Senator introduces legislation to facilitate city-BLM land swap
BULLHEAD CITY — Sen. Jon Kyl has introduced legislation to permit the City of Bullhead City and the federal government to swap land.
Kyle on Thursday introduced the Black Mountain Range and Bullhead City Land Exchange Act of 2018, a Senate version of a House bill introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar earlier this year.
Kyl also introduced the Lowell Observatory Conveyance Act, to lift Forest Service restrictions on land owned by the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
“I am proud to introduce two public lands bills that will have a positive impact on economic development, education and community in Arizona,” Kyl said through a release from his office in Washington, D.C. “One of these is a ‘win-win’ land exchange, the Black Mountain Range and Bullhead City Land Exchange Act of 2018, that would create additional opportunities for water recreation and economic development in Bullhead City while providing the federal government with a unique opportunity to consolidate environmentally sensitive lands inside and adjacent to the Black Mountan Ecosystem Management Area, which is home to some of the largest herds of desert bighorn sheep.”
The act, if passed, would facilitate an exchange between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the City of Bullhead City, allowing Bullhead City to acquire up to 342 acres of federal land on or near the Colorado River, known as Section 12, currently owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in exchange for 1,100 acres of property in the Black Mountain Range northeast of Bullhead City. That mountain land was donated to the city by Don Laughlin in 2015.
Bullhead City currently leases 283 acres of Section 12 — an area south and east of Bullhead Community Park along the Colorado River and Highway 95 — from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Most of the Section 12 lease area is being developed for recreational purposes — an extension of Community Park — under a specific Recreation and Public Purpose lease. The land swap would allow the city to take ownership of that land and additional adjacent land, which could be used for more expansion of public and commercial purposes.Gosar, joined by five other members of Arizona’s contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced H.B. 6738 in August.
That bill, the likewise named Black Mountain Range and Bullhead City Land Exchange Act of 2018, would “authorize, direct, expedite and facilitate” the land exchange.
Gosar’s bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Martha McSally, Andy Biggs, Kyrsten Sinema, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert, was sent to the House Committee on Natural Resources on Sept. 7. That committee referred it to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands on Sept. 14. It remains under review by that subcommittee.
Kyl’s bill, S.B. 3634, was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Arizona’s other current senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee.