White House officials said yesterday that federal agencies have identified about 200,000 acres of federally owned property worth about $1.3 billion that can be sold to help reduce the national debt.
The 252 parcels, scattered around the nation, include unused portions of military bases, abandoned buildings erected for flood-control projects, and land purchased during highway planning but never used, the officials said.
At the same time yesterday, President Reagan's special property review board decided to permit Interior Secretary James G. Watt to give away surplus federal lands to state and local governments that have applied for them, but to curtail that practice sharply in the future.
"The plan is to sell, not to give," said Edwin L. Harper, chairman of the property review board, which includes senior White House economic and policy advisers.
In what he called a "good neighbor" policy, Watt has been giving away surplus federal property near urban areas to state and local governments for construction of schools, firehouses and other public facilities.
Until yesterday's decision by the property review board, that practice conflicted with plans of administration budget officials to raise funds by selling unneeded federal land.
At a news briefing, Watt and Harper stressed in a prepared statement that neither the giveaways nor the sales would involve the national park system, wildlife refuge system or Indian trust lands.
"The monuments, of course, are not for sale," Watt added.
The administration's budget ambitiously projects raising about $1 billion from sale of surplus federal property in fiscal 1983 and another $12 billion in the four years following.
But agency officials have been doubtful that they will be able to offer, let alone sell, enough land to raise that amount.
Watt acknowledged that demand for federally owned property is lagging in the recession. He said buyers were difficult to find even when land near the Las Vegas strip was offered recently.