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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 30, 2022.
Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act
This bill provides for the conservation of specified lands in Colorado.
TITLE I--CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
(Sec. 102) This title designates specified federal lands in Colorado within the White River National Forest as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) may carry out activities in such a wilderness area that are necessary to control fire, insects, and diseases.
Livestock grazing, where it has already been established, shall be permitted to continue.
For the purposes of the administration of the Eagles Nest Wilderness Additions, USDA must coordinate with interested state and local agencies, including operations using aircraft or mechanical equipment, for the protection of watersheds and the coordination of USDA activities in response to fires and flooding events.
(Sec. 103) The title designates approximately 8,036 acres identified as the Proposed Williams Fork Mountains Wilderness in the White River National Forest as a potential wilderness area.
USDA must publish a determination regarding whether to authorize livestock grazing or other use by livestock on the vacant allotments known as the Big Hole and the Blue Ridge Allotment.
By one year after the publication of such determination, USDA shall grant a permit or other authorization for such livestock grazing or other use.
If USDA permits livestock grazing or other use by livestock in the potential wilderness area, USDA may construct or rehabilitate such range improvements as are necessary to obtain livestock management objectives.
(Sec. 104) The title designates approximately 17,122 acres of federal land as the Tenmile Recreation Management Area.
With specified exceptions, the use of motorized vehicles in the management area must be limited to the roads, vehicle classes, and periods authorized for motorized vehicle use.
No projects shall be carried out in the recreation management area for the harvesting of commercial timber.
USDA may carry out activities that are necessary to prevent, control, or mitigate fire, insects, or disease in the management area.
(Sec. 105) The title designates the approximately 8,287 acres of federal land in the White River National Forest as the Porcupine Gulch Wildlife Conservation Area.
This section prohibits (1) the use of motorized vehicles and mechanized transport in the conservation area, (2) the construction of new or temporary roads, or (3) projects for the harvesting of commercial timber.
USDA may carry out activities that are necessary to prevent, control, or mitigate fire, insects, or disease in the conservation area.
This section makes the requirements related to water rights under the James Peak Wilderness and Protection Area Act applicable to the conservation area.
(Sec. 106) The title designates approximately 3,528 acres of federal land in the White River National Forest as the Williams Fork Mountains Wildlife Conservation Area.
This section (1) limits, with specified exceptions, the use of motorized vehicles and bicycles in the conservation area to designated roads and trails, and prohibits the construction of new or temporary roads in the conservation area; and (2) prohibits projects for the harvesting of commercial timber.
Laws and policies followed by USDA in the issuance and administration of grazing permits or leases on land under USDA's jurisdiction shall continue to apply with regard to the land in the conservation area.
USDA may carry out activities that are necessary to prevent, control, or mitigate fire, insects, or disease in the conservation area.
Requirements related to water rights under the James Peak Wilderness and Protection Area Act are applicable to the conservation area.
(Sec. 107) The title designates approximately 28,676 acres of federal land in the White River National Forest as the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape.
USDA must prepare a management plan for the historic landscape and provide to the Department of the Army a notification of any unexploded ordnance that is discovered in the historic landscape. Army may remove unexploded ordnance from the historic landscape.
USDA shall conduct a restoration and enhancement project in the historic landscape to
improve aquatic, riparian, and wetland conditions in and along the Eagle River and its tributaries; maintain or improve recreation and interpretive opportunities and facilities; and conserve historic values in the Camp Hale area. Army shall continue to carry out its existing projects and activities related to the cleanup of the Camp Hale Formerly Used Defense Site or the Camp Hale historic cantonment area. Army may remove unexploded ordnance from the historic landscape.
Upon receipt from USDA of a notification of unexploded ordnance, the Army may remove such ordnance in accordance with
the program for environmental restoration of formerly used defense sites; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980; and any other applicable provisions of law. USDA and Army shall enter into an agreement to
specify USDA activities related to management of the historic landscape and related to environmental remediation and the removal of unexploded ordnance; and require USDA to provide to Army one year after enactment of this bill, and periodically thereafter, a management plan for the historic landscape for such removal activities. This section establishes the Camp Hale Historic Preservation and Restoration Fund. Amounts from the fund shall be made available for activities related to historic interpretation, preservation, and restoration carried out and around the historic landscape.
