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US Forest Service to Sell Off Public Lands for Private Development

The USFS is poised to sell off not only public buildings supposedly of no use to the public anymore, but also to include surrounding lands in order to create incentives for developers to purchase them and then do whatever they want on those lands! This could mean housing developments or whatever right in the middle of a national forest or wilderness!! Incredible, you say? Anything can happen with Bush in power.
From:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org
Subject: Important NEW USFS privatization legislation
Date: June 21, 2005 6:52:27 AM PDT
To:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org

Pasted below is the text of major new USFS land privatization legislation.

Here's how Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns recently described the proposal.

This proposal would provide useful tools for reducing the
Forest Service administrative site maintenance backlog and
improve the ability to realign facilities to meet the
needs of today's Forest Service workforce and mission.
The proposed legislation would authorize the Secretary of
Agriculture to sell, lease, exchange, or combine a sale
and exchange of any administrative site that the Secretary
determines is no longer needed for National Forest System
purposes. The legislation incorporates several new
authorities to facilitate the timely disposal of administrative sites.


And here's how I read the legislation:

"Administrative facilities" include every kind of building imaginable,
including visitor centers and perhaps more..

The agency expects MANY of these buildings will be torn down.

The agency is encouraged to improve the "marketability" of these sites
... which, in my mind, means providing a suitable amount of LAND with
the sale of the facility.

There is to be no consideration of the private use to which this
public land will be put and there is no differentiation between public
uses of public lands and private uses of newly privatized public
lands.

And, of course, the FS keeps the money -- which provides the carrot.

Put it all together this is what you get:.

If there's a building on public lands, the USFS is being encouraged to
privatize the public estate so that developers can use the land to
build anything they want. The fact that private inholdings may be
created in the process don't seem to be of any concern to anyone.

Am I reading into this things that are not there....
or is this as bad as I think it is????

Scott


------- begin quoted --------
A BILL

To provide for the efficient management and realignment of administrative sites and facilities on the National Forest System, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE AND DEFINITIONS.

(a) SHORT TITLE. - This Act may be cited as the "Forest Service Facility Realignment and Enhancement Act of 2005".

(b) DEFINITIONS. - For the purposes of this Act:

(1) ADMINISTRATIVE SITE. - The term "administrative site" means federal land, improvements, and any associated facility and curtilage, which were acquired or utilized specifically for Forest Service purposes such as forest headquarters, ranger stations, research stations and labs, dwellings, warehouses, scaling stations, parking areas, fire-retardant mixing stations, lookouts, visitor centers, guard stations, storage facilities, telecommunication facilities, or similar installations for conducting Forest Service activities;

(2) ADMINISTRATOR. - The term "Administrator" means the Administrator of General Services.

(3) FEDERAL APPRAISAL STANDARDS. - The term "Federal Appraisal Standards" means standards contained in the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (Interagency Land Acquisition Conference, 2000) and any amendments to these standards.

(4) MARKET ANALYSES. - The term "Market Analyses" means the identification and study or studies of the real estate market for a particular economic good or service.

(5) SECRETARY. - The term "Secretary" means the Secretary of Agriculture.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION OF CONVEYANCES. (a) IN GENERAL.

(1) The Secretary may convey, by sale, lease, exchange, combination of sale and exchange, or otherwise, including leaseback arrangements, any administrative site or interest therein under the custody and control of the Secretary.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, in any conveyance under this Act, the Secretary will not be required to mitigate or abate lead-based paint or asbestos -containing building materials with respect to such administrative site, except that the Secretary shall give notice of the presence of lead-based paint or asbestos-containing material and obtain from the grantee a written assurance that the grantee will comply with applicable federal, state and local laws related to the management of such lead-based paint or asbestos-containing materials.

(3) A sale or exchange carried out under this Act shall not be subject to the provisions of subtitle I, chapter 5, Title 40, United States Code.

(4) The Secretary shall at least annually notify the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate of each conveyance or exchange under this Act.

(5) Section 206 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1716) shall not apply to exchanges under this Act.

