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Authorization of Conveyance of Certain Lands in Los Padres National Forest

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my legislation, H.R. 241. This bill will authorize the Forest Service to convey a small parcel of land on the perimeter of the Los Padres National Forest to a nonprofit organization, the White Lotus Foundation.

In 1983, the White Lotus Foundation inherited property in the hills above Santa Barbara, California, on the border of the Los Padres National Forest. After operating at this location for over 25 years, the Forest Service sent a letter to the foundation notifying them of a 1/20-of-an-acre encroachment on Forest Service land.

The encroachment in question is located on a loop of the only road that allows White Lotus and the rest of the public access to and from the White Lotus property. Due to the steep topography, the foundation no longer has any other reasonable alternatives.

The loop lies on flat ground which holds equipment storage for fire and flood emergencies and provides access to a water pump and other necessary equipment. There is no other flat ground on which to move these items, and without this space, the foundation will be forced to cease operations.

My legislation authorizes the Forest Service to enter into a land exchange with the White Lotus Foundation for land worth no less than the appraised market value. If this land exchange does not occur within 2 years, the Forest Service is allowed to convey the land that would benefit White Lotus and to determine the amount to be conveyed. If the Forest Service does not feel that this land conveyance is in its best interest, it does not have to sell any Federal land to White Lotus. However, if the land sale does move ahead, my legislation will not cost the taxpayers a single penny. White Lotus will pay for the land, the survey, and all administrative costs and related costs.

There are no exemptions from NEPA or any other environmental laws. The land in question is not protected wilderness or any other specifically designated area.

In closing, I want to thank the chairman, the ranking member, and my colleagues for allowing this to be brought to the floor today.

I urge the support for my legislation, H.R. 241.

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