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GSA Helps Facilitate Return of Historic Lands to People of Guam

By Steven Smith
General Services Administration

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2011 – The U.S. General Services Administration helped fulfill a long-standing promise by facilitating the return of hundreds of acres of federal land to the government of Guam.

During a March 1 ceremony at the Department of Interior in Washington, GSA Chief of Staff Michael J. Robertson presented Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo a deed returning 450 acres to the U.S. island territory in the Pacific Ocean.

“GSA is dedicated to reducing the cost of government by disposing of excess federal property as productively as possible,” Robertson said. “We’re happy to return this historic land to the people of Guam.”

During the ceremony, Calvo said, “Team Guam sent a victory home today. This is a step forward in the right direction. It also demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to honor long-standing and important agreements with Guamanians.”

The returned land includes the historic village of Hila'an, an archeological site comprising 136 acres listed on the Territory of Guam Historic Register. The site contains ancient latte stones used for building supports, along with other artifacts of the native Chamorro people. The quitclaim deed contains a historic preservation covenant to protect the village.

“The return of this sacred and historic property is a victory for the Guamanian people,” Calvo added.

The Guam Excess Lands Act directs GSA to transfer unused parcels of federal property back to Guam for public benefit, without reimbursement. Since the enactment of the act in 1994, the agency has executed and delivered 15 deeds to Guam, totaling more than 2,767 acres.

The acreage was controlled by the U.S. military, which is committed to having a net negative footprint as part of its presence on the island.   

The Department of Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Anthony M. Babauta said the effort to return former Navy and Air Force property at no cost to Guam was the result of years of hard work.

“I commend the leadership and diligence of the General Services Administration, the departments of the Navy and the Air Force, and all who have worked on returning excess federal land to Guam,” he said.

The quitclaim deed was presented during the 2011 Interagency Group on Insular Affairs meeting convened by the Department of the Interior for island executive chiefs. GSA’s Pacific Rim acting Regional Administrator Jeff Neely, whose region includes Guam, signed the deed in San Francisco and dispatched it to Washington, as requested by Interior, so the event could be added to the plenary session agenda.