Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1214) to amend the Small Tracts Act to expand the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to sell or exchange small parcels of National Forest System land to enhance the management of the National Forest System, to resolve minor encroachments, and for other purposes, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
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 ``National Forest Small Tracts Act Amendments Act of 2015''.
SEC. 2. ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY FOR SALE OR EXCHANGE OF SMALL PARCELS OF NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM LAND.
(a) Increase in Maximum Value of Small Parcels.--Section 3 of Public Law 97-465 (commonly known as the Small Tracts Act; 16 U.S.C. 521e) is amended in the matter preceding paragraph (1) by striking ``$150,000'' and inserting ``$500,000''.
(b) Additional Conveyance Purposes.--Section 3 of Public Law 97-465 (16 U.S.C. 521e) is further amended--
(1) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking ``which are--'' and inserting ``which involve any one of the following:'';
(2) in paragraph (1)--
(A) by striking ``parcels'' and inserting ``Parcels''; and
(B) by striking the semicolon at the end and inserting a period;
(3) in paragraph (2)--
(A) by striking ``parcels'' the first place it appears and inserting ``Parcels''; and
(B) by striking ``; or'' at the end and inserting a period;
(4) in paragraph (3), by striking ``road'' and inserting ``Road''; and
(5) by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:
``(4) Parcels of 40 acres or less which are determined by the Secretary to be physically isolated, to be inaccessible, or to have lost their National Forest character.
``(5) Parcels of 10 acres or less which are not eligible for conveyance under paragraph (2), but which are encroached upon by permanent habitable improvements for which there is no evidence that the encroachment was intentional or negligent.
``(6) Parcels used as a cemetery, a landfill, or a sewage treatment plant under a special use authorization issued by the Secretary. In the case of a cemetery expected to reach capacity within 10 years, the sale, exchange, or interchange may include, in the sole discretion of the Secretary, up to one additional acre abutting the permit area to facilitate expansion of the cemetery.''.
(c) Disposition of Proceeds.--Section 2 of Public Law 97-465 (16 U.S.C. 521d) is amended--
(1) by striking ``The Secretary is authorized'' and inserting the following:
``(a) Conveyance Authority; Consideration.--The Secretary is authorized'';
(2) by striking ``The Secretary shall insert'' and inserting the following:
``(b) Inclusion of Terms, Covenants, Conditions, and Reservations.--The Secretary shall insert'';
(3) by striking ``convenants'' and inserting ``covenants''; and
(4) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
``(c) Disposition of Proceeds.--
``(1) DEPOSIT IN SISK FUND.--The net proceeds derived from any sale or exchange conducted under the authority of paragraph (4), (5), or (6) of section 3 shall be deposited in the fund established by Public Law 90-171 (commonly known as the Sisk Act; 16 U.S.C. 484a).
``(2) USE.--Amounts deposited under paragraph (1) shall be available to the Secretary until expended for--
``(A) the acquisition of land or interests in land for administrative sites for the National Forest System in the State from which the amounts were derived;
``(B) the acquisition of land or interests in land for inclusion in the National Forest System in that State, including land or interests in land which enhance opportunities for recreational access;
``(C) the performance of deferred maintenance on administrative sites for the National Forest System in that State or other deferred maintenance activities in that State which enhance opportunities for recreational access; or
``(D) the reimbursement of the Secretary for costs incurred in preparing a sale conducted under the authority of section 3 if the sale is a competitive sale.''.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1214 would amend the Small Tracts Act to allow for the sale of small, isolated, federally owned parcels outside of the main body of a national forest as well as parcels encumbered with certain special uses such as cemeteries. The management [Page: H5996]
of these isolated and encumbered parcels takes considerable resources away from the core mission of the Forest Service. Proceeds from the sale of these parcels would be deposited into a Sisk Act
fund and may be used for deferred maintenance, acquisition of lands for administrative sites or recreational access, or to reimburse the Forest Service for administrative costs in preparing the sales.
The U.S. Forest Service has a challenging mission. Enabling it to develop a more manageable land base is simply good government, which is why this bill has such broad-based support.
I also want to thank Chairman Conaway of the Agriculture Committee for his assistance in expediting this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES,
Washington, DC, June 5, 2015.
Hon. K. MICHAEL CONAWAY,
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: On April 30, 2015, the Committee on Natural Resources ordered reported without amendment H.R. 1214, the National Forest Small Tracts Act Amendments Act of 2015, by unanimous consent. The bill was referred primarily to the Committee on Natural Resources, with an additional referral to the Committee on Agriculture.
I ask that you allow the Committee on Agriculture to be discharged from further consideration of the bill so that it may be scheduled by the Majority Leader. This discharge in no way affects your jurisdiction over the subject matter of the bill, and it will not serve as precedent for future referrals. In addition, should a conference oh the bill be necessary, I would support your request to have the Committee on Agriculture represented on the conference committee. Finally, I would be pleased
to include this letter and any response in the bill report filed by the Committee on Natural Resources to memorialize our understanding.
Thank you for your consideration of my request, and for your continued strong cooperation between our committees.
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE,
Washington, DC, June 5, 2015.
Hon. ROB BISHOP,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am writing concerning H.R. 1214, the National Forest Small Tracts Act Amendments Act of 2015. It is my understanding that, on April 30, 2015, the Committee on Natural Resources ordered the bill reported without amendment and by unanimous consent.
This legislation contains provisions within the Committee on Agriculture's Rule X jurisdiction. As a result of your having consulted with the Committee and in order to expedite this bill for floor consideration, the Committee on Agriculture will forego action on the bill. This is being done on the basis of our mutual undemanding that doing so will in no way diminish or alter the jurisdiction of the Committee on Agriculture with respect to the appointment of conferees, or to any future jurisdictional
claim over the subject matters contained in the bill or similar legislation.
I would appreciate your response to this letter confirming this understanding, and would request that you include a copy of this letter and your response in the Committee Report and in the Congressional Record during the floor consideration of this bill. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
K. MICHAEL CONAWAY,
Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1214 amends the Small Tracts Act to provide the Forest Service with more flexibility to sell or exchange small parcels of national forest land. This increased flexibility will allow the Forest Service to identify opportunities where the sale or exchange of small parcels of land will increase efficiency and improve the overall integrity and health of our national forests.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Amodei, the sponsor of this legislation, for working with the Forest Service to update this bill so that it could be supported by both sides of the aisle.
Mr. Speaker, I support adoption of H.R. 1214.
I reserve the balance of my time.