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113th Congress }                                      { Rept. 113-712
                       
2d Session     }        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES      {        Part 1

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


 
 TO EXTEND THE AUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHLANDS CONSERVATION ACT THROUGH 
                            FISCAL YEAR 2024

                                _______
                                

 December 22, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 712]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 712) to extend the authorization of the 
Highlands Conservation Act through fiscal year 2024, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:

SECTION 1. EXTENSION OF HIGHLANDS CONSERVATION ACT.

  (a) Extension of Land Conservation Projects in the Highlands 
Region.--Section 4(e) of the Highlands Conservation Act (Public Law 
108-421; 118 Stat. 2377) is amended by striking ``2014'' and inserting 
``2021''.
  (b) Extension of Forest Service and USDA Programs in the Highlands 
Region.--Section 5(c) of the Highlands Conservation Act (Public Law 
108-421; 118 Stat. 2378) is amended by striking ``2014'' and inserting 
``2021''.
    Amend the title so as to read:
    A bill to extend the authorization of the Highlands 
Conservation Act.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 712, as amended, is to extend the 
authorization of the Highlands Conservation Act.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The Northeastern Highlands is a geographic region that 
encompasses over two million acres stretching from western 
Connecticut across the Lower Hudson River Valley and northern 
New Jersey into east central Pennsylvania. About 1.4 million 
people live in the Highlands region, which is adjacent to one 
of the most populous metropolitan regions of the nation, and is 
the source of the region's drinking water. H.R. 712 
reauthorizes the Secretary of the Interior to work in 
partnership with the Secretary of Agriculture to provide 
financial assistance to preserve and protect high priority 
conservation lands in the Highlands region. The purpose of the 
Highlands Conservation Act is to promote conservation of 
natural resources and conservation lands as identified in the 
U.S. Forest Service's update of the New York--New Jersey 
Highlands Regional Study and state open space plans. H.R. 712 
does not authorize or fund federal land acquisition.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 712 was introduced on February 14, 2013, by 
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). The bill was referred 
to the Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee 
to the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental 
Regulation. The bill was also referred to the Committee on 
Agriculture. On February 26, 2014, the Subcommittee held a 
hearing on the bill. On September 18, 2014, the Full Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee 
on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation was discharged by 
unanimous consent. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) offered an 
amendment designated #1 to the bill; the amendment was adopted 
by unanimous consent. The bill, as amended, was then adopted 
and ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by unanimous consent.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    Compliance With House Rule XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 712--A bill to extend the authorization of the Highlands 
        Conservation Act

    Summary: H.R. 712 would authorize the appropriation of $11 
million a year over the 2015-2021 period to carry out 
activities to conserve land and natural resources in four 
northeastern states. Assuming appropriation of the authorized 
amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would 
cost $51 million over the 2015-2019 period and $26 million 
after 2019. Because enacting the bill would not affect direct 
spending or revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 712 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA); 
any costs incurred by state, local, or tribal governments, 
including matching contributions, would result from 
participation in a voluntary federal program.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effects of H.R. 712 are shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                               -----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                         2015-
                                                   2015       2016       2017       2018       2019       2019
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Authorization Level...........................         11         11         11         11         11         55
Estimated Outlays.............................          8         10         11         11         11         51
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that the 
legislation will be enacted late in calendar year 2014 and that 
the authorized amounts will be appropriated for each fiscal 
year. Estimated outlays are based on historical spending 
patterns for similar activities.
    H.R. 712 would reauthorize the Highlands Conservation Act, 
which allows the federal government to fund activities to 
conserve land and natural resources in certain parts of 
Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The bill 
would authorize the appropriation of $10 million a year through 
2021 to assist those states in acquiring private lands for 
conservation purposes and $1 million a year over that period 
for the Forest Service to provide technical assistance to the 
affected states. In 2014, the Congress did not appropriate 
funds to carry out activities under the Highlands Conservation 
Act. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 712 would cost $51 
million over the 2015-2019 period and $26 million after 2019, 
assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 712 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA; any costs incurred by state, local, or tribal 
governments, including matching contributions, would result 
from participation in a voluntary federal program.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Jeff LaFave; Impact on 
State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Jon Sperl; Impact on the 
Private Sector: Amy Petz.
    Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new credit 
authority, spending authority or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures. H.R. 712 would authorize the 
appropriation of $11 million a year over the 2015-2021 period 
to carry out activities to conserve land and natural resources 
in four northeastern states. Assuming appropriation of the 
authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the 
legislation would cost $51 million over the 2015-2019 period 
and $26 million after 2019.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill, as amended, is to extend the 
authorization of the Highlands Conservation Act.

