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                                                       Calendar No. 366
110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    110-168

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



 
                NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS PARTNERSHIP ACT

                                _______
                                

               September 17, 2007.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 278]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 278) to establish a program and criteria 
for National Heritage Areas in the United States, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
with an amendent and recommends that the bill, as amended, do 
pass.
    The amendment is as follows:

    Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``National Heritage 
Areas Partnership Act''.
  (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Purposes.
Sec. 3. Definitions.
Sec. 4. National Heritage Areas system.
Sec. 5. Studies.
Sec. 6. Designation of National Heritage Areas.
Sec. 7. Management plans.
Sec. 8. Evaluation; report.
Sec. 9. Local coordinating entities.
Sec. 10. Relationship to other Federal agencies.
Sec. 11. Private property and regulatory protections.
Sec. 12. Partnership support.
Sec. 13. Authorization of appropriations.

SEC. 2. PURPOSES.

  The purposes of this Act are--
          (1) to promote public understanding, appreciation, and 
        enjoyment of many places, events and people that have 
        contributed to the story of the United States;
          (2) to promote innovative and partnership-driven management 
        strategies that recognize regional values, encourage locally 
        tailored resource stewardship and interpretation, and provide 
        for the effective leveraging of Federal funds with other local, 
        State, and private funding sources;
          (3) to unify national standards and processes for conducting 
        feasibility studies, designating a system of National Heritage 
        Areas, and approving management plans for National Heritage 
        Areas;
          (4) to provide appropriate linkages between units of the 
        National Park System and communities, governments, and 
        organizations within National Heritage Areas; and
          (5) to provide financial and technical assistance to National 
        Heritage Area local coordinating entities that act as a 
        catalyst for diverse regions, communities, organizations, and 
        citizens to undertake projects and programs for collaborative 
        resource stewardship and interpretation.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

  In this Act:
          (1) Local coordinating entity.--The term ``local coordinating 
        entity'' means the entity designated by Congress--
                  (A) to develop, in partnership with others, the 
                management plan for a National Heritage Area; and
                  (B) to act as a catalyst for the implementation of 
                projects and programs among diverse partners in the 
                National Heritage Area.
          (2) Management plan.--The term ``management plan'' means the 
        plan prepared by the local coordinating entity for a National 
        Heritage Area designated by Congress that specifies actions, 
        policies, strategies, performance goals, and recommendations to 
        meet the goals of the National Heritage Area, in accordance 
        with section 7.
          (3) National heritage area.--The term ``National Heritage 
        Area'' means an area designated by Congress that is nationally 
        important to the heritage of the United States and meets the 
        criteria established under section 5(a).
          (4) National importance.--The term ``national importance'' 
        means possession of--
                  (A) unique natural, historical, cultural, 
                educational, scenic, or recreational resources of 
                exceptional value or quality; and
                  (B) a high degree of integrity of location, setting, 
                or association in illustrating or interpreting the 
                heritage of the United States.
          (5) Proposed national heritage area.--The term ``proposed 
        National Heritage Area'' means an area under study by the 
        Secretary or other parties for potential designation by 
        Congress as a National Heritage Area.
          (6) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (7) Study.--The term ``study'' means a study conducted by the 
        Secretary, or conducted by 1 or more other interested parties 
        and reviewed by the Secretary, in accordance with the criteria 
        and processes established under section 5, to determine whether 
        an area meets the criteria to be designated as a National 
        Heritage Area by Congress.
          (8) System.--The term ``system'' means the system of National 
        Heritage Areas established under section 4(a).

SEC. 4. NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS SYSTEM.

  (a) In General.--In order to recognize certain areas of the United 
States that tell nationally important stories and to protect, enhance, 
and interpret the natural, historic, scenic, and cultural resources of 
the areas that together illustrate significant aspects of the heritage 
of the United States, there is established a system of National 
Heritage Areas through which the Secretary shall provide technical and 
financial assistance to local coordinating entities to support the 
establishment, development, and continuity of the National Heritage 
Areas.
  (b) System.--The system of National Heritage Areas shall be composed 
of--
          (1) National Heritage Areas established by Congress before or 
        on the date of enactment of this Act; and
          (2) National Heritage Areas established by Congress after the 
        date of enactment of this Act, as provided for in this Act.
  (c) Relationship to the National Park System.--
          (1) Relationship to national park units.--The Secretary 
        shall--
                  (A) ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, 
                participation and assistance by units of the National 
                Park System located near or encompassed by National 
                Heritage Areas in local initiatives for National 
                Heritage Areas that conserve and interpret resources 
                consistent with an approved management plan; and
                  (B) work with National Heritage Areas to promote 
                public enjoyment of units of the National Park System 
                and park-related resources.
          (2) Applicability of laws.--National Heritage Areas shall not 
        be--
                  (A) considered to be units of the National Park 
                System; or
                  (B) subject to the laws applicable to units of the 
                National Park System.
  (d) Duties.--Under the system, the Secretary shall--
          (1)(A) conduct studies, as directed by Congress, to assess 
        the suitability and feasibility of designating proposed 
        National Heritage Areas; or
          (B) review and comment on studies undertaken by other parties 
        to make such assessment;
          (2) provide technical and financial assistance, on a 
        reimbursable or non-reimbursable basis (as determined by the 
        Secretary), for the development and implementation of 
        management plans for designated National Heritage Areas;
          (3) enter into cooperative agreements with interested parties 
        to carry out this Act;
          (4) provide information, promote understanding, and encourage 
        research on National Heritage Areas in partnership with local 
        coordinating entities;
          (5) provide national oversight, analysis, coordination, and 
        technical and financial assistance and support to ensure 
        consistency and accountability under the system;
          (6) submit annually to the Committee on Natural Resources of 
        the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and 
        Natural Resources of the Senate a report describing the 
        allocation and expenditure of funds for activities conducted 
        with respect to National Heritage Areas under this Act; and
          (7) conduct an evaluation of, and prepare a report on, 
        National Heritage Areas in accordance with section 8.

