Wisconsin Geospatial News

Wisconsin congressional representatives support federal lands bill

Three members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have put their names behind a proposal to reform the way the federal government inventories and tracks federal lands.

The proposal, entitled the FLAIR (Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform) Act of 2008 is intended to improve federal land management and use of federal real property by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose cadastre of federal lands. Additionally, the proposed act would require the identification of inaccurate, duplicative and out-of-date inventories, and evaluate the use of existing real property inventories currently conducted by state and local government that can be used to identify federal real property.

However, the real value that this proposal has for states is a provision authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cost sharing agreements with states to include any non-federal lands in the cadastre as long as the funding does not exceed 50 percent of the total cost to the state for the development of the non-federal lands records.

On the House of Representatives side, Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, is co-sponsor of the bill, introducing it (H.R. 5532) on March 5 this year along with Rep. Chris Cannon R-UT. Additionally, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Fond du Lac, are co-sponsors along with twelve other members of the House. The bill also has a Senate counterpart (S. 3043) that was introduced on May 20 by Senators McCaskill, D-MO, and Hatch, R-UT. The House version of the bill has been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, while the Senate version has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural resources.

Since 1980, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has been calling for the development of a multipurpose cadastre, or land registry. In 2007, the NAS renewed this effort and recommended the idea of the FLAIR Act. Also, this is the third consecutive Congress (108th, 109th, 110th) in which the Government Accountability Office (GAO) placed “Managing Federal Real Property” in its high risk series highlighting the lack of a current, accurate inventory of federal real property. The GAO reports point out that the federal government funds a variety of single-purpose databases, and that technology, specifically GIS, will allow decisions concerning lands to be based on one uniform, interoperable database.