Federal Legislative Update

The first session of the 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017. ARRA will keep you posted as legislation of interest is introduced in the 115th Congress.

The Republicans have a 240-193 majority (2 vacancies) in the House and a 52-48 majority in the Senate. The Senate number includes two members who are independents, but align with the Democrats.

The following bills are currently pending:

H.J. Res. 44 – Joint resolution of Congress disapproving the BLM “Planning 2.0” Rule

STATUS: Nullified BLM Planning Rule

Rep. Cheney (R-WY) – Joint resolution of Congress disapproving the BLM “Planning 2.0” Rule under authority granted by Congressional Review Act. Effectively vacates the rule. The Rule governs BLM resource management plan development and revision.

H.R. 289 – Guides and Outfitters Act (GO Act)

STATUS: In House Cmte.  

Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) – Specifies circumstances in which Departments of Interior and Agriculture issue special recreation permits for federal recreational lands and waters and charge a special recreation permit fee for them. Requires Department of Interior to publish guidelines for establishing recreation permit fees.

H.R. 827 – Imperial Valley Desert Conservation and Recreation Act

STATUS: In House Cmte.  

Rep. Vargas (D-CA) – Establishes Vinagre Wash Special Management Area in CA consisting of 82,000 acres of public lands in Imperial County. States that hiking, camping, hunting, sightseeing and use of motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, and horses on designated routes shall be allowed in the Management Area. Provides that the use of off-highway vehicles shall be permitted on routes in the Management Area generally depicted on designated map. Requires Secretary of Interior to accept petitions from the public regarding additional routes for OHVs. DOI to manage specified lands in the Management Area to preserve their character for eventual inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

H.R. 857 – California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act

STATUS: In House Cmte. Similar to S. 32, below.

Rep. Cook (R-CA) – Designates or expands approximately 329,000 acres of wilderness in the California Desert. Releases approximately 120,000 acres of legislatively designated Wilderness Study Areas. Designates 5 existing administrative OHV areas as “National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas”: Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley. Renames the legislatively-designated Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area as the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and expands it to the south by adding approximately 12,000 acres of BLM land.

H.R. 1002 – National Heritage Area Act of 2017

STATUS: In House Cmte.

Rep. Dent (R-PA) – Establishes system of National Heritage Areas through which Secretary of Interior may provide technical and financial assistance to local coordinating entities to support establishment, development and continuity of NHAs. System to be composed of NHAs designated by Congress before enactment of this Act or under this Act. Prohibits NHAs from being considered to be units of the National Park System or subject to the authorities applicable to such units. Specifies criteria Secretary shall apply to determine suitability and feasibility of designating proposed NHAs. Designation of an NHA shall be by Act of Congress and contingent on prior completion of a management plan and affirmative determination by the Secretary that the area meets such criteria. Sets forth requirements for NHA management plans.

H.R. 1033/S. 378 – Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Collins (R-GA)/Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) – Amends Equal Access to Justice Act and the federal Judicial Code to require Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the U.S. to report to Congress annually on amount of fees and other expenses awarded to prevailing parties other than the U.S. in certain administrative proceedings and civil action court cases (excluding tort cases) to which the U.S. is a party, including settlement agreements. Requires such reports to describe number, nature, and amount of awards, claims involved in the controversy, and any other relevant information that may aid Congress in evaluating scope and impact of such awards and to be made available to the public online. Directs Chairman to create and maintain online a searchable database containing specified information with respect to each award, including name of agency involved, name of each party to whom award was made, amount of award, and basis for finding that the position of the agency concerned was not substantially justified. EAJA was enacted in 1980 to help individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations with limited financial resources defend themselves against harmful government actions. The Act allows for reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs associated with suing the federal government. When operating correctly, it allows plaintiffs who sue the federal government to recover part of their attorney’s fees and costs if they prevail in the case. Lack of oversight has led to program abuse and resulted in taxpayer-funded lawsuits to restrict access to public lands.

H.R. 1913 – Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act

STATUS: In House Cmte.

Rep. Panetta (D-CA) – Establishes 75,000 acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area. Designates 21,000 acres of federal land in CA as wilderness. Implements interim management plan that would allow for motorized uses in the NRA. Requires permanent management plan be in place in two years that shall include a hazards education program to inform people entering the NRA of asbestos-related risks associated with various activities within the NRA, including OHV recreation, a user fee program for motorized vehicle use within the NRA, and guidelines for use of funds collected for management and improvement of the Area. Authorizes BLM to sign a cooperative management agreement with state or local agencies (e.g. state parks could run it as an SRVA).

