CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 2259, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on June 5, 2013 by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent.
H.R. 2259 withdraws all eligible existing federal land and interest in such land within the North Fork Lands Withdrawal Area in Montana from: 1) all forms of location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and 2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral leasing and geothermal leasing. This legislation clarifies that nothing in the act should violate the rights of existing leaseholders or prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from taking action as necessary to complete any requirement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or Endangered Species Act (ESA). Moreover, this legislation clarifies that nothing in the Act should restrict recreational uses, livestock management activities, or forest management activities allowed on such land.
“The North Fork of the Flathead River extends approximately 90 miles from its headwaters in Southern British Columbia south into Montana, where it forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park.” In February, 2010, the Province of British Columbia and the State of Montana signed a memorandum of understanding precluding mining, oil and gas development, and coalbed methane extraction in the Flathead. However, much of the land in the North Fork watershed is owned by the federal government. A number of outstanding leases remain, but no development is currently taking place in the area, and the Nine Circuit Court has enjoined federal agencies from allowing activity on the land. This legislation would withdraw 362,000 acres of federal land located within the Flathead and Kootenai National Forest from all future mineral development and geothermal leasing, while protecting current recreational, livestock management, and forest management activities.
 See Senate Report 113-95.
CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would have no significant impact of the federal budget, and would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.