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LETTER: Advancing Conservation and Education Act

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October 26, 2016

Honorable Jeff Flake
United States Senate
413 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Honorable Martin Heinrich
United States Senate
303 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Flake and Senator Heinrich:

We write to express appreciation to you both for your leadership in advancing legislation to facilitate state-federal land exchanges. Western Governors have long sought Congressional action to simplify and expedite the federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes. That priority is specifically memorialized in WGA Policy Resolution 2016-04, Federal-State Land Exchanges and Purchases, adopted in June of this year.

The complexity of federal land exchange processes often prevents the completion of sensible and mutually beneficial exchanges, even on a government-to-government basis. Consequently, state lands remain locked in federal conservation areas, and states are deprived the economic benefit of land grants that were made to fund education and other purposes.

Your legislation, the Advancing Conservation and Education Act (S. 3316), provides a process for states to relinquish lands within federal conservation areas and select other public lands that are suitable for economic development. This approach creates a streamlined alternative to lengthy, expensive, and inefficient existing federal land exchange processes.

It is critical that Congress enact legislation to expedite procedures for consolidating federal and state land holdings so that western states can realize value for the lands granted to them in trust. The process you have developed in S. 3316 is an important step toward that goal.

Respectfully,

Steve Bullock
Governor of Montana
Chair, WGA

Dennis Daugaard
Governor of South Dakota
Vice Chair, WGA

cc: Chairman Lisa Murkowski, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

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