H.R. 2134/S. 935 – Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO)/Sen. Paul (R-KY) – Amends Endangered Species Act method for determining endangered and threatened species by requiring that determinations be made only with consent of Governor of each state in which the endangered or threatened species is present. Requires Congressional approval for new species to be added to federal endangered or threatened species list. All species are automatically de-listed after 5 years unless approved by Congress with input from state(s) in which threatened or endangered species is found. For any currently listed endangered or threatened species, allows a state the option of regulating any such species found only within its borders.

S. 32 – California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2017

STATUS: In Senate Cmte. Similar H.R. 857, above.

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) – Designates 230,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness. Designates 5 existing BLM OHV areas (approximately 142,000 acres of California desert) as permanent OHV recreation areas.

National Monuments

The Antiquities Act provides that the President has the authority to declare areas, “…the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible…” as National Monuments. It is clear that several Presidents have stretched this authority to designate enormous swaths of public lands as National Monuments, often locking out multiple uses like motorized recreation.”

In this section of the Federal Legislative Update page, ARRA will keep you up-to-date on National Monument bills under consideration in Congress.

H.R. 243/S. 22 – Nevada Land Sovereignty Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.             

Rep. Amodei (R-NV)/Sen. Heller (R-NV) – Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval before moving forward with any National Monument designation in NV.

H.R. 1489 – Marine Access and State Transparency

STATUS: In House Cmte.

Rep. Young (R-AK) – Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval and approval of the respective state legislature before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

H.R. 2074 – Public Input for National Monuments Act

STATUS: In House Cmte.

Rep. Walden (R-OR) – Requires that the President certify compliance with NEPA before designating a National Monument.

H.R. 2284/ S. 132 – National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act of 2017

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Labrador (R-ID)/Sen. Crapo (R-ID) – Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval and approval of the respective state legislature, and application of NEPA processes before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

H.R. 360 – Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act

STATUS: In House Cmte.

Rep. Grijalva (D-NM) – Designates 1.7 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon as a National Monument.

S. 33 – Improved National Monument Designation Process Act

STATUS: In Senate Cmte.             

Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) – Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval, as well as approval of respective state legislature, and the application of NEPA processes before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

 

Wilderness Designations

Congress established the wilderness designation for public lands in the Wilderness Act of 1964.  To be designated as wilderness, the proposed area must be “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain….an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation.” Within designated wilderness areas, “there shall be no temporary (or permanent) road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanized transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.”

In this section of the Federal Legislative Update page, ARRA will keep you up-to-date on wilderness bills under consideration in Congress.

H.R. 1285/S. 483 – Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.             

Rep. Kilmer (D-WA)/Sen. Murray (D-WA) – Designates 127,000 acres of Forest Service land in Washington as wilderness.

H.R. 1889/ S. 820 – Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Huffman (D-CA)/Sen. Markey (D-MA) – Designates 1.6 million acres in AK as wilderness.

H.R. 2135/ S. 936 – Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Maloney (D-NY)/Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) – Designates 23 million acres of public lands in ID, MT, OR, WA and WY as wilderness.

H.R. 2218/ S. 935 – Tennessee Wilderness Act

STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.

Rep. Poe (R-TN)/Sen. Alexander (R-TN) – S. 973 designates 20,000 acres of Forest Service land in Tennessee as wilderness. H.R. 2218 designates 7,500 acres of Forest Service land in Tennessee as wilderness (the same acres in S. 973 that fall within Rep. Poe’s district).

S. 432 – Cerros del Yuta Conservation Act

STATUS: Reported out of Senate Cmte.

Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) – Designates 21,000 acres of National Monument lands in New Mexico as wilderness.

S. 441 – Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act

STATUS: In Senate Cmte.             

Sen. Udall (D-NM) – Designates 240,000 acres of BLM land in NM as wilderness.

 

Latest News

Immediate Action Required! Oppose CA Legislation to Gut the CA OHV Program
June 1, 2017

ARRA members in California are being asked to send an email to their Senator.

Active
Forest Service Calls For Public to Identify Trails That Should Receive Expedited Maintenance
March 23, 2017

ARRA members from across the country are being asked to weigh in.

Oppose CA Legislation to Gut the CA OHV Program
March 20, 2017

ARRA members in California are being asked to contact their state senator to help prevent this devastating bill from moving forward.