NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA ACT
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This legislation may be cited as the “Nevada Frontier National Heritage Area Act.”
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.
(a) Findings — Congress finds that–
(1) the national character of the United States was substantially and beneficially affected by the presence of a western frontier;
(2) northern Nye County, Nevada, contains places that are associated with and illustrate two particularly important aspects of the frontier — mining towns and open-range ranching;
(3) the mining heritage of the area is exemplified by the historic silver-mining town of Tonopah and surrounding communities (both currently inhabited and ghost towns), and by the modern gold-mining community of Round Mountain;
(4) the ranching heritage of the area is exemplified by independent ranches and long empty valleys that are managed for open range;
(5) other activities associated with the frontier have also left their mark on this area, including Native American life, pioneer exploration, and early communication by means of stagecoach, the pony express, and heliograph stations;
(6) the setting of these activities in northern Nye County is a classic western landscape that contains long natural vistas, isolated high desert valleys, mountain ranges, mines, fossil beds, and archaeological sites;
(7) the heritage of the area includes the social history and living cultural traditions of a rich diversity of nationalities, including Native Americans, Anglo pioneers, members of Mormon and other religious communities, and arrivals of people of Irish, Basque, Serb, Croat, Italian, Chinese, African American, and Hispanic descent;
(8) the Native American heritage of the Frontier Heritage Area dates back over ten thousand years and includes–
(A) archaeological sites;
(B) petroglyphs and pictographs;
(C) places associated with the Western Shoshone tribes;
(9) the Heritage Area contains many biologically diverse ecological communities that are home to exceptional species such as —
(A) wildlife adapted to harsh desert conditions;
(B) unique plant communities near isolated springs and ponds; and
(C) animal species especially symbolic of the West, such as wild horses, mountain lions, bobcats, golden eagles, and coyotes;
(10) the air and water quality of the Heritage Area is among the best in the United States, and the clear air permits outstanding viewing of the night skies;
(11) the Heritage Area includes unique and outstanding geologic features such as classic basin and range topography with playa lakes, alluvial fans, volcanic formations, and hot and cold springs;
(12) the Heritage Area includes an unusual variety of open space and recreational opportunities because of the great extent of ranching activity and public lands (including Nevada State parks, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management land), and a wide range of elevations resulting in environments ranging from sagebrush desert to aspen forest;
(13) in addition to conserving tangible physical resources, it is desirable to explore new ways of preserving and presenting the intangible aspects of life in past years, so that today’s people will know the feel and texture of daily living in earlier times; and
(14) the prehistoric, archaeological, historical, cultural, natural, scenic, and recreational resources in northern Nye County merit involvement by the Federal Government in the development, in cooperation with the Nevada Frontier Heritage Partnership and other local and governmental entities, of programs and projects to —
(A) adequately conserve, protect, and interpret the heritage of northern Nye County for present and future generations; and
(B) provide opportunities to communicate the history of this area to students in the county and to visitors from around the nation and the world.
(b) Purposes — The purposes of this Act are —
(1) to foster a close working relationship among various levels of government, the private sector, cultural institutions, and the local communities within Nye County;
(2) to enable communities referred to in paragraph (1) to conserve their heritage while continuing to develop economic opportunities;
(3) to conserve, interpret, and develop the resources associated with mining towns and open-range ranching;
(4) to conserve, interpret, and develop more generally the archaeological, historical, cultural, natural, scenic, and recreational resources related to the ranching, industrial, and cultural heritage of northern Nye County, in a manner that promotes multiple uses permitted as of the date of enactment of this Act, without zoning or regulating land use; and
(5) to establish the Nevada Frontier Heritage Partnership as the management entity for a National Heritage Area centered in northern Nye County.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) NORTHERN NYE COUNTY — The term “Northern Nye County” means the portion of the county lying north of Stonewall Pass.
(2) FRONTIER HERITAGE AREA — The term “Frontier Heritage Area” or “Heritage Area” means the Nevada Frontier National Heritage Area established by section 4(a).
(3) MANAGEMENT ENTITY- The term “management entity” means the Nevada Frontier Heritage Partnership established by section 4(c).
(4) MANAGEMENT PLAN- The term “management plan” means the plan developed by the management entity under section 6(a).
(5) SECRETARY- The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park Service.
SEC. 4. NEVADA FRONTIER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA.
(a) Establishment — There is established the Nevada Frontier National Heritage Area to conserve and provide the public with access to certain historical, cultural, natural, scenic, and recreational resources in northern Nye County in the State of Nevada, as designated by the management entity.
(b) Boundaries — The Frontier Heritage Area shall include the town of Tonopah and its environs, Big Smoky Valley, and one or more additional valleys in northern Nye County. The management entity shall determine the specific boundaries of the Area.
(c) Management entity-
(1) In general — The Nevada Frontier Heritage Partnership shall serve as the management entity for the Heritage Area.
(2) Board of Directors — The Nevada Frontier Heritage Partnership shall be governed by a board of directors that consists of one member designated by each of the following seven organizations: [The list to be determined.]
