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November 8, 1999

H.R. 359 - Emigrant Wilderness Preservation Act
(Rep. Doolittle (R) California)

The Administration opposes H.R. 359, because the bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to provide for the maintenance and operation of artificial water control structures within the Emigrant Wilderness, California.

When Congress established the Emigrant Wilderness, 18 water control structures, constructed for the purpose of augmenting natural stream flows for downstream sports fishing, existed within the area. Because Congress did not provide for an exception to the Wilderness Act's prohibition against structures within wilderness areas, the Forest Service is attempting to enhance the wilderness quality of the area by allowing some structures to deteriorate naturally. In the end, only one man-made lake may be lost. To date, four of these structures have been allowed to deteriorate.

H.R. 359, by requiring the maintenance and operation of all 18 water control structures, would diminish the area's wilderness quality. In addition, the bill neither provides for these structures in the event that the non-federal entity fails to comply with the cooperative agreement, nor federal recovery of costs associated with the maintenance and operation of these structures.

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