(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
Calendar No. 236
109th Congress Report
1st Session 109-144
ICE AGE FLOODS NATIONAL GEOLOGIC TRAIL DESIGNATION ACT OF 2005
October 19, 2005.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 206]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 206) to designate the Ice Age Floods
National Geologic Trail, and for other purposes, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an
amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Ice Age Floods National Geologic
Trail Designation Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
(1) at the end of the last Ice Age, some 12,000 to 17,000
years ago, a series of cataclysmic floods occurred in what is
now the northwest region of the United States, leaving a
lasting mark of dramatic and distinguishing features on the
landscape of parts of the States of Montana, Idaho, Washington
(2) geological features that have exceptional value and
quality to illustrate and interpret this extraordinary natural
phenomenon are present on Federal, State, tribal, county,
municipal, and private land in the region; and
(3) in 2001, a joint study team headed by the National Park
Service that included about 70 members from public and private
entities completed a study endorsing the establishment of an
Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail--
(A) to recognize the national significance of this
(B) to coordinate public and private sector entities
in the presentation of the story of the Ice Age floods.
(b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to designate the Ice Age
Floods National Geologic Trail in the States of Montana, Idaho,
Washington, and Oregon, enabling the public to view, experience, and
learn about the features and story of the Ice Age floods through the
collaborative efforts of public and private entities.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) Ice age floods; floods.--The term ``Ice Age floods'' or
``floods'' means the cataclysmic floods that occurred in what
is now the northwestern United States during the last Ice Age
from massive, rapid and recurring drainage of Glacial Lake in
(2) Plan.--The term ``plan'' means the cooperative management
and interpretation plan authorized under section 5(e).
(3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of
(4) Trail.--The term ``Trail'' means the Ice Age Floods
National Geologic Trail designated by section 4(a).
SEC. 4. ICE AGE FLOODS NATIONAL GEOLOGIC TRAIL
(a) Designation.--In order to provide for public appreciation,
understanding, and enjoyment of the nationally significant natural and
cultural features of the Ice Age floods and to promote collaborative
efforts for interpretation and education among public and private
entities located along the pathways of the floods, there is designated
the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.
(1) Map.--The route of the Trail shall be generally depicted
on the map entitled ``Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail,''
numbered P43/80,000 and dated June 2004.
(2) Route.--The route shall generally follow public roads and
(3) Revision.--The Secretary may revise the map by
publication in the Federal Register of a notice of availability
of a new map as part of the plan.
(c) Map Availability.--The map referred to in subsection (b) shall
be on file and available for public inspection in the appropriate
offices of the National Park Service.
SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION.
(a) In General.--The Secretary, acting through the Director of the
National Park Service, shall administer the Trail in accordance with
(b) Limitation.--Except as provided in subsection (f)(2), the Trail
shall not be considered to be a unit of the National Park System.
(c) Trail Management Office.--To improve management of the Trail
and coordinate Trail activities with other public agencies and private
entities, the Secretary may establish and operate a trail management
office at a central location within the vicinity of the Trail.
(d) Interpretive Facilities.--The Secretary may plan, design, and
construct interpretive facilities for sites associated with the Trail
if the facilities are constructed in partnership with State, local,
tribal, or non-profit entities and are consistent with the plan.
(e) Management Plan.--
(1) In general.--Not later than 3 years after funds are made
available to carry out this Act, the Secretary shall prepare a
cooperative management and interpretation plan for the Trail.
(2) Consultation.--The Secretary shall prepare the plan in
(A) State, local, and tribal governments;
(B) the Ice Age Floods Institute;
(C) private property owners; and
(D) other interested parties.
(3) Contents.--The plan shall--
(A) confirm and, if appropriate, expand on the
inventory of features of the floods contained in the
National Park Service study entitled ``Ice Age Floods,
Study of Alternatives and Environmental Assessment''
(February 2001) by--
(i) locating features more accurately;
(ii) improving the description of features;
(iii) reevaluating the features in terms of
their interpretive potential;
(B) review and, if appropriate, modify the map of the
Trail referred to in section 4(b);
(C) describe strategies for the coordinated
development of the Trail, including an interpretive
plan for facilities, waysides, roadside pullouts,
exhibits, media, and programs that present the story of
the floods to the public effectively; and
(D) identify potential partnering opportunities in
the development of interpretive facilities and
educational programs to educate the public about the
story of the floods.
