The Bureau of Land Management, first in line to obtain land freed in the pending closure of Fort Douglas, has no interest in retaining land from the base and instead wants to clear up water and mineral rights that once belonged to Salt Lake City.
In a meeting with Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis Tuesday, state BLM Director James Parker said the bureau doesn't want any Fort Douglas land if Congress votes to close the facility as part of a national base closure package."In this case, it's not the kind of land the BLM typically manages. It's not a natural resource situation," BLM spokesman Jerry Meredith said. The BLM is the first recipient of federal land when any federal facility is closed.
"What we are interested in is solving some of the questions that have evolved over the years," he said.
Parker outlined for DePaulis a chronology of events surrounding the creation of the base in 1862. In 1887 and 1890, Congress enlarged the base and took away water rights that then belonged to Salt Lake City.
More water rights were taken from the city when the U.S. Forest Service obtained them. The government also retained some mineral rights in the area in the early 1900s, Parker said.
Parker told DePaulis Utah's congressional delegates, when addressing what to do with fort land, should make an effort to "clear up" water rights in and around the fort.