SEC. 5. STUDIES.

  (a) Criteria.--In conducting or reviewing a study, the Secretary 
shall apply the following criteria to determine the suitability and 
feasibility of designating a proposed National Heritage Area:
          (1) An area--
                  (A) has an assemblage of natural, historic, cultural, 
                educational, scenic, or recreational resources that 
                together are nationally important to the heritage of 
                the United States;
                  (B) represents distinctive aspects of the heritage of 
                the United States worthy of recognition, conservation, 
                interpretation, and continuing use;
                  (C) is best managed as such an assemblage through 
                partnerships among public and private entities at the 
                local or regional level;
                  (D) reflects traditions, customs, beliefs, and 
                folklife that are a valuable part of the heritage of 
                the United States;
                  (E) provides outstanding opportunities to conserve 
                natural, historical, cultural, or scenic features;
                  (F) provides outstanding recreational or educational 
                opportunities; and
                  (G) has resources and traditional uses that have 
                national importance.
          (2) Residents, business interests, nonprofit organizations, 
        and governments (including relevant Federal land management 
        agencies) within the proposed area are involved in the planning 
        and have demonstrated significant support through letters and 
        other means for National Heritage Area designation and 
        management.
          (3) The local coordinating entity responsible for preparing 
        and implementing the management plan is identified.
          (4) The proposed local coordinating entity and units of 
        government supporting the designation are willing and have 
        documented a significant commitment to work in partnership to 
        protect, enhance, interpret, fund, manage, and develop 
        resources within the National Heritage Area.
          (5) The proposed local coordinating entity has developed a 
        conceptual financial plan that outlines the roles of all 
        participants (including the Federal Government) in the 
        management of the National Heritage Area.
          (6) The proposal is consistent with continued economic 
        activity within the area.
          (7) A conceptual boundary map has been developed and is 
        supported by the public and participating Federal agencies.
  (b) Consultation.--In conducting or reviewing a study, the Secretary 
shall consult with the managers of any Federal land within the proposed 
National Heritage Area and secure the concurrence of the managers with 
the findings of the study before making a determination for 
designation.
  (c) Approval.--On completion or receipt of a study for a National 
Heritage Area, the Secretary shall--
          (1) review, comment on, and determine if the study meets the 
        criteria specified in subsection (a) for designation as a 
        National Heritage Area;
          (2) consult with the Governor of each State in which the 
        proposed National Heritage Area is located; and
          (3) transmit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the 
        House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and 
        Natural Resources of the Senate, the study, including--
                  (A) any comments received from the Governor of each 
                State in which the proposed National Heritage Area is 
                located; and
                  (B) a finding as to whether the proposed National 
                Heritage Area meets the criteria for designation.
  (d) Disapproval.--If the Secretary determines that any proposed 
National Heritage Area does not meet the criteria for designation, the 
Secretary shall include within the study submitted under subsection 
(c)(3) a description of the reasons for the determination.

SEC. 6. DESIGNATION OF NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS.

  (a) In General.--The designation of a National Heritage Area shall 
be--
          (1) by Act of Congress; and
          (2) contingent on the prior completion of a study and an 
        affirmative determination by the Secretary that the area meets 
        the criteria established under section 5(a).
  (b) Component of the System.--Any National Heritage Area designated 
under subsection (a) shall be a component of the system.

SEC. 7. MANAGEMENT PLANS.

