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Mr. HERGER. I thank my good friend.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to urge support for H.R. 1237, a noncontroversial land exchange bill I introduced to provide for greater economic opportunities in Trinity County, located in the northern California congressional district I represent. With a 19 percent unemployment rate, this rural community faces significant economic challenges.
The Trinity County Public Utilities District owns property surrounded by land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The TPUD seeks to economically improve one parcel near the Weaverville Airport, but it currently cannot do so because it is landlocked by the Forest Service.
This legislation would transfer 47 acres of the district's property near the Trinity River, known as Sky Ranch, to the Bureau of Land Management and 150 acres within Six Rivers National Forest, known as Van Duzen, to the Forest Service. The district would receive a parcel of equal value from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest that surrounds their site at the airport.
This land exchange would benefit the Federal Government as well by consolidating BLM and Forest Service holdings and increasing the efficiency of managing the land. This would allow the TPUD to develop the property and enhance economic opportunities for the community.
Trinity County faces significant challenges attracting businesses because the Federal Government currently owns 75 percent of the available land--over 1.5 million acres--limiting the availability of land for commercial use.
The county also faces significant economic challenges because government mismanagement and lawsuits from fringe groups have shut down responsible stewardship and management of the county's vast timber resources. This decline in management has been devastating to the timber industry and has had a multiplier effect on the county's economy, with severe impacts on schools, infrastructure, and small retail businesses.
In closing, I strongly believe that these resources belong to the people, and local needs should drive their management. Sensible land exchanges like the one this legislation would implement would have the twofold benefit of making Federal land management more efficient while providing local communities with greater access to their natural resources.
I want to thank Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member Grijalva for their efforts on behalf of this commonsense bill, and I urge my colleagues to vote for it.
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