This section designates the interpretive site located beside U.S. Route 24 in Colorado as the Sandy Treat Overlook.
(Sec. 108) This section adjusts the boundary of the White River National Forest to include approximately 120 acres of specified land in Summit County, Colorado.
(Sec. 109) This section adjusts the boundary of the Rocky Mountain National Park Potential Wilderness to exclude approximately 15.5 acres of land.
(Sec. 110) USDA may acquire land or interest a protective perimeter or buffer zone within the areas described in this title only through exchange, donation, or purchase from a willing seller.
All such areas are withdrawn from
entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws; location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and operation of the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws. TITLE II--SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS
(Sec. 202) The bill provides for the inclusion of additional federal lands in the National Wilderness Preservation System, including the Lizard Head Wilderness Addition, the Mount Sneffels Wildness Addition, and the McKenna Peak Wilderness.
(Sec. 203) The bill designates approximately 21,663 acres of specified federal land as the Sheep Mountain Special Management Area and approximately 792 acres of specified federal land as the Liberty Bell East Special Management Area.
USDA must manage the special management areas in a manner that maintains or improves their wilderness character and their suitability for potential inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The bill prohibits in the special management areas permanent roads, and limits the use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment, or mechanical transport and the establishment of temporary roads.
USDA may allow activities (including helicopter access for recreation and maintenance and the competitive running event permitted since 1992) that have been authorized by permit or license to continue within the special management areas.
USDA may permit the use of bicycles in specific parts of the special management areas.
The bill requires water and water rights in the special management areas to be administered according to the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, with specified exceptions for certain areas.
(Sec. 204) The bill releases the Dominguez Canyon and McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Areas from further study for designation as wilderness.
USDA or the Department of the Interior may acquire land or interest within the boundaries of a special management area or certain wilderness areas of the additional federal lands only through exchange, donation, or purchase from a willing seller.
The bill permits the grazing of livestock, if already established, to continue.
The Department with jurisdiction over such a wilderness area may carry out activities in that area which are necessary to control fire, insects, and diseases.
Such wilderness areas, the special management areas, and the Proposed Naturita Canyon Mineral Withdrawal Area are withdrawn from
entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws; location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and operation of the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws. TITLE III--THOMPSON DIVIDE
(Sec. 303) The bill withdraws the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Area in Colorado from
entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws; location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and operation of the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws. The bill requires the grazing of livestock, if already established, to be allowed to continue.
(Sec. 304) In exchange for the relinquishment by a leaseholder of all the leaseholder's Thompson Divide oil or gas leases within the withdrawal and protection area, Interior may issue to the leaseholder credits for any bid, royalty, or rental payments under any federal oil or gas lease on federal land in Colorado.
The amount of a credit issued to a leaseholder of such an oil or gas lease must not include expenses paid by the leaseholder for legal fees or related expenses for legal work with respect to a lease.
Effective upon relinquishment and without any additional action by Interior, leases shall be permanently cancelled and shall not be reissued.
Credits accepted by Interior must be considered amounts received under the (1) Mineral Leasing Act, and (2) the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970.
As a condition preceding the relinquishment of a Thompson Divide lease, any leaseholder with a Wolf Creek Storage Field development right must permanently convey all such rights to Interior. Such an interest acquired by Interior shall be held in perpetuity and shall not be transferred, reissued, or otherwise used for mineral extraction.
(Sec. 305) The bill establishes the Greater Thompson Divide Fugitive Coal Mine Methane Use Pilot Program to promote the capture, beneficial use, mitigation, and sequestration of fugitive methane emissions to reduce methane emissions, improve air quality, and improve public safety, among other things.
Interior must develop a plan for
completing an inventory of fugitive methane emissions, the leasing of fugitive methane emissions, and the capping or destruction of fugitive methane emissions. Interior shall provide opportunities for participation by the public in the inventory and shall make the inventory publicly available.
Interior shall use the inventory in carrying out (1) the fugitive methane emission leasing program, and (2) the capping or destruction of fugitive methane emissions.
Interior shall carry out the leasing program to encourage the use and destruction of fugitive methane emissions by authorizing the holder of a valid existing federal coal lease for a mine that is producing such emissions to capture them for use, or destroy them by flaring.
