City-federal land swap plan presented to state lawmakers
Carson Open Space Manager Juan Guzman told lawmakers Wednesday the city has proposed a major land trade with the federal government that would transfer 7,638 acres of BLM and U.S. Forest Service property to Carson City.
In return, the city would deed 1,722 acres of city property up Ash Canyon to the Forest Service. Most of the federal property involved is already slated for disposal by the agencies. Much of the land involved was damaged or burned through in the Waterfall fire.
Guzman told the Legislative Public Lands Committee the problem is that Carson City is asking for two unusual concessions. First, it wants the Bureau of Land Management land without having to pay market value for it.
Second, Carson is asking the Forest Service to swap the city property acre for acre despite the fact the Forest Service land the city gets would be much more valuable than what it gives up. Forest Service officials, he admitted, are still resisting that idea.
He said most of the land Carson wants is in “interface zones,” adjacent to developed areas.
“In the interface area, we can offer more intensive management,” Guzman said. He said the Forest Service, for example, has just a couple of rangers to manage the area. He said the forest is managed according to an overall plan, whereas Carson City would develop specific and detailed plans for managing the land within and next to the city.
He said the actual legislation is still being drafted but also includes the transfer of 215 acres of federal property to the Washoe Tribe in southwest Carson City. Another 184 acres – mostly landlocked within the city – would be released for sale to private ownership.
The original plan has already been approved by the Board of Supervisors. But Guzman said the city and federal agencies are still negotiating the details since the Forest Service has proposed several amendments.
Guzman said generally the federal agencies support the plan because they don’t want to be in the business of managing interface lands.
He said overall, the bill will go a long way toward eliminating the “checkerboard pattern of ownership” within the city and provide Carson City the ability to manage interface lands for a variety of purposes.
He said much of the land the city gets through the bill would become open space and recreational areas. He said the city has promised residents it will not violate that pledge.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.