(b) ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW.- In any environmental review or analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act for the disposal of any administrative site, the Secretary shall consider or analyze the uses of the land to be sold or exchanged once such land is conveyed to non-Federal ownership only to the extent deemed necessary by the Secretary to determine the rights, title and interests in land which may be reserved by the Secretary as described in section 2(c)(3) or for market analyses purposes.

(c) CONFIGURATION OF LAND.-

(1) To facilitate a sale or exchange under this Act, the Secretary may configure the land to maximize marketability and to achieve management objectives.

(2) Improvements on the land may be severed from the land and disposed of separately.

(3) In any disposition of land under this Act, the Secretary may reserve any rights, title and interests in the land deemed necessary or desirable including water rights, rights- of-way, utility easements, conservation easements, and such restrictive covenants deemed by the Secretary to be in the public interest.

(d) MARKET VALUE. - Each conveyance shall be based on the market value as determined by a real property appraisal completed in conformity with the Federal Appraisal Standards, by competitive sale, or by other acceptable and commonly recognized methods of determining value as determined by the authorized agency appraiser.

(e) CONSIDERATION.-

(1) Consideration for a sale shall be paid in cash at the time lands are conveyed.

(2) Consideration for an exchange shall be based on the conveyance of an equal value of land or improvements, or as equalized by the payment of cash at the time lands are conveyed.

(f) REJECTION OF OFFERS. - The Secretary may reject any offer made under this Act if the Secretary determines, in the Secretary's sole discretion, that the offer is not adequate or not in the public interest.

(g) BROKERAGE SERVICES. - The Secretary may pay from the proceeds of sales or exchanges reasonable commissions or fees for brokerage services when such services are determined to be in the public interest.

(h) DISPOSITION OF RECEIPTS. - Proceeds received from the conveyance of administrative sites under this Act, less the costs of the disposition, shall be deposited into the fund established by the Act of December 4, 1967 (commonly known as the Sisk Act; 16 U.S.C. 484a).

(i) USE OF RECEIPTS. - Funds deposited into the Sisk Act fund pursuant to subsection (h) shall remain available to the Secretary until expended, without further appropriation for any of the Secretary's expenses necessary and incident to the acquisition, improvement, maintenance, and disposition of administrative sites and capital improvements on National Forest System lands.

(j) CONSULTATION WITH ADMINISTRATOR. - The Secretary is encouraged to work with the Administrator for conveyance of administrative sites when appropriate.

SEC. 3. AMENDMENT TO THE WORKING CAPITAL FUND.

(a) IN GENERAL. - Section 13 of the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 579b) is amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 13. WORKING CAPITAL FUND.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT.- There is hereby established a working capital fund which shall be available without fiscal year limitation.

(b) AVAILABILITY.- The working capital fund shall be available for -

(1) expenses necessary for furnishing supply and equipment services in support of programs of the Forest Service; or

(2) funding the purchase, construction, capital repair, renovation, rehabilitation, maintenance, disposal, or replacement of buildings and improvements for programs of the Forest Service, within any limitations thereon set forth in the appropriations for the Forest Service.

(c) TRANSFER AND CAPITALIZATION.- The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to transfer to the fund, without reimbursement, and to capitalize in the fund at fair and reasonable values, such receivables, inventories, equipment, buildings, improvements, and other assets as the Secretary may determine, and assume the liabilities in connection with such assets.

(d) ADVANCE PAYMENTS.- The fund shall be credited with advance payments in connection with firm orders and reimbursements from appropriations and funds of the Forest Service, other departmental and Federal agencies, and from other sources, as authorized by law, at rates approximately equal to the cost of furnishing the facilities and service.".

(b) SAVINGS CLAUSE.- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall not affect the status of funds and assets in the working capital fund established by section 13 of the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 579b) as in effect on the date of the enactment of this section.



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Scott Silver
Wild Wilderness
248 NW Wilmington Ave.
Bend, OR 97701

phone: 541-385-5261
e-mail:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org
Internet:  http://www.wildwilderness.org

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