WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) led a group of senators to introduce a bill to reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA). Before it expired in 2011, FLTFA allowed the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service in the western United States to use the proceeds from sales of certain federally designated areas to protect lands of exceptional conservation value.
“This program takes a balanced approach to conservation of public lands in the West, and as a result, it has a long history of bipartisan support,” said Senator Heinrich. “FLTFA is a commonsense program that achieves the dual goals of conservation and economic development. These funds have been used to protect iconic lands in New Mexico including in the Aztec Ruins National Monument, Santa Fe National Forest, and Elk Springs. FLTFA helps our state preserve the places that draw visitors from around the world and sustain outdoor traditions like hunting and fishing for generations to come.”
“This bipartisan program provides a fiscally responsible way to protect and manage important public lands in Nevada and throughout the West. Not only will it spur economic growth and development, it will also keep conservation at the forefront of the region’s needs,” said Senator Heller.
For more than a decade until it expired in 2011, FLTFA allowed the preservation of important sites across the western United States without the use of taxpayer money. The program also assisted in better land management practices by disposing of isolated or difficult to manage parcels identified by the public land management agencies themselves.
Additional cosponsors of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act are U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
The legislation is supported by more than 165 groups, including many sportsmen, recreation, conservation, and historic preservation groups, such as The Conservation Fund, The Trust for Public Land, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and Nevada Land Trust. A list of groups is available here.
“Supporting vibrant economies and safeguarding our environment are both essential to Americans,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “That is why we applaud Senators Heinrich and Heller for their leadership in recognizing FLTFA as a practical and effective tool that has allowed businesses, ranchers, counties and others to buy land for strategic growth, while enabling public agencies to protect outstanding natural lands for public recreation in the West.”
“FLTFA has provided more recreational access to the special places that make New Mexico a great state for hunting, fishing, hiking and more,” said Andrew Black, Director of Community Relations for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “FLTFA has also protected critical habitat at the Elk Springs and La Cienega Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, including for Jemez Mountain elk. We praise Senators Heinrich and Heller for their leadership with sportsmen’s and wildlife bills, including introducing this important legislation that will benefit sportsmen and women in New Mexico and the West.”
A copy of the bill is available here.