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                                                       Calendar No. 553
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     109-310

======================================================================



 
                     CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

                                _______
                                

                 July 31, 2006.--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. Res. 468]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the resolution (S. Res. 468) supporting the continued 
administration of Channel Islands National Park, including 
Santa Rosa Island, in accordance with the laws (including 
regulations) and policies of the National Park Service, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the resolution do pass.

                         PURPOSE OF THE MEASURE

    The purpose of S. Res. 468 is to support the continued 
administration of Channel Islands National Park, including 
Santa Rosa Island, in accordance with the laws, regulations, 
and policies of the National Park Service.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    In 1980, Congress included Santa Rosa Island within the 
boundaries of the newly established Channel Islands National 
Park. In the park's authorizing legislation (Public Law 96-
199), Congress made the Federal acquisition of Santa Rosa 
Island a priority, requiring the Secretary to acquire lands on 
the island as ``expeditiously as possible'' after the passage 
of the Act.
    In 1986, the National Park Service (NPS) purchased the 
entire 54,000-acre island in fee simple title from Vail & 
Vickers, Ltd. (V&V;) for $29.5 million. Under the Park's 
authorizing legislation, V&V; was permitted to retain a 25-year, 
non-commercial reservation of use and occupancy on a 7.6-acre 
area containing the ranch house and a nearby field. In addition 
to the use and occupancy lease, the NPS has also issued V&V; a 
series of 5-year Special Use Permits, allowing them to continue 
prior activities, including cattle ranching and commercial deer 
and elk hunting. The issuance of these permits was unusual: 
Channel Islands National Park's establishing legislation does 
not allow for hunting within the park. And, commercial 
activities are not generally permitted within parks without a 
concessions contract.
    In May 1995, the California Regional Water Quality Control 
Board issued a Clean Up and Abatement Order against the Park, 
alleging violation of the Clean Water Act on Santa Rosa Island. 
The Order charged that cattle and wild ungulates were 
destroying streamside areas, increasing the rate of soil 
erosion island-wide by an order of magnitude, and damaging 
water quality. On July 25, 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) proposed 8 plant species on Santa Rosa Island for 
listing under the Endangered Species Act. In October 1996, 
subsequent to the Clean Water Act violation and the proposed 
plant species listing, the National Parks and Conservation 
Association (NPCA) filed a lawsuit alleging that the National 
Park Service was violating the Clean Water Act and the 
Endangered Species Act by allowing V&V; to continue to allow 
cattle, deer, and elk to graze the island.
    In response to the lawsuit, the park completed a Resources 
Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement in May 1997 
to address impacts of cattle grazing and conservation of rare 
and endangered species on Santa Rosa Island. On July 31, 1997, 
the FWS listed 8 plant species on Santa Rosa Island as 
endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
    In the fall of 1997, all parties involved (NPS, FWS, NPCA, 
V&V;) agreed upon a mediated Settlement approved by the court. 
The Settlement Agreement required removal of almost all cattle 
from the island by December 31, 1998. The Settlement Agreement 
also established maximum numbers of deer and elk which could 
remain on the island until 2011, if recovery goals for two 
federally listed plant species could be met. V&V; is required to 
remove all deer and elk from the island by 2011.
    V&V; has removed cattle from the island on schedule. Since 
the cattle left the island, park scientists have documented a 
considerable improvement in water quality and the recovery of 
streamside vegetation. Recovery goals for one of two endangered 
plant species have been met. However, the continued presence of 
deer fawns each spring on the island may be attracting golden 
eagles which prey on the endangered Santa Rosa Island Swift 
Fox.
    Under the current Special Use Permit, V&V; will manage a 
commercial hunt for deer and elk each year. The current permit 
is for the period October 1, 2003-December 31, 2008. Terms of 
the current Special Use Permit are linked to the Settlement 
Agreement. Hunts are operated by Multiple Use Managers, Inc. 
which charges $9,000 to $16,500, plus trophy fees, for 4 to 5-
day hunts. There are approximately 80 trophy hunting clients 
per year. NPS receives no revenue from the hunting operation. 
The public is excluded from most of the island during hunts.
    In 2005, there was a proposal to include language in the FY 
2006 National Defense Authorization Act that would have 
transferred administrative jurisdiction over Santa Rosa Island 
from the NPS to the Department of Defense. The proposed 
language would have also required that deer and elk populations 
on the island be maintained at current levels to provide 
hunting for disabled veterans and their guests. Ultimately, the 
proposed language was not included in the Act or the conference 
report.
    On May 3, 2006, the House Armed Services Committee ordered 
reported the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 
5122) with a provision concerning Santa Rosa Island. Section 
1036(c) requires the Secretary of the Interior to immediately 
cease the plan, approved in the settlement agreement, to 
exterminate deer and elk on Santa Rosa Island. The section 
prohibits the Secretary from exterminating or nearly 
exterminating the deer and elk herds. H.R. 5122 was passed by 
the House of Representatives on May 11, 2005.
    Although the settlement agreement does not require V&V; to 
exterminate the elk, only to remove them from the island, it 
appears that the House-passed language would nullify the 
settlement agreement and require the NPS to manage the island 
in a way that is contrary to their management practices. S. 
Res. 468 resolves that Channel Islands National Park, including 
Santa Rosa Island, should be continued to be administered by 
the NPS in accordance with existing laws and policies, and that 
the NPS should not be directed to manage the island in a manner 
that would deny the public access to the island, or that would 
be inconsistent with NPS' responsibility to protect natural 
resources, including threatened and endangered species.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. Res. 468 was introduced by Senators Feinstein and Boxer 
on May 4, 2006. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a 
hearing on S. Res. 468 on May 16, 2006. At the businessmeeting 
on May 24, 2006, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered 
S. Res. 468 favorably reported.