(f) Cooperative Management.--
(1) In general.--In order to facilitate the development of
coordinated interpretation, education, resource stewardship,
visitor facility development and operation, and scientific
research associated with the Trail and to promote more
efficient administration of the sites associated with the
Trail, the Secretary may enter into cooperative management
agreements with appropriate officials in the States of Montana,
Idaho, Washington, and Oregon in accordance with the authority
provided for units of the National Park System under section
3(l) of Public Law 91-383 (16 U.S.C. 1a-2(l)).
(2) Authority.--For purposes of this subsection only, the
Trail shall be considered a unit of the National Park System.
(g) Cooperative Agreements.--The Secretary may enter into
cooperative agreements with public or private entities to carry out
(h) Effect on Private Property Rights.--Nothing in this Act--
(1) requires any private property owner to allow public
access (including Federal, State, or local government access)
to private property; or
(2) modifies any provision of Federal, State, or local law
with respect to public access to or use of private land.
(i) Liability.--Designation of the Trail by section 4(a) does not
create any liability for, or affect any liability under any law of, any
private property owner with respect to any person injured on the
SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary
to carry out this Act, of which not more than $12,000,000 may be used
for development of the Trail.
PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE
The purpose of S. 206 is to designate the Ice Age Floods
National Geologic Trail, a trail from Missoula, Montana, to the
Pacific Ocean, to provide for the public appreciation,
understanding, and enjoyment of the nationally significant
natural and cultural features of the Ice Age Floods.
background and need
During the Pleistocene Epoch Ice Age, beginning about 1.8
million years ago, North America was repeatedly glaciated by
ice sheets that covered much of Alaska, Canada, and the
northern United States. The most recent glacial event was the
Wisconsin glaciation, which began about 80,000 years ago and
ended around 10,000 years ago.
During the last Ice Age a series of catastrophic floods
ravaged the Pacific Northwest in what are now the States of
Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. A finger of the
Cordilleran ice sheet crept southward into the Idaho Panhandle,
blocking the Clark Fork River and creating Glacial Lake
Missoula. As the waters rose behind this 2,000-foot ice dam,
they flooded the valleys of western Montana. At its greatest
extent, Glacial Lake Missoula stretched eastward a distance of
some 200 miles, essentially creating an inland sea.
Periodically, the ice dam would fail. These failures were often
catastrophic, resulting in a large flood of ice and dirt-filled
water that would rush down the Columbia River drainage, across
northern Idaho and eastern and central Washington, cutting the
path that would become the Columbia River Gorge, and then back
up into Oregon's Willamette Valley, finally pouring into the
Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Over thousands of years, the lake filling, dam failure, and
flooding were repeated dozens of times, leaving a lasting mark
on the landscape of the Northwest. Many of the distinguishing
features of the Ice Age Floods remain throughout the region
today. Together, these two interwoven stories of the
catastrophic floods and the formation of Glacial Lake Missoula
are referred to as the ``Ice Age Floods.''
The floods carved out more than 50 cubic miles of earth,
piled mountains of gravel 30 stories high, created giant ripple
marks the height of three-story buildings, and scattered 200-
ton boulders from the Rockies to the Willamette Valley. Grand
Coulee, Dry Falls, and Palouse Falls were all created by these
flood waters, as were the Missoula and Spokane ground-water
resources, numerous wetlands, and the fertile Willamette Valley
and Quincy Basin.
In 2001, the National Park Service completed a major
Special Resource Study which proposed that an Ice Age Floods
National Geologic Trail (the ``Trail'') be established. This
Trail would represent the largest, most systematic, and most
cooperative effort yet proposed to bring the dramatic story of
the Ice Age Floods to the public's attention. S. 206 would
designate the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail consistent
with the recommendations of the 2001 study.
S. 206 was introduced by Senators Cantwell, Craig, Murray,
and Smith on January 31, 2005. Similar legislation, S. 2841,
was introduced by Senators Cantwell, Craig, Murray, Smith and
Wyden in the 108th Congress.
At its business meeting on September 28, 2005, the
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 206
favorably reported as amended.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on September 28, 2005, by a voice vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 206 as
During the consideration of S. 206, the Committee adopted
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. The amendment
eliminated a provision in the bill as introduced that would
have allowed the Secretary to acquire 25 acres for trail
administrative purposes. This provision was unnecessary since
other provisions in the bill authorize a trail management
office and interpretive facilities within the vicinity of the
The substitute amendment also limits appropriations for
development of the trail to no more than $12 million and makes
clarifying and conforming changes.
The amendment is explained in detail in the section-by-
section analysis, below.
Section 1 entitles the bill the ``Ice Age Floods National
Geologic Designation Act of 2005.''
