September 23, 2014

Crapo's Land Settlement Act Passes Senate

Bill resolves local land disputes dating back to the 1960s

Washington, D.C. - Legislation authored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to settle local land disputes in southeastern Idaho was passed out of the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote before adjournment for the October work period.  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.  

"Thebipartisan action taken by the Senate brings us one step closer to finally securing certainty for a community who has long-sought a practical legislative solution to resolve land ownership claims and water rights issues plaguing the region," said Crapo.  "This bill will provide a clear path forward for not only the Tribes, but for the city and local residents.  I thank Chairman Small and all those who helped champion this collaborative-natured agreement, and look forward to working with my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure this important measure becomes law."

"We deeply thank Senator Crapo for his work on the bill as well as the work of Senator Risch," said Nathan Small, Chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.   "The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are pleased at Senate passage of S. 2040 and our close partnership with the North Bank Landowners and allottees in working together on this legislation.  Due to the re-channelization of the Blackfoot River in the 1960's, Indian allottees, the Tribes, and North Bank landowners lost use of valuable lands along the River for decades due to land title issues created by the re-channelization.  S. 2040 resolves these issues by allowing the parties to exchange these lands so that we can all put these lands to productive use on both sides of the River."

"We are very pleased with the recent news of the passage of this piece of legislation by the Senate and are hopeful that the House will follow suit," said Marion Walker, spokesperson for the Non-Tribal interests.  "We have been working on this legislative act since 2006.  We are anxious to see it come to a successful conclusion. Deep appreciation is expressed to Senator Crapo, Chairman Small and all those who have championed the passage of this bill.  This is an issue that has been long overdue."

Crapo previously welcomed Chairman Small to Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about the legislation and its importance to the region and the Tribes.

Specifically, 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 rights, 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, co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Jim Risch, now awaits further consideration from the U.S. House of Representatives.