                       COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on May 24, 2006, by a unanimous voice vote of 
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. Res. 468.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    S. Res. 468 resolves that Santa Rosa Island should be 
administered by the National Park Service in accordance with 
the existing laws, regulations, and policies governing the 
park. S. Res. 468 also resolves that the park should not be 
managed in a way that excludes the public from the island.

                      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. Res. 468. The bill is not a regulatory measure 
in the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. Res. 468, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The views of the Administration on S. Res. 468 were 
included in testimony received by the Committee at a hearing on 
the bill on May 16, 2006. This testimony follows:

 Statement of Stephen Martin, Deputy Director, National Park Service, 
                       Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear 
before the subcommittee today to present the views of the 
Department of the Interior on S. Res. 468, supporting the 
continued administration of Channel Islands National Park, 
including Santa Rosa Island, in accordance with the laws 
(including regulations) and policies of the National Park 
Service.
    Because S. Res. 468 is a Senate resolution that will not be 
signed into law, the Department is not taking a position on the 
resolution itself. However, the Department strongly agrees with 
the sentiment expressed by the resolution that the National 
Park Service (NPS) should continue to manage Channel Islands 
National Park, including Santa Rosa Island, in a manner that 
provides for protection of the park's resources and their 
enjoyment by visitors to the islands.
    S. Res. 468 calls for the NPS to manage Santa Rosa Island, 
part of Channel Islands National Park, in a way that protects 
and allows interpretation of the natural, scenic, and cultural 
resources of the island and provides visitors with a safe and 
enjoyable park experience. It further states that the NPS 
should not be directed to manage Santa Rosa Island in a manner 
that would result in the public being denied access to 
significant portions of the island or that would be 
inconsistent with the responsibility of the NPS to protect 
native resources within the park.
    We understand that S. Res. 468 is in response to repeated 
attempts in recent years to allow deer and elk, and associated 
hunting operations, to remain on Santa Rosa Island 
indefinitely. The current effort in this regard is language 
included in H.R. 5122, the National Defense Authorization for 
Fiscal Year 2007, which requires the Secretary of the Interior 
to stop the plan to remove the deer and elk from the island as 
required by a court-ordered settlement agreement. This 
provision would effectively overturn the 1998 settlement 
agreement, that the NPS is legally bound to, that requires the 
phaseout of non-native deer and elk over several years and 
their complete removal from the island by the end of 2011. 
Until the deer and elk are removed and the hunting operation 
ends, most of the island will remain closed to the public for 
significant portions of each year.
    Channel Islands National Monument was designated in 1938 by 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the authority of the 
Antiquities Act. In 1980, the monument was expanded to include 
additional islands, including the 54,000-acre Santa Rosa 
Island, and redesignated as Channel Islands National Park. The 
park's purpose is to protect the nationally significant 
natural, scenic, wildlife, marine, ecological, archaeological, 
cultural, and scientific values of the five out of the eight 
California Channel Islands that comprise the park.
    The question of whether to allow hunting in units of the 
National Parks System is decided by Congress on a case-by-case 
basis. Congress discussed the issue of the appropriateness of 
hunting on the Channel Islands during consideration of the 
legislation to redesignate Channel Islands National Monument as 
a national park in 1979 and 1980, and made a deliberate 
decision not to allow hunting there. We feel that this is still 
the appropriate decision today.
