WASHINGTON – At the request of Hitchcock and Frontier Counties, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) and U.S. Representative Adrian Smith (NE-03) introduced legislation today to transfer the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) Swanson Reservoir land to Hitchcock County and the BoR Red Willow Reservoir land to Frontier County. In addition to Fischer, Ricketts, and Smith, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and by U.S. Representatives Mike Flood (NE-01), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Tracey Mann (KS-01).

“At the request of Swanson and Red Willow residents, I’m introducing this legislation to put Nebraskans, not the federal government, in control of their communities. Working alongside Hitchcock and Frontier Counties, the concessionaires, impacted community members, and the Bureau of Reclamation, we’ve reached this solution that charts a better path forward for the local community and the federal government. I encourage both the House and Senate to move quickly on our legislation,”
 said Senator Fischer.

“Today is an exciting day for Hitchcock and Frontier Counties. After months of diligent engagement from stakeholders, we’re able to move forward with a plan that protects Swanson and Red Willow residents. I’m excited to champion this legislation,”
 said Senator Ricketts.

“The result of many years of work and cooperation, this legislation is a needed solution to protect reservoir property owners and the surrounding communities through appropriate management by local authorities. I am grateful to the Frontier and Hitchcock County Commissioners and Senators Fischer and Ricketts for their dedicated efforts and look forward to full enactment of this bill,” said Congressman Smith.

“First, we’d like to thank you for championing our efforts to transfer the land of the concessions area of The Good Life Marina, Lake View Lodge, and the privately owned cabins on Swanson Reservoir to Hitchcock County. The land transfer is heavily supported by all local businesses and residents as they understand that losing the residents of these areas would have a detrimental effect on the local economy. These areas have been in place and operating for decades allowing residents to build businesses and support families, not to mention the tax dollars Hitchcock County relies on for this small community,”
 said the Hitchcock County Board of Commissioners.

“Thank you all for your efforts in the transfer of the concessions area of the Lighthouse Marina and the privately owned cabins on Hugh Butler Reservoir to Frontier County. Preservation of the lake properties is strong supported by the local residents. The citizens of Frontier County rely on the concession areas for food, family recreation and entertainment. Frontier County does not want to lose tax base by losing the concessions or the privately owned cabins,”
 said the Frontier County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steven Hall.


Following disagreement about how the BoR was managing the concession areas at the Swanson and Red Willow Reservoirs, the Nebraska congressional delegation received numerous requests to introduce legislation to transfer the ownership of the areas from the BoR to a local entity.

In June 2023, members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation
 wrote a letter stating they would sponsor legislation to authorize a land transfer once they received official documentation from a local, public entity that was willing to accept the land, was cable of managing it for the public, and would take on the associate responsibilities and liabilities.

The bill was drafted in collaboration with Hitchcock County, Frontier County, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Hitchcock and Frontier Counties have now provided confirmation that they are supportive of the legislation as drafted.

Click here to view text of the legislation.

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