From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 47 - February 16, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

FS may sell Bondurant land

by Cat Urbigkit

A proposal in the Bush Administrationís fiscal year 2007 budget would permit monetary payments to states in which United States Forest Service lands are located with a key modification: the sale of a limited number of national forest system lands to fund continuation of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.

The budget proposal would grant the Forest Service authority to sell small tracts of forest land that are isolated or inefficient to manage due to their location or other characteristics. According to the draft proposal, about 300,000 acres nationwide would become available for sale, including 17,000 acres in Wyoming. Most of the Wyoming properties are in the Black Hills National Forest and the Thunder Basin National Grasslands, but includes about 880 acres in the Bondurant area.

The 880 acres are in seven parcels ranging from 37 acres to 320 acres that are in the area of Dry Island south of Bondurant and are surrounded by private property.

If adopted, the change allowing the sale of lands will be the payment planís second major alteration in five years. In 2000, the Secure Rural Schools Act separated payments to states from 92 years of timber sales and grazing fees.

To underscore the Presidentís commitment to states and counties impacted by the loss of receipts associated with lower timber harvests on federal lands, the budget includes a legislative proposal that provides $80 0million above the current baseline for a five-year extension of forest county safety net payments by amending the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. These payments will be targeted to the most affected areas. To provide a funding basis to offset these payments from the U.S. Treasury, the proposal would authorize the conveyance of parcels of forest land that are isolated or inefficient to manage due to location or other characteristics.

Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues from timber sales, mineral resources, and grazing fees, have been returned to states in which national forest lands are located to help maintain and improve local schools, roads and other activities. Because receipts from timber sales fluctuated over time, in 2000 Congress developed the Secure Rural Schools Act to stabilize payments to states for five years, from 2001 to 2006.

Lands proposed for sale would be subject to full public disclosure and scrutiny to ensure they are appropriate for sale. The public will have a 30-day comment period on the list of potentially eligible lands once that list has been finalized, which isnít expected until near the end ofthe month. In addition, some Bureau of Land Management-administered lands may also wind up on the sale block.

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