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Rep. Newhouse Introduces Legislation to Ease Federal Land Transactions

March 26, 2015
Press Release

Legislation reauthorizes FLTFA to speed up the sale of surplus federal “land-for-land” deals

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the bipartisan H.R. 1651, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) Reauthorization of 2015.  FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell surplus federal lands to states, localities, or private entities that can be put to economically-beneficial use. Profits from the sales can then be used to purchase state or private land encumbered by National Parks and other federal areas, advancing conservation goals and improving recreational, hunting and fishing access. Since its initial introduction in 2000, FLTFA reduced federal land ownership by 9,000 acres over the course of a decade.

“Reauthorization of this legislation allows a common-sense approach to land management by granting flexibility in transactions involving surplus federal land,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Streamlining the process that permits states and private owners to purchase federal lands marked for disposal allows for the best possible land-use decisions while enhancing local economic and recreational opportunities. Taxpayers and communities impacted by federal land decisions deserve a transparent process to deal with surplus federal land, and this bill is a fiscally-responsible way to encourage economic development.”

For the text of the legislation, click here. For the section-by-section, click here.

BACKGROUND:

Land Transaction and Facilitation Act:

In July of 2000, Congress enacted the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA).  FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public lands identified for disposal through the land use planning process prior to July 2000 and to retain the proceeds from the sales in a special account set up in the Treasury.  These funds remain available without additional appropriation, so

the program is self-funded and does not rely on taxpayer money.

FLTFA was initially authorized through July 2010, and extended once through July 25, 2011.

Since its enactment, the BLM has sold just under 27,000 acres of surplus lands and used the proceeds to acquire approximately 18,000 acres within federal areas identified as having high resource value.

Highlights of H.R. 1651

  • Reauthorizes the program, currently expired, through 2022. 
  • Expands the pool of eligible lands to be sold to include any lands identified for disposal in past or future federal land management plans.  Under the 2000 authorization, only land marked for disposal prior to 2000 was eligible for sale.
  • Requires the Department of the Interior to establish and make available to the public an online database of all land marked for disposal.
  • Directs agencies to give consideration to recreational access, including for hunting and fishing, in implementing the law.
  • At the expiration of the reauthorization period, devotes any remaining funds in the FLTFA account to deficit reduction.