Historic Land Exchange Agreed Between California and Federal Government

Commission's largest ever land exchange to realign its energy portfolio and generate millions in state revenues


(San Francisco) - California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will announce a landmark agreement today between the state and federal government to pursue an exchange of state lands with federal lands.

Lt. Governor Newsom, chair of the State Lands Commission, will be joined by Bureau of Land Management State Director Jim Kenna at a 12.30pm meeting of the State Lands Commission to sign a memorandum of intent to exchange land in San Bernardino, Inyo and Riverside counties that will protect conservation lands, facilitate renewable energy development and increases the Commission's surface land-lease revenue significantly.

"A strategic decision was made in 2011 to turn the state's scattered patchwork of non-revenue generating school lands into functional contiguous parcels that reshape the State Land Commission's revenue portfolio to include more sources of renewable energy," said Lt. Governor Newsom. "This exchange is a case illustration of that approach, which is projected to increase the Commission's school land surface-lease revenue significantly and contribute to state and federal goals of environmental protection, renewable energy, and greenhouse gas reduction."

In 2012, the Commission and Bureau of Land Management agreed to pursue exchanges that consolidate scattered state school lands into contiguous parcels for renewable energy development. The Memorandum of Intent that will be signed today is consistent with this agreement.

"The proposed land exchange advances the state and federal conservation strategy of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan by consolidating federal lands within National Conservation Lands," said Bureau of Land Management California State Director Jim Kenna. "The consolidation of federal lands promotes the continuity of wilderness and wildlife corridors while supporting renewable energy goals."

In Phase I, approximately 61,000 acres of non-revenue generating school lands within federal wilderness and other conservation areas will be exchanged for approximately 5,600 acres of federal lands with an operational 550 Megawatt solar facility, Desert Sunlight. It is anticipated that when operating at full capacity, Desert Sunlight will generate approximately $4,000,000 annually in state revenues through rent and royalties. In context, the State Lands Commission generated approximately $340,000 in its surface leasing of school lands in FY 2014-15. Total revenues for all school land leases, including geothermal and other mineral extraction operations, was approximately $7.8 million.

The exchange is based on equal land values determined by a preliminary market valuation and may change after the formal appraisals. A map of the proposed lands can be found here.

The Commission manages the surface and mineral ownership of hundreds of thousands of acres of state school lands. Currently, those state school lands are generally scattered in isolated patches in California's deserts, many of which are located within federally-managed national parks, preserves, monuments and forests. Revenue from these lands goes to the California State Teachers' Retirement System to support retired teachers.

"We are pleased to be standing with the State Lands Commission and Bureau of Land Management as they move forward with this important agreement," said California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. "These landmark exchanges will help the state and our federal partners advance our renewable energy and conservation goals in the California desert while providing revenue to benefit California's retired teachers."

Renewable energy is a key element of California's strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. California is on a path to achieve its 33 percent renewable energy portfolio standard for 2020 and gearing up to achieve a 50 percent goal in 2030.

As Mayor of San Francisco from 2004 - 2011, Gavin Newsom led the city to become one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation, demonstrating national leadership in the development of renewable energy, combating climate change locally, and promoting environmental justice.

To protect and utilize the city's coastal inheritance, then-Mayor Newsom initiated the development of the 13-mile Blue Greenway project, to improve and expand the open space network along the Cityıs central and southern waterfront. Under Newsomıs leadership to clean the cityıs waterfront, San Francisco also achieved the highest rate of recycling and waste diversion in the U.S. (77%) through the nationıs first plastic bag ban and Styrofoam ban.

Mayor Newsom's administration also addressed long-neglected environmental injustices in the Bayview-Hunters Point community, dedicating significant resources to clean up the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, and closing the Hunters Point power plant. City Hall was also directed to conduct an Ocean Power feasibility study as part of the Cityıs climate change mitigation efforts, placing test buoys off Ocean Beach to measure wave power during the months of highest and lowest wave density, identifying 30-100MW of potential wave power generation.

- WHEN -

12.30pm, October 1, 2015