[Congressional Record Volume 156, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 27, 2010)]
[Pages H403-H405]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 1038, I call 
up the bill (H.R. 4474) to authorize the continued use of certain water 
diversions located on National Forest System land in the Frank Church-
River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in 
the State of Idaho, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate 
consideration in the House.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 1038, the bill 
is considered as read.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 4474

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Idaho Wilderness Water 
     Facilities Act''.


       (a) Authorization for Continued Use.--The Secretary of 
     Agriculture is authorized to issue a special use 
     authorization to each of the 20 owners of a water storage, 
     transport, or diversion facility (in this section referred to 
     as a ``facility'') located on National Forest System land in 
     the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness or the Selway-
     Bitterroot Wilderness (as identified on the map titled 
     ``Unauthorized Private Water Diversions located within the 
     Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness'', dated December 
     14, 2009, or the map titled ``Unauthorized Private Water 
     Diversions located within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness'', 
     dated December 11, 2009) for the continued operation, 
     maintenance, and reconstruction of the facility if the 
     Secretary determines that--
       (1) the facility was in existence on the date on which the 
     land upon which the facility is located was designated as 
     part of the National Wilderness Preservation System (in this 
     section referred to as ``the date of designation'');
       (2) the facility has been in substantially continuous use 
     to deliver water for the beneficial use on the owner's non-
     Federal land since the date of designation;
       (3) the owner of the facility holds a valid water right for 
     use of the water on the owner's non-Federal land under Idaho 
     State law, with a priority date that predates the date of 
     designation; and
       (4) it is not practicable or feasible to relocate the 
     facility to land outside of the wilderness and continue the 
     beneficial use of water on the non-Federal land recognized 
     under State law.
       (b) Terms and Conditions.--
       (1) Equipment, transport, and use terms and conditions.--In 
     a special use authorization issued under subsection (a), the 
     Secretary is authorized to--
       (A) allow use of motorized equipment and mechanized 
     transport for operation, maintenance, or reconstruction of a 
     facility, if the Secretary determines that--
       (i) the use is necessary to allow the facility to continue 
     delivery of water to the non-Federal land for the beneficial 
     uses recognized by the water right held under Idaho State 
     law; and
       (ii) after conducting a minimum tool analysis for the 
     facility, the use of nonmotorized equipment and nonmechanized 
     transport is impracticable or infeasible; and
       (B) preclude use of the facility for the storage, 
     diversion, or transport of water in excess of the water right 
     recognized by the State of Idaho on the date of designation.
       (2) Additional terms and conditions.--In a special use 
     authorization issued under subsection (a), the Secretary is 
     authorized to--
       (A) require or allow modification or relocation of the 
     facility in the wilderness, as the Secretary determines 
     necessary, to reduce impacts to wilderness values set forth 
     in section 2 of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131) if the 
     beneficial use of water on the non-Federal land is not 
     diminished; and
       (B) require that the owner provide a reciprocal right of 
     access across the non-Federal property, in which case, the 
     owner shall receive market value for any right-of-way or 
     other interest in real property conveyed to the United 
     States, and market value may be paid by the Secretary, in 
     whole or in part, by the grant of a reciprocal right-of-way, 
     or by reduction of fees or other costs that may accrue to the 
     owner to obtain the authorization for water facilities.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. 
Rahall) and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Hastings) each will 
control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from West Virginia.

                             General Leave

  Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to

[[Page H404]]

