H.R. 556: Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act

H.R. 556

Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act

Rep. Sam Farr

July 7, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

H.R. 556 is expected to be considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) on January 15, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 556 authorizes the appropriation of $5 million per year for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2015, for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to carry out a research and recovery program for southern sea otters along the California coast. This program would include competitive grants for research and recovery projects. At least 30 percent of program funds would have to used for research grants and at least 30 percent of funds would have to be used for recovery projects.

The bill permits the termination of the program if the southern sea otter is no longer listed on the federal endangered or threatened species list.



The southern sea otter is classified as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  Its habitat used to include a range of the Pacific Ocean coast stretching from Canada to Mexico. They are now mainly found off of the coast of central California within three miles of shore.

Some Members may be concerned that H.R. 556 singles out a single species for recovery funding, while other species are arguably in greater need of assistance. According to Ranking Member Doc Hastings (R-WA), "...this legislation singles out a species that while `threatened' is far more likely to survive in the future then a number of highly endangered species which desperately need recovery funding, which may now be diverted by Congressional fiat to `recover' the merely threatened Southern sea otter."


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 556 would cost $20 million over five years.