Feds Buy Western Lands to Promote Conservation
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is buying the Idaho land and also properties within or adjacent to California’s Coachella Valley Fringe; Toed Lizard Area of Critical Environmental Concern; the North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area in Wyoming; and the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail in New Mexico.
The remaining 15 properties are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming.
These purchases are part of a larger federal land acquisition program that is now under way. BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are in the process of acquiring 19 parcels of land in the seven Western states with $18 million from a special land conservation fund.
The fund, established by Congress under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) of 2000, authorizes the purchase of private “in-holdings” from willing sellers in the Western states whose acreage is surrounded by or located next to certain lands under the management of the three federal land-management agencies and the BLM. The purchases, funded from completed sales of other federal lands, will promote conservation as well as ensure efficient and effective public lands management.
Under this law, the BLM is authorized to sell fragmented or isolated parcels of public land that are difficult to manage, or lands that may have residential or commercial value, and then use the proceeds to support land conservation. FLTFA is set to expire in 2010.
Of the 19 land parcels, covering about 9,000 acres, the BLM is 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 are buying the other nine parcels, covering 5,800 acres, at a combined cost of about $8 million.
The properties 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.
The remaining parcels to be purchased are at various stages of negotiation with private landowners and cannot be further identified until the acquisitions have been completed.