Senate Passes Walnut Grove Land Exchange Act, Goes to POTUS for Signature

December 20, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – The Senate passed the Walnut Grove Land Exchange Act on Wednesday (December 19), officially sending the bill to President Donald J. Trump for his signature.

Congressman Bruce Westerman introduced H.R. 5923 on May 23 of this year. The bill facilitates an exchange of land between Walnut Grove Church in Jessieville and the U.S. Forest Service. The church and an adjacent cemetery currently sit on 4 acres of Forest Service land. This bill transfers the ownership of that land to the church, and in return, gives the Forest Service 6.3 acres of land adjacent to the Ouachita National Forest owned by the congregation.

“This is a good day for the people of Walnut Grove Church and the community of Jessieville,” Westerman said. “The church has been a longtime tenant of the Forest Service and has sought a resolution to this issue for more than 20 years. The fact that it takes an act of Congress to exchange such small parcels of land simply illustrates how broken the federal government is. I thank Senator Cotton for his co-sponsorship and I thank Senator Boozman for his tireless efforts to see this passed in the Senate before the end of 2018.”

“This is a great day for the Walnut Grove Church,” Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) said. “The church has vigorously pursued an equitable land exchange between itself and the U.S. Forest Service that makes perfect sense given the location of the facility it worships in. With the passage of this bill, the president’s signature is all that is left to achieve this fair, reasonable outcome. I’m pleased to have led the effort in the Senate in support of Jessieville and this congregation.”

“Walnut Grove Church’s congregation shouldn’t have to deal with the federal government in order to simply worship and bury their loved ones,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said. “I’m pleased that the Senate has approved this land exchange, ending a decades-old problem for the church and Jessieville community.”