[Senate Report 113-26]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                        Calendar No. 57
113th Congress                                                   Report
 1st Session                                                     113-26




                 April 22, 2013.--Ordered to be printed


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

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 311]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 311) to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of 
designating sites in the Lower Mississippi River Area in the 
State of Louisiana as a unit of the National Park System, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that the 
bill, as amended, do pass. The amendment is as follows:

    On page 3, strike lines 9 through 11.


    The purpose of S. 311 is direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of 
designating certain historic sites along the Lower Mississippi 
River in Louisiana as a unit of the National Park System.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    The Lower Mississippi River area in Plaquemines Parish in 
Louisiana has rich historical significance and cultural 
history. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers traveled along the 
banks of the river. In 1699, the area became the site of the 
first fortification on the Lower Mississippi River, Fort 
Mississippi. Since then, it has been home to ten different 
fortifications, including Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson. The 
two forts are located on opposite banks at a turn in the river 
known as Plaquemines Bend in the Head of Passes. The Head of 
Passes, the section of the Mississippi River where the main 
stem of the river branches into three distinct segments, is 
considered the mouth of the Mississippi River.
    Fort St. Philip was originally built by the French in 1746 
and rebuilt by the Spanish in 1791. President Andrew Jackson 
repaired the fort in anticipation of a British attack during 
the War of 1812. Fort Jackson, named after Andrew Jackson, was 
completed in 1832 to provide further protection for New 
    Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson were heavily fortified 
during the Civil War. The Confederate command felt that the 
presence of these two forts made enemy passage up the 
Mississippi River impossible. Union leadership determined that 
though considerable in strength, the two forts were not 
impenetrable and that opening the river to Union navigation 
from Memphis, Tennessee, downstream to the Gulf was necessary 
for the war effort. Eight days of heavy bombardment led to the 
bloodless surrender of both forts, giving the North control of 
the river, which was a crippling blow to the Confederacy.
    Fort St. Philip was not regularly garrisoned after 1871 and 
was later sold at public auction. From 1978-1989 it served as 
the site of a nonsectarian spiritual community, and it remains 
in private ownership, today. Fort Jackson was badly damaged by 
the Civil War bombardment. It was repaired and used as a 
prison; then later a minor training base during the Spanish-
American War and World War I; and then sold as surplus. The 
buyers donated the 82-acre site to the Parish of Plaquemines 
where after considerable renovation it was converted into a 
historical park and recreation area. Hurricanes Katrina and 
Rita completely flooded the fort destabilizing the walls that 
were further damaged by large trees that toppled some of the 
    In addition to its rich military history, there are many 
other unique attributes of the Lower Mississippi region. This 
area is home to the longest continuous river road and levee 
system in the United States. The land known as Plaquemines 
Parish was created only 700 years ago when a natural levee 
eroded, causing the Mississippi River to change course. The 
Estuary of South Louisiana is considered one of North America's 
most dynamic ecosystems. Two National Wildlife Refuges, Delta 
and Breton, which together encompass nearly 56,000 acres, are 
located within the Lower Mississippi River area. The Breton 
National Wildlife Refuge, which was established by President 
Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, as a refuge and breeding ground for 
migratory birds and other wildlife, is the nation's second 
oldest refuge. It is also part of the National Wilderness 
Preservation System.
    The Lower Mississippi River area is also home to a diverse 
array of cultures. The distinctive cultural history of 
Plaquemines Parish differs from most of the rest of the United 
States. While the French, Spanish, African, and Native 
Americans have interwoven the cultural fabric of the Parish, 
the more recent immigration of European Slavs, Germans, 
Italians, Irish, Portuguese, English, Danes, Swedes, Greeks, 
Filipinos, Chinese, Malays, Canary Islanders, and Vietnamese 
have contributed to make the parish even more culturally 
    S. 311 would authorize the National Park Service to study 
the feasibility of creating a unit of the National Park System 
to preserve and interpret the historic properties of Fort St. 
Philip and Fort Jackson and the unique geological, biological, 
and ethnographic features of the Lower Mississippi River area.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    Senator Landrieu introduced S. 311 on February 13, 2013. At 
its business meeting on March 14, 2013, the Committee ordered 
S. 311 favorably reported with an amendment.
    In the 112th Congress, Senator Landrieu introduced similar 
legislation, S. 1325, on July 5, 2011. The Subcommittee on 
National Parks held a hearing on October 19, 2011 (S. Hrg. 112-
224). At its business meeting on November 10, 2011, the 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 1325 
favorably reported with an amendment (S. Rpt. 112-125).

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on March 14, 2013 by voice vote of a 
quorum present recommends that the Senate pass S. 311.

