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house Bill H.R. 255

Should San Bernardino County & the Forest Service Swap 73 Acres of Land Near the Pacific Crest Trail?

Argument in favor

San Bernardino County has grown quickly in recent years, and the county needs more space for a new timber recycling processing facility. This land exchange would allow the county to build that facility in a place that’s removed enough from the city while also eliminating the need to transfer trees down a dangerous mountain road for processing.

Argument opposed

This land exchange would reduce the amount of public land available for public use. It’d also force a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail to be rerouted, which shouldn’t be altered because it’s currently one of the Earth’s best trail experiences.

What is House Bill H.R. 255?

This bill — the Big Bear Land Exchange Act — would direct the Forest Service, at the request of San Bernardino County, California, to exchange 73 acres of federal lands in the San Bernardino National Forest for 71 acres of lands owned by the county. It would also direct the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to relocate a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail that is currently located on the federal lands to be exchanged. The bill would require the county to pay for any administrative costs, surveys, appraisals, and other costs associated with the land exchange.


San Bernardino County; San Bernardino National Forest; USFS; and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 255

The CBO estimates that relocating a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail that’s currently located on the federal lands to be exchanged would cost less than $500,000.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Paul Cook (R-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to transfer 73 acres of federal land to San Bernardino County in exchange of 71 acres of land owned by the county, enabling the county to build a new industrial recycling and storage park to handle timber processing and recycling. After this bill passed the House last Congress, Rep. Cook said:

"I’m thrilled that the House passed the Big Bear Land Exchange this afternoon. 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 look forward to this bill becoming law.”

Indivisible Morongo Basin, a resource to help individuals and groups in the Morongo Basin “respond to the Trump agenda and radical Republican legislation,” opposes the land exchange proposed in this bill. It argues that the exchange of lands will force the rerouting of the Pacific Crest Trail and decrease public lands’ availability “for other purposes.”

There are no cosponsors of this bill in the current Congress. Last Congress, this bill passed the House unanimously with an amendment by unanimous vote. There were no cosponsors of this bill, but the land exchange proposal had strong local support in San Bernardino County from The City of Big Bear Lake, Friends of Big Bear Valley, the Big Bear Fire Department, and others.

Of NoteSan Bernardino County, in southeast California, currently has ownership of approximately 71 acres of inheld land within the San Bernardino Forest northeast of Big Bear City. It has proposed to convey this land to the USFS in exchange for 73 acres of USFS land further north, where it’d work with a contracting company to build an industrial recycling and storage park in a safe and remote site further away from the city and closer to the trees being processed.

Currently, trees and other materials from the San Bernardino Forest are driven down the mountain through a narrow and winding pass to a processing facility in the valley, resulting in multiple traffic accidents yearly. The new processing facility would also allow San Bernardino County to locally process materials, ranging from concrete to dead trees, that currently have to be hauled down the mountain. This would significantly reduce traffic on the roads up and down the mountains, making the mountain roads safer for those who live in and visit the San Bernardino Forest and reducing wear and tear on the roads.


Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: / Angel La Canfora)


Big Bear Land Exchange Act

Official Title

To provide for an exchange of lands with San Bernardino County, California, to enhance management of lands within the San Bernardino National Forest, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 4th, 2019
    No. We cannot reduce untainted land and expect the environment to support the Earth and thus it's population
    Like (4)
    Leave the national parks alone! This exchange would not be to the benefit of the National Park Service, the park itself or the wildlife. Exploitation of our national resources has contributed much to our climate problems.
    Like (2)
    No! Why should a county government make such egregious changes to a national treasure? Their lack of planning should certainly not reduce the number of federally protected acreage.
    Like (1)
    The USA has for too long abused its natural environment. We can no longer take for granted our public and natural spacing. Sprawl makes for quick revenue, but is poor policy long term. We lack density, and this lack of density is a growing threat to our wellbeing as a nation. Any legislation that encourages or prefers sprawl to density should be discouraged by our legislators.
    Like (1)
    Seems San Bernardino is trying to get federal taxpayers to foot the bill for a local pet project. No thank you!
    This Is A Stupid Waste Of Money !