WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook’s (R-Apple Valley) bill, H.R. 255, The Big Bear Land Exchange Act continues to move forward in Congress. The bill was heard today in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. Previously, it had passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in November of last year.
H.R. 255 authorizes an exchange of 73 acres of federal land in the San Bernardino National Forest for 71 acres owned by the San Bernardino County located within the forest. San Bernardino County plans to use the 73 acres to build a timber processing facility in a safe and remote site further away from Big Bear City and closer to where the trees are actually processed. Currently, trees are driven down the mountain through a winding and dangerous pass to a processing facility far away, resulting in increased congestion and multiple traffic accidents.
The land exchange would also require the relocation of a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Rep. Cook has worked closely with the Pacific Crest Trail Association to ensure that the relocation will occur before the land exchange and will include an environmental review.
Rep. Cook said, “I’ve worked closely with our local governments to ensure this land exchange is done correctly and that all the stakeholders have their concerns resolved. This will alleviate traffic and make mountain roads in the area safer. I’m pleased that this bill is continuing to move through the legislative process and am hopeful it will be passed into law before the end of the year.”
Rick Herrick, the Mayor of Big Bear Lake, said “I am excited about the land exchange and how it will benefit our community adding a layer of safety and enhancing the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”
A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
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