Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) has introduced H.R.4976, the "Small Lands Tracts Conveyance Act" to accelerate the process for transferring small parcels of federal land to local communities.
In western states, straightforward, non-controversial public land sales to decrease the vast federal inventory and promote local control can take in excess of a decade. While Amodei believes there should be scrutiny for any sale, he cites the bureaucratic regulatory maze and slow legislative process as the main culprits in dragging out the transfers.
"Why should it take more than 10 years for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to transfer the lands they don't want to local stakeholders who do?" said Amodei. "What's needed is an efficient process that promotes community-directed uses and reasonable economic development. In Nevada, where the federal government controls more than 85% of the land, these administrative and legislative delays are a wet blanket on our economy and our conservation efforts."
The bill defines a "small tract" as 160 acres or less and would limit the transfer process for such lands to 18 months by establishing firm deadlines for the BLM and USFS to meet. It would exclude lands with established federal protection for cultural, biological, or endangered species issues.
If parcels are purchased by private entities for fair market value, 50 percent of the revenues from the sales would go to the county governments in which the lands are located, with the other 50 percent going to the federal treasury. If non-private entities purchase lands, such as county governments, 100 percent of the revenues would go to the treasury.
"This bill is a win-win-win. It would save the taxpayers, BLM and the USFS the expense of managing an excessive portfolio of federal lands.It would generate revenue for local and federal government, which could be used for deficit reduction. And most importantly, it would give states like Nevada the freedom to determine how best to use our own lands, whether it's for economic development, farming and ranching, or conservation," said Amodei.