August 02, 2012

Pair of Wyden, Merkley Land Management Bills Pass the House of Representatives

Legislation Will Transfer Federal Property to La Pine and Wallowa in Order to Boost Tourism and Improve Public Works

Washington, D.C. – Continuing efforts to boost tourism and improve the economies of local communities in eastern and central Oregon, legislation to transfer federal land to the cities of La Pine and Wallowa passed the United States House of Representatives. Introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the pair of bills will provide the communities of La Pine and Wallowa as well as Deschutes County, with access to hundreds of acres of federal land for community attractions, historic preservation and improvements to infrastructure. These bills have already passed the Senate.

“Tourism in Oregon has the potential to create significant economic growth for local communities, and these two bills provide the towns of La Pine and Wallowa with that opportunity,” Wyden said. “In addition to a boost in tourism these bills will allow for important improvements to infrastructure and public works projects that will enhance the lives of those in the community. Thanks to Rep. Walden and the Oregon delegation for helping to make these bills law.”

“Oregon has long been known for its amazing recreation and tourism opportunities, and today’s news means that tradition will grow even further,” said Merkley. “Increasing tourism and improving infrastructure will boost local economies in La Pine and Wallowa, and getting this bill signed into law will allow Oregon to share its natural wonders and historic attractions with even more of the country and the world.”

Both bills now head to the President for signature.

The La Pine Land Conveyance Act will transfer 150 acres of land currently under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management to the control of Deschutes County. The county will then be able to use the land to develop rodeo grounds and the future development of ball fields and parks and recreation facilities in an effort to boost tourism.

Deschutes County will use a separate 750-acre conveyance of land for improvements to wastewater management by the sewer district and a much needed expansion of a wastewater treatment plant that has been on hold for ten years due to lack of space. The BLM property found entirely inside the city limits will allow for that expansion to mitigate septic systems that are generating elevated levels of nitrate in the groundwater. The City of La Pine will receive a smaller piece of land, approximately 10 acres in size, to be used for a library or as city open spaces.

The Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act will move a Forest Service Ranger Station to the city of Wallowa that will double as a cultural center celebrating the rich culture and history of the community. The city will partner with a non-profit group to create and run the center that will draw tourists to Wallowa and provide an economic boost to the community