CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 271, the Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on February 3, 2011, by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. On November 2, 2011, the bill was passed in the Senate, as amended, by unanimous consent. The bill was received in the House and referred to the Natural Resources Committee on November 3, 2011. On June 7, 2012, the committee reported the bill by voice vote.
S. 271 would require the Secretary of Agriculture to convey approximately 1 acre of land managed by the Forest Service in Oregon to the city of Wallowa, Oregon, within one year of the city’s request. Specifically, the bill would require the Forest Service to convey the Wallowa Forest Service Compound to the city of Wallowa, Oregon. Under the bill, the city would be required to use the Wallowa Forest Service Compound as a historical and cultural interpretation and education center and ensure that the Wallowa Forest Service Compound is managed by a nonprofit entity. The city would also have to agree to manage the Wallowa Forest Service Compound with due consideration and protection for the historic values of the Wallowa Forest Service Compound; and pay the reasonable administrative costs associated with the conveyance.
According to the Committee on Natural Resources, in 1936, the city of Wallowa, Oregon, donated to the U.S. Forest Service approximately one acre of land in downtown Wallowa where the Forest Service sought to construct a ranger station and associated buildings. The Civilian Conservation Corps subsequently built a number of facilities on the site. The site was used for many decades by the Forest Service, but now sits vacant and has accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in deferred maintenance needs. A local nonprofit organization has proposed using the compound for local historical and cultural preservation, interpretation, and education. The Forest Service recently identified the property for sale under the Forest Service Facility Realignment and Enhancement Act, which requires fair market value for any conveyance. S. 271 would require the Secretary of Agriculture, at the request of the city of Wallowa, to convey the parcel consisting of approximately 1.11 acres to the city without consideration.
According to CBO, because the affected land (and related structures) would probably have been sold under existing authority, enacting the legislation would reduce offsetting receipts. However, because the Forest Service can spend those receipts, the loss in receipts would be offset by lower direct spending of a similar amount. CBO estimates that the value of the land is less than $500,000.