revise and extend their remarks and insert extraneous material on H.R. 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from West Virginia?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. RAHALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4474, 
introduced by our colleagues, Mr. Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson of 
Idaho. This bill would authorize the continued use of certain water 
diversions located in wilderness areas on national forest system land 
in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-
Bitterroot Wilderness in the State of Idaho. Predating the existence of 
the two wilderness areas, private land owners had received permits to 
maintain and repair these water diversions. The water is used for a 
combination of purposes, including drinking water for private cabins 
and ranches. Many of the permits have since expired, leaving those who 
own the water diversions without the ability to mechanically maintain 
the systems because they are located in designated wilderness. Under 
the terms of this legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture could only 
issue new permits if the owner demonstrates that the facility existed 
prior to the designated wilderness, the facility had been used to 
deliver water to the owner's land since the designation, the owner had 
a valid water right, and it would not be practical to move the facility 
out of the wilderness area.
  This is narrowly tailored legislation designed to put in place a 
balanced reasonable solution to a specific conflict. Mr. Minnick and 
Mr. Simpson are to be commended for working cooperatively and in a 
bipartisan fashion to craft this legislation.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much 
time as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I will first speak to the merits of this legislation 
before focusing on the partisan reasons why the House is having to 
debate this bill and this legislation for a second week in a row. This 
bill was originally introduced by Mr. Simpson of Idaho to require the 
Forest Service to issue special use maintenance permits to owners of a 
small number of existing water systems in two Idaho wilderness areas. 
Although these water diversions continue to operate, their owners 
currently lack the authority to maintain and repair these facilities. 
Failure to maintain these facilities can harm not only those who depend 
on access to the water that these structures provide but also damage 
the environment and watersheds of the Forest Service land.
  H.R. 4474 will allow the owners of the existing water systems to do 
the necessary maintenance. The legislation is narrowly tailored to 
apply only to a small number of sites that meet specific criteria. To 
qualify, the water diversion facility must have been in existence on 
the date that the area was designated as part of the National 
Wilderness Preservation System. It must have been in substantially 
continuous use since the date of that designation, and the owner of the 
facilities must hold a valid water right under Idaho law that predates 
the wilderness designation.
  Additionally, sites can only be covered by the bill if it is not 
practical or feasible to relocate the facilities to land outside the 
wilderness area and continue the beneficial use of water recognized 
under State law.
  This is a bill and policy that I believe merits strong support in 
this House. Congress needs to have a reasonable and commonsense 
approach to managing our Federal lands. Wilderness designations 
preclude such commonsense management. The restrictions on activity are 
so severe and inflexible, the designation is often applied to 
unsuitable lands, and problems and conflicts arise out of that 
  And so here we are today. Congress must go back once again and fix 
the problems created by previous wilderness designation law. Congress 
needs to execute far more caution and care and forethought before 
designating wilderness areas, as the effects are to lock up these areas 
for human activity. We ought to be wise enough to devise sound 
conservation practices on our land without creating the unintended 
threats to neighboring families that poorly thought out wilderness 
designation can bring to many. There is no reason why we cannot be both 
good stewards and good neighbors.
  So, Madam Speaker, as I said, this is a matter of good public policy, 
and I support the changes this legislation will make in the law. 
However, as a matter of how the Democrat leaders who control this House 
are choosing to operate this House, I object to the extreme partisan 
maneuvering surrounding this bill. Last week the House voted on this 
exact same bill, but there are only two differences between that bill 
and this bill. First, this is a new bill with a new number. And second, 
the lead sponsor is now a Democrat instead of a Republican. Last week 
this bill was H.R. 3538, sponsored by Republican Mike Simpson of Idaho. 
Today the bill is numbered H.R. 4474, and the lead sponsor is Democrat 
Walt Minnick of Idaho. So let me repeat. The bill is word for word the 
same that the House voted on last week, except the sponsorship has been 
switched so that a Democrat is now the prime sponsor.
  Now, I have to say, Madam Speaker, this is truly a remarkable display 
of partisanship. First, Democrat leaders directed their Members to vote 
against this legislation last week because a totally separate piece of 
legislation failed to pass on the suspension calendar. And now these 
Democrat leaders are playing a partisan switcheroo in sponsorship of 
this bill so a Democrat gets credit for this bill's passing. I assume 
it's going to pass now that the switcheroo has happened. I might add, 
by the way, that the area that we're talking about is in Mr. Simpson's 
  So, Madam Speaker, with unemployment in double digits, millions of 
Americans without jobs, and with record deficits set last year by a 
Democrat President and this Congress, one would think that this House 
would have more important things to do than to engage in such overt and 
obvious partisan tactics.
  With that, Madam Speaker, I support the bill.
  I reserve my time.
  Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds. I do appreciate 
the manner which the gentleman from Washington, the ranking member, has 
stressed the bipartisan nature of this legislation. As he knows, in our 
Committee on Natural Resources, it's always our effort to improve a 
product the second time we consider it, and that's what we're doing 
here today with this legislation.
  Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from Idaho (Mr. Minnick), who has been so instrumental in bringing this 
legislation forward and worked so hard in crafting it.
  Mr. MINNICK. I thank the chairman. And I would like to indicate that 
the partisanship which leads to this particular procedural process for 
bringing this bill back to the floor has nothing to do with the merits 
of the legislation. Congressman Simpson has done a great deal of work 
on these remote water systems that were ignored when two wilderness 
areas were protected, and exist in both of our districts, carefully 
crafting, as the ranking minority on the committee has stated, the 
Congressman from Washington, carefully crafting a very narrow bill 
which creates some exceptions that allow 22 land holders who have, 
since before these areas were created as wilderness, operated very 
simple gravity-fed water systems whose points of intake are now in 
wilderness because they're upstream, up small creeks in almost every 
incident, and who need to maintain these systems from time to time, 
occasionally using mechanical means.
  Congressman Simpson looked and catalogued these 22 inholdings, 
drafted very carefully legislation to deal with this issue to correct 
the oversight. And the oversight was not the wilderness; it was just 
not considering the continued use of these private inholdings. The 
legislation will allow them to continue operating as they are in 
perpetuity. This is good legislation. It's good for Idaho. It's good 
for wilderness.
  I want to congratulate my colleague on his diligence, and to urge my 
colleagues to support this remedial legislation.

