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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grazing Fees: Overview and Issues


Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Charging fees for grazing private livestock on federal lands is a long-standing but contentious practice. Generally, livestock producers who use federal lands want to keep fees low, while conservation groups and others believe fees should be increased. The formula for determining the grazing fee for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) uses a base value adjusted annually by the lease rates for grazing on private lands, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Currently, the BLM and FS are charging a grazing fee of $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM). For fee purposes, an AUM is defined as a month’s use and occupancy of the range by one animal unit. The fee is in effect through February 28, 2013. The collected fees are divided among the Treasury, states, and federal agencies. Fee reform was attempted but not adopted in the 1990s. Issues for the 112th Congress include instances of grazing without paying fees, efforts to retire certain grazing permits (H.R. 3432), and legislation to automatically renew expired grazing permits until the renewal process is completed (S. 1129 and H.R. 4234 (for further action on H.R. 4234 see H.R. 2578)).


Date of Report: June 19, 2012
Number of Pages: 11
Order Number: RS21232
Price: $29.95

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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 112th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Kristina Alexander
Legislative Attorney

Pervaze A. Sheikh
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Robert Meltz
Legislative Attorney

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543) was enacted to increase protection for, and provide for the recovery of, vanishing wildlife and vegetation. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Habitat loss is the primary cause for listing species. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. Accordingly, when certain resources are associated with listed species— such as water in arid regions like California, old growth timber in national forests, or free-flowing rivers—ESA is seen as an obstacle to continued or greater human use of these resources. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline or conflicts. As a result, ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues.

The 112th Congress may conduct oversight of the implementation of various federal programs and laws that address threatened and endangered species. This could range from addressing listing and delisting decisions under ESA to justifying funding levels for international conservation programs. The 112th Congress may also face specific resource conflicts involving threatened and endangered species, including managing water supplies and ecosystem restoration in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers Delta in California (i.e., Bay-Delta) and managing water supplies in the Klamath Basin. In the 112th Congress, resource-specific issues may be addressed independently, whereas oversight on the implementation of ESA may be addressed in debates about particular species (e.g., wolves, polar bears, and salmon). P.L. 112-10 (final appropriations for FY2011) included a legislative delisting of a portion of the reintroduced Rocky Mountain gray wolf population.

The 112th Congress may consider legislation related to global climate change that includes provisions that would allocate funds to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species program and/or to related funds to assist species adaptation to climate change. Other major issues concerning ESA in recent years have included the role of science in decision making, critical habitat (CH) designation, incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection for listed species, among others.

The authorization for spending under ESA expired on October 1, 1992. The prohibitions and requirements of ESA remain in force, even in the absence of an authorization, and funds have been appropriated to implement the administrative provisions of ESA in each subsequent fiscal year. Proposals to reauthorize and extensively amend ESA were last considered in the 109th Congress, but none were enacted. No legislative proposals were introduced in the 110th or 111th Congresses to reauthorize ESA.

This report discusses oversight issues and legislation introduced in the 112th Congress to address ESA implementation and management of endangered and threatened species.


Date of Report: June 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R41608
Price: $29.95


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Friday, June 22, 2012

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 112th Congress


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy


Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat. Aquaculture or fish farming enterprises seek to supplement food traditionally provided by wild harvests.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles in the federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the federal government (National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS) manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in international agreements relating to specific areas or species. The 112th Congress may oversee implementation of the MSFCMA as well as address individual habitat and management concerns for U.S. commercial and sport fisheries in an attempt to modify the balance between resource use and protection. Additional concerns might include providing additional flexibility in managing harvests to eliminate overfishing; determining the appropriate level of funding for fishery disaster assistance; determining whether to modify fishing vessel capacity reduction and limited access privilege (catch-share) programs; modifying programs to better control bycatch of nontarget species; amending various fishery laws to strengthen enforcement to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; amending and reauthorizing the Oceans and Human Health Act; amending and reauthorizing the Coral Reef Conservation Act; enhancing efforts to monitor, restore, and protect marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico; implementing the Antigua Convention for eastern tropical Pacific tuna; authorizing a national strategy to address harmful algal blooms and hypoxia; and providing additional support to maintain the character of traditional fishing communities.

Aquaculture—the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment—is expanding rapidly abroad, yet with little growth in the United States. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. The 112th Congress may consider whether National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration policies and regulations can balance development and regulation of the aquaculture industry in the U.S. EEZ, and whether to prohibit regional fishery management councils from authorizing aquaculture in federal offshore waters through fishery management plans and their amendments under the MSFCMA.

Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). With few exceptions, the MMPA prohibits harm or harassment (“take”) of marine mammals, unless permits are obtained. It also addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. The 112th Congress may consider bills to amend the MMPA, including the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, as well as measures to address specific marine mammal habitat and management concerns, such as how to deal with the effects of increasing noise in the ocean and an expanded research program for the recovery of the southern sea otter.

The level of appropriations for fisheries, aquaculture/hatchery, and marine mammal programs administered by the NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service may be an issue during the 112th Congress amid pressures to reduce federal spending.



Date of Report: June 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R41613
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting on Federal Lands: H.R. 4089 and Related Legislation


Kristina Alexander, Coordinator
Legislative Attorney

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Kelsi Bracmort
Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy


The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) is intended to create an “open until closed” management policy for federal lands, according to the House Committee Report. It describes the criteria for federal land management agencies to consider in order to close federal lands to fishing, hunting, or recreational shooting, and directs that management is subject to existing law. However, some ambiguities may lead to different, perhaps unintended results. H.R. 4089 passed the House on April 17, 2012. H.R. 4089 is identical to S.Amdt. 2302 to the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240). S.Amdt. 2232, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, covers similar topics, but differs from H.R. 4089, and is not analyzed in this report.

