Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 3388 (ih) To promote environmental restoration around the Lake Tahoe basin. [Introduced in House] ...

H.R. 3388 (ih) To promote environmental restoration around the Lake Tahoe basin. [Introduced in House] ...


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        H.R.3388

                       One Hundred Sixth Congress

                                 of the

                        United States of America


                          AT THE SECOND SESSION

           Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday,
             the twenty-fourth day of January, two thousand


                                 An Act


 
    To promote environmental restoration around the Lake Tahoe basin.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Lake Tahoe Restoration Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
        (1) Lake Tahoe, one of the largest, deepest, and clearest lakes 
    in the world, has a cobalt blue color, a unique alpine setting, and 
    remarkable water clarity, and is recognized nationally and 
    worldwide as a natural resource of special significance;
        (2) in addition to being a scenic and ecological treasure, Lake 
    Tahoe is one of the outstanding recreational resources of the 
    United States, offering skiing, water sports, biking, camping, and 
    hiking to millions of visitors each year, and contributing 
    significantly to the economies of California, Nevada, and the 
    United States;
        (3) the economy in the Lake Tahoe basin is dependent on the 
    protection and restoration of the natural beauty and recreation 
    opportunities in the area;
        (4) Lake Tahoe is in the midst of an environmental crisis; the 
    Lake's water clarity has declined from a visibility level of 105 
    feet in 1967 to only 70 feet in 1999, and scientific estimates 
    indicate that if the water quality at the Lake continues to 
    degrade, Lake Tahoe will lose its famous clarity in only 30 years;
        (5) sediment and algae-nourishing phosphorous and nitrogen 
    continue to flow into the Lake from a variety of sources, including 
    land erosion, fertilizers, air pollution, urban runoff, highway 
    drainage, streamside erosion, land disturbance, and ground water 
    flow;
        (6) methyl tertiary butyl ether--
            (A) has contaminated and closed more than one-third of the 
        wells in South Tahoe; and
            (B) is advancing on the Lake at a rate of approximately 9 
        feet per day;
        (7) destruction of wetlands, wet meadows, and stream zone 
    habitat has compromised the Lake's ability to cleanse itself of 
    pollutants;
        (8) approximately 40 percent of the trees in the Lake Tahoe 
    basin are either dead or dying, and the increased quantity of 
    combustible forest fuels has significantly increased the risk of 
    catastrophic forest fire in the Lake Tahoe basin;
        (9) as the largest land manager in the Lake Tahoe basin, with 
    77 percent of the land, the Federal Government has a unique 
    responsibility for restoring environmental health to Lake Tahoe;
        (10) the Federal Government has a long history of environmental 
    preservation at Lake Tahoe, including--
            (A) congressional consent to the establishment of the Tahoe 
        Regional Planning Agency in 1969 (Public Law 91-148; 83 Stat. 
        360) and in 1980 (Public Law 96-551; 94 Stat. 3233);
            (B) the establishment of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management 
        Unit in 1973; and
            (C) the enactment of Public Law 96-586 (94 Stat. 3381) in 
        1980 to provide for the acquisition of environmentally 
        sensitive land and erosion control grants;
        (11) the President renewed the Federal Government's commitment 
    to Lake Tahoe in 1997 at the Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, when he 
    committed to increased Federal resources for environmental 
    restoration at Lake Tahoe and established the Federal Interagency 
    Partnership and Federal Advisory Committee to consult on natural 
    resources issues concerning the Lake Tahoe basin;
        (12) the States of California and Nevada have contributed 
    proportionally to the effort to protect and restore Lake Tahoe, 
    including--
            (A) expenditures--
                (i) exceeding $200,000,000 by the State of California 
            since 1980 for land acquisition, erosion control, and other 
            environmental projects in the Lake Tahoe basin; and
                (ii) exceeding $30,000,000 by the State of Nevada since 
            1980 for the purposes described in clause (i); and
            (B) the approval of a bond issue by voters in the State of 
        Nevada authorizing the expenditure by the State of an 
        additional $20,000,000; and
        (13) significant additional investment from Federal, State, 
    local, and private sources is needed to stop the damage to Lake 
    Tahoe and its forests, and restore the Lake Tahoe basin to 
    ecological health.
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
        (1) to enable the Forest Service to plan and implement 
    significant new environmental restoration activities and forest 
    management activities to address the phenomena described in 
    paragraphs (4) through (8) of subsection (a) in the Lake Tahoe 
    basin;
        (2) to ensure that Federal, State, local, regional, tribal, and 
    private entities continue to work together to improve water quality 
    and manage Federal land in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit; 
    and
        (3) to provide funding to local governments for erosion and 
    sediment control projects on non-Federal land if the projects 
    benefit the Federal land.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
        (1) Environmental threshold carrying capacity.--The term 
    ``environmental threshold carrying capacity'' has the meaning given 
    the term in article II of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact set 
    forth in the first section of Public Law 96-551 (94 Stat. 3235).
        (2) Fire risk reduction activity.--
            (A) In general.--The term ``fire risk reduction activity'' 
        means an activity that is necessary to reduce the risk of 
        wildfire to promote forest management and simultaneously 
        achieve and maintain the environmental threshold carrying 
        capacities established by the Planning Agency in a manner 
        consistent, where applicable, with chapter 71 of the Tahoe 
        Regional Planning Agency Code of Ordinances.
            (B) Included activities.--The term ``fire risk reduction 
        activity'' includes--
                (i) prescribed burning;
                (ii) mechanical treatment;
                (iii) road obliteration or reconstruction; and
                (iv) such other activities consistent with Forest 
            Service practices as the Secretary determines to be 
            appropriate.
        (3) Planning agency.--The term ``Planning Agency'' means the 
    Tahoe Regional Planning Agency established under Public Law 91-148 
    (83 Stat. 360) and Public Law 96-551 (94 Stat. 3233).
        (4) Priority list.--The term ``priority list'' means the 
    environmental restoration priority list developed under section 6.
        (5) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
    Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service.

