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                                                     Calendar No. 689
115th Congress       }                        {              Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session          }                        {               115-405

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



 
      RIO PUERCO WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                December 4, 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Ms. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2249]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 2249) to permanently reauthorize the Rio 
Puerco Management Committee and the Rio Puerco Watershed 
Management Program, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute and an amendment to the title and recommends that 
the bill, as amended, do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    1. Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Rio Puerco Watershed 
Management Program Reauthorization Act''.

SEC. 2. REAUTHORIZATION OF THE RIO PUERCO MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE.

    Section 401(b)(4) of division I of the Omnibus Parks and 
Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-333; 110 
Stat. 4147; 123 Stat. 1108) is amended by striking ``the 
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009'' and inserting 
``the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization 
Act''.

SEC. 3. REAUTHORIZATION OF THE RIO PUERCO WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.

    Section 401(e) of division I of the Omnibus Parks and 
Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-333; 110 
Stat. 4148; 123 Stat. 1108) is amended by striking ``the 
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009'' and inserting 
``the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization 
Act''.

    2. Amend the title so as to read:

    ``A bill to reauthorize the Rio Puerco Management Committee 
and the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program.''.

                                Purpose

    The purpose of S. 2249 is to reauthorize the Rio Puerco 
Management Committee and the Rio Puerco Watershed Management 
Program.

                          Background and Need

    The 4.7 million-acre Rio Puerco watershed drains portions 
of seven counties in west-central New Mexico, and is the 
largest tributary to the Middle Rio Grande. Past land uses and 
natural phenomena have resulted in accelerated erosion and 
stream channelization in the watershed, leading the Rio Puerco 
to have one of the highest annual sediment loads in the world. 
Transportation and deposition of this sediment into the Rio 
Grande system causes water quality deterioration, increased 
sedimentation of water supply reservoirs, lost agricultural 
productivity, and a variety of other impacts.
    In 1996, the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act 
(Public Law 104-333) directed the establishment of a Rio Puerco 
Watershed Management Program (Program) to collect and inventory 
best practices, establish goals and objectives for the 
watershed, and promote collaborative efforts involving Federal 
and State agencies, Tribes, non-profits, and local citizens.
    Public Law 104-333 also established the Rio Puerco 
Management Committee (Committee) to advise the Bureau of Land 
Management and develop and implement best management practices. 
Committee membership consists of representatives from Tribes 
and pueblos, a number of Federal agencies, the State of New 
Mexico, local soil and water conservation districts, the 
Elephant Butte Irrigation District, and private landowners. A 
variety of projects designed to reduce sediment and erosion, 
improve vegetation and habitat, and promote public awareness 
and participation have been developed and continue to be 
implemented by the Program and the Committee.
    Both the Program and the Committee were reauthorized for 10 
years by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public 
Law 111-11). Those authorizations will expire on March 30, 
2019. S. 2249 extends the authorizations for the continuation 
of the Program and the Committee for an additional 10 years.

                          Legislative History

    S. 2249 was introduced by Senators Udall and Heinrich on 
December 19, 2017. The Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, 
and Mining held a hearing on the bill on February 7, 2018.
    Representative Lujan introduced similar legislation, H.R. 
4968, in the House of Representatives on February 7, 2018.
    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources met in 
an open business session on October 2, 2018, and ordered S. 
2249 favorably reported, as amended.

                        Committee Recommendation

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on October 2, 2018, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
2249, if amended as described herein. Senator Risch asked to be 
recorded as voting no.

                          Committee Amendment

    During its consideration of S. 2249, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute and an amendment to 
the title. The substitute amendment replaced the permanent 
reauthorization of the Committee and Program with a 10-year 
reauthorization. The amendment also modified the authorization 
amount.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Sec. 1. Short title

    Section 1 sets forth the short title.

Sec. 2. Reauthorization of the Rio Puerco Management Committee

    Section 2 amends section 401(b)(4) of division I of the 
Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (Public 
Law 104-333) to authorize the Committee for 10 years from the 
Act's enactment.

Sec. 3. Reauthorization of the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program

    Section 3 amends section 401(e) of division I of the 
Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (Public 
Law 104-333) to authorize appropriations for the Program for 10 
years from the Act's enactment.