  (a) Requirements.--The management plan for any National Heritage Area 
shall--
          (1) describe comprehensive policies, goals, strategies, and 
        recommendations for telling the story of the heritage of the 
        area covered by the National Heritage Area and encouraging 
        long-term resource protection, enhancement, interpretation, 
        funding, management, and development of the National Heritage 
        Area;
          (2) include a description of actions and commitments that 
        governments, private organizations, and citizens will take to 
        protect, enhance, interpret, fund, manage, and develop the 
        natural, historical, cultural, educational, scenic, and 
        recreational resources of the National Heritage Area;
          (3) specify existing and potential sources of funding or 
        economic development strategies to protect, enhance, interpret, 
        fund, manage, and develop the National Heritage Area;
          (4) include an inventory of the natural, historical, 
        cultural, educational, scenic, and recreational resources of 
        the National Heritage Area related to the national importance 
        and themes of the National Heritage Area that should be 
        protected, enhanced, interpreted, managed, funded, and 
        developed;
          (5) recommend policies and strategies for resource 
        management, including the development of intergovernmental and 
        interagency agreements to protect, enhance, interpret, fund, 
        manage, and develop the natural, historical, cultural, 
        educational, scenic, and recreational resources of the National 
        Heritage Area;
          (6) describe a program for implementation for the management 
        plan, including--
                  (A) performance goals;
                  (B) plans for resource protection, enhancement, 
                interpretation, funding, management, and development; 
                and
                  (C) specific commitments for implementation that have 
                been made by the local coordinating entity or any 
                government agency, organization, business, or 
                individual;
          (7) include an analysis of, and recommendations for, means by 
        which Federal, State, and local programs may best be 
        coordinated (including the role of the National Park Service 
        and other Federal agencies associated with the National 
        Heritage Area) to further the purposes of this Act; and
          (8) include a business plan that--
                  (A) describes the role, operation, financing, and 
                functions of the local coordinating entity and of each 
                of the major activities contained in the management 
                plan; and
                  (B) provides adequate assurances that the local 
                coordinating entity has the partnerships and financial 
                and other resources necessary to implement the 
                management plan for the National Heritage Area.
  (b) Deadline.--
          (1) In general.--Not later than 3 years after the date on 
        which funds are first made available to develop the management 
        plan after designation as a National Heritage Area, the local 
        coordinating entity shall submit the management plan to the 
        Secretary for approval.
          (2) Termination of funding.--If the management plan is not 
        submitted to the Secretary in accordance with paragraph (1), 
        the local coordinating entity shall not qualify for any 
        additional financial assistance under this Act until such time 
        as the management plan is submitted to and approved by the 
        Secretary.
  (c) Approval of Management Plan.--
          (1) Review.--Not later than 180 days after receiving the 
        plan, the Secretary shall review and approve or disapprove the 
        management plan for a National Heritage Area on the basis of 
        the criteria established under paragraph (3).
          (2) Consultation.--The Secretary shall consult with the 
        Governor of each State in which the National Heritage Area is 
        located before approving a management plan for the National 
        Heritage Area.
          (3) Criteria for approval.--In determining whether to approve 
        a management plan for a National Heritage Area, the Secretary 
        shall consider whether--
                  (A) the local coordinating entity represents the 
                diverse interests of the National Heritage Area, 
                including governments, natural and historic resource 
                protection organizations, educational institutions, 
                businesses, recreational organizations, community 
                residents, and private property owners;
                  (B) the local coordinating entity--
                          (i) has afforded adequate opportunity for 
                        public and governmental involvement (including 
                        through workshops and hearings) in the 
                        preparation of the management plan; and
                          (ii) provides for at least semiannual public 
                        meetings to ensure adequate implementation of 
                        the management plan;
                  (C) the resource protection, enhancement, 
                interpretation, funding, management, and development 
                strategies described in the management plan, if 
                implemented, would adequately protect, enhance, 
                interpret, fund, manage, and develop the natural, 
                historic, cultural, educational, scenic, and 
                recreational resources of the National Heritage Area;
                  (D) the management plan would not adversely affect 
                any activities authorized on Federal land under public 
                land laws or land use plans;
                  (E) the local coordinating entity has demonstrated 
                the financial capability, in partnership with others, 
                to carry out the plan;
                  (F) the Secretary has received adequate assurances 
                from the appropriate State and local officials whose 
                support is needed to ensure the effective 
                implementation of the State and local elements of the 
                management plan; and
                  (G) the management plan demonstrates partnerships 
                among the local coordinating entity, Federal, State, 
                and local governments, regional planning organizations, 
                nonprofit organizations, or private sector parties for 
                implementation of the management plan.
          (4) Disapproval.--
                  (A) In general.--If the Secretary disapproves the 
                management plan, the Secretary--
                          (i) shall advise the local coordinating 
                        entity in writing of the reasons for the 
                        disapproval; and
                          (ii) may make recommendations to the local 
                        coordinating entity for revisions to the 
                        management plan.
                  (B) Deadline.--Not later than 180 days after 
                receiving a revised management plan, the Secretary 
                shall approve or disapprove the revised management 
                plan.
          (5) Amendments.--
                  (A) In general.--An amendment to the management plan 
                that substantially alters the purposes of the National 
                Heritage Area shall be reviewed by the Secretary and 
                approved or disapproved in the same manner as the 
                original management plan.
                  (B) Implementation.--The local coordinating entity 
                shall not use Federal funds authorized by this Act to 
                implement an amendment to the management plan until the 
                Secretary approves the amendment.

SEC. 8. EVALUATION; REPORT.

  (a) In General.--Not later than 3 years before the date on which 
authority for Federal funding terminates for a National Heritage Area 
under section 13(b)(2), the Secretary shall--
          (1) conduct an evaluation of the accomplishments of the 
        National Heritage Area; and
          (2) prepare a report in accordance with subsection (c).
  (b) Evaluation.--An evaluation conducted under subsection (a)(1) 
shall--
          (1) assess the progress of the local coordinating entity with 
        respect to--
                  (A) accomplishing the purposes of the authorizing 
                legislation for the National Heritage Area; and
                  (B) achieving the goals and objectives of the 
                approved management plan for the National Heritage 
                Area;
          (2) analyze the Federal, State, local, and private 
        investments in the National Heritage Area to determine the 
        leverage and impact of the investments; and
          (3) review the management structure, partnership 
        relationships, and funding of the National Heritage Area for 
        purposes of identifying the critical components for 
        sustainability of the National Heritage Area.
  (c) Report.--
          (1) In general.--Based on the evaluation conducted under 
        subsection (a)(1), the Secretary shall prepare a report that 
        includes recommendations for the future role of the National 
        Park Service, if any, with respect to the National Heritage 
        Area.
          (2) Required analysis.--If the report prepared under 
        paragraph (1) recommends that Federal funding for the National 
        Heritage Area be reauthorized, the report shall include an 
        analysis of--
                  (A) ways in which Federal funding for the National 
                Heritage Area may be reduced or eliminated; and
                  (B) the appropriate time period necessary to achieve 
                the recommended reduction or elimination.
          (3) Submission to congress.--On completion of the report, the 
        Secretary shall submit the report to--
                  (A) the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of 
                the Senate; and
                  (B) the Committee on Natural Resources of the House 
                of Representatives.

