Bill to Allow USFS to Sell Small Isolated Parcels

The National Association of State Foresters is supporting a bill that would allow the USFS to sell or swap small inholdings. The draft bill would apply to:

* parcels of 40 acres or less which are determined to be physically isolated, to be inaccessible, or to have lost their National Forest character;

* parcels of 10 acres or less which are not eligible for conveyance under such Act, but which are encroached upon by permanent habitable improvements for which there is no evidence that the encroachment was intentional or negligent; and

* parcels used as a cemetery, a landfill, or a sewage treatment plant under a special use authorization issued by the USDA.

<a href=”https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1214″>The bill is here.</a>

Here’s the press release….

NASF sends Small Tracts Act Amendment letter to Senate

Friday, April 1, 2016

The National Association of State Foresters urges the Senate to pass legislation allowing the USDA Forest Service to sell isolated parcels of land and utilize those funds for acquisition of access and inholdings.

HR 1214 passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for consideration on September 17, 2015. It passed the House on a roll call vote of 403-0.

The Administration has proposed similar language in the Forest Service Budget Justification for 2017 (Appropriations Language Changes, Small Tracts Act Conveyance Authority, page 60).

This is legislation that has broad based support and is desperately needed. These small isolated parcels which would be available for sale, are largely unmanaged “no-man’s lands.”

Many are among or near residential neighborhoods and are often the sites of trash dumping, wildfire ignitions, etc. The agency spends untold amounts of time dealing with law enforcement, trespass and easement issues; time which could be much better spent managing the actual main body of the forest. The agency estimates there may be as many as 25,000 small isolated parcels which fit the definition in the legislation.

Clearly defined ownership patterns make for much more effective and efficient management. As State Foresters, we would rather focus our limited resources on assisting landowners, preventing and fighting fires where these patterns are better defined. The Forest Service shares that perspective. We urge the Senate to pass this important legislation in this legislative session.

One Comment

  1. I wonder what forest plans say about these kinds of areas … More to the point, one requirement for disposal should be that they have been identified in the forest plan (through an appropriate public planning process) as not contributing to the desired conditions of the national forest. This evaluation would be needed to properly address those cases where there is some important value that such lands do contribute, and I’m particularly thinking about the possibility of habitat connectivity “stepping stones” across more developed private lands (which should be identified in the plan as areas to be managed for that purpose).

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