Western governors urge Congress to ease land transfers

E&E  News today:

The Western Governors’ Association today adopted a resolution urging Congress to simplify federal-state land exchanges and circumvent the “complex regulatory requirements” of existing laws including the National Environmental Policy Act.

The measure is one of four resolutions the association, which represents 19 states and three U.S. territories, approved at its annual meeting. The coalition also addressed invasive species, the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog, and conservation of fish and wildlife migration corridors.

In its new policy statement on land exchanges and purchases, WGA called for new laws to ease the impact of “checkerboard land ownership” across Western states.

“Federal and state land managers, land users, the environmental community and the public all agree that the checkerboard land ownership pattern is a major hindrance to effective and ecologically sound management of both federal and state lands,” the resolution states.

From my experience as a county forest advisory group member, I applaud efforts to make relatively small transfers easier. Trading similar parcels — say, of up to 640 acres, usually less — can take years, or is virtually impossible. It’s a bit easier with the BLM.

1 thought on “Western governors urge Congress to ease land transfers”

  1. I wouldn’t read into this a proposal to change how NEPA applies to federal real estate transactions. They did not propose anything specific for that like they did for economic values (and changing NEPA would be a much heavier lift). In fact, the WGA would increase the importance of environmental analysis by presuming public interest “unless clear countervailing factors are present” – like environmental factors. It is likely that differences between “similar rural lands” would have more to do with environmental values than economic ones (so simplifying the economic requirements may make sense). In particular, the environmental value of more isolated federal parcels could be increasing where they contribute to ecological connectivity (such as for lands in those “migration corridors”).


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