                   Cost and Budgetary Considerations

    The following estimate of the costs of this measure has 
been provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
    S. 2249 would reauthorize the Rio Puerco Management 
Committee (RPMC) for 10 years. The RPMC is a collaborative 
watershed organization, organized and funded by the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM) that works with state and local 
governments and other stakeholders to protect the 
sustainability of the Rio Puerco watershed in New Mexico. The 
committee's current authority expires at the end of fiscal year 
2019.
    The majority of funding for projects in the Rio Puerco 
watershed, including those for erosion and sediment control, 
has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and 
the New Mexico Environment Department. The most recent major 
projects concluded in 2010; S. 2249 would not affect funding 
for those projects. BLM covers the administrative costs of the 
RPMC, whose members meet several times each year. Over the past 
few years, those costs have totaled about $6,000 annually.
    CBO estimates that the RPMC's administrative costs will 
continue to total a few thousand dollars per year over the 
2019-2023 period; BLM does not foresee any significant new 
projects. Any spending would be subject to the availability of 
appropriated funds.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 2249 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    S. 2249 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jon Sperl. The 
estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 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. 2249. 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. 2249, as ordered reported.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    S. 2249 as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        Executive Communications

    The testimony provided by the Department of the Interior at 
the February 7, 2018, hearing on S. 2249 follows:

Statement of Brian Steed, Deputy Director for Policy & Programs, Bureau 
          of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior

    Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the 
Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 2249, the Rio 
Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization Act. The 
Rio Puerco Management Committee has been a historically 
important collaborative tool for supporting rural communities 
and traditional uses of the public lands. S. 2249 would 
permanently reauthorize the Rio Puerco Management Committee 
(RPMC) and the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program. The 
Department recommends that the RPMC be reauthorized for a 
limited ten-year period.
Background
    The Rio Puerco Watershed located in west central New Mexico 
contains the most significant tributary in the Middle Rio 
Grande Basin. Covering nearly 7,350 square miles, it includes 9 
sub-watersheds that drain into portions of 7 counties west of 
the Rio Grande. Over the past half century, the Rio Puerco 
Watershed has become severely degraded because of accelerated 
erosion and high sediment loads. According to the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers, soil erosion within this watershed 
surpasses that of any other watershed in the country.
    Established by the Omnibus Parks and Land Management Act of 
1996 (Public Law 104-333) and reauthorized in 2009, the RPMC is 
a collaborative organization convened and facilitated by the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that consists of State, 
Federal, and Tribal entities, soil and water conservation 
districts, representatives of county governments, residents 
from rural communities within the watershed, environmental and 
conservation groups, and the public. The purpose of the RPMC is 
to advise the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the 
BLM, on developing and implementing the Rio Puerco Management 
Program, also established by Public Law 104-333. As per the 
law, the Rio Puerco Management Program provides support to the 
RPMC as the RPMC collects data on the watershed, identifies 
best management practices, and monitors ongoing programs. 
Further, the RPMC acts as a forum for information about 
activities affecting the development and implementation of best 
management practices in the Rio Puerco Watershed.
    Since the creation of the RMPC in 1996, the BLM has 
partnered with the many local groups that comprise the RMPC on 
projects that have improved the overall health of the watershed 
and have supported, educated, and even employed members of the 
local rural community. For example, in cooperation with the New 
Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department, the RPMC 
engaged in restoration activities that redirected the Rio 
Puerco from its unstable, channelized path to a meandering, 
natural route. Through a grant provided by the New Mexico 
Environment Department, the RPMC worked with private landowners 
on erosion control, vegetation management, and grazing 
management projects to improve the water quality in two 
degraded tributaries of the Rio Puerco Watershed. Finally, the 
RPMC worked with chapters of the Eastern Navajo to train 
participants in a summer youth program to install structures 
that support grazing programs.
    These are just a few examples of the many projects that the 
RPMC has made possible in partnership with the local community, 
and Federal agencies like the BLM, in support of responsible 
multiple uses on the public lands, working landscapes, and 
traditional uses such as grazing. Although no new projects have 
been funded since 2013, the RPMC has continued to meet 
approximately quarterly for the last five years. In the absence 
of project funding, the committee's primary focus has turned to 
regaining participation and momentum for on-the-ground project 
work focused on watershed improvement.
S. 2249, Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization Act
    S. 2249 permanently reauthorizes the Rio Puerco Watershed 
Management Program and the RPMC. The bill also authorizes 
appropriations for fiscal year 2017 and each fiscal year 
thereafter. The RPMC was originally authorized for a ten-year 
period, and was reauthorized for an additional ten years in 
2009. The BLM recommends that the sponsor and the Subcommittee 
consider reauthorizing the committee for a limited ten-year 
period in this instance as well.
    The BLM has appreciated the opportunity to work closely 
with its partners in the local community on improving the 
health of the Rio Puerco watershed. Although projects 
undertaken by the Rio Puerco Watershed Committee have been 
funded primarily through appropriations in the past, the 
Department of the Interior is currently undertaking a review of 
grants and cooperative agreements with outside groups and 
agencies, and would like to carefully evaluate the work of the 
RPMC in the context of this review.
Conclusion
    Thank you again for the opportunity to testify on S. 2249, 
Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization Act. We 
appreciate the work of the sponsor on this legislation, and we 
look forward to collaborating with him and the Subcommittee as 
the bill moves through the legislative process.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 2249, 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):