Section 2 sets forth congressional findings and defines the
purpose of the Act to designate the Ice Age Floods National
Section 3 defines key terms.
Section 4(a) designates the Ice Age Floods National
Geologic Trail to be established in order to provide for public
appreciation, understanding, and enjoyment of the nationally
significant natural and cultural features of the Ice Age
Subsection (b) describes the location of the trail,
requires the route to be depicted on a map, defines the route,
and prescribes the methodology for revising the map.
Subsection (c) requires that the map in subsection (b) be
made available for public inspection at appropriate National
Park Service offices.
Section 5(a) designates the Secretary of the Interior
(Secretary), through the Director of the National Park Service,
as the administrator of the trail.
Subsection (b) clarifies that except for certain
cooperative agreement authority, the trail is not to be
administered as a unit of the National Park System.
Subsection (c) authorizes the Secretary to establish a
trail management office in order to facilitate trail
Subsection (d) allows for development of interpretive
facilities associated with the trail in partnership with State,
local, tribal, or non-profit entities consistent with the plan.
Subsection (e) requires the development of a management
plan to be created in cooperation with State, local, and tribal
governments, the Ice Age Floods Institute, private property
owners, and other interested parties. The plan is to be created
no later than 3 years after funds are available.
Subsection (f) allows the Secretary to enter into
cooperative agreements for management and administration of the
trail with the States of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and
Oregon. The Trail shall be considered a unit of the National
Subsection (g) allows the Secretary to enter into
cooperative agreements with public or private entities.
Subsection (h) states that nothing in the Act will effect
private property rights.
Subsection (i) provides indemnity for private property
owners with regards to liability.
Section 6 authorizes to be appropriated such sums as are
necessary to carry out this Act, of which not more than $12
million may be used for development of the trail.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.
S. 206--Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Designation Act
S. 206 would establish the Ice Age Floods National Geologic
Trail. Assuming appropriation of the necessary or authorized
amounts, CBO estimates that the National Park Service (NPS)
would spend $14.5 million over the next five years to develop
the new trail and to manage it under cooperative agreements
with nonfederal partners. Enacting S. 206 would not affect
revenues or direct spending.
S. 206 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
Under S. 206, the proposed Ice Age Floods National Geologic
Trail would be established as an auto route primarily along
existing highways and other public lands in Montana, Idaho,
Washington, and Oregon. The new trail would not become a unit
of the National Park System but would instead be managed in
partnership with state officials and other public and private
entities. Finally, the bill would authorize the appropriation
of $12 million for development of the trail.
Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO
estimates that the NPS would spend $12 million over the 2006-
2010 period to design and construct a trail management office,
visitor facilities, and interpretive programs. In addition, CBO
estimates that the NPS would spend about $500,000 a year,
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, to prepare a
general management plan for the trail and to provide assistance
to nonfederal partners who help to manage trail facilities and
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Deborah Reis.
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 206. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 206, as ordered reported.
The views of the Administration on S. 206 were included in
testimony received by the Committee at a hearing on the bill on
June 28, 2005 as follows:
Statement of Donald W. Murphy, Deputy Director National Park Service,
Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the
Department of the Interior's views on S. 206, a bill to
designate the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.
The Department opposes S. 206 in its current form. Although
we recognize the national significance of the geologic features
in the Northwest caused by the Ice Age Floods, we believe that
we can enhance the interpretation of these features, as
described later in this testimony, without establishing a new
entity within the National Park Service or spending Federal
funds on development of interpretive sites or land acquisition.
Devoting limited National Park Service funds to those purposes
would detract from the Administration's priority of reducing
the deferred maintenance backlog in existing units of the
National Park System.
The cataclysmic floods that occurred 12,000 to 17,000 years
ago, at the end of the last ice age, were some of the largest
ever documented by geologists. These floods, which were caused
by the ice and water bursting through ice dams at Glacial Lake
Missoula, left a lasting mark of geologic features on the
landscape of parts of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon,
and have affected the pattern of human settlement and
development in parts of the Northwest.
In 2001, a study team headed by the National Park Service
and composed of 70 representatives of a broad range of public
and private entities, concluded a two-year special resource
study of the Ice Age floods. The study found that the floods
features met the criteria for national significance and
suitability for addition to the National Park System, but that
the size, breadth, and multitude of ownerships throughout the
study region make the area not feasible to consider for a
traditional national park, monument, or similar designation.
