The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it and three other Federal land-management agencies are in the process of acquiring 19 parcels of land in seven Western states with $18 million from a special land conservation fund.
The fund, established by Congress under a law passed in 2000, authorizes the purchase of private “inholdings” from willing sellers in the Western states whose acreage is surrounded by or located next to certain lands under the management of the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The $18 million to be used for these land purchases will bring into public ownership 19 properties with extraordinary natural, scenic, recreational, or historical values,” said Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett. “These purchases promote conservation while helping ensure efficient and effective public lands management.”
The already completed or pending land purchases, the first of their kind to occur under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) of 2000, are funded from already completed Federal land sales. Under this law, the BLM is authorized to sell fragmented or isolated parcels of public land that are difficult to manage, as well as lands that may have residential or commercial value, and then use the proceeds to support land-conservation purposes.
“The benefits of this sale-authority law are clear,” said Scarlett, who noted that FLTFA is set to expire in 2010. “I urge Congress to support this Administration’s proposal to extend the law from 2010 to 2018 so that more Americans may benefit from these type of land acquisitions.”
Of the 19 land parcels already or to be purchased, which comprise about 9,000 acres, the BLM would be acquiring 10 parcels covering 3,200 acres at a combined cost of about $10 million. The Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service would be buying the other nine parcels, which comprise 5,800 acres, at a combined cost of about $8 million. The properties already or to be purchased by the BLM include parcels located next to or within such areas as the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area in Wyoming; the La Cienega Area of Critical Environmental Concern/El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail in New Mexico; the Idaho Snake River Area of Critical Environmental Concern; and the Coachella Valley Fringe-Toed Lizard Area of Critical Environmental Concern in California.
The 15 other parcels to be acquired are located within National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, National Monuments, National Wild and Scenic River corridors, National Historic Trail corridors, and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. In addition to those specific areas noted above in California, New Mexico, and Wyoming, the remaining 15 properties are located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon. All of the remaining parcels to be purchased are at various stages of negotiation with private landowners, and, because of privacy concerns, cannot be further identified until the acquisitions have been completed.
The BLM, National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service are part of the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.