Such program shall only include fugitive methane emissions that can be captured for use, or destroyed by flaring, in a manner that does not endanger the safety of any coal mine workers or unreasonably interfere with any ongoing operation at a coal mine.
authorize the capture for use, or destruction by flaring, of fugitive methane emissions from abandoned coal mines on federal lands, and make available for leasing such emissions from those mines as considered to be in the public interest. Interior shall offer for lease each significant vent, seep, or other source of fugitive methane emissions from abandoned coal mines. A minimum bid and royalty rate must be developed for such leases.
If, after four years, any significant fugitive methane emissions from such mines are not leased, Interior must
cap those emissions at the source in any case in which the cap will result in the long-term sequestration of all or a significant portion of the emissions, or if sequestration is not feasible, destroy the emissions by flaring. TITLE IV--CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA (Sec. 402) This title establishes the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which shall consist of approximately 50,667 acres of land in Colorado, as a unit of the National Park System. Interior may approve a Bureau of Reclamation request to retain administrative rights over land necessary for the effective operation of Reclamation water facilities.
If applicable, the administrative jurisdiction over such land shall be transferred from Reclamation to the National Park Service (NPS).
Reclamation shall retain access to the transferred land for reclamation purposes, including for the operation, maintenance, and expansion or replacement of facilities.
Interior may enter into cooperative management agreements for any land administered by Colorado that is within or adjacent to the recreation area.
Interior shall allow boating, boating-related activities, hunting, and fishing in the recreation area.
On the written request of an individual who owns private land not more than three miles from the boundary of the recreation area, Interior may work with the individual to enhance the long-term conservation of natural, cultural, recreational, and scenic resources around the recreation area, including (1) by acquiring all or part of such land by purchase, exchange, or donation; or (2) through available grant programs.
All federal land within the recreation area is withdrawn from
entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws; location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and operation of the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws. If state land that is acquired under this title is subject to a state grazing lease that is already effective, Interior must allow grazing to continue on those lands for the remainder of the term of that lease.
Interior may authorize grazing on land acquired from the state or certain private landowners under this bill, if grazing was already established prior to acquisition of the land.
On private land that is acquired under this bill by Interior for the recreation area on which authorized grazing is already occurring, Interior may allow the continuation and renewal of grazing on the land on the terms of the acquisition or by an agreement between Interior and the lessee.
allow the continuation and renewal of grazing on federal land located within the recreation area on which grazing is allowed unless grazing on the land would present unacceptable impacts to the natural, cultural, recreational, and scenic resource values of such land; and retain all authorities for managing grazing in the recreation area. Interior may, with respect to the recreation area (1) accept voluntary terminations of leases or permits for grazing; and (2) terminate a lease or permit that has been vacated for three or more years.
(Sec. 403) Interior is authorized to acquire land or interests in land within the boundary of the recreation area. Such land may be acquired by donation, purchase from willing sellers, transfer from another federal agency, or exchange.
Land or interests in land owned by Colorado or a political subdivision of the state may only be acquired by purchase, donation, or exchange.
This bill transfers (1) the administrative jurisdiction over the approximately 2,560 acres of land from the U.S. Forest Service to Interior for administration by the NPS as part of the recreation area. (2) The bill transfers the administrative jurisdiction over the approximately 5,040 acres of land from the BLM to the NPS, which shall be administered as part of the recreation area.
The bill transfers administrative jurisdiction over certain Reclamation land to the BLM upon relinquishment of the land by Reclamation and revocation by the BLM of any withdrawal.
The bill adjusts the boundary of the Gunnison National Forest to exclude the land transferred to Interior.
The bill requires that the withdrawal for reclamation purposes of certain land be relinquished by Reclamation and revoked by the BLM and such land shall be transferred to the NPS.
Upon the transfer of such land, it may be exchanged by Interior for private land not more than three miles from the boundary of the recreation area
subject to a conservation easement remaining on the transferred land, to protect its scenic resources; and in accordance with the laws and policies governing National Park System land exchanges. If such land is not exchanged, it shall be added to and managed as part of the recreation area.
Any lands within the boundary of the recreation area that are acquired by the United States shall be added to and managed as part of the recreation area.
(Sec. 404) No later than three years after funds are available to carry out this title, the NPS shall prepare a general management plan for the recreation area.