BLM, SITLA finalize recreational land exchange

SALT LAKE CITY – In a ceremony Thursday, officials from the Bureau of Land Management, Utah state government and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration signed a document recognizing the completion of an equal value land exchange that enhances recreational and conservation values on federal lands while opening lands now in state ownership to mineral development opportunities. The signing took place as part of Gov. Gary Herbert’s first annual Outdoor Recreation Summit.

Under the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009, the BLM and State of Utah are consolidating land ownership through an equal value exchange of lands in Uintah, Grand and San Juan counties. The exchange protects environmentally sensitive lands along the Colorado River corridor and helps position the Trust Lands Administration with lands more suitable for development.

“The idea for this exchange was born back in 2002, and we are truly pleased to see it come to fruition,” said Juan Palma, BLM-Utah state director. “Public lands in Utah offer diverse recreational opportunities to Utahns and visitors alike. This exchange increases those opportunities in turn, boosting Utah’s state and local economies.”

The BLM is acquiring 58 parcels with high conservation and recreation value totaling 25,034 acres, primarily in Grand County. These parcels will expand the BLM backcountry with world-class recreation sites like Corona Arch and Morning Glory Arch. The intent of this exchange is to improve the quantity and quality of recreational experiences for visitors to public lands and waters managed by the BLM. The State of Utah will acquire 34 parcels with high mineral development potential totaling 35,516 acres, primarily in Uintah County. The state expects development of these high potential parcels to increase public school funding across Utah, according to a press release from the BLM.

“Exchanging trust lands for public lands benefits all Utahns,” said Trust Lands Director Kevin Carter. “Newly acquired trust lands can be developed to generate funds for Utah’s public schools, while iconic landscapes and riparian areas along the Colorado River will be protected as public lands.” Completion of the exchange adds to the more than 540,000 acres of sensitive lands SITLA has helped protect and preserve, in addition to earning more than $1.6 billion for the beneficiaries of trust lands, primarily public schools.

Submitted by the Bureau of Land Management

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