FEDERAL PARKS & RECREATION
VOLUME 19 NUMBER 8 --- APRIL 20, 2001
FEDERAL PARKS & RECREATION is published by Resources Publishing Co., 1010 Vermont Ave., N.W., Suite 708, Washington, D.C. 20005. EIN 52-6172989. Phone (202) 638-7529. FAX (202) 393-2075. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Website http://www.plnfpr.com
In this issue. . .
CARA MAY MAKE SUMMER COMEBACK. House committee plans spring hearing. House vote too? Sen. Reid writing wildlife bill. Page 5
CARA MAY MAKE A COMEBACK, BEGINNING IN HOUSE PANEL
Although the park and rec community is focused right now on securing funding for a CARA-lite conservation program, the original CARA bill itself may be poised for a rebirth.
The House Resources Committee, birthplace of CARA in the last Congress, will hold a hearing this spring on the bill (HR 701) introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). "We will see what the temperature of the committee is and then maybe move a bill forward," said a committee staff member.
Coincidentally, the committee last week hired a new staff member to work full time on HR 701, Michael Olsen. That's considered a sure sign the committee, under chairman James Hansen (R-Utah), is serious about the legislation.
Meanwhile, in a move that supporters insist will not compromise CARA's future, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is laying the groundwork for a conservation bill to provide stable, long-term funding for wildlife conservation and endangered species protection. A wildlife conservation program called Teaming with Wildlife was (and is) a key provision of CARA.
Reid is reportedly working on a bill with Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith (R-N.H.) Because their legislation would come out of that committee and because the committee does not have jurisdiction over the off-shore oil and gas revenues that would finance CARA, Reid and Smith would have to look elsewhere for the money. The likely source is a direct appropriation that would require money committees to pay for the program, but would also force the committees to take the money out of some other programs' hides.
Reid held a hearing April 10 in Nevada to highlight his interest in such legislation. A statement issued by Reid for the hearing said, "Senator Reid plans to propose legislation to provide a long-term authorization for both State wildlife conservation initiatives and incentives for species conservation and recovery."
Asked if a Reid bill would distract Congress and interest groups from the CARA effort, Naomi Edelson, a staff member with the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, said, "I don't think so. CARA is moving forward in the House and we expect it to pass this summer. This is actually helpful. . . At least it keeps the issue alive." And, said a Senate Environment Committee staff member of the Reid effort, "We are trying to avoid any mention of CARA."
CARA-lite was established by a fiscal year 2001 appropriations bill for the Interior Department and related agencies as the Land Conservation, Preservation and Infrastructure Improvement (LCPII) trust fund. In it appropriators guaranteed money would be available for five more years for nine conservation programs. Those programs include the federal and states sides of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a North American Wetlands Conservation program, Teaming with Wildlife, Urban Park and Recreation Recovery, Historic Preservation, Farmland and Forestry, Payments-In-Lieu-of-Taxes, and Coastal Impact Assistance.
LCPII pre-empted an even larger conservation bill, called the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, or CARA, that would have established a 15-year, $3 billion per year program. CARA was approved by the House on May 11, 2000, by a 315-to-103 margin, thus the interest is high in the House for reviving the bill among both Democrats and Republicans.
The House Resources Committee staff member said that CARA-lite/LCPII does not replace CARA. "Some important aspects of CARA were not included in CARA-lite, and I don't really like the name CARA-lite because it wasn't really a CARA bill," said the staff member.
The House has not been a problem for CARA legislation. The Senate has. The Senate Energy Committee approved HR 701 on July 25, 2000, in a 13-to-7 vote, but the bill never moved beyond that. And the shuffling of committee members this year has removed three Republicans who sided with Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) in favor of HR 701.
Despite the committee uncertainty Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has promised to introduce a Senate bill resembling HR 701 as it passed the Senate Energy Committee last year. That Murkowski, last year's main supporter of the bill, has done little for CARA this year is largely discounted because Murkowski has been preoccupied with the development of legislation to establish a national energy policy.
When Congressional appropriators substituted CARA-lite for CARA last year advocates of the Teaming with Wildlife program were harshly critical of them. Wildlife received $50 million from CARA-lite compared to a $350 million per year stipend in CARA.
At the April 10 hearing Reid heard Nevada state officials, federal officials and conservationists detail projects they have undertaken to assist wildlife, including sage grouse, cutthroat trout, bighorn sheep and the sagebrush that supports many species. Said Reid, "Congress can do more to encourage the wildlife management efforts of these and other groups through enhanced federal funding."
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