House Resources Committee mulls land bills removing federal roadblocks from local communities

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H.R. 1547 rectifies a long-standing, unfulfilled agreement from 1989 between the City of Tucson, Arizona (City) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The deal gave the City clear title of Udall Park by removing BLM’s reversionary interest in exchange for $4 million worth of land. Due to administrative inefficiencies, unbeknownst to City officials, the provision was never formally removed which caused outrage in 2010 when the BLM threatened to invoke its reversionary interest and take back the land if the City did not remove a farmer’s market in the park.

Contrary to various anti-local narratives from the progressive/environmentalist Left, transferring public lands from federal control to that of states and localities is not an evil plan to sell off national parks to big oil and big mining, nor is it unusual. It is now and has always been an ordinary occurrence in processes of land disposal and management. This past week, four significant bills transferring federal lands to state and local governments were reviewed by the House Committee on Natural Resources. Below are written excerpts from the bill’s summaries, as well as video of the hearing itself. In its press release titled, Panel Reviews Slate of Land Bills to Benefit Local Communities Burdened Federal Roadblocks, the Natural Resources Committee highlighted four bills, which include:

H.R. 873 (Rep. Mike Gallagher), To authorize the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation to establish the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial as a commemorative work in the District of Columbia, and for other purposesGlobal War on Terrorism War Memorial Act

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Major Provisions of H.R. 873

  • Authorizes the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation to establish the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial as a commemorative work on Federal land in the District of Columbia and its environs to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces that served on active duty in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
  • Waives the Commemorative Works Act requirement (40 U.S.C. §8903(b)) that a commemorative work to a war or similar major military conflict may not be authorized until at least 10 years after the officially designated end of such war or conflict.
  • Prohibits use of Federal funds to pay for any expense related to the establishment of the memorial.

H.R. 1547 (Rep. Martha McSally), To provide for the unencumbering of title to non-Federal land owned by the city of Tucson, Arizona, for purposes of economic development by conveyance of the Federal reversionary interest to the City, “Udall Park Land Exchange Completion Act

Background of H.R. 1547

For nearly three decades, officials in the City of Tucson believed the agreement from 1989 removed the reversionary interest in Udall Park. However, in 2010, the BLM sent a letter to the City of Tucson threatening to use the reversionary interest to take back Udall Park if the City did not stop a small farmer’s market located within the Park. The prohibition on commercial uses in the Park also prevented the City from siting cellular towers in the Park to offset the cost of the Park’s maintenance. After these complications, the City began pursuing legislative options to resolve the reversionary interest issue in order to have clear title to the land and complete control over jurisdictional decisions regarding the use of the Park.

H.R. 1547, “Udall Park Land Exchange Completion Act”, removes the reversionary interest of the United States in Udall Park so the City of Tucson can continue to expand activities, including commercial uses, and make improvements in the Park. The bill directs the BLM to make this conveyance without further consideration, reflecting the completion of the deal the City and BLM negotiated over 28 years ago. The bipartisan bill is supported by the entire Arizona Congressional delegation, with the exception of one member. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain introduced a Senate companion bill, S. 612, on March 13, 2017.

H.R. 2582 (Rep. Mia Love), To authorize the State of Utah to select certain lands that are available for disposal under the Pony Express Resource Management Plan to be used for the support and benefit of State institutions, and for other purposes, “Confirming State Land Grants for Education Act”

Background of H.R. 2582

The Utah Enabling Act, passed in 1894, granted the State of Utah the right to select public lands for the support and benefit of state institutions, including an agricultural college (now Utah State University). Lands granted to Utah under this Act are managed by SITLA…

In 1998, SITLA filed an application with the BLM to select 444.05 acres of BLM lands near the City of Eagle Mountain in Utah County for the benefit of the Utah State University land trust. This selection application was subsequently modified to add an additional 80 acres near the City of Saratoga Springs, Utah.

H.R. 3115 (Rep. Richard Nolan), To provide for a land exchange involving Federal land in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota acquired by the Secretary of Agriculture through the Weeks Law, and for other purposes.

Summary of H.R. 3115

The “Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017,” H.R. 3115 (Rep. Nolan), directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convey 6,650 acres of split estate federal lands along the edge of the Superior National Forest to Poly Met Mining Inc. (PolyMet). In exchange, PolyMet would convey 6,690 acres of private inholdings within the Superior National Forest to the Secretary of Agriculture. The bill ratifies the objectives of the NorthMet Land Exchange Final Record of Decision (ROD) as approved by the U.S. Forest Service on January 9, 2017 and requires the land exchange to be completed within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation.

Video of hearing:

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