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Hearing of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee - La Pine Economic Opportunities

Hearing

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today testified in support of a plan to transfer BLM land to local control in La Pine for economic development and upgrades to a wastewater treatment facility.

At a hearing before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, Rep. Walden said the La Pine Land Conveyance Act (S. 270)--authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)--is offered "in the spirit of bipartisan problem solving."

"The city has taken great steps over the last few years to grow its economy, create jobs, and provide essential services to its 1,500 citizens--15,000 including the surrounding acres," Rep. Walden said.

This bill would enhance those efforts by taking the following steps:

Transfer 150 acres to the La Pine Park and Recreation District to establish a more permanent home for the La Pine Rodeo, and the community's largest event of the year--the 4th of July Celebration. "The Greatest Little Rodeo in Oregon" draws thousands of people into the area.

Transfer 750 acres for the purposes of building a new wastewater treatment facility that would allow residents to transition from septic systems to municipal water and sewer. This provides residents with a reliable water source while improving the water quality of the nearby Deschutes River.

Transfer 10 acres to La Pine for the city's library.
"La Pine is not only surrounded by both BLM and U.S. Forest Service Ground, but also some of the heart of the city is actually owned by those agencies," Rep. Walden said. "In fact, La Pine's library sits on 10 acres of BLM land. The BLM shouldn't be in the business of leasing lands to libraries. This bill would fix that."

The next step for the legislation would be a vote out in the full House Natural Resources Committee, followed by passage on the House floor, at which point it could be sent to the President.

Rep. Walden's full statement from today's hearing is below:

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. As a former member of this committee and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, I appreciate the work you do on a daily basis to improve management of our public lands. I want to thank Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for hearing the La Pine Land Conveyance Act S. 270 today -- legislation drafted by Senator Wyden and strongly supported by me. It's offered in the spirit of bipartisanship problem solving.

Located in central Oregon's Deschutes County, the city of La Pine is actually Oregon's newest city…having been incorporated in 2006. The city has taken great steps over the last few years to grow its economy, create jobs, and provide essential services to its 1,500 citizens -- 15,000 including the surrounding areas. These efforts have been led by people like La Pine resident and current Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone. Tony has worked tirelessly for La Pine and the passage of this legislation, which is important to the economic growth and future of the La Pine.

Chairman Bishop…I know you can sympathize with rural communities that cannot grow because they are surrounded by federal lands. La Pine is a perfect example. It not only is surrounded by both BLM and U.S. Forest Service ground, but also some of the heart of the city is actually owned by those agencies. In fact, La Pine's library sits on 10 acres of BLM land. I think we both can agree, Mr. Chairman, that the BLM shouldn't be in the business of leasing lands to libraries. This bill would fix that.

S. 270 transfers approximately 150 acres to the La Pine Park and Recreation District to establish a more permanent home for the La Pine Rodeo, and the community's largest event of the year--the 4th of July Celebration. Their annual rodeo, dubbed "The Greatest Little Rodeo in Oregon," draws thousands of people into the area. This land allows the city to expand and enhance this venue with newer, larger facilities.

Lastly, the bill would provide the City of La Pine with 750 acres so it can build a new water treatment facility and allow residents to transition from septic systems to municipal water and sewer. Without this land, La Pine will not have the land needed to expand its wastewater system. This provides residents with a reliable water source while improving the water quality of the nearby Deschutes River at the same time.

Thank you again Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for hearing this bill today. I look forward to working with you to get this legislation considered by full committee and to the floor of the House soon.


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