Significant Lands Package passes Senate, includes Risch Bills benefiting Idaho
March 8, 2019
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today passed a package of bipartisan bills, including several provisions authored or sponsored by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), which would improve public lands management, protect Idaho's natural landscapes, and increase public access for sportsmen while protecting private property rights. The Natural Resources Management Act included two bills introduced by Risch, the Reclamation Title Transfer Act and legislation to improve a recreation facility at Smith Gulch, and several other bills cosponsored by Risch that would increase public access to shooting ranges, among other reforms.
"We place a high value on our public lands in Idaho and want to ensure they're accessible for thousands of sportsmen and women in Idaho as well as for future generations," said Senator Risch. "It's also important that we not allow federal government interference to hinder the critical role of land and water in our agricultural industry. This legislative package does both and I applaud Chairman Murkowski for her hard work across the aisle to find consensus on these dozens of bipartisan bills."
S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, reflects a bipartisan Senate-House agreement to bundle together over 100 individual lands bills. This bipartisan package strikes a balance between creating new opportunities for natural resource and community development, primarily in western states, with limited, locally-supported conservation. For a full list of reforms in the lands package, click here.
Provisions Introduced or Cosponsored by Risch in the Lands Package:
The Reclamation Title Transfer Act: Introduced by Risch
The Reclamation Title Transfer Act will streamline the process for non-federal entities, like irrigation districts to obtain the title for Reclamation projects they already operate and have repaid. More than two-thirds of Reclamation assets are operated by these entities.
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This bill will give the Secretary of Interior the ability to facilitate qualifying transfers instead of requiring each individual transfer be approved by an act of Congress.
Title ownership increases flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to secure financing for beneficiaries of the projects.
Legislation to Improve a Recreation Facility at Smith Gulch: Introduced by Risch in Senate, Introduced by Simpson in House
Would allow for intended maintenance of commercial recreation services at Smith Gulch in the Frank Church Wilderness.
Owyhee Wilderness Areas Boundary Modifications Act: Introduced by Crapo, cosponsored by Risch
Makes locally supported and intended boundary adjustments in the Owyhee Wilderness in Idaho.
Sportsmen's Act Provisions: Cosponsored by Risch
Allows the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lease or permit federal land for shooting ranges.
Allows for the transport of bows in National Parks.
Allows qualified volunteers to assist with wildlife management in parks.
Increases sportsmen access to federal land by establishing "open unless closed" standard for BLM and USFS lands.
Requires the Department of Interior and USFS to identify and publish land that is available to the public for hunting, fishing, and recreation.
Protects federally recognized treaty rights and state authority for fish and wildlife management.
Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA): Cosponsored by Risch
Will increase transparency on politically motivated organizations taking advantage of taxpayer funded lawsuits by creating a database where fees paid under EAJA are clearly listed and available to the public.