For Immediate Release: Rep. Gosar Introduces Bill to Increase Access for Hunting and Recreation on Public Land and Raise Revenue for Education

Jul 21, 2017

Date: 7/20/2017

Contact: Faith C. Vander Voort

Faith.VanderVoort@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 5836, the Hunting, Education and Recreational Development (HEARD) Act:

“For far too long, miles upon miles of federal land has been poorly managed and neglected,” said Congressman Gosar. “This oversight and misuse has a negative impact on several communities in my home state of Arizona as well as many other western states. As Representative of Arizona’s Fourth Congressional District and the Chairman of the Western Caucus, it’s my priority to improve the way we utilize our land by reducing waste and focusing resources in a way that ensures hunters, fishers, and outdoor recreationists can enjoy the best of what our public lands have to offer. That’s why I introduced the HEARD Act, a bill that addresses these issues by establishing a mechanism for the disposal of unnecessary federal land and generates much needed revenue for local governments. This legislation ensures that public lands will be utilized more efficiently while also yielding significant benefits for hunting, education, and recreation.”

Andy Groseta, a rancher, past President of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and past President of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, who resides in Cottonwood, Arizona stated, “The HEARD Act provides a much-needed opportunity for federal land management agencies to work in coordination with local ranchers, sportsmen and municipalities, improving land use and management throughout the West. This legislation establishes an orderly process that makes better use of lands that the federal government has stated it no longer needs. This important bill will provide additional revenues for individual communities, spur job creation and foster economic growth.”

“The HEARD Act would enable the [Bureau of Land Management] to dispose of underutilized and poorly managed land through sale, conveyance, or exchange, which could generate funds through a revenue sharing mechanism that would be of enormous benefit to K-12 and higher Education in Arizona, and nationally,” stated University of Arizona President, Robert C. Robbins in a letter of support. “The legislation would especially benefit and create new investment and funding opportunities for America’s land grant universities, which have been a significant source of educational achievement and innovation in the United States since land grant colleges were created through law signed by President Lincoln in 1862.”

Background:

H.R.3333 will yield significant benefits for education, counties and states by establishing a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for all. The HEARD Act distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 15% to the state where the disposal takes place for K-12 and higher education; 15% to one or more land grant universities in the State where the disposal takes place; 10 percent to one or more counties where the disposal takes place; and 10% to a special account in the treasury in order to increase access for hunters, recreational fishing, recreational shooting, OHV use, and other purposes.

This legislation is modeled after the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA). This public law has a proven track record of success. To date, more than 35,000 acres have been sold, conveyed or exchanged in Nevada and sales have generated nearly $3 billion in revenue. The revenue sharing mechanism instituted by this law has benefitted education, enhanced recreational opportunities and public access, and achieved better management of public lands.

Although the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains an inventory of land identified as appropriate for disposal, existing law does not require the BLM to dispose of identified lands on a regular or frequent basis. As a result, lands identified as potentially available for disposal under valid resource management plans are rarely disposed by the BLM. The Forest Service has several authorities to dispose of Federal lands, but such authorities are rarely used. SNPLMA is one of the few proven models that has allowed for an orderly process to make better use of lands not being utilized by the federal government.

By injecting transparency into this process and building on the successful SNPLMA model, Congress can better utilize all lands that belong to the American people while also yielding significant benefits for local stakeholders.

Original Cosponsors Include: Mark Amodei, Trent Franks, David Schweikert, Pete Sessions, Don Young. Endorsements: The University of Arizona, Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona, Arizona Liberty, Arizona Pork Council, Arizona Rock Products Association, Bullhead City Chamber of Commerce, Concerned Citizens for America - Arizona Chapter, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Yavapai Cattle Growers

###