SEC. 4. ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAKE TAHOE BASIN MANAGEMENT UNIT.

    (a) In General.--The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit shall be 
administered by the Secretary in accordance with this Act and the laws 
applicable to the National Forest System.
    (b) Relationship to Other Authority.--
        (1) Private or non-federal land.--Nothing in this Act grants 
    regulatory authority to the Secretary over private or other non-
    Federal land.
        (2) Planning agency.--Nothing in this Act affects or increases 
    the authority of the Planning Agency.
        (3) Acquisition under other law.--Nothing in this Act affects 
    the authority of the Secretary to acquire land from willing sellers 
    in the Lake Tahoe basin under any other law.

SEC. 5. CONSULTATION WITH PLANNING AGENCY AND OTHER ENTITIES.

    (a) In General.--With respect to the duties described in subsection 
(b), the Secretary shall consult with and seek the advice and 
recommendations of--
        (1) the Planning Agency;
        (2) the Tahoe Federal Interagency Partnership established by 
    Executive Order No. 13057 (62 Fed. Reg. 41249) or a successor 
    Executive order;
        (3) the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee established 
    by the Secretary on December 15, 1998 (64 Fed. Reg. 2876) (until 
    the committee is terminated);
        (4) Federal representatives and all political subdivisions of 
    the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit; and
        (5) the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition.
    (b) Duties.--The Secretary shall consult with and seek advice and 
recommendations from the entities described in subsection (a) with 
respect to--
        (1) the administration of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit;
        (2) the development of the priority list;
        (3) the promotion of consistent policies and strategies to 
    address the Lake Tahoe basin's environmental and recreational 
    concerns;
        (4) the coordination of the various programs, projects, and 
    activities relating to the environment and recreation in the Lake 
    Tahoe basin to avoid unnecessary duplication and inefficiencies of 
    Federal, State, local, tribal, and private efforts; and
        (5) the coordination of scientific resources and data, for the 
    purpose of obtaining the best available science as a basis for 
    decisionmaking on an ongoing basis.

SEC. 6. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION PRIORITY LIST.

