While Utah has passed legislation demanding the federal government surrender its title to much of the public lands in that state, Congressman Mark Amodei is pressing three pieces of federal legislation to take smaller bites of the apple, but bites nonetheless.
As spelled out in today’s column in the Ely Times online and in the print versions of the Lincoln County Record, Eureka Sentinel, Mineral County Independent-News and Elko Independent, one bill would remove from the time-consuming and expensive resource planning process small tracts of Bureau of Land Management controlled property — 160 acres at a time — near cities and towns so the land can be auctioned off.
Though Nevada has in the past attempted the same route Utah is taking, the congressman is reluctant to wade in without assurance Nevada is ready to take on the responsibility in these recessionary times. As you can see from the video, he recognizes what the problem is.
“I don’t want to get out there and then have the guys back in the state say, ‘We can’t afford to administer them,'” he said.
A second piece of legislation he is working on would attempt to remedy the problem created by the “checkerboard” land grants handed out when the transcontinental railroad was built. “To this day you have a checkerboard pattern of private and public ownership that has not been consolidated even in the 150 years or whatever it’s been.” He is trying to find a way to put the public 640-acre sections of the checkerboard into private hands.
His third land issue effort is to write legislation that will address a problem that was recently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. An Idaho couple sued the Environmental Protection Agency because it used the Clean Water Act to block them from building on a half-acre lot in a subdivision near Priest Lake.
The EPA’s definition of “wetlands” includes completely dry land anywhere near a puddle, and the congressman intends to draft language that is more restrictive.
Read the full column here. Better yet, go buy a paper.