The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation and in cooperation with the States, the Secretary of the Army, and other Federal agencies, shall conduct directly or by contract a study and inventory of the Nation’s estuaries, including without limitation coastal marshlands, bays, sounds, seaward areas, lagoons, and land and waters of the Great Lakes. For the purpose of this study, the Secretary shall consider, among other matters, (1) their wildlife and recreational potential, their ecology, their value to the marine, anadromous, and shell fisheries and their esthetic value, (2) their importance to navigation, their value for flood, hurricane, and erosion control, their mineral value, and the value of submerged lands underlying the waters of the estuaries, and (3) the value of such areas for more intensive development for economic use as part of urban developments and for commercial and industrial developments. This study and inventory shall be carried out in conjunction with the comprehensive estuarine pollution study authorized by section 5(g) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended [33 U.S.C. 1254(n)], and other applicable studies.
The study shall focus attention on whether any land or water area within an estuary and the Great Lakes should be acquired or administered by the Secretary or by a State or local subdivision thereof, or whether such land or water area may be protected adequately through local, State, or Federal laws or other methods without Federal land acquisition or administration.
The Secretary of the Interior shall, not later than January 30, 1970, submit to the Congress through the President a report of the study conducted pursuant to this section, together with any legislative recommendations, including recommendations on the feasibility and desirability of establishing a nationwide system of estuarine areas, the terms, conditions, and authorities to govern such system, and the designation and acquisition of any specific estuarine areas of national significance which he believes should be acquired by the United States. No lands within such area may be acquired until authorized by subsequent Act of Congress. Recommendations made by the Secretary for the acquisition of any estuarine area shall be developed in consultation with the States, municipalities, and other interested Federal agencies. Each such recommendation shall be accompanied by (1) expressions of any views which the interested States, municipalities, and other Federal agencies and river basin commissions may submit within sixty days after having been notified of the proposed recommendations, (2) a statement setting forth the probable effect of the recommended action on any comprehensive river basin plan that may have been adopted by Congress or that is serving as a guide for coordinating Federal programs in the basin wherein such area is located, (3) in the absence of such a plan, a statement indicating the probable effect of the recommended action on alternative beneficial users of the resources of the proposed estuarine area, and (4) a discussion of the major economic, social, and ecological trends occurring in such area.
There is authorized to be appropriated not to exceed $250,000 for fiscal year 1969 and $250,000 for fiscal year 1970 to carry out the provisions of this section. Such sums shall be available until expended.