                           Earmark Statement

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    Compliance With Public Law 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       Compliance With H. Res. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                Preemption of State, Local or Tribal Law

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

HIGHLANDS CONSERVATION ACT

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 4. LAND CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROJECTS IN THE HIGHLANDS REGION.

  (a) Submission of Proposed Projects.--Each year, the 
governors of the Highlands States, with input from pertinent 
units of local government and the public, may--
          (1) jointly identify land conservation partnership 
        projects in the Highlands region from land identified 
        as having high conservation values in the Study, the 
        Update, or the Pennsylvania and Connecticut Update that 
        shall be proposed for Federal financial assistance; and
          (2) submit a list of those projects to the Secretary 
        of the Interior.
  (b) Consideration of Projects.--Each year, the Secretary of 
the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of 
Agriculture, shall submit to Congress a list of the land 
conservation partnership projects submitted under subsection 
(a)(2) that are eligible to receive financial assistance under 
this section.
  (c) Eligibility Conditions.--To be eligible for financial 
assistance under this section for a land conservation 
partnership project, a non-Federal entity shall enter into an 
agreement with the Secretary of the Interior that--
          (1) identifies the non-Federal entity that shall own 
        or hold and manage the land or interest in land;
          (2) identifies the source of funds to provide the 
        non-Federal share under subsection (d);
          (3) describes the management objectives for the land 
        that will ensure permanent protection and use of the 
        land for the purpose for which the assistance will be 
        provided;
          (4) provides that, if the non-Federal entity 
        converts, uses, or disposes of the land conservation 
        partnership project for a purpose inconsistent with the 
        purpose for which the assistance was provided, as 
        determined by the Secretary of the Interior, the United 
        States--
                  (A) may seek specific performance of the 
                conditions of financial assistance in 
                accordance with paragraph (3) in Federal court; 
                and
                  (B) shall be entitled to reimbursement from 
                the non-Federal entity in an amount that is, as 
                determined at the time of conversion, use, or 
                disposal, the greater of--
                          (i) the total amount of the financial 
                        assistance provided for the project by 
                        the Federal Government under this 
                        section; or
                          (ii) the amount by which the 
                        financial assistance increased the 
                        value of the land or interest in land; 
                        and
          (5) provides that land conservation partnership 
        projects will be consistent with areas identified as 
        having high conservation value in--
                  (A) the Important Areas portion of the Study;
                  (B) the Conservation Focal Areas portion of 
                the Update;
                  (C) the Conservation Priorities portion of 
                the Update;
                  (D) land identified as having higher or 
                highest resource value in the Conservation 
                Values Assessment portion of the Update; and
                  (E) land identified as having high 
                conservation value in the Pennsylvania and 
                Connecticut Update.
  (d) Non-Federal Share Requirement.--The Federal share of the 
cost of carrying out a land conservation partnership project 
under this section shall not exceed 50 percent of the total 
cost of the land conservation partnership project.
  (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to 
be appropriated to the Secretary of the Interior $10,000,000 
for each of fiscal years 2005 through [2014] 2021, to remain 
available until expended.

SEC. 5. FOREST SERVICE AND USDA PROGRAMS IN THE HIGHLANDS REGION.

  (a) In General.--To meet the land resource goals of, and the 
scientific and conservation challenges identified in, the 
Study, Update, and any future study that the Forest Service may 
undertake in the Highlands region, the Secretary of 
Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service and 
in consultation with the Chief of the National Resources 
Conservation Service, shall continue to assist the Highlands 
States, local units of government, and private forest and farm 
landowners in the conservation of land and natural resources in 
the Highlands region.
  (b) Duties.--The Forest Service shall--
          (1) in consultation with the Highlands States, 
        undertake other studies and research in the Highlands 
        region consistent with the purposes of this Act, 
        including a Pennsylvania and Connecticut Update;
          (2) communicate the findings of the Study and Update 
        and maintain a public dialogue regarding implementation 
        of the Study and Update; and
          (3) assist the Highland States, local units of 
        government, individual landowners, and private 
        organizations in identifying and using Forest Service 
        and other technical and financial assistance programs 
        of the Department of Agriculture.
  (c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to 
be appropriated to the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out 
this section $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2005 through 
[2014] 2021.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *