Adelup pursues return of lands under federal control

(PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is requesting the U.S. Navy to return excess lands to the Government of Guam.

In a letter sent to Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, the governor pointed out that the Navy has returned properties to Guam on numerous occasions beginning in 1950.

Notable returns also occurred as a result of the 1993 and 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Acts and the implementation of the Guam Excess Lands Act (Public Law 103-339, 108 Stat. 3116) in 1994.

According to the governor, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offers another opportunity for the Navy to return excess land that has been identified as unused or unnecessary for the Marine Relocation.

She said the land can benefit the people through their return to the original landowners and through cultivation and agriculture, cultural and environmental preservation, economic development, affordable housing, and education.

The 2019 NDAA provides that “the Secretary of the Navy shall maintain and update regularly an inventory of all land parcels located on Guam which meet the following conditions:

* The parcels are currently owned by the United States Government and are under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy.
* The Secretary has determined or expects to determine the parcels to be excess to the needs of the Department of the Navy.
* Under Federal law, including Public Law 106-504 (commonly known as the ‘Guam Omnibus Opportunities Act’ 40 U.S.C. 521 note), the parcels are eligible to be transferred to the territorial government.”

The law also allows the Governor of Guam to seek the return of excess federal lands by specifying a proposed public benefit or public purpose in writing to the Secretary of the Navy.

Based on a June 2019 report of Potentially Releasable Federal Lands prepared by the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA), the governor is requesting to add 2,596 acres of terrestrial land and 17,031 acres of submerged land to the Navy’s excess land inventory.

While the 2019 GEDA report does not specify public use for each land parcel, the governor assured the Secretary of the Navy that she is committed to utilizing each of the properties for the public benefit of the island.

The governor also advised Secretary Spencer that she may seek the return of additional lands in the future.