CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1061 is being considered on the floor on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) on February 13, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill on July 9, 2009, by voice vote.
H.R. 1061 would transfer 37 acres of federal land in Olympic National Park from the National Park Service to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to be held in trust for the Hoh Indian Tribe in the state of Washington. In addition to the land transferred from the Park Service to the tribe, the legislation would also require the BIA to take into trust approximately 460 acres of non-federal land recently acquired by the tribe. Under the bill, land taken into trust shall become a part of the Hoh Indian reservation.
The legislation contains a number of restrictions on the use of the land transferred to the tribe, including:
The bill also requires the Secretary of Interior and the tribe to enter into cooperative agreements for mutual emergency fire aid, upon completion of the Tribe's proposed emergency fire response building.
Finally, the bill would prohibit gambling operations on any new land taken into trust under the legislation.
According to findings listed in the bill, as well as House Report 111-306, the Hoh Indian Tribe's reservation sits on one square mile of land in the state of Washington. 90 percent of the reservation, which was established in 1893, is located within a flood zone and the tribe has experienced a number floods in the past decade, resulting in damage to the reservation's infrastructure. According to the Committee Report, "The current Hoh Indian Reservation is unsafe for habitation due to its location in both a tsunami and flood zone." The BIA has also provided funding for flood reconstruction efforts in the last five years. To address this situation, the tribe recently purchased roughly 260 acres of land and were transferred an additional 160 acres from the state of Washington in order to re-locate certain infrastructure. However, the only road connecting the reservation and the new land crosses Olympic National Park. Thus, transferring this parcel to the tribe and placing it in trust would allow the tribe to freely cross between their original reservation boundaries and their new land.
According to CBO, H.R. 1061 would cost less than $500,000 over the FY 2010 through FY 2014 period. CBO states that the tribe would be entitled to seek funding from BIA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for services on the new land, however, the legislation would not specifically authorize funding for those programs or activities, which would be subject to the ability of appropriated spending.