CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 1815, Eastern Nevada Land Implementation Improvement Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on April 15, 2015, by Rep. Crescent Hardy (R-NV) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by Unanimous Consent on February 3, 2016.
H.R. 1815 would authorize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to use a portion of proceeds from land sales to conduct hazardous fuel reduction projects and wildfire planning in pinyon-juniper landscapes. This legislation also would reduce the size of three wilderness areas in White Pine and Nye counties in Nevada by approximately 50 acres to improve access to improve public access to the Big Canyon Trailhead main road and facilities, to provide land to an existing Girl Scout Camp, and to release a small dam owned and operated by the Yamba tribe. Additionally, H.R. 1815 makes a technical correction to the Mesquite Lands Act of 1988 so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) can implement a conservation plan to protect several species in the Lower Virgin River Basin.
Under the Lincoln County Land Act and Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act, 85 percent of proceeds from the sale of federal lands are managed in special accounts with uses prescribed by BLM. H.R. 1815 provides BLM with flexibility to determine which projects can be funded for pinyon-juniper landscape restoration projects using existing funds in the special account. Thinning of pinyon-juniper stands will help to prevent catastrophic wildfires and protect and enhance greater sage-grouse habitat in the county.
In 2002, FWS required the City of Mesquite, Nevada, to create a multiple species habitat conservation plan (MSHCP) to protect several species in the Lower Virgin River Basin before moving ahead with two land acquisitions. The City planned to use funds from the Mesquite Lands Act, a law passed by Congress in 1986, which allows the City to acquire and develop lands from the federal government to complete the MSHCP. FWS signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the City to carry out the law. This agreement expired in 2014, and the FWS refused to sign a new MOA or allow the City access to necessary funding because it did not feel that current legislation enabled FWS to implement the MSHCP. As a result, all efforts to advance the MSHCP and expand the City have been halted.
According to the sponsor, “An unfortunate reality for many rural communities in Nevada is that vital planning decisions that would normally be made at the local and county levels must be regularly put on hold until federal land management agencies have had their say. This inefficient and overly bureaucratic process can leave future economic growth and environmental protection hanging in the balance, threatening the wellbeing of the rural West…This act will allow the Federal government to be a more effective partner with rural communities in Eastern Nevada.”
 See Press Release, “Hardy Introduces Eastern Nevada Land Implementation Improvement Act,” November 5, 2015.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting this legislation would increase spending from the BLM and USFWS accounts by $2 million over the 2017-2026 period, but any spending to carry out the projects identified in the bill would be drawn from existing multi-million dollar federal account that are funded through the sale of federal land. The legislation also would make other changes to the management of federal lands that CBO estimates would have no significant cost. Because enacting H.R. 1815 would affect direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues, nor increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.