A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior
Senate Energy &Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
S. 3185, Elko Motocross and Tribal Conveyance Act
April 28, 2010
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 3185, the Elko Motocross and Tribal Conveyance Act.S. 3185 would convey, without consideration, approximately 300 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the County of Elko, Nevada. The legislation also directs that approximately 373 additional acres of BLM-managed lands be taken into trust for the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada. The BLM supports the conveyances. We would like to work with the sponsor and the Committee on minor technical amendments to the bill.
The Elko Motocross and Tribal Conveyance Act represents years of cooperative efforts between the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada (Tribe), the City of Elko (city), the County of Elko (county), and the BLM. Both the county and the Tribe have had on-going discussions with the BLM about various lands near the city.
The Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP) Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to lease or convey public lands for recreational and public purposes, including campgrounds, municipal buildings, hospitals, and other facilities benefitting the public, and this administrative authority could be utilized for the Elko conveyance. The county submitted an R&PP application to the BLM in 2005 for approximately 266 acres. The county intended to use the land for a motocross/off-highway vehicle training and recreation area for the public. This parcel is largely vacant, but contains a number of rights-of-way, including a road and a gas pipeline. The BLM Elko Resource Management Plan (RMP) identified this parcel as available for disposal in support of community expansion.
The land for which the Tribe seeks trust status is adjacent to an existing parcel of the Elko Colony. The Elko Colony, approximately 190 non-contiguous acres adjacent to the city, is one of four separate colonies inhabited by the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians. The population of the Elko Band of the Te-Moak Tribe has grown steadily, but because their land base has remained unchanged for many years additional land is needed for housing andcommunitydevelopment. This parcel is also largely vacant, but contains two rights-of-way held by the city for water pipelines and storage, and one pending right-of-way application for a future city road. The BLM Elko RMP also identifies this parcel as available for disposal in support of community expansion.
S. 3185 proposes to convey approximately 300 acres of BLM-managed lands to the county at no cost for a public motocross park. The conveyance would be subject to valid existing rights. The bill requires that the land be used only for purposes consistent with the R&PP Act and includes a reversionary clause to enforce that requirement. Finally, the bill requires the county to pay all administrative costs associated with the transfer.
The bill also directs that approximately 373 acres of land currently administered by the BLM be taken into trust for the Tribe. The bill requires the BLM, prior to the taking of land into trust, to complete the environmental review process for the conveyance of a pending right-of-way application for a city road. S. 3185 also addresses valid existing rights and gaming. As a matter of policy, the BLM supports working with local governments to resolve land tenureissuesthat advance worthwhile public policy objectives. In general, the BLM supports conveyances if the lands are to be used for purposes consistent with the R&PP Act and include a reversionary clause at the discretion of the Secretary to enforce that requirement. The BLM strongly believes that open communication between the BLM and tribes is essential in maintaining effective government-to-government relationships. In this spirit, the BLM has had acooperativeworking relationship with the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada on this requested conveyance. As such, the BLM supports S. 3185 with minor technical amendments.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. We look forward to continuing to work with the bill's sponsor and Committee on this important legislation.