeal or limit, expressly or by implication, any existing authority for the selection or exchange of lands.