UPDATE The 115th Congress: Proposed Cultural and Environmental Bills to Keep an Eye on

January 28, 2017

On January 24th, HR 621 was proposed in the house. It will undermine public lands putting the environment and cultural heritage at risk. FIGHT IT NOW. Call you representatives and kill it. WE MUST NOT DISPOSE OF PUBLIC LANDS. Those are our lands, and once privatized, they’re never coming back.

H.R.621 – To direct the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, previously identified as suitable for disposal, and for other purposes.

I have updated one bill below. Summaries have still not been provided the public on Congress.gov for the other bills. Scrambling to keep up with everything this new administration is throwing at us, but I’ll try to keep this updated as I can.



H.R.717 – To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require review of the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species, and for other purposes.

H.R.622 – To terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies, and for other purposes.

H.R.520 – To require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of the minerals and mineral materials of strategic and critical importance to the economic and national security and manufacturing competitiveness of the United States, and for other purposes.

H.R.502 – To permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

H.R.481 – To amend the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to authorize assignment to States of Federal agency environmental review responsibilities, and for other purposes.

**H.R.473 – To amend title 54, United States Code, to provide that if the head of the agency managing Federal property objects to the inclusion of certain property on the National Register or its designation as a National Historic Landmark for reasons of national security, the Federal property shall be neither included nor designated until the objection is withdrawn, and for other purposes.

***HR 473 SHOULD BE ON EVERYONE’S RADAR! Daryl Issa has proposed this several times in the past- it is a way to undermine and kill S106. Previously the military has actually oppossed this as unnecessary and harmful to cultural resources.

H.R.344 – To amend the Forest Legacy Program of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to authorize States to allow certain entities to acquire, hold, and manage conservation easements under the program.

H.R.289 – GO Act  UPDATED 1/28/2017

This bill amends the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to specify the circumstances in which the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) may: (1) issue special recreation permits for federal recreational lands and waters, and (2) charge a special recreation permit fee for them.

Interior and USDA may issue special recreation permits:

  • for specialized individual and group use of federal facilities and federal recreational lands and waters;
  • to recreation service providers who conduct outfitting, guiding, and other recreation services on federal recreational lands and waters; and
  • to recreation service providers who conduct recreation or competitive events, which may involve incidental sales on federal recreational lands and waters.

Interior and USDA shall issue joint permits for the use of lands managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Interior shall publish guidelines for establishing recreation permit fees.

Revenues from special recreation permits issued to recreation service providers shall be used to: (1) offset partially Interior’s direct cost of administering permits, and (2) improve and streamline the permitting process.

When reviewing and adjusting allocations for the use of priority use permits for special uses of federal recreational lands and water managed by the Forest Service USDA shall allocate to the permit holder a prescribed amount subject to a cap.

USDA and Interior shall implement a program that authorizes temporary permits for new recreational uses of federal recreational lands and waters managed by the Forest Service or the BLM, respectively.

A permit holder prohibited by a state from indemnifying the federal government shall be considered to be in compliance with Interior and USDA indemnification requirements if the permit holder carries the required minimum amount of liability insurance coverage or is self-insured for the same minimum amount.

Interior and USDA shall revise certain:

  • special land use and special recreation permit regulations to streamline the processes for the issuance and renewal of outfitter and guide special use permits, and
  • cost recovery fee regulations to reduce costs and minimize the burden of cost recovery on small businesses and adverse impacts of cost recovery on jobs in the outfitting and guiding industry and on rural economies.

If a holder of a special use permit for outfitting and guiding that authorizes priority use has requested renewal of the permit, USDA may grant one or more exiting permit extensions for additional items for up to five years altogether, as necessary to allow completion of the renewal process and avoid the interruption of services under the permit.

H.R.243 – Nevada Land Sovereignty Act

H.R.232 – State National Forest Management Act of 2017

H.R.212 – EFFECT Act

H.J.Res.35 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska”.

H.J.Res.34 – Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior regarding requirements for exploratory drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf.



January 18, 2017

Hello Everyone,

Being the fun and exciting person that I am, I spent my Sunday evening going through all the proposed bills of the new Congress to look for any that might effect (negatively or positively) archaeology. I don’t necessarily know a lot about these bills, but I’ll update as information becomes available. The hyper-links take you to Congress.gov where you can sign up for alerts for the individual bills, or do your own searching.

My criteria for singling out a bill for our attention:

  • Does it have to do with public lands? As Federal agencies are required to comply with the NHPA, the policy changes affecting public lands can have an effect on how Section 106 is completed (or not). Because these effect public lands, these kinds of laws often undermine environmental legislation, such as NEPA, and are of concern and interest to environmentalists as well. Look, a coalition!
  • Is it directly or indirectly amending existing laws, such as NHPA, the Antiquities Act, ARPA, etc?
  • Does it address a broad swath of cultural resources? Many, many representives had porposed legislation around a specific national monument, park, etc. I did not include these because they are generally going to address boundary changes, naming, etc and will not have affects beyond the particular property. If, however, someone is proposing a state-wide exemption or some other grand change that could be precedent setting, I have pulled it.
  • Was it proposed in the Natural Resources Committee? Some of the laws that I singled out have ambiguous names and no summaries, but have been proposed by people with a history of trying to undermine cultural resource laws. Let’s keep our eyes on those. If it turns out the laws are outside of this purview, I’ll drop them off our updates list.

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