(3) Vacancies on board — Vacancies on the board shall be filled by the entity responsible for the seat involved. If that entity is unable to act, the vacancy shall be filled by a two-thirds vote of the other board members.
(4) Advisory board — The board shall appoint a non-voting Advisory Board, representing a range of interests in the Heritage Area, and shall meet with that board at least twice a year.
SEC. 5. MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING.
(a) In general — In carrying out this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Governor of the State of Nevada, shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the management entity. The memorandum shall be in a form that permits the transfer of Federal funds to the management entity.
(b) Substantive requirements — The memorandum of understanding shall memorialize key points relating to the objectives and management of the Heritage Area, including —
(1) a description of the resources of the Heritage Area;
(2) a discussion of the goals and objectives of the Heritage Area, including —
(A) an explanation of the proposed general approach to conservation, development, and interpretation; and
(B) an outline of anticipated specific protection and development measures;
(3) a description of the management entity;
(4) a list and statement of the financial commitment of the initial partners to be involved in developing and implementing the management plan; and
(5) a description of the role of the State of Nevada in the management of the Heritage Area.
(c) Procedural requirements — In developing the terms of the memorandum of understanding, the Secretary and the management entity shall —
(1) provide opportunities for local participation; and
(2) include terms that ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, timely implementation of all aspects of the memorandum of understanding.
(1) In general — The Secretary shall review any amendments of the memorandum of understanding proposed by the management entity.
(2) Use of funds — Funds made available under this Act shall not be expended to implement a change made by a proposed amendment described in paragraph (1) until the Secretary approves the amendment.
SEC. 6. MANAGEMENT PLAN.
(a) In general — Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the management entity shall develop and submit to the Secretary for approval a management plan for the Heritage Area that specifies —
(1) the particular resources designated by the management entity under section 4(a) as especially important to the purposes of the Heritage Area; and
(2) the specific boundaries of the Heritage Area, as determined under section 4(b).
(b) Required elements in plan — The management plan shall —
(1) provide clear and comprehensive recommendations for the conservation, funding, management, and development of the Heritage Area;
(2) provide ways for local residents, public agencies, and private organizations located within Nye County to participate in the protection and development of resources of the Heritage Area, taking into consideration State, tribal, county, and local land use plans in existence on the date of enactment of this Act;
(3) identify sources of funding, including specific commitments by the identified partners referred to in section 5(b)(4) for the first five years of operation;
(4) include safeguards to ensure that the plan will not infringe on private property rights without the consent of the property owner.
(c) Bright Angel towns — One element in the management plan shall assess the feasibility and desirability of creating a “frontier valley” in one part of the Heritage Area. The frontier valley would include a chain of approximately six new towns towns, built on historic models, with period architecture and without cars or electricity, a day’s travel apart on foot, and surrounded by open lands, enabling visitors and residents to better understand what the original towns and landscape in the Heritage Area were like when they were first settled. The Secretary shall assist in this study as described in section 8(a). The study shall include a recommendation as to what future action, if any, should be taken to create such an area. The fact that this option is being studied does not create any presumption as to what the recommendation or future action shall be.
(d) Failure to submit — If the management entity fails to submit a management plan to the Secretary in accordance with subsection (a), the Heritage Area shall no longer qualify for Federal funding.
(e) Approval and disapproval of management plan-
(1) In general — Not later than 90 days after receipt of a management plan under subsection (a), the Secretary, in consultation with the Governor of the State of Nevada, shall approve or disapprove the management plan.
(2) Criteria — In determining whether to approve a management plan, the Secretary shall consider whether the management plan —
(A) has strong local support from a diverse range of landowners, business interests, nonprofit organizations, and governments associated with the Heritage Area;
(B) is consistent with and complements continued economic activity within the Heritage Area;
(C) has a high potential for activities effectively combining public and private efforts;
(D) avoids infringing on private property rights; and
(E) provides methods to take appropriate action to ensure that private property rights are observed.
(3) Action following disapproval — If the Secretary disapproves a management plan under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall —
(A) advise the management entity in writing of the reasons for the disapproval;
(B) make recommendations for revisions to the management plan; and
(C) not later than 90 days after the receipt of any proposed revision of the management plan from the management entity, approve or disapprove the proposed revision.
(f) Implementation — On approval of the management plan as provided in subsection (e)(1), the management entity, in conjunction with the Secretary, shall take appropriate steps to implement the management plan.
(g) Amendments —
(1) In general — The Secretary shall review each amendment to the management plan that the Secretary determines may make a substantial change to the plan.
(2) Use of funds — Funds made available under this Act shall not be expended to implement an amendment described in paragraph (1) until the Secretary approves the amendment.
SEC. 7. POWERS, DUTIES, AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE MANAGEMENT ENTITY.
(a) Powers — The management entity may, for purposes of preparing and implementing the management plan, use funds made available under this Act to —
(1) make grants to, and enter into cooperative agreements with, a State (including a political subdivision), a Native American tribe, a private organization, or any person;
(2) hire and compensate staff; and
(3) take other actions necessary and proper to achieving its purposes as provided herein.
