CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 1838, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on April 16, 2015, by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by Unanimous Consent on March 16, 2016.
H.R. 1838 establishes the Clear Creek National Recreation Area in San Benito and Fresno Counties, California, and designates the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness in such counties. Specifically, this legislation requires the reopening of the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) for recreational use and redesignates it as a National Recreation Area. In addition, H.R. 1838 requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to develop a plan to minimize the risk from naturally occurring asbestos exposure and educate visitors about its associated health risks, reduce impacts from off-highway vehicles (OHV) use to protect wildlife habitat, and develop a permanent management plan under which the agency can levy a recreational user fee and contract with state or local government agencies to manage all or portions of the Clear Creek National Recreation Area. Finally, H.R 1838 designates 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to the CCMA and located in Fresno County as the “Joaquin Rocks Wilderness” and releases the 1,500 acre San Benito Wilderness Study Area back into multiple-use.
In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that naturally occurring asbestos from the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) posed a public health risk, particularly to OHV users. BLM then temporarily closed the CCMA and initiated a process to develop a long-term plan governing recreational use of the area. In 2014, the BLM issued a decision to permanently close 30,000 acres of the CCMA to all off-highway vehicle use.
In 2010, the State of California’s Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division commissioned an independent risk assessment of naturally occurring asbestos. It concluded the health risks associated with naturally occurring asbestos to off-highway vehicle users is minimal. Local communities and off-highway vehicle groups have since urged BLM to reopen the CCMA for recreational use.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “Thanks to the help of Congressmen Denham and Valadao, we were able to win unanimous support for the bill in the Natural Resources committee. This is the closest we have ever come to reopening Clear Creek for recreation use and the committee’s support should provide us with the momentum necessary to finally pass the legislation.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $5 million over the 2017-2021 period. Because enacting H.R. 1838 would increase offsetting receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO also estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. In addition, the suspension text for H.R. 1838 explicitly states that no additional funds are authorized to carry out the requirements identified in the bill and that such requirements will be carried out using amounts otherwise authorized.
For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.