    (a) In General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall develop a priority list of 
potential or proposed environmental restoration projects for the Lake 
Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
    (b) Development of Priority List.--In developing the priority list, 
the Secretary shall--
        (1) use the best available science, including any relevant 
    findings and recommendations of the watershed assessment conducted 
    by the Forest Service in the Lake Tahoe basin; and
        (2) include, in order of priority, potential or proposed 
    environmental restoration projects in the Lake Tahoe basin that--
            (A) are included in or are consistent with the 
        environmental improvement program adopted by the Planning 
        Agency in February 1998 and amendments to the program;
            (B) would help to achieve and maintain the environmental 
        threshold carrying capacities for--
                (i) air quality;
                (ii) fisheries;
                (iii) noise;
                (iv) recreation;
                (v) scenic resources;
                (vi) soil conservation;
                (vii) forest health;
                (viii) water quality; and
                (ix) wildlife.
    (c) Focus in Determining Order of Priority.--In determining the 
order of priority of potential and proposed environmental restoration 
projects under subsection (b)(2), the focus shall address projects 
(listed in no particular order) involving--
        (1) erosion and sediment control, including the activities 
    described in section 2(g) of Public Law 96-586 (94 Stat. 3381) (as 
    amended by section 7 of this Act);
        (2) the acquisition of environmentally sensitive land from 
    willing sellers--
            (A) using funds appropriated from the land and water 
        conservation fund established under section 2 of the Land and 
        Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (16 U.S.C. 460l-5); or
            (B) under the authority of Public Law 96-586 (94 Stat. 
        3381);
        (3) fire risk reduction activities in urban areas and urban-
    wildland interface areas, including high recreational use areas and 
    urban lots acquired from willing sellers under the authority of 
    Public Law 96-586 (94 Stat. 3381);
        (4) cleaning up methyl tertiary butyl ether contamination; and
        (5) the management of vehicular parking and traffic in the Lake 
    Tahoe Basin Management Unit, especially--
            (A) improvement of public access to the Lake Tahoe basin, 
        including the promotion of alternatives to the private 
        automobile;
            (B) the Highway 28 and 89 corridors and parking problems in 
        the area; and
            (C) cooperation with local public transportation systems, 
        including--
                (i) the Coordinated Transit System; and
                (ii) public transit systems on the north shore of Lake 
            Tahoe.
    (d) Monitoring.--The Secretary shall provide for continuous 
scientific research on and monitoring of the implementation of projects 
on the priority list, including the status of the achievement and 
maintenance of environmental threshold carrying capacities.
    (e) Consistency With Memorandum of Understanding.--A project on the 
priority list shall be conducted in accordance with the memorandum of 
understanding signed by the Forest Supervisor and the Planning Agency 
on November 10, 1989, including any amendments to the memorandum as 
long as the memorandum remains in effect.
    (f) Review of Priority List.--Periodically, but not less often than 
every 3 years, the Secretary shall--
        (1) review the priority list;
        (2) consult with--
            (A) the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency;
            (B) interested political subdivisions; and
            (C) the Lake Tahoe Water Quality and Transportation 
        Coalition;
        (3) make any necessary changes with respect to--
            (A) the findings of scientific research and monitoring in 
        the Lake Tahoe basin;
            (B) any change in an environmental threshold as determined 
        by the Planning Agency; and
            (C) any change in general environmental conditions in the 
        Lake Tahoe basin; and
        (4) submit to Congress a report on any changes made.
    (g) Cleanup of Hydrocarbon Contamination.--
        (1) In general.--The Secretary shall, subject to the 
    availability of appropriations, make a payment of $1,000,000 to the 
    Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the South Tahoe Public Utility 
    District to develop and publish a plan, not later than 1 year after 
    the date of the enactment of this Act, for the prevention and 
    cleanup of hydrocarbon contamination (including contamination with 
    MTBE) of the surface water and ground water of the Lake Tahoe 
    basin.
        (2) Consultation.--In developing the plan, the Tahoe Regional 
    Planning Agency and the South Tahoe Public Utility District shall 
    consult with the States of California and Nevada and appropriate 
    political subdivisions.
        (3) Willing sellers.--The plan shall not include any 
    acquisition of land or an interest in land except an acquisition 
    from a willing seller.
    (h) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be 
appropriated, for the implementation of projects on the priority list 
and the payment identified in subsection (g), $20,000,000 for the first 
fiscal year that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act and 
for each of the 9 fiscal years thereafter.

SEC. 7. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT PAYMENTS.

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