State of Montana trying to Buy Land with Mineral Rights
12th September 2011
Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday that Montana would consider swapping state parcels inside the Missouri River Breaks National Monument to the federal government for land elsewhere, but only for other properties that generate more income for schools.
Schweitzer met Wednesday with a group called the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument that is advancing the idea. The advocates want consolidated management of the 375,000-acre monument area.
There are 116 parcels of state land, totaling more than 37,000 acres, intermingled with federal land in a checkerboard fashion inside the monument's borders.
Schweitzer chairs the State Land Board, which has actively been swapping lower income and isolated properties in order to consolidate holdings and increase revenue, usually through selling grazing and mineral rights. The governor and Department of Natural Resources director Mary Sexton both said swapping outside of the monument area could further those goals.
BLM spokeswoman Melodie Lloyd said the agency is open to discussing the swap, which has been considered in the past. She said the BLM can swap land without congressional approval.
But Sexton said a past swap the state made with the federal government did require congressional approval for spending of the administrative costs to evaluate the parcels and negotiate the deal.
Sexton said the state parcels inside the monument are earning far less than the agency likes to get out of its holdings under its mandate to generate revenue for the school trust.
BLM Director Bob Abbey is scheduled to visit the state Sept. 19, 2011 when he plans to meet with monument supporters.
The presidential monument area has been a political sticky wicket in Montana ever since its creation. Last year Abbey met with 1,500 people in a packed Malta gymnasium to ease fears the Obama administration may declare more monument area in the state.
But Schweitzer said he thinks everyone in the state could support Montana getting out of the monument in order to get more profitable land for state coffers.
Dyrck Van Hyning, with the monument conservation group, told the governor Abbey's visit would be a good time for him to discuss the proposal directly with the BLM director. Hyning said Abbey has told him that the BLM would like to make a deal.
Schweitzer said it is "music to our ears" to hear the BLM is interested in a deal.
"When great opportunities come along, we pounce," Schweitzer said. "We know the Montana landscape, we have a good eye for Montana land, and we have an eye toward consolidation."
- 18th June - More Liquefied Natural Gas being Exported
- 17th June - Senator John Barrasso: "Speed US Natural Gas Exports"
- 14th June - "Are Natural Gas Cars Next"
- 13th June - US Oil Production at Record High with Strong Market for Selling Mineral Rights
- 12th June - Should You Sell Your Mineral Rights and Royalties and Buy Marathon Petroleum?
- More Blog