|Full title||An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.|
|Enacted by the||111th United States Congress|
|Effective||March 30, 2009|
|Public Law||Pub.L. 111–11|
|Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, National Trails System Act,Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, and others; see below|
|Title(s) amended||Title 5, Title 36, Title 40|
On June 26, 2008, Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico introduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008 (S. 3213). Although the bill had some support from both Democrats and Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate never voted on the measure due to threats by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) to filibuster the bill.
On January 7, 2009, Bingaman introduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S. 22), a new bill which incorporated 159 bills that had been considered by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during the 110th Congress and, in some cases, earlier Congresses. Despite vehement opposition from Coburn and some other Republicans, the Senate passed a cloture motion on January 11 by a vote of 66-12 and then passed the bill on January 15 by a vote of 73-21, with four members not voting.
On March 11, 2009, the House considered the bill under suspension of the rules, meaning that a two-thirds vote would be required for passage. Those voting in favor of the bill (predominantly Democrats) fell two votes short of a two-thirds majority, 282-144. 34 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while three Democrats voted against it: Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Jim Marshall of Georgia, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. House Democrats could then have brought the bill back to the floor under regular procedure, which would have allowed Republicans to submit amendments to the bill.
The bill, as voted on by the House, had been amended by Jason Altmire (D-Pennsylvania), to prohibit the closing of the lands described in the bill to hunting and fishing, presumably to persuade sportsmen and hunters to vote for the bill.
On March 3, 2009, the House of Representatives passed a bill under suspension of the rules, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act (H.R. 146), 394-13. On March 12, one day after the House failed to pass the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, Reid announced that he would file cloture on H.R. 146. While in the Senate, the bill was amended to include a majority of the text in S. 22. The Senate voted 73-21 for cloture and 77-20 to pass the bill. The House agreed to the Senate amendments, 285-140, on March 25.
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Title I of the bill designates two million acres (8,000 km²) of wilderness in nine states (California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) for protection through addition to theNational Wilderness Preservation System. Among these lands are:
Title II establishes a National Landscape Conservation System, to include Bureau of Land Management-administered National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, components of the National Trails System, components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Title II also designates three new National Conservation Areas (Fort Stanton – Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area, Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, and Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area) and one new National Monument (the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument in the Robledo Mountains of New Mexico). It also transfers lands in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Washington to federal control.
Title III authorizes the United States Secretary of Agriculture to, through the Chief of the United States Forest Service, conduct studies in the interest of preserving open space in southern Colorado and deliver “an annual report on the wildland firefighter safety practices…including training programs and activities for wildland fire suppression, prescribed burning, and wildland fire use, during the preceding calendar year.” Title III also prohibits further oil and gas leasing, geothermal leasing, and mining patents in a stretch of the Bridger-Teton National Forest; this provision was based on a bill being crafted by Senator Craig L. Thomas of Wyoming before his death.
Title IV authorizes the Chief of the Forest Service to solicit (from regional foresters) nominations of forest landscapes of at least 50,000 acres (200 km2), primarily consisting of national forest lands, which are in need of “active ecosystem restoration,” for the carrying out of ecological restoration treatments. The Chief, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture, then may select up to ten of these proposals, aided by a fifteen-member advisory board, to be funded in any given fiscal year. For each proposal selected, 50% of the expenditures of the execution and monitoring of ecological restoration treatments would be paid for by a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund in the United States Treasury. However, each proposal’s expenditures are limited to $4 million per year.
Title V designates thousands of miles of new additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also adds six trails to the National Trails System: the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Title VI creates a number of new United States Department of the Interior programs. One of these programs, the Wolf Livestock Loss Demonstration Project, gives states and Indian tribes federal grants to help livestock producers to reduce livestock loss due to predation by wolves in non-lethal ways, as well as for the purpose of compensating livestock producers for their loss of livestock due to predation by wolves.
Another part of Title VI, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, was originally a Senate bill introduced in 2007 by Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). This provision establishes stronger penalties than previously required for nonpermitted removal of scientifically significant fossils from federal lands. The provision was endorsed and strongly supported by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, an international association of professional and amateur vertebrate paleontologists. In contrast, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, an association of commercial fossil dealers, opposed the measure.
Title VII makes three additions to the National Park System and expands current National Park designations. It also authorizes an American Battlefield Protection Program, a Preserve America program, a Save America’s Treasures Program, and a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, all to be carried out by the National Park Service. New National Park System components would include:
Title VIII designates ten new National Heritage Areas at the cost of $103.5 million:
Title IX authorizes three new studies to examine new reclamation projects under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation. It also creates 15 new water and endangered fish projects in four states. Furthermore, Title IX puts some federal water reclamation facilities under local control and funds conservation efforts.
Title X codifies the settlements of three water disputes in California, Nevada, and New Mexico, in an effort to resolve decades of litigation.
Title XI reauthorizes the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 at a cost of $64 million per year through the year 2018. It furthermore authorizes groundwater surveys in New Mexico, also by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Title XII creates five new oceanic observation, research, and exploration programs at a cost of $2.6 billion, including programs for undersea research, undersea and coastal mapping, acidification research, and ocean conservation. One provision, the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act, would “establish a national integrated System of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes observing systems, comprised of Federal and non-Federal components coordinated at the national level by the National Ocean Research Leadership Council” in order to “support national defense, marine commerce, navigation safety, weather, climate, and marine forecasting, energy siting and production, economic development, ecosystem-based marine, coastal, and Great Lakes resource management, public safety, and public outreach training and education.”
Title XIII deals with miscellaneous bills, including one that funds the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii and another that increases the number of Assistant Energy Secretaries in the United States Department of Energy to eight. Title XIII also amends the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act.
Title XV grants the Smithsonian Institution $69 million for laboratory and greenhouse construction at three Smithsonian facilities.
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 amended the following acts of Congress, in order of first appearance: