[Senate Report 113-149] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] Calendar No. 360 113th Congress Report SENATE 2d Session 113-149 ====================================================================== COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST LAND CONVEYANCES _______ April 10, 2014.--Ordered to be printed _______ Ms. Landrieu, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, submitted the following R E P O R T [To accompany H.R. 862] The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was referred the bill (H.R. 862) to authorize the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners in an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass. PURPOSE The purpose of H.R. 862 is to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to convey all right, title, and interest of the United States to two parcels of land in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona to a person or legal entity that represents a majority of landowners with private property adjacent to the two parcels to be conveyed. BACKGROUND AND NEED In 1960, two sections of land in what is now known as the Mountaire Subdivision, near Flagstaff, Arizona, were surveyed by private contractors. The subdivision largely abuts a portion of the Coconino National Forest. In 2007, surveyors for the Bureau of Land Management determined that the 1960 survey was incorrect, and as a result, several private tracts were in fact partially located on National Forest lands. Although the Forest Service has authority under the Small Tracts Act to resolve the issue administratively, enactment of H.R. 862 will allow for a more efficient conveyance, especially given the large number of parcels involved (19), and the small total acreage of National Forest lands affected (less than 2.7 acres). Because of the cost involved with resolving each trespass issue separately with the affected landowner, the bill authorizes the land to be conveyed to a person or entity representing all of the landowners and sets a payment price of $20,000 for the two parcels to be conveyed, instead of requiring appraisals to determine the appropriate value. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY H.R. 862, sponsored by Representative Kirkpatrick, was ordered reported by the Committee on Natural Resources on April 24, 2013 (H. Rept. 113-75) and passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 395-1 on June 17, 2013. The Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on the bill on July 30, 2013. At its business meeting on November 21, 2013, the bill was favorably reported. Similar legislation, H.R. 1038 was introduced in the 112th Congress by Representative Gosar, and passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 421-1 on April 25, 2012. COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open business session on November 21, 2013 by a voice vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 862. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS Section 1(a) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to convey by quitclaim deed two parcels of land that are within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest to a person or legal entity that represents a majority of the land owners with private property adjacent to the two parcels. Subsection (b) provides the legal description of the two parcels of land referenced in subsection (a), consisting of approximately 2.67 acres. Subsection (c) requires that the legal entity that represents the majority of land owners pay to the Secretary $20,000 as consideration for the land conveyed under this Act, and that the Secretary deposit these funds into a special account in the fund established under Public Law 90-171 (commonly known as the Sisk Act; 16 U.S.C. 484a) to be used for acquisition of land in the National Forest System. Subsection (d) revokes any orders withdrawing or disposing of the Federal land described in subsection (a) to the extent necessary to permit the conveyance of land under this Act. Subsection (e) withdraws the land described in subsection (a), subject to valid existing rights, from all forms of entry and appropriation under public land laws, location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and operation of the mineral leasing and geothermal leasing laws until the conveyance is completed. Subsection (f) requires that the conveyance be subject only to those surveys and clearances necessary to protect the interests of the United States. Subsection (g) provides that the authority provided for under this Act shall terminate three years after the date of enactment of this Act. COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS The following estimate of costs of this measure has been provided by the Congressional Budget Office: H.R. 862--An act to authorize the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners in an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960 H.R. 862 would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to sell certain federal lands located within the Coconino National Forest. Based on information provided by the Forest Service, CBO estimates that implementing the act would have a negligible impact on the federal budget. Implementing the legislation would increase offsetting receipts and associated direct spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that those changes would have no significant impact on future budget deficits. Enacting H.R. 862 would not affect revenues. H.R. 862 would authorize the Secretary to sell 19 small parcels of federal land totaling less than 3 acres to a representative of several private homeowners. The act would require the homeowners to pay a total of $20,000 for the parcels and to cover any administrative costs associated with the sale. The Secretary has the authority to sell the lands under current law; however, the act would allow the Secretary to sell the parcels in a single transaction rather than through separate transactions with each affected homeowner. The act also would allow the Forest Service to retain and spend proceeds from the sale, without further appropriation, to acquire other lands. CBO estimates that the agency would spend those proceeds within the next three years. H.R. 862 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments. On May 15, 2013, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 862 as ordered reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 24, 2013. The two versions of the legislation are similar, and the CBO cost estimates are the same. The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis. REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION 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 H.R. 862. The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of imposing Government-established standards or significant economic responsibilities on private individuals and businesses. No personal information would be collected in administering the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal privacy. Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the enactment of H.R. 862, as ordered reported. CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING H.R. 862, as 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 The testimony provided by the Forest Service at the July 30, 2013, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining hearing on H.R. 862 follows: Statement of Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief, National Forest System, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture Chairman Manchin and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to provide the Department of Agriculture's views on H.R. 862, a bill designed to correct an erroneous, private survey on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. The Department supports this bill. In 1960-61, privately contracted surveyors surveyed two sections of land in what is now known as the Mountainaire Subdivision, which largely abuts the Coconino National Forest. Both surveys were found to be inaccurate when the Bureau of Land Management conducted a survey in 2007. The BLM survey correctly re-established the boundary of the National Forest System lands. Because of the erroneous private surveys, approximately 19 parcels totaling 2.67 acres of National Forest System land now have structures built on them. Although the Forest Service has authority under the Small Tracts Act (Public Law 97-465) to sell this land to the homeowners, H.R. 862 would more quickly and efficiently resolve the issue with all property owners at the same time. Section 1(c) of the bill would provide for consideration in a fixed amount of $20,000. To ensure that appropriate compensation for the land to be conveyed is recovered on behalf of the American taxpayer, an appraisal should be done consistent with Federal appraisal standards and the homeowner would pay the appraised value. The bill should also provide that the homeowner should bear other administrative costs associated with the conveyance. I would be happy to answer any questions 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 H.R. 862, as ordered reported.