                              {time}  1245

  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield myself as much time as I may 

[[Page H405]]

  Madam Speaker, I wanted to respond to my distinguished chairman. It 
is true that we do have a lot of bipartisanship on our committee, and I 
appreciate the gentleman for making that point, and I am certainly 
doing everything on my part to ensure that that continues on. However, 
I will make the point we did have a hearing on H.R. 3538, the measure 
sponsored by Mr. Simpson.
  We have not had a hearing, however, on H.R. 4474 which is before us 
today sponsored by Mr. Minnick. I just wanted to point that out because 
we try to be in regular order as much as we possibly can, and I think 
that is worth pointing out.
  So I would hope that this legislation does pass the House with strong 
bipartisan support. Maybe it will be able to send the signal that we 
can indeed work in a bipartisan way if only we change sponsorships of 
certain bills; but that remains to be seen, Madam Speaker, but I look 
forward to that time.
  Mr. SIMPSON. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4474, the 
Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act.
  This bipartisan, non-controversial legislation is a technical fix 
intended to enable the Forest Service to authorize and permit existing 
historical water diversions within Idaho wilderness.
  Last year, one of my constituents came to me for help with a problem. 
The Middle Fork Lodge has a water diversion within the Frank Church-
River of No Return Wilderness Area that has existed since before the 
wilderness area was established and is protected under statute.
  The diversion was beginning to leak and is in desperate need of 
repairs to ensure that it does not threaten the environment and 
watershed, but when the Forest Service began the process of issuing the 
Lodge a permit to allow them to make the necessary repairs, we 
discovered that the Forest Service did not have the authority to issue 
the required permit.
  As we looked into this issue, we discovered that the Forest Service 
lacks this authority throughout both the Frank Church-River of No 
Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, where there are 
a number of these diversions. These diversions are primarily used to 
support irrigation and minor hydropower generation for use on non-
Federal lands.
  The damage to the water diversion at the Middle Fork Lodge is severe 
enough that the Forest Service had to do temporary emergency repairs 
last fall, but without authority to issue them the necessary special 
use permit, they will be unable to do the work needed to permanently 
fix the problem.
  While the urgent situation at the Middle Fork Lodge brought this 
issue to my attention, it is obvious to me that this problem is larger 
than just one diversion. At some point in the future, all 20 of these 
existing diversions will need maintenance or repair work done to ensure 
their integrity.
  H.R. 4474 authorizes the Forest Service to issue special use permits 
for 20 qualifying historic water systems in these wilderness areas. I 
believe it is important to get ahead of this problem and ensure that 
the Forest Service has the tools necessary to manage these lands.
  For these reasons I have worked with my colleague, Walt Minnick, to 
introduce H.R. 4474. This legislation allows the Forest Service to 
issue the required special use permits to owners of these historic 
water systems and sets out specific criteria for doing so.
  Providing this authority will ensure that existing water diversions 
can be properly maintained and repaired when necessary and preserves 
beneficial use for private property owners who hold water rights under 
State law.
  I have deeply appreciated the cooperation of the Forest Service in 
addressing this problem. Not only have they communicated with me the 
need to find a system-wide solution to this issue, but at my request 
they have worked with me on this legislation to ensure that it only 
impacts specific targeted historical diversions--those with valid water 
rights that cannot feasibly be relocated outside of the wilderness 
  H.R. 4474 is bipartisan and non-controversial. It is intended as a 
simple, reasonable solution to a problem that I think we can all agree 
should be solved as quickly as possible. I was encouraged that the bill 
passed out of Committee without objection, and I am hopeful that today 
we can pass it without delay so that the necessary maintenance to these 
diversions may be completed before the damage is beyond repair.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I yield back my time.
  Mr. RAHALL. I yield back the balance of my time, Madam Speaker.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for debate has expired.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 1038, the previous question is ordered 
on the bill.
  The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the bill.
  The bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, and was 
read the third time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the passage of the bill.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas 
and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.