A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The conference agreement includes the following legislative riders:
BLM Grazing Permit Renewals. The conferees adopted the Senate version of the bill that requires the renewal by the BLM of grazing permits and leases expiring in 2001 until the Secretary completes processing of the permit or lease. The House version of the bill had provided that temporary renewal of grazing permits undergoing environmental compliance was discretionary with the Secretary.
Hardrock Mining/3809 Regulations. The conference agreement continues last year's requirement that new hardrock mining rules be "not inconsistent with" the National Research Council Report on "Hardrock Mining on Federal Lands". Report language states that the conference committee does not agree with a December 8, 1999 Solicitor's opinion interpreting last year's provision.
Reallocation of Alaska Tribes TPA. The Senate bill contained a provision that required TPA funds for Tribes in Alaska with less than 25 members to be provided to an Alaska Native Regional Corporation instead of directly to the Tribe. The conference agreement continues this provision, with changes to make clear that small tribes are to have no say in use of TPA funds that they would otherwise receive.
Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP). The bill contains a provision requiring the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to bring the ICBEMP analysis into conformance with NEPA's requirements regarding "new circumstances or information" that have developed from the impact of this year's fires on the ecosystem, before completing a Record of Decision. The House version of the bill contained a provision prohibiting the use of funds to implement the final record of decision for the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project unless BLM and the Forest Service comply with rulemaking procedures under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Prohibition on Establishing Kankakee NWR (IL). The conferees included language in the House version of the bill that continues last year's provision limiting establishment of the Kankakee refuge in Indiana that is inconsistent with the Corps of Engineer's efforts to control flooding and siltation in that area.
Linear Rights-of-Way. The bill includes a provision that prevents the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service from issuing a rule that would permit collecting fair market value when granting right-of-way requests for fiber optic cable.
Prohibition on Closure of Backcountry Landing Strips. The bill includes a provision prohibiting the permanent closure of landing strips "officially recognized" by State or Federal officials without consulting with State and Federal aviation officials and obtaining approval from the FAA, where authorized.
Nye County Land Conveyance. The bill amends the Nye County, Nevada, land transfer provision of last year's Omnibus bill to allow the land to be transferred to the County for eventual conveyance to a nonprofit entity that will manage the conveyed land.
The conference agreement contains several other legislative provisions that appeared in last year's Interior and Related Agencies Act, including provisions relating to: lead mining in the Mark Twain National Forest; use of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City , Kansas; a fee to trust acquisition for the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Clark County, Washington; and a limitation on the Secretarial Order concerning the ESA and tribal treaty rights.
The conference agreement includes a number of authorizing provisions, including the following:
Rec Fee Demo Program. Continues the recreation fee demonstration program for an additional year, through the end of FY 2002.
Umpqua Land Exchange. Funds the Umpqua Land Exchange Project in Oregon at $4.3 million and requires developed of an Umpqua land exchange plan.
The First Ladies National Historic Site Act of 2000. Establishes the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio.
Abraham Lincoln Interpretative Center. Authorizes $50 million in grants for establishment of an Abraham Lincoln interpretative center in Springfield, Illinois.
Palace of the Governors Annex Act. Authorizes grants of $15 million to assist construction of an annex to the Museum of New Mexico in Sante Fe.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission. Extends the authorization for the Commission for 10 years.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Act. Authorizes grants to support establishment of a National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tribal School Construction Demonstration Program. Authorizes 50 percent grants to tribally controlled schools to support construction of new facilities.
Wheeling National Heritage Area Act of 2000. Authorizes the Wheeling, West Virginia, National Heritage Area.
Cuyahoga. The name of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area is changed to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Blue Ridge Parkway. The park headquarters building at Hemphill Knob is named for Gary E. Everhardt, the longtime parkway superintendent and one-time Director of the National Park Service.
Chincoteague NWR. The visitors center is designated as the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center to honor recently deceased Representative Herbert Bateman.
Not included in the conference bill are several legislative provisions included in the House or Senate versions of the Interior bill or in the initial conference agreement.
Snake River Dams. The final agreement does not contain a provision added in conference that prohibited removal or breaching on day dam in the Federal Columbia River power system, as well as engineering or designing removal of any dam in the system or studying methods of mitigating the economic or cultural impact of the removal or breach of any such dam.
Indian Gaming. The final agreement drops a Senate-passed provision prohibiting the publication by the Secretary of class III gaming procedures to resolve State-Tribal disputes during 2001.
Tribal Contracting and Compacting. A House-passed moratorium on 638 contracting and compacting was dropped.
Prescribed Fire. A House floor amendment prohibiting the Interior Department and the Forest Service from changing the prescribed burn provisions of the 1995 Federal Wildfire policy was dropped.