The Secretary may delegate a duty under the program—
(1)by transferring title of ownership to an easement to an eligible entity to hold and enforce; or
(2)by entering into a cooperative agreement with an eligible entity for the eligible entity to own, write, and enforce an easement.
(b) Eligible entity defined
In this section, the term “eligible entity” means—
(1)an agency of State or local government or an Indian tribe; or
(2)an organization that—
(A)is organized for, and at all times since the formation of the organization has been operated principally for, one or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section
170(h)(4)(A) of title
(B)is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of that title that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of that title; and
(C)is described in—
(i)paragraph (1) or (2) of section 509(a) of that title; or
(ii)in section 509(a)(3) of that title, and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of that title.
(c) Transfer of title of ownership
The Secretary may transfer title of ownership to an easement to an eligible entity to hold and enforce, in lieu of the Secretary, subject to the right of the Secretary to conduct periodic inspections and enforce the easement, if—
(A)the Secretary determines that the transfer will promote protection of grassland, land that contains forbs, or shrubland;
(B)the owner authorizes the eligible entity to hold or enforce the easement; and
(C)the eligible entity agrees to assume the costs incurred in administering and enforcing the easement, including the costs of restoration or rehabilitation of the land as specified by the owner and the eligible entity.
An eligible entity that seeks to hold and enforce an easement shall apply to the Secretary for approval.
(3) Approval by Secretary
The Secretary may approve an application described in paragraph (2) if the eligible entity—
(A)has the relevant experience necessary, as appropriate for the application, to administer an easement on grassland, land that contains forbs, or shrubland;
(B)has a charter that describes a commitment to conserving ranchland, agricultural land, or grassland for grazing and conservation purposes; and
(C)has the resources necessary to effectuate the purposes of the charter.
(d) Cooperative agreements
(1) Authorized; terms and conditions
The Secretary shall establish the terms and conditions of a cooperative agreement under which an eligible entity shall use funds provided by the Secretary to own, write, and enforce an easement, in lieu of the Secretary.
(2) Minimum requirements
At a minimum, the cooperative agreement shall—
(A)specify the qualification of the eligible entity to carry out the entity’s responsibilities under the program, including acquisition, monitoring, enforcement, and implementation of management policies and procedures that ensure the long-term integrity of the easement protections;
(B)require the eligible entity to assume the costs incurred in administering and enforcing the easement, including the costs of restoration or rehabilitation of the land as specified by the owner and the eligible entity;
(C)specify the right of the Secretary to conduct periodic inspections to verify the eligible entity’s enforcement of the easement;
(D)subject to subparagraph (E), identify a specific project or a range of projects to be funded under the agreement;
(E)allow, upon mutual agreement of the parties, substitution of qualified projects that are identified at the time of substitution;
(F)specify the manner in which the eligible entity will evaluate and report the use of funds to the Secretary;
(G)allow the eligible entity flexibility to develop and use terms and conditions for easements, if the Secretary finds the terms and conditions consistent with the purposes of the program and adequate to enable effective enforcement of the easements;
(H)if applicable, allow an eligible entity to include a charitable donation or qualified conservation contribution (as defined by section
170(h) of title
26) from the landowner from which the easement will be purchased as part of the entity’s share of the cost to purchase an easement; and
(I)provide for a schedule of payments to an eligible entity, as agreed to by the Secretary and the eligible entity.
(3) Cost sharing
(A) In general
As part of a cooperative agreement with an eligible entity under this subsection, the Secretary may provide a share of the purchase price of an easement under the program.
(B) Minimum share by eligible entity
The eligible entity shall be required to provide a share of the purchase price at least equivalent to that provided by the Secretary.
The Secretary may accord a higher priority to proposals from eligible entities that leverage a greater share of the purchase price of the easement.
If an eligible entity violates the terms or conditions of a cooperative agreement entered into under this subsection—
(A)the cooperative agreement shall remain in force; and
(B)the Secretary may require the eligible entity to refund all or part of any payments received by the eligible entity under the program, with interest on the payments as determined appropriate by the Secretary.
(e) Protection of Federal investment
When delegating a duty under this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the terms of an easement include a contingent right of enforcement for the Department.
2008—Pub. L. 110–246, § 2403, amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to delegation to private organizations.
2004—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 108–447, § 797(1), substituted “transfer title of ownership to an easement under this subpart to” for “permit” in introductory provisions.
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 108–447, § 797(2), added subsec. (d) and struck out heading and text of former subsec. (d). Text consisted of pars. (1) and (2) relating to reassignment of easements to new private organizations or the Secretary.
The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.
The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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