June 10, 2010

Blackfoot River Land Settlement Approved In Committee

Crapo legislation settles land claims along the Blackfoot River

Washington, D.C. - Federal legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to settle land claims along the Blackfoot River in eastern Idaho has been approved by a Senate committee. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs today approved S. 2802, the Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act. Crapo is a member of the committee.

The legislation brings to a close years of uncertainty over land adjacent to the Blackfoot River that was cut off by the river when federal flood control projects were undertaken along the river in the 1960s. Disputes later arose about who owned the several parcels of land and water rights created by channel re-alignment during the construction project. The legislation, co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Jim Risch, represents the negotiated conclusion to the varied claims between local Shoshone-Bannock tribal members, non-tribal landowners, and interested stakeholders.

Passage of the Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act clears up issues over land and water rights and avoids an expensive court process now in its beginning stages. Under the legislative settlement, tribal members and non-tribal landowners will exchange approximately 70 acres currently isolated on either side of the re-channeled river.

"This agreement is the result of a collaborative effort among Idaho landowners, tribal officials, and local and county leaders," Crapo said. "It expedites the process when we can come to a local agreement and avoid costly legal battles and now we will work to win final approval of this agreement by the full Senate."

Last month, then-Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Chairman Alonzo Coby and Marion Walker, representing the non-tribal property owners, testified in favor of the proposal during a hearing in Washington, D.C. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.