What is the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA)?

The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, or FLTFA, allows for public purchase and ownership of key conservation and recreation lands using funding generated from strategic federal land sales.

The program helps consolidate the public-private land checkboard in the West and advance local and state community, conservation, and recreation needs. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) identifies and sells unneeded BLM lands and these proceeds provide funding for high-priority land conservation within or adjacent to federal lands by certain agencies in the eleven contiguous western states and Alaska, as well as for administrative costs of BLM land sales. These agencies include the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the BLM. 

Congress initially enacted FLTFA in 2000 and permanently reauthorized it in 2018 (P.L. 106-248; 43 USC 2301). Between 2011 and 2018, FLTFA authorization expired and federal agencies were no longer able to use the program. In March of 2018, bipartisan leadership in Congress, with support from more than 150 outside sportsmen, conservation and local and state government groups, worked to pass permanent reauthorization of FLTFA. Federal agencies–led by the BLM–are working to implement the new law and re-start the FLTFA program.

How does FLTFA Work and why is it needed?

1. Providing BLM with both the administrative funding and incentive to sell unneeded lands.

Prior to FLTFA’s enactment, BLM had the authority (under the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA)) to sell lands, but all funding generated from those sales went directly to the U.S. Treasury. This meant that BLM had little incentive to dispose of land.

Under FLTFA, BLM must deposit sales revenue into the Federal Land Disposal Account and then reinvest that funding in high-priority conservation and recreation acquisition projects through the BLM, NPS, FWS, and USFS. Additionally, BLM keeps a small portion of the revenue to pay for the administration of the land sales program, allowing more lands to be sold at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

  1. Establishes a “modified land exchange” approach, allowing a more efficient and streamlined process for federal land agencies to acquire new, high value conservation and recreation lands.

Under the typical federal land exchange process, when a federal agency sells a parcel, it must coordinate that process with another parcel, of the same value, that the government would like to buy. These land exchanges, while a good tool, often take years because the agencies must match up dollars and acres to swap pieces of land.

Under FLTFA’s modified land exchange, this direct coordination is not required.

Instead, when the BLM sells land, the funds are held in the Federal Land Disposal Account and agencies use these funds at a subsequent time to purchase high priority conservation and recreation areas. The agencies do not have to line up parcel valuations, but the process has a similar outcome as an exchange because BLM sells lands identified for disposal and purchases high-priority conservation and recreation lands. FLTFA provides an effective and efficient mechanism to help solve the private-public land checkerboard in the West.

Chart: FLTFA Proceeds Distribution Example for $1 Million 

what is fltfa's history and what has it accomplished?

Congress first created FLTFA in 2000 with a ten-year authorization. After a one-year reauthorization, FLTFA ceased operation in 2011 when it expired and BLM land sales slowed significantly.

When FLTFA was last operational between 2000 and 2011, the BLM completed hundreds of land sales, generating over $113 million, which funded 39 conservation projects in western states. The BLM sales helped support economic development, consolidate land ownership, and create jobs. 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 others.

From the money from these lands sales, BLM, NPS, USFS, and FWS all purchased important conservation and recreation lands. Among the 39 completed FLTFA land conservation projects included acquiring river frontage for fly-fishing access at the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area, protecting big-game winter habitat at Elk Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern in New Mexico, and preserving historic sites at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, just to name a few. These new public lands help to create and enhance public recreation and access while also supporting the local tourism economy through retail sales, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and more.

what is fltfa's current status?
Congress permanently authorized FLTFA in 2018 and included changes to modernize the program to make it more efficient. BLM, coordinating with the other federal agencies, is in the process of implementing the new law. Once complete, the four agencies will move forward with new land purchases using funds from BLM lands disposed since enactment of the permanent authorization on March 23, 2018.

fltfa's reauthorization in the 115th congress

In March of 2018, FLTFA was permanently reauthorized by Congress. This permanent authorization updated the law to make it more effective and efficient, with changes including:

  • Adding emphasis for broadening FLTFA authority to all BLM lands: The law allows all sales revenue from disposals to go directly into the Federal Land Disposal Account, as opposed to limiting it to areas with Land Use Plans tied to a certain date.
  • Allowing funds to be spent in any state after four years: The law states that any funds unobligated by the fourth fiscal year following the date of the sale or exchange of the land may be spent in any state, as opposed to only the state in which they were generated. This change ensures that the funds are reinvested quickly in building conservation and recreation opportunities for all Americans.
  • Prioritizing recreation and sportsmen’s access: The law includes public recreation and sportsmen access among the criteria for prioritization of spending FLTFA funds.

Below is background on the successful reauthorization effort.

Timeline of fltfa reuthorization

  • March 23, 2018: H.R. 5133 is signed by the President and becomes PL 115-141.
  • March 20, 2018. H.R. 5133 is included in the introduced version of H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. It quickly passes both the House and the Senate.
  • March 7, 2018. The House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved H.R. 5133
  • February 28, 2018. House Natural Resources Chairman, Rob Bishop (R-UT 1) introduces the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2018 (H.R. 5133) to reauthorize FLTFA permanently and maintain FLTFA’s original “modified land exchange” approach.
  • December 4, 2017: Senators Heinrich (D-NM) and Heller (R-NV) introduce S. 2185 to reauthorize FLTFA permanently. Additional cosponsors include Senators Udall (D-NM), Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Wyden (D-OR), Gardner (R-CO), Bennet (D-CO), Daines (R-MT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
  • September 1, 2017: The Sportsmen’s Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE)(H.R. 3668) is introduced and Title XVII includes a 5-year FLTFA reauthorization (instead of permanent).
  • June 2017: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S. 1460) includes permanent FLTFA Reauthorization and heads to the Senate Floor.
  • March 30, 2017: The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee marks up permanent FLTFA reauthorization, as part of the Sportsmen’s Act (S. 733).
  • October 22, 2015: Senators Heinrich (D-NM) and Heller (R-NV) introduce S. 368 to reauthorize FLTFA permanently. Additional cosponsors include Senators Udall (D-NM), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bennet (D-CO), Gardner (R-CO), Tester (D-MT), Daines (R-MT), Wyden (D-OR) and Risch (R-ID).
  • May 21, 2013: Representatives Lummis (R-WY) and DeFazio (D-OR) introduce H.R. 2068 to reauthorize FLTFA permanently. Additional cosponsors include Representative Amodei (R-NV).
  • February 13, 2013: Senators Heinrich (D-NM) and Heller (R-NV) introduce S. 368 to reauthorize FLTFA permanently. Additional cosponsors include Senators Baucus (D-MT), Bennet (D-CO), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-CO), Udall (D-NM), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Wyden (D-OR).
  • November 4, 2011: Representatives Lummis and Heinrich introduce H.R. 3365, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2011.
  • July 25, 2011: FLTFA expires and the program ends.
  • April 4, 2011: Senator Bingaman introduces S. 714, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2011.
  • July 25, 2010: FLTFA initially expires; it is reauthorized for one year on July 29, 2010.
  • October 14, 2009: Senator Bingaman introduces S. 1787, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization of 2009.
  • July 24, 2009: Representatives Heinrich and Lummis introduce H.R. 3339, the FLTFA Reauthorization Act of 2009.
  • July 25, 2000: The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act is enacted as part of Public Law No: 106-248.
  • March 30, 2000: Representative Hefley introduced the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act.
  • May 26, 1999: Senator Domenici introduced the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act

Additional Background on FLTFA Reauthorization