         OMNIBUS PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS MANAGEMENT ACT OF 1996

Public Law 104-333, as amended by Public Law 111-11

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



DIVISION I

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                      TITLE IV--RIVERS AND TRAILS


SEC. 401. RIO PUERCO WATERSHED.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (b) Rio Puerco Management Committee.--
          (1) Establishment.--There is established the Rio 
        Puerco Management Committee (referred to in this 
        section as the ``Committee'').
          (2) Membership.--The Committee shall be convened by a 
        representative of the Bureau of Land Management and 
        shall include representatives from--
                  (A) the Rio Puerco Watershed Committee;
                  (B) affected tribes and pueblos;
                  (C) the National Forest Service of the 
                Department of Agriculture;
                  (D) the Bureau of Reclamation;
                  (E) the United States Geological Survey;
                  (F) the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
                  (G) the United States Fish and Wildlife 
                Service;
                  (H) the Army Corps of Engineers;
                  (I) the Environmental Protection Agency;
                  (J) the Natural Resources Conservation 
                Service of the Department of Agriculture;
                  (K) the State of New Mexico, including the 
                New Mexico Environment Department of the State 
                Engineer;
                  (L) affected local soil and water 
                conservation districts;
                  (M) the Elephant Butte Irrigation District;
                  (N) private landowners; and
                  (O) other interested citizens.
          (3) Duties.--The Rio Puerco Management Committee 
        shall--
                  (A) advise the Secretary of the Interior, 
                acting through the Director of the Bureau of 
                Land Management, on the development and 
                implementation of the Rio Puerco Management 
                Program described in subsection (a); and
                  (B) serve as a forum for information about 
                activities that may affect or further the 
                development and implementation of the best 
                management practices described in subsection 
                (a)
          (4) Termination.--The Committee shall terminate on 
        the date that is 10 years after the date of enactment 
        of the [Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009] the 
        Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization 
        Act.
    (c) Report.--Not later than the date that is 2 years after 
the date of enactment of this Act, and biennially thereafter, 
the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Rio 
Puerco Management Committee, shall transmit to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and to the Committee 
on Resources of the House of Representatives a report 
containing--
          (1) a summary of activities of the management program 
        under subsection (a); and
          (2) proposals for joint implementation efforts, 
        including funding recommendations.
    (d) Lower Rio Grande Habitat Study.--
          (1) In general.--The Secretary of the Interior, in 
        cooperation with appropriate State agencies, shall 
        conduct a study of the Rio Grande that--
                  (A) shall cover the distance from Caballo 
                Lake to Sunland Park, New Mexico; and
                  (B) may cover a greater distance.
          (2) Contents.--The study under paragraph (1) shall 
        include--(A) a survey of the current habitat conditions 
        of the river and its riparian environment;
                  (B) identification of the changes in 
                vegetation and habitat over the past 400 years 
                and the effect of the changes on the river and 
                riparian area; and
                  (C) an assessment of the feasibility, 
                benefits, and problems associated with 
                activities to prevent further habitat loss and 
                to restore habitat through reintroduction or 
                establishment of appropriate native plant 
                species.
          (3) Transmittal.--Not later than 3 years after the 
        date on which funds are made available to carry out 
        this section, the Secretary of the Interior shall 
        transmit the study under paragraph (1) to the Committee 
        on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and to 
        the Committee on Resources of the House of 
        Representatives.
    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized 
to be appropriated to carry out this section a total of 
$7,500,000 for the 10 fiscal years beginning after the date of 
enactment of the [Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009] 
Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program Reauthorization Act.

                                  [all]