CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1376 is being considered on the floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Monday, July 27, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) on March 6, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on July 9, 2009.
H.R. 1376 would establish the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Waco, Texas. The new monument would be administered by the National Park System (NPS) under a general management plan that would be prepared by the Secretary of Interior, in consultation with Baylor University and City of Waco, within three years of enactment.
In addition, the legislation would authorize the Secretary to acquire land from willing sellers within the proposed boundary of the monument. Land may also be acquired through donation, purchase with donated or appropriated funds, transfer from another Federal agency, or by exchange.
The Secretary would be authorized to construct "essential administrative or visitor use facilities on non-Federal lands."
The Waco mammoth site is a ravine between Bosque and Brazos Rivers in Waco, TX, where the remains of 24 mammoths have been found and excavated. Since it was first discovered in 1978, the site has been excavated exclusively by nearby Baylor University. The 110 acre site is owned by the City of Waco and Baylor University and is not currently open to the public. According to CBO and the Natural Resources Committee, the Secretary of Interior is expected to be given five acres for NPS land and the rest of the site would be managed by Waco as a park. The Secretary would be authorized to build facilities on the non-federal portions of the site. For more information on the site and its potential development, please see the official Waco mammoth website: http://www.wacomammoth.org/.
There are 74 different units of the National Monument System, making up more than 1.8 million acres of federal land around the country. While National Monument sites are sometimes administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the vast majority are managed by the NPS. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it's expected that the NPS will spend funds to develop the three year management plan and construct interpretive exhibits and facilities. The remaining costs-estimated at $8 million-would theoretically be paid for by the City of Waco and the University of Baylor. However, CBO notes that the projected costs for NPS' partnership in the program could increase if "NPS needs to acquire more land for the monument or bear more of the costs of financing new facilities." According to CRS, NPS faces an estimated $9 billion maintenance backlog on the property and facilities the agency currently controls and is unable to keep up.
According to CBO, H.R. 1376 would cost $1 million over the next three years for the Secretary of Interior to develop a management plan for the Waco Mammoth National Monument and build certain facilities. After three years, CBO estimates that the facilities would cost $400,000 annually to maintain. However, CBO estimates that the cost of the bill could increase beyond $1 million over three years if the NPS acquires more land or builds more facilities than is currently estimated.