H.R. 5110: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2010

H.R. 5110

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2010

Date
September 22, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 5110 is being considered on the House floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.  This legislation was introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) on April 22, 2010.  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 22, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5110 would authorize the Secretary of Interior to acquire certain land by donation or purchase from willing sellers for inclusion in the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in the State of Arizona.  In addition, the bill would transfer 11.2 acres of federally controlled land—3.8 acres controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and 7.4 acres controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)—to the National Park Service (NPS) for inclusion in the monument.  H.R. 5110 would authorize the Secretary to enter into an agreement to provide “cooperative management” of approximately 200 acres of state trust land.  In total, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), estimates that the park would expand by 417 acres—205 acres of which is currently owned by private entities.

Land transferred to the NPS would be withdrawn from eligibility for mining and geothermal leasing.  The NPS would also transfer 3.5 acres of land currently under its jurisdiction to the BIA for the purposes of the San Carlos Irrigation Project.  Finally, the bill would require the Secretary to conduct a study to identify more land in the area that might be added to the monument.

Background

According to the National Park Service (NPS), the 472 acre Casa Grande Ruins National Monument “preserves an Ancient Sonoran Desert People farming community and ‘Great House.’”   The site became the nation’s first archeological reserve in 1892 and was dedicated as a national monument in 1918.  According to House Report 111-598, a 2003 report issued by the NPS identified several parcels of land that could be potentially added to the monument.  H.R. 5110 would authorize the Secretary to obtain three of these tracts of land, either by donation, exchange, or purchase with donated or appropriated funds.  In addition, it would transfer two other tracts of federally-controlled land to the NPS for inclusion in the monument.

In 1906, the Antiquities Act was signed into law, authorizing presidents to create national monuments on federal land that contain historic landmarks.  There are over 100 different units of the National Monument System around the country, which are managed predominantly by the NPS, but in some cases BLM, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manage the land.  Land designated as a national monument is subject to restricted land usage.  For instance, past monuments have restricted mineral leases and claims, use of vehicles, timber development, hunting and fishing, and other activities.  According to the Congressional Research Service, “States and counties frequently have viewed restrictions on federal lands in their jurisdictions as threats to economic development.  They maintain that local communities are hurt by the loss of jobs and tax revenues that results from prohibiting/restricting future mineral exploration, timber development, or other activities.  Some believe that limitations on energy exploration could leave the United States more dependent on foreign oil.”

In addition to possible land use concerns, the NPS, which is responsible for maintaining the monument area, is facing a substantial maintenance deficit and collapsing national park infrastructure.  According to CRS, the NPS backlog for maintenance on existing buildings, trails, and other infrastructure was more than $9 billion in FY 2006.  The backlog is a result of the NPS failing to do scheduled maintenance and upkeep that was not funded or carried out according to plan.  As a result of the backlog, NPS infrastructure is deteriorating at a faster and faster rate.  For instance, the estimated maintenance backlog more than doubled, from $4.25 billion in 1999, in just seven years.  CRS noted that some estimates put the existing backlog as high as $13.1 billion.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 5110 would cost $7 million over the 2011 through 2015 period.  CBO estimates that approximately $6 million of the cost would be a result of land acquisition and notes that, “actual costs would vary depending on the amount of land acquired by exchange or donation and market conditions at the time of any purchase.”