[Senate Report 106-417]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 826
106th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     106-417


                    LINCOLN COUNTY LAND ACT OF 1999


  September 25 (legislative day, September 22), 2000.--Ordered to be 


  Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1331]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 1331) to give Lincoln County, Nevada, the 
right to purchase at fair market value certain public land in 
the county, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment and an amendment to the title and 
recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
    The amendments are as follows:
    1. Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in 
lieu thereof the following:


  This Act may be cited as the ``Lincoln County Land Act of 2000''.


  (a) Findings.--Congress finds that--
          (1) Lincoln County, Nevada, encompasses an area of 10,132 
        square miles of the State of Nevada;
          (2) approximately 98 percent of the County is owned by the 
        Federal Government;
          (3) the city of Mesquite, Nevada, needs land for an organized 
        approach for expansion to the north;
          (4) citizens of the County would benefit through enhanced 
        county services and schools from the increased private property 
        tax base due to commercial and residential development;
          (5) the County would see improvement to the budget for the 
        county and school services through the immediate distribution 
        of sale receipts from the Secretary selling land through a 
        competitive bidding process;
          (6) a cooperative approach among the Bureau of Land 
        Management, the County, the City, and other local government 
        entities will ensure continuing communication between those 
          (7) the Federal Government will be fairly compensated for the 
        sale of public land; and
          (8) the proposed Caliente Management Framework Amendment and 
        Environmental Impact Statement for the Management of Desert 
        Tortoise Habitat Plan identify specific public land as being 
        suitable for disposal.
  (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
          (1) to provide for the orderly disposal of certain public 
        land in the County; and
          (2) to provide for the acquisition of environmentally 
        sensitive land in the State of Nevada.


  In this Act:
          (1) City.--The term ``City'' means the city of Mesquite, 
          (2) County.--The term ``County'' means Lincoln County, 
          (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (4) Special account.--The term ``special account'' means the 
        account in the Treasury of the United States established under 
        section 5.


  (a) Disposal.--
          (1) In general.--As soon as practicable after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, notwithstanding the land use planning 
        and land sale requirements contained in sections 202 and 203 of 
        the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 
        1711, 1712), the Secretary, in cooperation with the County and 
        the City, in accordance with this Act, the Federal Land Policy 
        and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), and other 
        applicable law, and subject to valid existing rights, shall 
        dispose of the land described in subsection (b) in a 
        competitive bidding process, at a minimum, for fair market 
          (2) Timing.--The Secretary shall dispose of--
                  (A) the land described in subsection (b)(1)(A) not 
                later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this 
                Act; and
                  (B) the land described in subsection (b)(1)(B) not 
                later than 5 years after the date of enactment of this 
  (b) Land Description.--
          (1) In general.--The land referred to in subsection (a) is 
        the land depicted on the map entitled ``Public Lands Identified 
        for Disposal in Lincoln County, Nevada'' and dated July 24, 
        2000, consisting of--
                  (A) the land identified on the map for disposal 
                within 1 year, comprising approximately 4,817 acres; 
                  (B) the land identified on the map for disposal 
                within 5 years, comprising approximately 8,683 acres.
          (2) Map.--The map described in paragraph (1) shall be 
        available for public inspection in the Ely Field Office of the 
        Bureau of Land Management.
  (c) Segregation.--Subject to valid existing rights, the land 
described in subsection (b) is segregated from all forms of entry and 
appropriation (except for competitive sale) under the public land laws, 
including the mining laws, and from operation of the mineral leasing 
and geothermal leasing laws.
  (d) Compliance With Local Planning and Zoning.--The Secretary shall 
ensure that qualified bidders intend to comply with--
          (1) County and City zoning ordinances; and
          (2) any master plan for the area developed and approved by 
        the County and City.