(b) Duties — The management entity shall —
(1) Develop the memorandum of understanding and the management plan;
(2) Implement the memorandum of understanding and the management plan, by, among other actions, taking concrete steps to assist units of government, regional planning organizations, and nonprofit organizations in —
(i) establishing and maintaining interpretive exhibits within the Heritage Area;
(ii) installing clear, consistent, and environmentally appropriate signage identifying access points and sites of interest within the Heritage Area;
(iii) developing guidebooks, brochures, self-guiding trails, and driving tours of the area;
(iv) establishing a visitors’ center as a convenient source of information;
(v) developing a school curriculum to teach state and county history in the local schools by making use of the resources of the Heritage Area;
(vi) developing recreational resources within the Heritage Area, in accordance with the objectives of the management plan;
(vii) generally increasing public awareness of and appreciation for the archaeological, historical, cultural, natural, scenic, and recreational resources and sites within the Heritage Area;
(viii) encouraging the development of diverse and viable businesses within the heritage area, in accordance with the objectives of the management plan;
(ix) if requested by the owner, restoring, stabilizing, or rehabilitating any public or private historical building relating to the themes of the Heritage Area; although an appropriate form of public access or public easement may be required in return for any public assistance; and
(x) generally encouraging perception of the Heritage Area, both inside and outside the county, as a distinctive place with a distinctive and valuable history.
(3) consider the interests of diverse governmental, business, and nonprofit groups associated with the Heritage Area;
(4) conduct public meetings in the region of the Heritage Area at least semiannually regarding the implementation of the management plan;
(5) submit substantial amendments to the management plan to the Secretary for approval; and
(6) for any year for which Federal funds are received under this Act–
(A) submit to the Secretary a report that describes, for the year–
(i) the accomplishments of the management entity;
(ii) the expenses and income of the management entity; and
(iii) each entity to which any loan or grant was made;
(B) make available for audit and public inspection all records pertaining to the expenditure of the funds and any matching funds; and
(C) require, for all agreements authorizing the expenditure of Federal funds by any entity, that the receiving entity make available for audit all records pertaining to the expenditure of the funds.
(c) Prohibition on the acquisition of real property — The management entity shall not use Federal funds made available under this Act to acquire real property or any interest in real property.
(d) Prohibition on the regulation of land use — The management entity shall not regulate land use within the Heritage Area.
SEC. 8. POWERS AND DUTIES OF FEDERAL AGENCIES.
(a) Technical and Financial Assistance —
(1) In general — The Secretary may, on request by the management entity, provide technical and additional financial assistance to develop and implement the management plan and memorandum of understanding.
(2) Priority tasks — In providing assistance under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall, on request by the management entity, give priority to actions that assist in–
(A) conserving the archaeological, historical, cultural, natural, and scenic resources of the Heritage Area from immediate threat; and
(B) assessing the possible historic valley pursuant to section 6(c).
(b) Role of the Forest Service — The Forest Service may provide similar services upon request.
(c) Consideration of management plan by federal agencies — Federal agencies with land-management responsibilities shall give due consideration to the objectives and methodology of the management plan when formulating policies that affect the Heritage Area.
SEC. 9. LAND USE REGULATION; APPLICABILITY OF FEDERAL LAW.
(a) Land use regulation — Nothing in this Act —
(1) modifies, enlarges, or diminishes any authority of the Federal, State, tribal, or local government to regulate by law (including by regulation) any use of land; or
(2) grants any power of zoning or land use to the management entity.
(b) Applicability of federal law — Nothing in this Act —
(1) imposes on the Heritage Area, as a result of the designation of the Heritage Area, any regulation that is not applicable to the land within the Heritage Area as of the date of enactment of this Act; or
(2) authorizes any agency to promulgate a regulation that applies to the Heritage Area solely as a result of the designation of the Heritage Area under this Act.
SEC. 10. POSSIBLE FUTURE ENLARGEMENT.
(a) Enlargement of territory — If affirmatively requested by the counties having jurisdiction over the places involved, and if accepted by the management entity, the Heritage Area may be expanded by the amount reasonably necessary to include any one or more of the following places: the towns of Goldfield, Austin, or Eureka, and the northern ends of valleys that also lie in northern Nye County.
(b) Enlargement of management entity — The board of the management entity shall be enlarged to include one additional member named by each county so participating.
SEC. 11. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) In general — There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act $10,000,000, of which not more than $1,000,000 may be made available for any fiscal year.
(b) Study of frontier valley — The management entity shall devote no less than 30 percent of the resources expended on development of the management plan to the study of the possible frontier valley under section 6(c).
(c) Cost sharing —
(1) Federal share — Federal funds may be used to pay for the first three years of operation of the Heritage Area, and, thereafter, for the first $250,000 of its annual budget. After the management plan has been filed and accepted, the Federal share of expenditures above $250,000 shall not exceed 50 percent.
(2) Form of the non-Federal share — The non-Federal share may be in the form of in-kind contributions, donations, or grants from individuals, corporations, and State or local governments or agencies.