SEC. 9. LOCAL COORDINATING ENTITIES.

  (a) Duties.--To further the purposes of the National Heritage Area, 
the local coordinating entity shall--
          (1) prepare a management plan for the National Heritage Area, 
        and submit the management plan to the Secretary, in accordance 
        with section 7;
          (2) submit an annual report to the Secretary for each fiscal 
        year for which the local coordinating entity receives Federal 
        funds under this Act, specifying--
                  (A) the specific performance goals and 
                accomplishments of the local coordinating entity;
                  (B) the expenses and income of the local coordinating 
                entity;
                  (C) the amounts and sources of matching funds;
                  (D) the amounts leveraged with Federal funds and 
                sources of the leveraging; and
                  (E) grants made to any other entities during the 
                fiscal year;
          (3) make available for audit for each fiscal year for which 
        the local coordinating entity receives Federal funds under this 
        Act, all information pertaining to the expenditure of the funds 
        and any matching funds; and
          (4) encourage economic viability and sustainability that is 
        consistent with the purposes of the National Heritage Area.
  (b) Authorities.--For the purposes of preparing and implementing the 
approved management plan for the National Heritage Area, the local 
coordinating entity may use Federal funds made available under this Act 
to--
          (1) make grants to political jurisdictions, nonprofit 
        organizations, and other parties within the National Heritage 
        Area;
          (2) enter into cooperative agreements with or provide 
        technical assistance to political jurisdictions, nonprofit 
        organizations, Federal agencies, and other interested parties;
          (3) hire and compensate staff, including individuals with 
        expertise in--
                  (A) natural, historical, cultural, educational, 
                scenic, and recreational resource conservation;
                  (B) economic and community development; and
                  (C) heritage planning;
          (4) obtain funds or services from any source, including other 
        Federal laws or programs;
          (5) contract for goods or services; and
          (6) support activities of partners and any other activities 
        that further the purposes of the National Heritage Area and are 
        consistent with the approved management plan.
  (c) Prohibition on Acquisition of Real Property.--The local 
coordinating entity may not use Federal funds authorized under this Act 
to acquire any interest in real property.

SEC. 10. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES.

  (a) In General.--Nothing in this Act affects the authority of a 
Federal agency to provide technical or financial assistance under any 
other law.
  (b) Consultation and Coordination.--The head of any Federal agency 
planning to conduct activities that may have an impact on a National 
Heritage Area is encouraged to consult and coordinate the activities 
with the Secretary and the local coordinating entity to the maximum 
extent practicable.
  (c) Other Federal Agencies.--Nothing in this Act--
          (1) modifies, alters, or amends any law or regulation 
        authorizing a Federal agency to manage Federal land under the 
        jurisdiction of the Federal agency;
          (2) limits the discretion of a Federal land manager to 
        implement an approved land use plan within the boundaries of a 
        National Heritage Area; or
          (3) modifies, alters, or amends any authorized use of Federal 
        land under the jurisdiction of a Federal agency.

SEC. 11. PRIVATE PROPERTY AND REGULATORY PROTECTIONS.

  Nothing in this Act--
          (1) abridges the rights of any property owner (whether public 
        or private), including the right to refrain from participating 
        in any plan, project, program, or activity conducted within the 
        National Heritage Area;
          (2) requires any property owner to permit public access 
        (including access by Federal, State, or local agencies) to the 
        property of the property owner, or to modify public access or 
        use of property of the property owner under any other Federal, 
        State, or local law;
          (3) alters any duly adopted land use regulation, approved 
        land use plan, or other regulatory authority of any Federal, 
        State or local agency, or conveys any land use or other 
        regulatory authority to any local coordinating entity;
          (4) authorizes or implies the reservation or appropriation of 
        water or water rights;
          (5) diminishes the authority of the State to manage fish and 
        wildlife, including the regulation of fishing and hunting 
        within the National Heritage Area; or
          (6) creates any liability, or affects any liability under any 
        other law, of any private property owner with respect to any 
        person injured on the private property.

SEC. 12. PARTNERSHIP SUPPORT.

  (a) Technical Assistance.--On termination of the 15-year period for 
which assistance is provided under section 13, the Secretary may, on 
request of a local coordinating entity, continue to provide technical 
assistance to a National Heritage Area under section 4.
  (b) Grant Assistance.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary may establish a grant program 
        under which the Secretary provides grants, on a competitive 
        basis, to local coordinating entities for the conduct of 
        individual projects at National Heritage Areas for which 
        financial assistance has terminated under section 13.
          (2) Conditions.--The provision of a grant under paragraph (1) 
        shall be subject to the condition that--
                  (A) a project must be approved by the local 
                coordinating entity as promoting the purposes of the 
                management plan required under section 7;
                  (B) a project may receive only 1 grant of no more 
                than $250,000 in any 1 fiscal year;
                  (C) a maximum of $250,000 may be received by a local 
                coordinating entity for projects funded under this 
                subsection in any 1 fiscal year; and
                  (D) a project shall not be eligible for funding under 
                this section in any fiscal year that a local 
                coordinating entity receives an appropriation through 
                the National Park Service (excluding technical 
                assistance) for the National Heritage Area at which the 
                project is being conducted.
  (c) Report.--For each fiscal year in which assistance is provided 
under this section, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on 
Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on 
Appropriations of the Senate a list of the projects provided assistance 
for the fiscal year.

