“Why should it take more than 10 years for the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service to transfer the lands they don’t want to local stakeholders who do?” asks freshman Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei.
“What’s needed is an efficient process that promotes community-directed uses and reasonable economic development,” the congressman continues. “In Nevada, where the federal government controls more than 85 percent of the land, these administrative and legislative delays are a wet blanket on our economy and our conservation efforts.”
So the 2nd District congressman has introduced House Resolution 4976, the “Small Lands Tracts Conveyance Act” to accelerate the process for transferring small parcels of federal land – 160 acres or less – to local communities.
The bill would limit the transfer process for such small parcels to 18 months by establishing firm deadlines for the BLM and Forest Service, and 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, such as county governments, purchase lands, 100 percent of the revenue would go to the treasury.
His proposal “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,” Rep. Amodei said this week.
This proposal is a fine small step and useful precedent toward the long-term goal, which is to vastly reduce the amount of Nevada property under federal control.
Nevada is lucky to have a powerful senator who can also do much to advance this proposal in the senior house.
Nevada’s congressional delegation should work together to turn H.R. 4976 into law. It’s a good start.