December 4, 2017

Bipartisan Legislation Provides Common-Sense Solution For Lands In The West

ARLINGTON, Va. — Sportsmen groups, conservation organizations and outdoor recreation groups applaud U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) for introducing bipartisan legislation to permanently reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), a modified land exchange program for the West that increases recreational access to public lands, supports economic development, and consolidates land ownership. FLTFA is currently expired and unavailable.

Additional cosponsors of FLTFA reauthorization legislation include U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).  

If Congressionally reestablished, FLTFA would facilitate a “land for land” process that allows strategic federal land sales by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to contribute to an exchange account for the acquisition of high-priority conservation lands within or adjacent to federal lands in the eleven contiguous western states and Alaska, as well as fund costs associated with BLM land sales. From its creation in 2000 to its expiration in 2011, BLM completed hundreds of land sales, including to ranchers who expanded their operations, cities that built new facilities, companies that enhanced their businesses, and other private and local government landowners.

“FLTFA is a critical and practical tool for local economies and the environment, and it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund, the organization leading the FLTFA Coalition. “Businesses, ranchers, counties and others have been able to purchase lands from the BLM, and the agencies have in turn protected exceptional natural lands for public recreation. We look forward to working with Senators Heinrich, Heller and others on reauthorizing FLTFA, a common-sense solution for America.”

The FLTFA program resulted in 39 recreational access and conservation projects with willing sellers. These lands provide more hiking and climbing at Red Rocks National Conservation Areas in Nevada, big game habitat protection at Elk Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern in New Mexico, fishing at the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area in Wyoming, and floating by historic viewsheds along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in Montana. 

“The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act has been an important source of funding for conservation projects that improve public recreation and access to lands where millions of people hunt, fish, hike and enjoy the outdoors each year,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land.  “We thank Senators Heinrich and Heller for taking this critical step to get the program back on track and look forward to working with them and other supporters in Congress to move quickly to pass this legislation.”

“FLTFA is an important and broadly supported program that has successfully conserved important wildlife habitat and increased access to our public lands for hunting and fishing,” says Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The program’s reauthorization can’t come soon enough, and we thank Senators Dean Heller and Martin Heinrich for their leadership in introducing a bipartisan bill for doing just that.”

While lands protected by the BLM through FLTFA enhance public access to popular recreational destinations, they also enhance the local tourism economy through retail sales, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in New Mexico directly supports 99,000 jobs, provides $9.9 billion in consumer spending, and $623 million in state and local tax revenue. In Nevada, it supports 87,000 jobs, provides $12.6 billion in consumer spending, and $1.1 billion in tax revenue.

“Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports the reauthorization of FLTFA. This important land-for-land conservation tool has helped conserve critical elk habitat in the west and improved access to thousands of acres of public lands for sportsmen and women,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We encourage the Senate to take action quickly on this reauthorization and thank Senator’s Heinrich and Heller for leading this effort.”

“FLTFA has provided more recreational access to the special places that make New Mexico a great state for hunting, fishing, hiking and more,” said Andrew Black, Director of Outreach for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “FLTFA has also protected critical habitat at the Elk Springs and La Cienega Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, including for Jemez Mountain elk.  We praise Senators Heinrich and Heller for their leadership with sportsmen’s and wildlife bills, including introducing this important legislation that will benefit sportsmen and women in New Mexico and the West.”

“Smart land conservation matters to Nevada communities large and small, whether they seek to protect their rural character or historic legacies, or want to ensure that the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities that make Nevada so great are available to residents and visitors alike,” said Nevada Land Trust Executive Director Alicia Reban. “FLTFA can help balance that kind of resource protection with the economic growth healthy communities require and we support reauthorization.  We praise the leadership of Senators Heller and Heinrich introducing this bill.”

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |