By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today announced that he is co-sponsoring H.R. 5836, the Hunting, Education and Recreational Development (HEARD) Act.
The HEARD Act establishes an orderly process for the sale, conveyance and exchange of federal lands not being utilized by public land management agencies that have been identified for disposal. The HEARD Act will yield significant benefits for education, sportsmen, agriculture and natural resource users, counties and states by establishing a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for all.
It distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 15% to the state where the disposal takes place for K-12 and higher education; 15% to one or more land grant universities in the State where the disposal takes place; 10% to one or more counties and county extension offices where the disposal takes place; and 10% to a special account in the treasury in order to increase access for hunters, recreational fishing, recreational shooting, OHV use, and other purposes.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), the total federal acreage exceeds more than 635 million acres. Currently, more than 80% of the land in Cook’s Congressional District is federally owned land.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has identified hundreds of thousands of acres for disposal that the agency is not efficiently utilizing. However, existing law does not require the BLM to dispose of identified lands on a regular or frequent basis. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management rarely disposes lands identified as potentially available.
Rep. Cook said, “We currently have a massive amount of land under the control of the federal government, especially in my district. We have to do a better job at making sure we’re making the most efficient use of our land. Our public lands should be used to benefit our communities not bureaucrats in Washington.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.