A land exchange bill meant to improve safety and security at Camp Williams has been introduced by Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah.
"With this legislation we eliminate the risks inherent in firing 155mm howitzer shells over privately owned land located within camp boundaries," Nielson said.The land transfer involves seven parcels of privately owned property, totaling some 797.54 acres. The parcels are civilian islands surrounded by a military reservation. Maj. Bob Nelson, officer in charge of public affairs at Camp Williams, said the land transfer will be done on a value-for-value basis.
"It's been a very difficult situation for everyone. And even though the National Guard units issue warnings to the property owners there's always a danger involved. Now we're moving into this final stage of enclosing Camp Williams so it can be used exclusively for training purposes," Nielson said.
In the past few years other parcels of land have been purchased from another property owner whose land had been land-locked by the camp. However, the owners of the last parcels opted to settle for an exchange of land instead of money.
Once the exchange takes place, the plan is to fence in the entire military reservation. This will prevent accidents such as occurred a few years ago when an 11-year-old boy crossed onto the reservation and picked up a piece of shell, which exploded in his hand and killed him.
Utah's other two congressmen have joined in co-sponsoring this legislation and Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, will be introducing a similar bill in the Senate, according to Nielson's office..