May 21, 2014

Crapoâ??s Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act Moves Forward

Bill will end local land disputes in Idaho

Washington, D.C. - Legislation authored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to settle local land disputes in southeastern Idaho was reported favorably out of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee today by a unanimous voice vote.  S. 2040, the Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act, seeks to clear up issues related to the ownership of land and water rights dating back to the 1960s when federal flood control projects were undertaken along the Blackfoot River.  As a consequence of the project's channel realignment, the resulting property holdings have tribal-owned lands north of the new river course and non-tribal lands south of the new river course, severing many adjoining land holdings and creating ownership disputes.

"Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Chairman Nathan Small and I have been actively working for several years to advance a practical, collaborative settlement to end the long-standing land uncertainty plaguing the region," said Crapo. "The committee's bipartisan action today is an appropriate acknowledgment that solutions like these-those that are cooperative in nature-are the ideal model for achieving consensus on difficult public policy matters in Congress, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important legislation forward."

Crapo, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, welcomed Chairman Nathan Small to testify before the committee in Washington, D.C., earlier this month about the legislation and its importance to the Tribes and Idaho.  Idaho Senator Jim Risch is a co-sponsor of the bill.

S. 2040, the Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act,  provides the following improvements:

  • Embodies the terms of a negotiated settlement between the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, non-Indian litigants and the state of Idaho related to ownership of land and water rights.
  • Extinguishes all claims and all past, present, and future right, title, and interest in and to the tribal land and non-Indian land.
  • Places lands located on the north side of the Blackfoot River into a trust and would then transfer the southern tribal land to the Flood Control District, which would in turn compensate the non-Indian landowners through the sale of those lands.

The bill now moves out of committee and will be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate a later time.