Home > 104th Congressional Bills > H.R. 1675 (rh) To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 [Reported in House] ...

H.R. 1675 (rh) To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 [Reported in House] ...


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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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