The La Paz County Land Conveyance Act, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar, passed the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent this week. The bill, H.R. 2630, will authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to La Paz County, Arizona.
Supporters hope the bill will create economic development opportunities and facilitate renewable electricity generation for the Western United States. The County will be required to pay fair-market value for the Land.
The bill, as amended, includes language developed with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the County, which ensures any tribal artifacts found on the land conveyed will be treated respectfully in accordance with the customs of the tribe.
“Thanks to Congressman Gosar’s leadership, La Paz County is poised to become a great partner with the Tribes in helping us protect our footprint on the land,” said Dennis Patch, Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairman. “Mohave culture places great spiritual value on the physical remnants of our ancestors, and the language included in this bill will help ensure our artifacts stay connected to the land. We are extremely grateful that our Congressman heard our concerns, and that he was willing to serve as a champion for our cause.”
“The overwhelming federal footprint in La Paz County leaves a mere six percent of land available for taxable use. Quite frankly, that’s just not enough, making a land transfer necessary for economic and energy growth in the County,” said Congressman Gosar. “H.R. 2630 will allow the County to secure title to approximately 8,800 acres from the Bureau of Land Management for fair market value. The County can put this otherwise under-utilized land to more effective use by partnering with private renewable energy developers to create good-paying local jobs and build a diverse tax base to support basic public services.”
“We would like to congratulate Congressman Gosar on this important legislative milestone,” said Supervisor D.L. Wilson, Chairman of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. “The La Paz County Land Conveyance Act will diversify our County’s economic development opportunities and provide much needed jobs and services for our residents.”
“I am encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for this bill and look forward to getting it onto the House Floor and passed into law. The people of La Paz County deserve this,” said Gosar.
There are a number of precedent-setting examples of other western counties using legislation to seek the conveyance of federal lands to stimulate economic development in rural locations. H.R. 2630 will allow the County to purchase 8,800 acres of land from the BLM, which they intend to utilize through long-term, lease contracts with renewable energy companies to develop large-scale solar generation facilities. This development will help meet increasing local, regional and national demand for renewable power generation while also addressing the economic challenges inherent to a county with almost 95% of property owned by federal, state or tribal governments.
This bill was originally introduced on May 24, 2017. Original cosponsors of the bill are Rep. Andy Biggs and Rep. Trent Franks.