To conserve and protect natural values and to provide scientific knowledge, education, and interpretation for the benefit of future generations, there is established the Fossil Forest Research Natural Area (referred to in this section as the “Area”), consisting of the approximately 2,770 acres in the Farmington District of the Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico, as generally depicted on a map entitled “Fossil Forest”, dated June 1983.
As soon as practicable after November 12, 1996, the Secretary of the Interior shall file a map and legal description of the Area with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives.
The map and legal description described in paragraph (1) shall have the same force and effect as if included in this Act.
The Secretary of the Interior may correct clerical, typographical, and cartographical errors in the map and legal description subsequent to filing the map pursuant to paragraph (1).
The map and legal description shall be on file and available for public inspection in the Office of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior.
Subject to valid existing rights, the lands within the Area are withdrawn from all forms of appropriation under the mining laws and from disposition under all laws pertaining to mineral leasing, geothermal leasing, and mineral material sales.
The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue coal leases in New Mexico in exchange for any preference right coal lease application within the Area. Such exchanges shall be made in accordance with applicable existing laws and regulations relating to coal leases after a determination has been made by the Secretary that the applicant is entitled to a preference right lease and that the exchange is in the public interest.
Operations on oil and gas leases issued prior to November 12, 1996, shall be subject to the applicable provisions of Group 3100 of title 43, Code of Federal Regulations (including section 3162.5–1), and such other terms, stipulations, and conditions as the Secretary of the Interior considers necessary to avoid significant disturbance of the land surface or impairment of the natural, educational, and scientific research values of the Area in existence on November 12, 1996.
Not later than 3 full fiscal years after November 12, 1996, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, shall develop a baseline inventory of all categories of fossil resources within the Area. After the inventory is developed, the Secretary shall conduct monitoring surveys at intervals specified in the management plan developed for the Area in accordance with subsection (e).
Not later than 5 years after November 12, 1996, the Secretary of the Interior shall develop and submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives a management plan that describes the appropriate use of the Area consistent with this subsection.