SEC. 13. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  (a) Studies.--There is authorized to be appropriated to conduct and 
review studies under section 5 $750,000 for each fiscal year, of which 
not more than $250,000 for any fiscal year may be used for any 
individual study for a proposed National Heritage Area.
  (b) Local Coordinating Entities.--
          (1) In general.--There is authorized to be appropriated to 
        carry out section 9 $25,000,000 for each fiscal year, of which 
        not more than--
                  (A) $1,000,000 may be made available for any fiscal 
                year for any individual National Heritage Area, to 
                remain available until expended; and
                  (B) a total of $10,000,000 may be made available for 
                all such fiscal years for any individual National 
                Heritage Area.
          (2) Termination date.--
                  (A) In general.--The authority of the Secretary to 
                provide financial assistance to an individual local 
                coordinating entity under this section (excluding 
                technical assistance and administrative oversight) 
                shall terminate on the date that is 15 years after the 
                date of the initial receipt of the assistance by the 
                local coordinating entity.
                  (B) Designation.--A National Heritage Area shall 
                retain the designation as a National Heritage Area 
                after the termination date prescribed in subparagraph 
                (A).
          (3) Administration.--Not more than 5 percent of the amount of 
        funds made available under paragraph (1) for a fiscal year may 
        be used by the Secretary for technical assistance, oversight, 
        and administrative purposes.
  (c) Heritage Partnership Grant Assistance.--There is authorized to be 
appropriated to the Secretary to carry out section 12 $5,000,000 for 
each fiscal year.
  (d) Matching Funds.--
          (1) In general.--As a condition of receiving a grant under 
        this Act, the recipient of the grant shall provide matching 
        funds in an amount that is equal to the amount of the grant.
          (2) Administration.--The recipient matching funds--
                  (A) shall be derived from non-Federal sources; and
                  (B) may be made in the form of in-kind contributions 
                of goods or services fairly valued.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 278 is to establish a program and 
criteria for National Heritage Areas.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    National Heritage Areas are established to commemorate, 
conserve and economically promote important areas that include 
natural, scenic, historic, cultural or recreational resources. 
Unlike areas that are under the sole jurisdiction of the 
National Park Service (NPS), such as parks or monuments, 
heritage areas typically remain in non-Federal ownership and 
are managed by local communities and partners. To date, 
Congress has designated 37 National Heritage Areas, including 
ten new areas that were designated in the 109th Congress. 
National Heritage Areas receive financial and technical 
assistance through cooperative agreements with the National 
Park Service. They also receive funds from other agencies and 
non-Federal sources.
    Most heritage areas are authorized to receive 
appropriations of up to $1 million each year, with a maximum 
total appropriation of $10 to $15 million. Generally, the 
authorizing legislation for each heritage area includes a 
requirement that Federal funds must be matched equally by non-
Federal funds. For fiscal years 1997 through 2002, national 
heritage areas received $310 million in funding. Of this total, 
approximately $154 million came from state and local 
governments and private sources and $156 million came from the 
Federal government.
    Currently the National Park Service has no systematic 
process for identifying or evaluating potential heritage areas 
and no formal program for managing them. The success of 
previously designated areas and the opportunity for Federal 
funding has resulted in an increase in proposals for new 
heritage areas, with more than two dozen national heritage area 
proposals currently pending in the 110th Congress. The sizable 
number of new proposals before Congress has raised some concern 
regarding the most effective means to manage the program in the 
future.
    In 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
published a report that examined national heritage areas and 
suggested ways to improve their accountability (GAO04-593T, 
March 30, 2004). To ensure that only nationally significant 
resources be designated as national heritage areas, the GAO 
recommended that standardized criteria be adopted for 
evaluating potential new areas. The GAO report also suggests, 
given the magnitude of funds appropriated, that certain key 
management controls be instituted to ensure accountability and 
program consistency.
    In 2006, the National Park System Advisory Board released a 
report entitled ``Charting a Future for National Heritage 
Areas.'' The report found that ``[w]hile existing [national 
heritage area] designations often share similar strategies, no 
legislative foundation ensures a standard approach to how new 
areas should be studied, designated, administered, and funded. 
A formal policy framework is needed to clarify the roles and 
responsibilities of partners in these efforts. The framework 
should specify criteria and standards for studying and 
establishing new areas, uniform timeframes, and funding and 
management strategies to accomplish the work.''
    Consistent with the recommendations of these two reports, 
S. 278 would establish program requirements and criteria for 
evaluating national heritage areas, as well as place 
limitations on cumulative Federal funding for the program.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 278 was introduced by Senator Thomas on January 12, 
2007. Because the bill is similar to legislation reported by 
the Committee in previous Congresses, the Committee did not 
hold a hearing on S. 278.
    The Committee considered similar legislation in the 109th 
Congress, S. 243, also sponsored by Senator Thomas. The 
Committee ordered S. 243 favorably reported on February 9, 2005 
(S. Rept. 109-26), and the bill passed the Senate by unanimous 
consent, with amendments, on July 25, 2005. No further action 
occurred in the House of Representatives.
    In the 108th Congress, Senators Thomas and Burns introduced 
a similar measure, S. 2543. The Subcommittee on National Parks 
held a hearing on that bill on June 24, 2004 (S. Hrg. 108-692). 
S. 2543 was favorably reported by the Committee with an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute on July 14, 2004 (S. 
Rept. 108-329), and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on 
September 15, 2004. No further action occurred in the House of 
Representatives.
    At its business meeting on July 25, 2007, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 278 favorably reported 
with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on July 25, 2007, by a voice vote of a quorum 
present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 278, if amended as 
described herein.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During its consideration of S. 278, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. In addition to 
making several clarifying and conforming changes, the amendment 
adds a requirement that the Secretary of the Interior conduct 
an evaluation of each authorized heritage area not later than 
three years before the date authority for Federal funding 
terminates, to assess the progress of the management entity in 
accomplishing the purposes for which the heritage area was 
established and whether the goals and objectives of the 
management plan for the heritage area were achieved. The 
