Reauthorization Of Critical Western Lands Program Moves To Full Senate Vote
May 16, 2013
Energy and Natural Resources Committee green lights bill to reinstate the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act
ARLINGTON, Va. (May 16, 2013) – Today the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) (S. 368), which would enable strategic federal land sale revenues to be used for priority land conservation in the West.
A diverse set of over 145 groups, including The Conservation Fund, support swift reinstatement of this program, which benefits western businesses, landowners, sportsmen, communities, historic preservation, recreational interests and more. Introduced by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Dean Heller (R-NV), the bill is cosponsored by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
“We applaud Senators Heinrich and Heller and the bill’s cosponsors for continuing to champion the restoration of this fiscally sound solution for our western lands,” said The Conservation Fund’s President, Larry Selzer. “FLTFA is good for the West because it balances the region’s economic and conservation needs. Land sales through the FLTFA program not only fund critical conservation efforts; they also help support economic development, consolidate land ownership, and create jobs.”
Under FLTFA, Federal land sales by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) generate funding for the “Federal Land Disposal Account” that the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture may use to acquire critical lands from willing sellers within national recreational areas, national forests, national trails and other areas managed by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The revenue also provides some funding for BLM to run the FLTFA program, resulting in a self-funded program.
Before FLTFA’s authority expired in July 2011, the BLM completed hundreds of Federal land sales, generating over $117 million. Many ranchers and farmers purchased BLM lands adjacent to their properties, often allowing them to expand their operations. BLM also sold lands to timber interests, real estate companies, a community college, landfills, a cemetery and many others.
Utilizing the FLTFA Account, agencies purchased high-priority conservation lands for recreational access for hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and other activities, as well as historic, scenic and cultural resources. The conservation purchases often enhanced the tourism and recreation economies of local communities through retail sales, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more. The program helped consolidate inholdings to allow for better management of public lands. In addition, FLTFA helped many landowners achieve their economic goals, by providing opportunities to sell their lands to conservation.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.