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

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


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106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 3388


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

            October 24 (legislative day, September 22), 2000

                                Received

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 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 \1/3\ 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 wildlife 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 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 

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