Secretary is required to submit a report of the findings of the 
evaluation to the Congressional authorizing Committees.
    The amendment is explained in detail in the section-by-
section analysis, below.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1(a) entitles the Act the ``National Heritage 
Partnership Act.''
    Subsection (b) contains the table of contents.
    Section 2 lists the purposes of the Act.
    Section 3 contains definitions of key terms used in the 
Act.
    Section 4(a) establishes a system of National Heritage 
Areas in order to recognize certain areas of the United States 
that tell nationally important stories and to protect, enhance, 
and interpret the natural, historic, scenic, and cultural 
resources of the areas that together illustrate significant 
aspects of the heritage of the United States.
    Subsection (b) provides that the National Heritage Areas 
System shall be composed of national heritage areas established 
by Congress on or before the date of enactment of this Act, and 
national heritage areas established by Congress after the date 
of enactment of this Act.
    Subsection (c) describes the relationship of national 
heritage areas to the National Park System. The Secretary of 
the Interior is directed to ensure, to the maximum extent 
practicable, that units of the National Park System that are 
near designated national heritage areas, participate in and 
assist local initiatives related to the heritage area that 
conserve and interpret resources consistent with an approved 
management plan, and work with heritage areas to promote public 
enjoyment of the park and park-related resources. The 
subsection makes clear that national heritage areas are not 
units of the National Park System and are not subject to the 
laws applicable to units of the National Park System (although 
a National Park System unit located within the boundaries of a 
national heritage area would continue to be managed in 
accordance with National Park System laws).
    Subsection (d) describes the duties of the Secretary under 
the program.
    Section 5(a) lists the criteria to be used by the Secretary 
to determine the feasibility and suitability of a proposed 
heritage area.
    Subsection (b) requires the Secretary, in conducting or 
reviewing a study, to consult with managers of Federal land 
within the proposed heritage area and secure the concurrence of 
the managers before making a determination for designation.
    Subsection (c) describes the process by which the Secretary 
approves a suitability and feasibility study.
    Subsection (d) provides that if the Secretary determines 
that a proposed national heritage area does not meet the 
criteria for designation, the Secretary shall include the 
reasons for disapproval when the study is transmitted to 
Congress.
    Section 6 provides that designation of a national heritage 
area shall only be by an Act of Congress and contingent upon 
the prior completion of a suitability and feasibility study 
with an affirmative determination by the Secretary that the 
area meets the criteria for designation. Any designated 
national heritage area shall be a component of the National 
Heritage Areas System.
    Section 7(a) describes the requirements for a heritage 
area's management plan.
    Subsection (b) requires the management entity to submit a 
management plan to the Secretary within three years after the 
date funds are made available for the plan. If the plan is not 
submitted on time, Federal funding for the heritage area is 
stopped until the plan is submitted.
    Subsection (c) describes the process by which the Secretary 
approves or disapproves a management plan, and lists the 
criteria for approval.
    Section 8(a) requires the Secretary to conduct an 
evaluation of the accomplishments of each national heritage 
area not later than three years before the date Federal funding 
authority for the area terminates.
    Subsection (b) provides that the evaluation shall assess 
the progress of the local coordinating entity with respect to 
accomplishing the purposes of this Act for the heritage area 
and whether the local coordinating entity achieved the goals 
and objectives of the approved management plan for the heritage 
area. The evaluation is also required to analyze governmental 
investments in the heritage area to determine the leverage and 
impact of the investments.
    Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to prepare a report, 
based on the evaluation, that includes recommendations for the 
future role of the National Park Service, if any, for the 
heritage area. If the report recommends that Federal funding 
for the area be reauthorized, it is required to include an 
analysis of ways Federal funding may be reduced or eliminated. 
The report is to be submitted to the House and Senate 
authorizing committees.
    Section 9(a) describes the duties and responsibilities of 
the local coordinating entity for a heritage area.
    Subsection (b) authorizes the local coordinating entity, 
for the purposes of preparing and implementing an approved 
management plan for the heritage area, to make grants, enter 
into cooperative agreements with governmental entities, non-
profit organizations, and other interested persons, hire staff, 
obtain funds or services from any source, contract for goods or 
services, and support activities of partner groups.
    Subsection (c) states that a local coordinating entity may 
not use Federal funds to acquire real property or an interest 
in real property.
    Section 10 states that nothing in this Act affects the 
authority of a Federal agency to provide technical or financial 
assistance to a national heritage area. Other Federal agencies 
are encouraged to consult with the Secretary on issues 
concerning the heritage area to the extent practicable. Nothing 
in this Act limits, modifies, alters or amends any authorized 
use of Federal land.
    Section 11 contains several savings provisions to clarify 
that the designation of the national heritage area will not 
affect private property rights, affect governmental land use 
regulation, reserve or appropriate water rights, diminish the 
authority of the State to manage fish and wildlife, or create 
any liability for property owners within the heritage area.
    Section 12 authorizes the Secretary to provide a grant to 
the local coordinating entity after termination of the 15-year 
Federal funding period. Grants would be awarded on a 
competitive basis and could not exceed $250,000 for any local 
coordinating entity in a single year. The Secretary is required 
to submit a report to Congress for each year that grant 
assistance is provided.
    Section 13(a) authorizes the appropriation of $750,000 for 
each fiscal year to conduct and review feasibility studies for 
potential heritage areas. Not more than $250,000 is authorized 
for any individual study for any given fiscal year.
    Subsection (b) caps total annual authorizations for 
national heritage areas at $25 million. Not more than 
$1,000,000 annually could be appropriated for any individual 
heritage area. A total appropriation of $10 million may be made 
for an individual heritage area over all fiscal years. The 
Secretary's authority to provide technical and financial 
assistance to each heritage area is limited to 15 years, but 
the area is authorized to retain the designation of National 
Heritage Area after Federal funding has terminated. Not more 
than five percent of appropriated funds may be used for 
technical assistance, oversight, and administrative purposes.
    Subsection (c) authorizes $5 million annually for the 
competitive grant program described in section 12.
    Subsection (d) requires the recipient of any grant made 
under this Act to provide, through non-Federal sources, an 
amount equal to the Federal grant. The non-Federal contribution 
may include in-kind contributions of goods and services.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

