ST. GEORGE — The Washington County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the transfer of about 100 acres of land back to the Bureau of Land Management.
However, through recent private land exchanges with the BLM, the amount of private lands in Washington County has “substantially increased,” Commissioner Dean Cox said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The 100 acres being transferred to the BLM was a donation from a private landowner to Washington County, Cox said. To get a tax benefit, the landowner had previously swapped his “inholding” — privately-owned land within the boundaries of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve — for BLM land outside of the reserve.
“One of the mechanisms for acquiring those inholdings is for the private landholders to exchange land for BLM land outside of the reserve,” Cox said. “In this particular instance, such a swap was arranged. But the owner of the inholding also wanted to make a donation of some of his land.”
Washington County stepped in to facilitate the donation, he said. County officials then decided to transfer the 100 acres of donated land back to the BLM.
“So this isn’t really county land that is going to the BLM,” Cox said. “I mean it is, but it’s by way of our facilitation role.”
The land transfer with the inholding happened “some time ago,” Washington County attorney Eric Clarke said. The reason it hasn’t been transferred to the BLM before was because the federal agency needed to finish its assessments of the deed.
Because the county ommissioners approved the motion to transfer the land to the BLM, the official transfer will occur “as soon as the BLM finishes their process,” Clarke said.
As 100 more acres of land in Washington County will soon be managed by the BLM, Cox said through private land exchanges, landowners have recently received about 600 acres of land that was once managed by the BLM.
“So it’s a 100 for a 600-acre exchange,” Cox said.
Funding for music festival
In other business, the county commissioners also approved $3,000 for advertising costs of the Colorado City Music Festival in Hildale, which is expected to will attract visitors from the area to the music festival, Clarke said.
“The tourism advisory board felt this was a unique situation,” Clarke said. “They’re trying to encourage tourists to go to this area because of the positive comments we received from the city.”
The 2018 Colorado City Music Festival will be held May 5 in Maxwell Park in Hildale. Tickets are $10.
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