    It is important to note that once it was determined that 
Santa Rosa Island was to be incorporated within Channel Islands 
National Park, Vail and Vicker's, Ltd. (V&V;) requested that 
Santa Rosa Island be the highest priority for acquisition by 
the NPS. This was reflected in the enabling legislation. In 
1986, the NPS purchased Santa Rosa Island for $29.5 million 
from V&V;, who retained a 25-year non-commercial reservation of 
use and occupancy covering a 7.6-acre area containing the ranch 
house and a nearby field. At the request of V&V;, supported by 
members ofCongress, the NPS issued a series of 5-year special 
use permits (SUPs) to allow V&V; to continue their cattle ranching and 
elk and deer hunting operations.
    In 1996, because of the impacts on endangered species and 
water quality issues, the National Parks Conservation 
Association sued the NPS. In 1997, V&V; sued NPS to retain their 
current SUP and continue their operations until 2011. A three-
way settlement agreement, entered into court in 1998, provided 
for removing the cattle by the end of 1998, which occurred on 
schedule, and for phasing out deer and elk, and removing them 
altogether by the end of 2011, when the V&V; 25-year non-
commercial reservation of the 7.6 acre ranch expires. The 
settlement agreement included two options under which hunting 
could continue. The parties chose the second option, which was 
to manage the deer and elk using adaptive management 
guidelines. Each year, the NPS, with recommendations from an 
agreed upon scientific panel, determines whether an accelerated 
reduction in either the deer or elk herds are necessary. 
Regardless of the management option, all deer and elk are to be 
removed by V&V; no later than the end of 2011. At that time, V&V; 
will be required to remove all their property, including any 
remaining deer and elk, which V&V; owns. It is necessary to end 
the hunting operation to open up the island for other 
recreational purposes, such as hiking, camping, and 
sightseeing, on a year-round basis. So long as a hunting 
operation continues, 90 percent of the island will be off 
limits for general recreation for four to five months of each 
year. After spending $29.5 million to purchase the island and 
more to restore native plants and animals, the NPS has been 
eager to make this spectacular island available for full-time 
enjoyment by the general public.
    Santa Rosa Island is currently the most accessible of the 
five islands that are part of Channel Islands National Park. It 
is the island where the NPS can most easily and cost 
effectively welcome American citizens who have physical 
disabilities, including our men and women in uniform who have 
become disabled in the service to our Nation.
    Removal of the non-native deer and elk is necessary for 
native plants and animals to flourish on Santa Rosa Island, and 
to ensure that efforts spent on restoration are not wasted. 
Channel Islands National Park has been in the forefront of the 
NPS's efforts to control non-native species that out-compete 
the native species. The park has undertaken several successful 
ecological restoration programs. The eradication of introduced 
rats from Anacapa Island has resulted in the increased 
survivability of the Xantus's murrelet. The removal of 
introduced rabbits, cattle, sheep, and mules from Santa 
Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands has 
allowed for vegetation restoration. Park staff, local 
communities, the Nature Conservancy, and the Montrose Trustees, 
who worked together to reestablish the American bald eagle were 
recently rewarded with the first eaglet born in the northern 
Channel Islands in 50 years, on Santa Cruz Island. The NPS 
looks forward to more successes of this type in the Channel 
Islands, including Santa Rosa Island.
    For all these reasons, the Department supports the 
continued implementation of the 1998 settlement agreement, so 
that the day will come, after 2011, when NPS will be able to 
manage Santa Rosa Island as Congress intended when Channel 
Islands National Park was established in 1980.
    Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I will be happy 
to answer any questions you or members of the subcommittee 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 Resolution S. Res. 468, 
as ordered reported.