  (a) Land Sales.--Of the gross proceeds of sales of land under this 
Act in a fiscal year--
          (1) 5 percent shall be paid directly to the State of Nevada 
        for use in the general education program of the State;
          (2) 10 percent shall be returned to the County for use as 
        determined through normal county budgeting procedures, with 
        emphasis given to support of schools, of which no amount may be 
        used in support of litigation against the Federal Government; 
          (3) the remainder shall be deposited in a special account in 
        the Treasury of the United States (referred to in this section 
        as the ``special account'') for use as provided in subsection 
  (b) Availability of Special Account.--
          (1) In general.--Amounts in the special account (including 
        amounts earned as interest under paragraph (3)) shall be 
        available to the Secretary of the Interior, without further Act 
        of appropriation, and shall remain available until expended, 
                  (A) inventory, evaluation, protection, and management 
                of unique archaeological resources (as defined in 
                section 3 of the Archaeological Resources Protection 
                Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470bb)) in the County;
                  (B) development of a multispecies habitat 
                conservation plan in the County;
                  (C)(i) reimbursement of costs incurred by the Nevada 
                State Office and the Ely Field Office of the Bureau of 
                Land Management in preparing sales under this Act, or 
                other authorized land sales within the County, 
                including the costs of land boundary surveys, 
                compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
                of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), appraisals, 
                environmental and cultural clearances, and any public 
                notice; and
                  (ii) processing public land use authorizations and 
                rights-of-way stemming from development of the conveyed 
                land; and
                  (D) the cost of acquisition of environmentally 
                sensitive land or interests in such land in the State 
                of Nevada, with priority given to land outside Clark 
          (2) Acquisition from willing sellers.--An acquisition under 
        paragraph (1)(D) shall be made only from a willing seller and 
        after consultation with the State of Nevada and units of local 
        government under the jurisdiction of which the environmentally 
        sensitive land is located.
  (c) Investment of Special Account.--All funds deposited as principal 
in the special account shall earn interest in the amount determined by 
the Secretary of the Treasury on the basis of the current average 
market yield on outstanding marketable obligations of the United States 
of comparable maturities.


  (a) Definition of Environmentally Sensitive Land.--In this section, 
the term ``environmentally sensitive land'' means land or an interest 
in land, the acquisition of which by the United States would, in the 
judgment of the Secretary--
          (1) promote the preservation of natural, scientific, 
        aesthetic, historical, cultural, watershed, wildlife, and other 
        values contributing to public enjoyment and biological 
          (2) enhance recreational opportunities and public access;
          (3) provide the opportunity to achieve better management of 
        public land through consolidation of Federal ownership; or
          (4) otherwise serve the public interest.
  (b) Acquisitions.--
          (1) In general.--After the consultation process has been 
        completed in accordance with subsection (c), the Secretary may 
        acquire with the proceeds of the special account 
        environmentally sensitive land and interests in environmentally 
        sensitive land. Land may not be acquired under this section 
        without the consent of the landowner.
          (2) Use of other funds.--Funds made available from the 
        special account may be used with any other funds made available 
        under any other provision of law.
  (c) Consultation.--Before initiating efforts to acquire land under 
this subsection, the Secretary shall consult with the State of Nevada 
and with local government within whose jurisdiction the land is 
located, including appropriate planning and regulatory agencies, and 
with other interested persons, concerning the necessity of making the 
acquisition, the potential impacts on State and local government, and 
other appropriate aspects of the acquisition.
  (d) Administration.--On acceptance of title by the United States, 
land and interests in land acquired under this section that is within 
the boundaries of a unit of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, 
National Trails System, National Wilderness Preservation System, any 
other system established by Act of Congress, or any national 
conservation or national recreation area established by Act of 
          (1) shall become part of the unit or area without further 
        action by the Secretary; and
          (2) shall be managed in accordance with all laws and 
        regulations and land use plans applicable to the unit or area.

  2. Amend the title so as to read: ``A bill to direct the 
Secretary of Interior to sell certain public land in Lincoln 
County through a competitive process.''.

                          purpose of the bill

    The purpose of S. 1331 is to provide for the orderly 
disposal of approximately 13,500 acres of public land in 
Lincoln County, Nevada and to provide for the acquisition of 
environmentally sensitive land in the State of Nevada.

                          background and need

    Lincoln County encompasses an area of 10,132 square miles. 
Approximately 98% of the county is owned by the Federal 
Government. The scarcity of private land within the county 
severely limits property taxes revenues and the ability of 
local municipalities to meet the growing demand for development 
space. The limited tax base in Lincoln County is making it 
increasingly difficult to provide basic county and school 
services. The land being made available for disposal is 
situated adjacent to the rapidly growing city of Mesquite in 
Clark County, Nevada. This growth has created demand for 
housing and commercial development space. The lands made 
available in this legislation will meet this demand.
    By making the land made available for private ownership, S. 
1331 will result in Clark County residents gaining room for 
expansion and growth; Lincoln County gaining needed property 
tax revenue, and; the Federal Government receiving fair 
compensation for public lands. The proceeds from the purchase 
will be used by the Bureau of Land Management to acquire or 
otherwise protect environmentally sensitive lands in Nevada, 
defray the administrative costs that BLM will incur in 
processing this land sale, and develop a multi-species habitat 
plan for Lincoln County.