However, the study found that it is feasible to interpret the
floods story across the affected areas. It evaluated four
management alternatives that would each provide a collaborative
and coordinated approach for the interpretation of the Ice Age
floods story to the public. The study's preferred alternative
called for Congressional designation of the floods pathways as
a national geologic trail and authorization of National Park
Service management of the trail in coordination with public and
S. 206 would largely implement the study's preferred
alternative. It would designate the Ice Age Floods National
Geologic Trail, to be managed by the National Park Service,
along floods pathways. The trail would be an auto tour route
along public roads and highways linking floods features
starting in the vicinity of Missoula in western Montana, going
across northern Idaho, through eastern and southern sections of
Washington, across northern Oregon in the vicinity of the
Willamette Valley and the Columbia River, to the Pacific Ocean.
While the Department believes that the proposed auto tour
route highlighting floods features is a viable concept, we do
not support establishing a new program within the National Park
Service to lead this effort. Although the study called for
sharing the cost of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
among a variety of public and private sources, it estimated
that under the alternative that S. 206 would implement, the
role that National Park Service would play would cost about
$500,000 per year in operating expenses. The study also
suggested that the share of capital development costs for the
trail from all Federal sources might run between $8 million and
$12 million over a period of several years.
The study assumed that State and local governments would
pay for parcels of land needed for improvements such as
roadside pullouts and wayside exhibits where rights-of-way
proved inadequate, so it did not suggest a Federal contribution
toward land acquisition. However, S. 206 would authorize the
National Park Service to acquire up to 25 acres of land, which
would entail additional Federal expenditures.
Rather than establishing a new entity for the purpose of
interpreting the Ice Age Floods, we recommend amending S. 206
to provide for expansion of interpretation of floods features
at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, an existing unit of
the National Park System located in the State of Washington
about midway along the route of the trail proposed by S. 206.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area contains the lake
formed by Grand Coulee Dam, built across one of the coulees
formed by the Ice Age Floods. The floods are the primary
natural history interpretive theme at Lake Roosevelt. The
recreation area also assists Washington State Parks in
interpretation at Dry Falls State Park, one of the most
significant floods features along the proposed trail. As part
of an enhanced interpretation program, the park could, for
example, make available to park visitors information about
other floods features in the four-state region covered by the
The National Park Service is involved in two other efforts,
both in Wisconsin, to preserve and interpret the landscapes
resulting from the last advance of continental glaciers--the
Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and the Ice Age National
Scenic Trail. The national scientific reserve, authorized in
1964, preserves outstanding features of the glacial landscape
that are owned and managed by the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources under a cooperative agreement with the
National Park Service and is an affiliated area of the National
Park System. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin,
authorized in 1980 as a part of the National Trails System, is
a 1,200-mile hiking trail that traces glacial landscape
features left by the advance and melting away of the last
continental glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation
approximately 15,000 years ago. This scenic trail is a hiking
trail and differs from auto tour route that is proposed to be
established in this bill as the Ice Age Floods National
In addition to expanding interpretation at Lake Roosevelt,
the National Park Service could devote resources from other
existing programs to promoting education and interpretation of
sites associated with the floods. For example, the National
Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance
program could provide technical assistance to State and local
entities that want to enhance interpretation of sites in their
areas. And, the National Park Service's National Register of
Historic Places program could develop Ice Age Floods as one of
its ``Discover Our Shared Heritage'' on-line travel
itineraries. In addition, other National Park Service units in
the vicinity of the proposed trail, such as the new Lewis and
Clark National Historical Park which includes areas along the
lower Columbia River, could be brought into the effort to
promote interpretation of floods features.
As the National Park Service's study suggested,
interpretation of the floods should involve a collaborative and
coordinated approach involving a broad range of public and
private entities. One of the management alternatives considered
by the study was having the state legislatures of Montana,
Idaho, Washington, and Oregon designate representatives to a
four-state commission that would promote the coordinated
interpretation of the floods story at the state and local
level. We think that is an option that merits a second look. In
addition, with or without a state-sponsored commission, tourist
organizations could form a four-state consortium to generate
interest in visiting these sites. The Ice Age Floods Institute,
a non-profit scientific organization devoted to increasing
understanding of the story of the Ice Age Floods, has played
and will continue to play a large role in promoting public
education about the floods.
We would be happy to work with the committee to develop the
appropriate language for amending S. 206 to provide for
expanded interpretation of Ice Age Floods features by Lake
Roosevelt National Recreation Area rather than designation of a
new national entity and establishment of a new program managed
by the National Park Service.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I would be
pleased to answer any questions that you or other members of
the committee may have.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 206, as ordered