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Press Release

Panel Urges Passage of Locally Supported Land Bills to Promote Economic Development and Conservation

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on two bills to promote economic development, improve conservation and address targeted federal land management challenges.

H.R. 2423, the “Washington County, Utah, Public Lands Management Implementation Act,” (Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT) fulfills a promise made to Washington County, after years of negotiations and compromises between local stakeholders in Utah, to designate the northern transportation route and utility corridors outlined under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (OPLMA).

"The bill before the subcommittee addresses the most grievous omissions in the RMP and clarifies the intent of Congress," Rep. Stewart said. "This language reflects the compromises the County negotiated with the federal government to minimize impacts on the desert tortoise and to allow the City of St. George to grow sustainably."

The BLM hasn’t followed the letter or intent of the law, and they marginalized the needs of local communities as a result. This bill requires BLM to do what they should have done in the first place, and that’s to actually listen to people who know the area and balance conservation with the growing economic development needs of the county,Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said.

The bill directs the Department of the Interior to fully implement the Washington County provisions of OPLMA by issuing any necessary rights-of-way for the northern transportation route and authorizing the development of additional utilities to keep up with the growing population of the City of St. George, one of the fastest growing metro regions in the nation.

 The story of Washington County is not about conflict,” Iverson stated. “It is a story about people who care very deeply for their environment who work together to find the right balance between protecting resources and enjoying them.”

H.R. 1107, the “Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act” (Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV), codifies a bipartisan agreement between major stakeholders in Pershing County, Nevada to benefit conservation, improve public land management and promote economic development.

 “[I] cannot stress enough the broad-based, all-inclusive nature of the long process to achieve consensus in Pershing County in regard to the future management of our public lands,” Perish County Commissioner Robert McDougal stated. “Hunters, hikers, four wheelers, rangers, environmentalists, miners, prospectors, educators, business owners and many other citizens were part of our process.“ 

The bill consolidates checkerboard land previously identified for disposal, conveys land for mining and public purposes, creates new Wilderness Areas and releases certain Wilderness Study Areas, to benefit conservation, recreation and economic development in Pershing County.

Nevadans know how to come to the table in good faith and work together,” Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, said. “Getting to this point was not easy. Everyone had to compromise, and no one got everything they wanted. But the end product of this give-and-take has broad support and advances all of our interests.”