Hunting and fishing are already allowed on the majority of federal lands. Because H.R. 4089 would change land management practices and would require additional or different analyses, reports, and notices, the bill would alter federal land management by adding or changing steps in the planning process. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Title II of H.R. 4089, for example, would cost $12 million over the first four years.

Title I establishes the processes for federal land management agencies to close federal lands to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, and is almost identical to Senate bill S. 2066. Title II addresses recreational shooting in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) national monuments. While the associated House Committee Report refers to H.R. 4089 affecting lands managed by BLM and the Forest Service almost exclusively, the bills’ broad definition of federal public lands could lead to portions of H.R. 4089/S. 2066 extending to all agencies that own land.

Wilderness areas may be most altered by the bills. While the Wilderness Act already allows hunting and fishing, H.R. 4089/S. 2066 would appear to allow any activity related to those activities, as well as to recreational shooting. This may mean that structures could be built in wilderness areas or mechanized transport could be allowed, which are activities that are banned under current law; however, this is not clear since another provision appears to continue to ban motorized access.

Titles III through VI address issues related to hunting, fishing, or federal lands. Title III would reverse the administrative rule in place since May 15, 2008, which banned the import of sporthunted polar bears from Canada. It would allow the import of polar bear trophies by applicants who sought an import permit prior to that date, when the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Senate bills S. 2066 and S. 1066 would also direct issuance of those permits. However, in 2011, a federal court rejected a suit to allow such imports.

Title IV of H.R. 4089 would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating lead shot and lead sinkers, as would S. 838. EPA, however, denies it has the authority to take such action, while state laws could still restrict the use of lead shot and sinkers. Reversing a 2012 Forest Service decision, Title V would allow deer hunters in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana to use hunting dogs without restriction. Title VI would limit the President’s ability to establish national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 by requiring both the governor and legislature of the affected state to approve designations.



Date of Report: June 11, 2012
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: R42569
Price: $29.95

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Klamath Basin Settlement Agreements: Issues in Brief


Charles V. Stern
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Cynthia Brougher
Legislative Attorney


The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Oregon and California, along with multiple interest groups, announced the result of these negotiations: two interrelated agreements, supported by the federal government and signed by the two states and numerous other parties. These agreements, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), together aim to provide for water deliveries to irrigators and wildlife refuges, fish habitat restoration, and numerous other related actions. The latter agreement also lays out a process potentially leading to the removal of four privately owned dams. The removal of these dams would be one of the largest and most complex projects of its kind ever undertaken.

Some parts of the Klamath Agreements are already being carried out under existing authorities. However, in order to be fully implemented, the agreements require authorization by Congress. Legislation currently before Congress (H.R. 3398 and S. 1851) would authorize the agreements, including approximately $800 million in federal actions (as outlined in the KBRA) and authorization for the Secretary of the Interior to complete an ongoing study process with a “final” dam removal recommendation (as required under the KHSA). Congressional consideration of the Klamath Agreements could include whether the federal government is obligated to act beyond its current activities in the Klamath Basin and, the extent and cost of these strategies, and the potential for actions in the Klamath to serve as precedent for similar conflicts in other parts of the country.

This report provides an abbreviated summary of issues under consideration for Congress related to the Klamath Agreements. For more detailed information about the Klamath, including a summary of the Klamath Agreements themselves, see the companion CRS Report R42157, Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues, coordinated by Charles V. Stern.



Date of Report: June 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R42158
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues


Charles V. Stern, Coordinator
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Pervaze A. Sheikh
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Cynthia Brougher
Legislative Attorney

Bill Heniff Jr.
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process


The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. As is true in many regions in the West, the federal government plays a prominent role in the Klamath Basin’s waters. This role stems primarily from (1) operation and management of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Water Project; (2) management of federal lands, including six national wildlife refuges; and (3) implementation of federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act.

Allocation of the Klamath Basin’s water has been contentious in the past. Controversy peaked in 2001 when the federal government halted irrigation water deliveries to protect species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Later issues with basin fisheries exacerbated these conflicts. Efforts to permanently settle many of the basin’s water and species issues began during the Bush Administration and were continued by the Obama Administration.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Oregon and California, along with multiple interest groups, announced two interrelated settlement agreements, supported by the federal government and signed by numerous other parties. These agreements are meant to address many of the previous conflicts in the basin. The first agreement, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), provides for restoration, water deliveries, and related actions, including a defined range of water supplies for Reclamation project users as well as projects to restore and protect threatened and endangered fish species. The second agreement, known as the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), lays out a process for studies and a decision by the Secretary of the Interior regarding whether the removal of four dams in the Lower Klamath Basin (funded by power customers in Oregon and California, as well as the State of California) would be in the public interest. Together, removal of the dams would constitute one of the largest, most complex dam removal projects ever undertaken.

More than forty groups are signatories (or “parties”) to the Klamath agreements, including the states of Oregon and California, three area tribes, Reclamation Project irrigators, environmental interests, and others. In addition to these parties, many who were not formally involved in negotiations also support the agreements. Opponents of the agreements include a subset of non- Reclamation project (“off-project”) irrigators, as well as some other environmental groups, tribes, Siskiyou County in California, and other area residents. The Obama Administration has endorsed the Klamath agreements, but Congress has to formally authorize both agreements for the federal government to move forward with most of their actions.

Legislation currently before Congress (H.R. 3398 and S. 1851) would authorize the agreements, including approximately $800 million for federal actions (mostly in the KBRA). Considerations related to the Klamath agreements may include whether the federal government is obligated to act beyond current activities in the Klamath Basin (and, if so, to what extent) and what specific strategies should be authorized.



Date of Report: June 7, 2012
Number of Pages: 45
Order Number: R42157
Price: $29.95

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