                          COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

    During its consideration of S. 311, the Committee adopted 
an amendment to delete section 5, which authorized the 
appropriation of such sums as are necessary to carry out the 
Act. The section is not necessary because the bill carries with 
it an implied authorization of appropriations.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``Lower Mississippi 
River Area Study Act''.
    Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
    Section 3(a) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in 
consultation with the State of Louisiana, to conduct a special 
resource study of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, including Fort 
St. Philip, Fort Jackson, the Head of Passes, and related 
resources to determine the national significance, suitability, 
and feasibility of designating the study area as a unit of the 
National Park System.
    Subsection (b) directs the study to be conducted in 
accordance with section 8 of Public Law 91-383, which sets 
forth requirements for National Park Service studies.
    Subsection (c) requires the study to include cost estimates 
for acquisition, development, operation, and maintenance 
associated with a range of management, administration, and 
protection alternatives of the study area.
    Section 4 allows the Secretary to accept donated funds to 
conduct the study.


    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

S. 311--Lower Mississippi River Area Study Act

    S. 311 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to 
conduct a study to determine the suitability and feasibility of 
designating specified sites along the Lower Mississippi River 
in the state of Lousiana as a unit of the National Park System. 
Based on information provided by the National Park Service and 
assuming the availability of appropriated funds, CBO estimates 
that carrying out the proposed study would cost about $400,000 
over the next three years. Enacting S. 311 would not affect 
direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures do not apply.
    S. 311 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on states, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von 
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.


    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI 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. 311.
    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. 311, as ordered reported.


    S. 311, as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    Executive Communications were not requested by the 
Committee in the 113th Congress. The following Administration 
testimony references similar legislation introduced in the 
112th Congress.
    The testimony provided by the National Park Service at the 
October 19, 2011, Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on S. 
1325 follows:

  Statement of William D. Shaddox, Acting Associate Director for Park 
 Planning, Facilities and Lands, National Park Service, Department of 
                              the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the 
views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1325, a bill to 
direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability 
and feasibility of designating sites in the Lower Mississippi 
River Area in the State of Louisiana as a unit of the National 
Park System, and for other purposes.
    The Department supports this legislation with amendments 
that are described later in this statement. However, we feel 
that priority should be given to the 37 previously authorized 
studies for potential units of the National Park System, 
potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions 
to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic 
Rivers System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
    S. 1325 would authorize a study of natural, cultural, 
historical, and recreational resources in Plaquemines Parish, 
located south of the City of New Orleans, for potential 
designation as a unit of the National Park System. The study 
area would include Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson, located on 
opposite sides of a bend in the Mississippi River about eight 
miles upstream from the town of Venice, Louisiana, and 
approximately 73 river miles downstream from New Orleans at an 
ancient ``Head of Passes'' site. The term ``Head of Passes'' 
refers to the site where the main stem of the Mississippi River 
branches off to the east, the south, and the southwest at its 
mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The present day Head of Passes is 
just south of the town of Venice. The study is estimated to 
cost between $200,000 and $400,000.
    Fort St. Philip was originally built in 1749, and the 
construction of Fort Jackson, named for Andrew Jackson, the 
hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, began in 1822. Fort 
St. Philip played an important defensive role in the Battle of 
New Orleans and both forts were employed unsuccessfully to 
defend New Orleans and the Confederacy from Admiral Farragut's 
union fleet during the Civil War. Both Fort St. Philip and Fort 
Jackson have been designated as National Historic Landmarks, 
which attests to their national significance. Fort St. Philip, 
privately owned at the present time, is in ruins and overgrown 
with vegetation. Fort Jackson was operated by Plaquemines 
Parish as a historical museum until Hurricane Katrina caused 
extensive damage, and it has been closed to the public ever 
    While the Department supports S. 1325, we would like to 
recommend some amendments to the bill. We would be pleased to 
work with the committee and the bill's sponsor to develop 
language for these amendments.
    First, we recommend tightening the definition of the study 
area in section 3(1). While it appears that the focus of the 
study is on the two historic forts and related resources, the 
bill defines the study area as the ``Lower Mississippi River 
area in the State of Louisiana,'' which could be interpreted as 
a much broader area than what is intended. The scope of the 
study would be clarified by limiting the study area to the two 
forts and related and supporting resources in Plaquemines 
    Second, we recommend providing a three-year period for 
completing the study, rather than 18 months, as provided for in 
section 4(a). This change would provide for the full three 
years that a special resource study usually requires, and it 
would make the bill consistent with most of the other special 
resource study bills Congress has enacted in recent years.
    Third, we are concerned about the reference in section 4(a) 
to ``non-Federal sources'' of funds made available to carry out 
the study, which suggests that the study could be privately 
funded. We would like to carefully consider the issues that 
might arise from conducting a privately funded special resource 
study and, if we determine that any changes to the legislation 
are necessary, make the appropriate recommendation.
    Finally, we recommend removing language in section 
4(a)(1)(B) that suggests a specific designation for the area, 
the ``Lower Mississippi River National Park,'' before the study 
is conducted. A special resource study that finds that an area 
meets the criteria for designation as a unit of the National 
Park System would also, as part of those findings, identify the 
most appropriate type of designation for the area. A study 
might also find that options other than designation of a new 
park unit might be more suitable or feasible.
    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be happy 
to answer any questions that you may have.

                        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. 311, as ordered