                          legislative history

    S. 1331 was introduced by Senator Reid on July 1, 1999. The 
Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management held a 
hearing on S. 1331 on June 7, 2000. At the business meeting on 
September 20, 2000, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources ordered S. 1331 favorably reported, if amended as 
described herein.

                        committee recommendation

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session in September 20, 2000, by a voice vote of 
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 1331 if 
amended as described herein.

                          committee amendment

    During the consideration of S. 1331, the Committee adopted 
an amendment in the nature of a substitute. In addition to 
making numerous technical and clarifying changes, the amendment 
includes the following substantive changes.
    1. Two new sections were added setting forth findings and 
purposes and defining key terms used in the legislation.
    2. As introduced, Lincoln County, Nevada would have the 
exclusive right to purchase the land. The substitute amendment 
modified this to direct the Secretary to offer approximately 
13,500 acres of public land for sale through a competitive 
    3. Language was added authorizing receipts from land sales 
to be used for management of archaeological resources. In 
addition, the amendment narrows the scope of reimbursement to 
Bureau of Land Management units in Nevada, and broadens the 
scope of items allowed for reimbursement to include land use 

                      section-by-section analysis

    Section 1 cites the short title as the ``Lincoln County 
Land Act of 2000.''
    Section 2 contains the findings and purpose.
    Section 3 provides definitions used in the Act.
    Section 4(a) directs the Secretary to dispose of lands 
identified in subsection (b) in cooperation with local units of 
government, in accordance with applicable laws, through a 
competitive bidding process, for fair market value.
    Subsection (b) describes the land to be auctioned and 
specifies that 4,817 acres be disposed of within 1 year with an 
additional 8,683 acres to be disposed of within 5 years.
    Subsection (c), subject to existing rights, withdraws the 
parcels from all forms of entry and appropriation.
    Subsection (d) directs the Secretary to ensure that 
successful bidders comply with local units of government zoning 
ordinances and any approved master plans.
    Section 5(a) requires 5 percent of land sale proceeds be 
paid to the State of Nevada for education purposes, 10 percent 
of the proceeds to be returned to Lincoln County, with the 
remainder be deposited in a special account to be used as 
described in subsection (b).
    Subsection (b) specifies that the Secretary of the Interior 
may use the amounts in the special account for the management 
of unique archeological resources in Lincoln County; acquiring 
environmentally sensitive land, or interest in lands, outside 
of Lincoln County from willing sellers, preparing a habitat 
conservation plan in Lincoln County; and for costs of preparing 
sales under this Act.
    Section (6)(a) defines environmentally sensitive lands 
authorized for acquisition under this Act and specifies that 
the Secretary must consult with the State of Nevada and units 
of local government before initiating efforts to acquire lands.

                   cost and budgetary considerations

    The Congressional Budget Office estimate of the costs of 
this measure has been requested but was not received at the 
time the report was filed. When the report is available, the 
Chairman will request it to be printed in the Congressional 
Record for the advice of the Senate.

                      regulatory impact evaluation

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVVI of the 
standing rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 1331.
    The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of 
imposing Government-established standards or significant 
economic responsibilities on private individuals and 
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 1331, as ordered reported.

                        executive communications

    On September 20, 2000, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of 
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting 
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 1331. These 
reports had not been received at the time the report on S. 1331 
was filed. When the reports become available, the Chairman will 
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for 
the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the Bureau 
of Land Management at the Subcommittee hearing on S. 1331 

Statement of Pete Culp, Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Bureau 
                           of Land Management

    Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I appreciate 
the opportunity to appear before you today to testify on S. 
1331 Lincoln County Land Act. S. 1331 gives Lincoln County, 
Nevada, the exclusive right to purchase 4,817 acres of public 
land in the County during a ten-year period from the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM).
    Lincoln County, Nevada was among the last portions of the 
State to become settled. It is lightly populated today. The 
county encompasses 6.8 million acres, making it nearly the size 
of the entire State of Maryland. However, nearly 90 percent of 
the land in that county has remained in Federal ownership. The 
pattern of private ownership has made management of some of 
these extensive Federal lands difficult and uneconomical.
    Through the land use planning process required under the 
Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) (P.L. 94-579), 
the Bureau identifies lands as potentially available for 
disposal. However, the sale authority granted the BLM pursuant 
to FLPMA has not been widely used for a number of reasons, 
including staffing and disposition of sales receipts. The BLM 
has made progress toward improving management efficiency by 
consolidating land ownership through exchanges, purchases, and 
negotiating agreements with other land management agencies.
    The BLM is rapidly gaining invaluable experience in the 
disposal of public lands. The Southern Nevada Public Land 
Management Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-263) (SNPLMA), has helped to 
refine and improve our land sales process. The SNPLMA provided 
for the sale of public land, but was limited to lands in the 
Las Vegas valley.
    The 1983 Caliente Management Framework Plan (the Plan) does 
not recommend this land disposal. However, BLM recently 
reviewed this existing Plan and after considering public 
comment, developed a proposed Plan amendment. This Plan 
amendment followed BLM Planning and Nepa process. This proposed 
Plan amendment would allow for the disposal of 14,213.95 acres 
of land in Lincoln County, including the land identified in the 
Bill. The Plan amendment will not be completed until the Fall 
of 2000. Similar to this Act, S. 1892 (The Valles Caldera 
Preservation Act), is currently working its way through 
Congress and Title II of S. 1892 would allow for the same 
actions nationally as proposed in this Bill for Lincoln County, 
Nevada. The Administration sees little need for this local Bill 
should S. 1892 be enacted.
    Other recommendations for specific amendments include:
    Within Sec. 2. Sale of Public Land (a) Right To Purchase: 
The BLM would prefer disposal of the identified parcels of 
public land described in subsection (b), after consultation 
with Lincoln County, through a competitive sale process. This 
would allow sale at fair market value and parallel the approach 
taken in the SNPLMA.
    Within Sec. 2(b) Land Description: The BLM proposed land 
use plan amendment identifies this Bill's 4,817 acre parcel for 
disposal. This Bill would leave approximately 1,385 acres of 
isolated, unmanageable BLM administered public lands along the 
Nevada-Utah state line. We believe a logical development unit 
should include disposal of all lands within an identified 
disposal area. We therefore recommend that the Bill be amended 
to allow BLM to dispose of the entire 14,214 acres identified 
in the proposed land use plan amendment. In addition, the area 
contains unsurveyed lands, so land acreage figures are 
estimates. Actual acreages will be determined upon completion 
of a cadastral survey.
    Within Sec. 2(f) Withdrawal: We are concerned that the 10-
year withdrawal period is too long to administer the land sale 
and the ``Special Account,'' causing administrative 
difficulties and expenses. In addition, over this period of 
time conditions may change. In view of this uncertainty, this 
section should be amended to state that if commercial oil, gas 
or geothermal resources are discovered, the Secretary of the 
Interior will have an assessment conducted to determined if the 
lands should still be withdrawn under existing mineral laws.
    Within Sec. 3. Disposition of Proceeds (a) Land Sales: 
Under this Bill, 5 percent of the sale proceeds will be paid to 
the State of Nevada, 10 percent will be returned to Lincoln 
County, and the remainder will be deposited in a special 
account in the U.S. Treasury. This again is similar to the 
SNPLMA. The possibility exists that the administrative costs of 
sales could exceed the gross sale value. If that were to 
happen, BLM's ability to meet the disposal needs in Lincoln 
County could be diminished. Under this scenario, it is unclear 
how the requirements for payments to the state and the county 
would be accomplished.
    Within Sec. 3(b) Availability of Special Account--(1) in 
General: It is recommended that Section 3 be amended to read: 
``.  .  . reimbursement of costs incurred by the Bureau of Land 
Management in preparing sales under this Act, or under existing 
public land laws, additional land sales or exchanges  .  .  .'' 
The meaning or intent of ``other authorized'' would be 
clarified in this section with this wording. Also, based on our 
experience with the SNPLMA, we suggest the inclusion of this 
statement: ``The reimbursement of costs incurred by BLM in 
implementation of this Act shall include not only the direct 
costs for sales or exchanges but also other BLM administrative 
costs. Other administrative costs include those expenditures 
for establishing and administering the Federal Lands Disposal 
Account under the Act, developing implementation procedures, 
and consultation with legal counsel.'' Such clarifying 
language, applicable to the SNPLMA, was contained in Report 
language accompanying the FY 2000 Interior and Related Agencies 
Appropriations bill.
    That concludes my testimony. I would be happy to respond to 
any questions.

                        changes in existing law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 1331 as ordered