                                                    August 2, 2007.
Hon. Jeff Bingaman,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 278, the National 
Heritage Areas Partnership Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Leigh Angres.
            Sincerely,
                                                  Peter R. Orszag. 
    Enclosure.

S. 278--National Heritage Areas Partnership Act

    S. 278 would provide a framework for establishing new 
national heritage areas (NHAs); however, none of the activities 
that would be governed by the bill could be carried out without 
further authorizing legislation. Congressional action would be 
required to authorize both the first step in the process to 
establish a national heritage area, a feasibility study, and 
the final step, a formal NHA designation. As a result, CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 278--by itself--would have no effect 
on the federal budget.
    This legislation 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 the bill, once a feasibility study of a potential NHA 
has been authorized by the Congress, the National Park System 
would either conduct the study itself or allow one to be 
undertaken by an interested local entity. Completed and 
assessed studies would then be submitted to the Congress. If 
legislation to designate the NHA is enacted and funds are made 
available, the chosen local coordinating entity for the area 
would have three years to submit a general management plan to 
the Secretary of the Interior for approval. Under the bill, 
once an NHA is created, the Secretary of the Interior must 
submit a report to the Congress evaluating the NHA and assess 
the progress of the local coordinating entity in meeting the 
goals of the management plan.
    The bill would set a ceiling for future specific 
authorizations of appropriations of $750,000 a year for NHA 
feasibility studies (no more than $250,000 annually could be 
used for any individual NHA study). It would also limit--to $25 
million annually--future authorizations for financial and 
technical assistance to local coordinating entities; no more 
than $1 million could be used for any individual NHA. Such 
funds (up to $10 million per NHA over a 15-year period) would 
be used to develop and implement management plans and 
administer a national heritage area.
    The Secretary could award grants for individual projects at 
NHAs when funding to local coordinating entities has been 
terminated 15 years after the initial receipt of financial 
assistance. In such an instance, a local coordinating entity 
could receive a maximum of $250,000 for all projects in any 
fiscal year and would be required to provide matching funds 
equal to the amount of the grant. The bill would establish a 
ceiling for such grants of $5 million for each fiscal year.
    Because the authority to appropriate funds under S. 278 
would depend on subsequent acts of the Congress to authorize 
feasibility studies and designate specific new NHAs, CBO 
estimates that enacting this legislation alone would have no 
effect on the federal budget.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Deborah Reis 
and Leigh Angres. The 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. 278. 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. 278, as ordered reported.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    Because S. 278 is similar to legislation considered during 
the 109th and 108th Congresses, the Committee did not request 
Executive Agency views on S. 278. The testimony provided by the 
Department of the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 
2543 in the 108th Congress follows:

 Statement of A. Durand Jones, Deputy Director, National Park Service, 
                       Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, it is my 
pleasure to appear before you today to testify on behalf of the 
Department of the Interior on S. 2543, the National Heritage 
Partnership Act. The Department strongly supports this bill, 
but has a few concerns about some of the provisions.
    The Department strongly supports legislation to establish a 
national heritage areas program. We would like to thank 
Chairman Thomas for his leadership over the last year in 
evaluating programmatic issues, identifying areas for 
legislative action, and introducing this bill based on the 
Administration's legislative proposal. This legislation was 
developed through a yearlong process of Congressional oversight 
hearings, outside evaluations of the program (such as the March 
2004 report by the General Accounting Office) and meetings 
among many of the groups interested in this issue.
    S. 2543 provides a much-needed framework for evaluating 
proposed national heritage area designations, offers guidelines 
for successful planning, clarifies the roles and 
responsibilities of all parties, and standardizes timeframes 
and funding for designated areas.
    The Department supports the national heritage areas 
approach to resource conservation through partnerships with 
communities. National heritage areas are intended to preserve 
nationally important natural, cultural, historic, and 
recreational resources through the creation of partnerships 
among Federal, State and local entities. National heritage 
areas are locally driven, initiated and managed by the people 
who live there and do not impose Federal zoning, land use 
controls nor do they require land acquisition. At its best, the 
collaborative approach of this program embodies Secretary of 
the Interior Gale Norton's ``Four Cs''--Communication, 
Consultation and Cooperation, all in the service of 
Conservation.
    S. 2543 supports a conservation strategy that recognizes 
that the people who live in a heritage area are uniquely 
qualified to preserve it. Being designated as a national 
heritage area can benefit visitors, community residents, 
existing National Park units located in the area, and other 
Federal lands by expanding the opportunity to interpret and 
protect resources over a larger landscape and by telling our 
shared national story.
    There are three provisions in S. 2543 that we wish to 
discuss in more detail and to offer suggestions for 
improvements.


