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H.R. 1675 (rh) To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 [Reported in House] ...
104th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 1675 _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES April 25, 1996 Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works _______________________________________________________________________ AN ACT To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to improve the management of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES. (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1996''. (b) References.--Whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or provision of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.). SEC. 2. FINDINGS. (a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following: (1) The National Wildlife Refuge System is comprised of over 91,000,000 acres of Federal lands that have been incorporated within 508 individual units located in all 50 States and our territories. (2) The System was created to conserve fish, wildlife, and other habitats and this conservation mission has been facilitated by providing Americans opportunities to participate in wildlife-dependent recreation, including fishing and hunting, on System lands and to better appreciate the value of and need for fish and wildlife conservation. (3) The System is comprised of lands purchased not only through the use of tax dollars but also through the sale of Duck Stamps and refuge entrance fees. It is a System paid for by those utilizing it. (4) On March 25, 1996, the President issued Executive Order 12996 which recognized ``wildlife-dependent recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation as priority general public uses of the Refuge System''. (5) Executive Order 12996 is a positive step in the right direction and will serve as the foundation for the permanent statutory changes made by this Act. SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS. (a) In General.--Section 5 (16 U.S.C. 668ee)-- (1) is redesignated as section 4; and (2) as so redesignated is amended to read as follows: ``SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS. ``For purposes of this Act: ``(1) The term `compatible use' means a use that will not materially interfere with or detract from the fulfillment of the purposes of a refuge or the overall mission and purposes of the System specified in sections 4(a)(2) and (3), respectively, as determined by sound resource management, and based on reliable scientific information. ``(2) The terms `conserving', `conservation', `manage', `managing', and `management', when used with respect to fish and wildlife, mean to use, in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws, methods and procedures associated with modern scientific resource programs including protection, research, census, law enforcement, habitat management, propagation, live trapping and transplantation, and regulated taking. ``(3) The term `Coordination Area' means a wildlife management area that is acquired by the Federal Government and subsequently made available to a State-- ``(A) by cooperative agreement between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the State fish and game agency pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-666c); or ``(B) by long-term leases or agreements pursuant to the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (50 Stat. 525; 7 U.S.C. 1010 et seq.). ``(4) The term `Director' means the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. ``(5) The terms `fish', `wildlife', and `fish and wildlife' mean any wild member of the animal kingdom whether alive or dead, and regardless of whether the member was bred, hatched, or born in captivity, including a part, product, egg, or offspring of the member. ``(6) The term `hunt' and `hunting' do not include any taking of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) or its eggs. ``(7) The term `person' means any individual, partnership, corporation or association. ``(8) The term `plant' means any member of the plant kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, including any plant community, seed, root, or other part of a plant. ``(9) The terms `purposes of the refuge' and `purposes of each refuge' mean the purposes specified in or derived from the law, proclamation, executive order, agreement, public land order, donation document, or administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, or expanding a refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit. ``(10) The term `refuge' means a designated area of land, water, or an interest in land or water within the System, but does not include navigational servitudes, or Coordination Areas. ``(11) The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior. ``(12) The terms `State' and `United States' mean the several States of the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the insular possessions of the United States. ``(13) The term `System' means the National Wildlife Refuge System designated under section 4(a)(1). ``(14) The terms `take', `taking', or `taken' mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill, or to attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill.''. (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 4 (16 U.S.C. 668dd) is amended by striking ``Secretary of the Interior'' each place it appears and inserting ``Secretary''. SEC. 4. MISSION AND PURPOSES OF THE SYSTEM. Section 4(a) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)) is amended-- (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively; (2) in clause (i) of paragraph (6) (as so redesignated), by striking ``paragraph (2)'' and inserting ``paragraph (5)''; and (3) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraphs: ``(2) The overall mission of the System is to conserve and manage fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats within the System for the benefit of present and future generations of the people of the United States. ``(3) The purposes of the System are-- ``(A) to provide a national network of lands and waters designed to conserve and manage fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats; ``(B) to conserve, manage, and where appropriate restore fish and wildlife populations, plant communities, and refuge habitats within the System; ``(C) to conserve and manage migratory birds, anadromous or interjurisdictional fish species, and marine mammals within the System; ``(D) to provide opportunities for compatible uses of refuges consisting of fish- and wildlife-dependent recreation, including fishing and hunting, wildlife observation, and environmental education; ``(E) to preserve, restore, and recover fish, wildlife, and plants within the System that are listed or are candidates for threatened species or endangered species under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the habitats on which these species depend; and ``(F) to fulfill as appropriate international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats.''. SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION OF THE SYSTEM. (a) Administration, Generally.--Section 4(a) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)) (as amended by section 3 of this Act) is further amended by inserting after new paragraph (3) the following new paragraph: ``(4) In administering the System, the Secretary shall-- ``(A) ensure that the mission and purposes of the System described in paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively, and the purposes of each refuge are carried out, except that if a conflict exists between the purposes of a refuge and any purpose of the System, the conflict shall be resolved in a manner that first protects the purposes of the refuge, and, to the extent practicable, that also achieves the purposes of the System; ``(B) provide for conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats within the System; ``(C) ensure effective coordination, interaction, and cooperation with owners of land adjoining refuges and the fish and wildlife agency of the States in which the units of the System are located; ``(D) assist in the maintenance of adequate water quantity and water quality to fulfill the purposes of the System and the purposes of each refuge; ``(E) acquire under State law through purchase, exchange, or donation water rights that are needed for refuge purposes; ``(F) plan, propose, and direct appropriate expansion of the System in the manner that is best designed to accomplish the purposes of the System and the purposes of each refuge and to complement efforts of States and other Federal agencies to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats; ``(G) recognize compatible uses of refuges consisting of wildlife-dependent recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation as priority general public uses of the System through which the American public can develop an appreciation for fish and wildlife; ``(H) provide expanded opportunities for these priority public uses within the System when they are compatible and consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management; ``(I) ensure that such priority public uses receive enhanced attention in planning and management within the System; ``(J) provide increased opportunities for families to experience wildlife-dependent recreation, particularly opportunities for parents and their children to safely engage in traditional outdoor activities, such as fishing and hunting; ``(K) ensure that the biological integrity and environmental health of the System is maintained for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans; ``(L) continue, consistent with existing laws and interagency agreements, authorized or permitted uses of units of the System by other Federal agencies, including those necessary to facilitate military preparedness; ``(M) plan and direct the continued growth of the System in a manner that is best designed to accomplish the mission of the System, to contribute to the conservation of the ecosystems of the United States, and to increase support for the System and participation from conservation partners and the public; ``(N) ensure timely and effective cooperation and collaboration with Federal agencies and State fish and wildlife agencies during the course of acquiring and managing refuges; ``(O) ensure appropriate public involvement opportunities will be provided in conjunction with refuge planning and management activities; and ``(P) identify, prior to acquisition, existing wildlife- dependent compatible uses of new refuge lands that shall be permitted to continue on an interim basis pending completion of comprehensive planning.''. (b) Powers.--Section 4(b) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(b)) is amended-- (1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1) by striking ``authorized--'' and inserting ``authorized to take the following actions:''; (2) in paragraph (1) by striking ``to enter'' and inserting ``Enter''; (3) in paragraph (2)-- (A) by striking ``to accept'' and inserting ``Accept''; and (B) by striking ``, and'' and inserting a period; (4) in paragraph (3) by striking ``to acquire'' and inserting ``Acquire''; and (5) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: ``(4) Subject to standards established by and the overall management oversight of the Director, and consistent with standards established by this Act, enter into cooperative agreements with State fish and wildlife agencies and other entities for the management of programs on, or parts of, a refuge.''. SEC. 6. COMPATIBILITY STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES. Section 4(d) (16 U.S.C. 668dd(d)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph: ``(3)(A)(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), on and after the date that is 3 years after the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1996, the Secretary shall not initiate or permit a new use of a refuge or expand, renew, or extend an existing use of a refuge, unless the Secretary has determined that the use is a compatible use. ``(ii) On lands added to the System after the date of the enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1996, any existing fish or wildlife-dependent use of a refuge, including fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and environmental education, shall be permitted to continue on an interim basis unless the Secretary determines that the use is not a compatible use. ``(iii) The Secretary shall permit fishing and hunting on a refuge if the Secretary determines that the activities are consistent with the principles of sound fish and wildlife management, are compatible uses (consistent with the purposes of the System under subsection (a)(3)), and are consistent with public safety. No other determinations or findings, except the determination of consistency with State laws and regulations provided for in subsection (m), are required to be made for fishing and hunting to occur. The Secretary may make the determination referred to in this paragraph for a refuge concurrently with the development of a conservation plan for the refuge under subsection (e). ``(iv) A new use of a Coordination Area first made available to a State after the date of enactment of the
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