                        criteria for evaluation


    The standards for evaluating areas proposed for national 
designation are an essential element in establishing a national 
heritage areas program. While many places in this nation have 
special meaning to the people that live there, for many places 
designation as a State or local heritage area may be most 
appropriate. The National Park Service should be the lead 
partner only when the resources within a proposed heritage area 
are of national importance.
    The Department has some concerns about the use of the term 
``national significance'' and the definition provided in S. 
2543. We recommend replacing the term ``national significance'' 
with the term ``national importance'' to avoid confusion. The 
National Park Service specifically uses the term ``national 
significance'' in suitability and feasibility studies for new 
National Park System units. For this reason, the term 
``national importance'' has been informally used by the 
National Park Service to describe the assessment of national 
heritage area resources.
    In addition, having a concise, appropriate, and practical 
definition for ``national significance'' or ``national 
importance'' is critical. We would suggest a revised definition 
as applied in practice to existing and proposed national 
heritage areas:

          The term ``National Importance'' is ascribed to a 
        proposed heritage area that illustrates major historic, 
        cultural, natural or social themes important to the 
        history of the United States and contains resources 
        that are outstanding examples of natural and cultural 
        features that contribute to the theme, and which 
        possess a high degree of integrity, and are compatible 
        with continued community development, public enjoyment, 
        and use.


                     suitability/feasibility study


    The Department believes that a study should be required for 
every proposed national heritage area and the study should be 
evaluated against legislatively established criteria before 
designation. S. 2543 requires that such a study be prepared 
that demonstrates evidence of place-based resources that tell a 
nationally significant story, which has the support and 
involvement of the local community. This requirement has been 
field-tested and has been shown to increase the future success 
of the heritage area.
    The Department recommends a modification to the terminology 
used for studies. In order to be consistent with terminology 
used in past study and designation bills for national heritage 
areas, we recommend that the studies be called ``feasibility 
studies'' instead of ``suitability/feasibility studies.'' This 
would also lessen any confusion with studies for new units of 
the National Park System that are called suitability and 
feasibility studies. We recommend that this change in 
terminology be used throughout the bill when referring to these 
studies.


                         funding and timeframes


    When the first national heritage corridors were designated 
twenty years ago, a Federal commission provided management for 
the areas and the National Park Service provided most of the 
staff. The national heritage corridor or area was conceived as 
a less expensive alternative to the acquisition and operation 
costs of creating a new unit of the National Park System. These 
areas were originally authorized for five years with a five-
year extension; over time, the corridors have been reauthorized 
for additional periods.
    For the 18 national heritage areas established after 1995, 
the National Park Service encouraged management with greater 
involvement by local entities as a more cost-effective use of 
Federal resources. Most of these newer areas are managed by a 
non-profit entity or a State government and include a funding 
formula of not more than $10 million Federal dollars over a 
fifteen-year period. Our legislative proposal recommends 
codifying this approach and for the first time requires that a 
business plan be developed as part of the management planning 
for proposed new areas. This would ensure that from the 
beginning, national heritage areas are working towards and have 
an established plan for self-sufficiency. So far, no existing 
area has ``graduated'' from the program, even after 20 years 
and in some cases, and nearly $100 million invested overall. 
For this reason, we recognize the need to work with existing 
areas to assist them in a transition strategy as they reach the 
end of their funding authorization. As areas become self-
sufficient, available resources could be reallocated to newly 
designated areas or other priorities.
    The Department is concerned with the new provision in 
section 9 of S. 2543 that caps the heritage areas program at 
$15 million per year. The Administration did not propose a cap 
on the program because we believe it is more appropriate to cap 
the amount of appropriations each area is authorized to 
receive, and to limit the authorized period for appropriations. 
Currently, there are 15 new national heritage areas pending for 
designation in Congress. In addition, there are 24 designated 
national heritage areas, many of which are authorized to 
receive appropriations of $1 million per year. However, we 
would expect to allocate funding among these areas within the 
levels of funds appropriated, which might require providing 
less than the individual authorized ceilings in some instances.


                               conclusion


    Recent studies and our own experiences have shown that the 
national heritage area approach links people and place, nature 
and culture, and the present with the past. National heritage 
areas capitalize on the unique role local communities play in 
preserving their heritage and telling their stories. S. 2543 
respects these principles. It assigns the appropriate roles and 
responsibilities to the key partners that must work together to 
make the program successful. It also recognizes the need to 
target our assistance to those areas where there is a national 
interest and where the local partners meet established criteria 
for success. We look forward to working with the committee to 
enact this important legislation.
    This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be pleased to 
answer any questions you or other 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 bill S. 278, as ordered 
reported.