Trust Lands Director Kevin Carter joined Utah BLM Director Juan Palma and Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert for the ceremonial signing of documents to mark completion of this lengthy and complex transaction.
“Exchanging trust lands for public lands benefits all Utahns. Newly-acquired trust lands can be developed to generate funds for Utah’s public schools, while iconic red rock landscapes and riparian areas along the Colorado River will be protected as public lands,” said Trust Lands Director Kevin Carter.
In his comments to summit attendees, Carter also reported SITLA has earned approximately $500 million from mineral development on lands exchanged with the federal government, the largest transaction of which occurred with designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. These mineral revenues, combined with investment by the State Treasurer, have grown Utah’s Permanent School Fund to more than $1.75 billion.
The Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 was signed by President Obama and became law on August 19, 2009. Congressman Jim Matheson was instrumental in co-sponsoring and gaining unanimous support for the bipartisan public lands bill.
Under the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009, the BLM and SITLA 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 SITLA 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. This exchange will improve the quantity and quality of recreational experiences for visitors to public lands and waters managed by the BLM.
SITLA will acquire 34 parcels with high mineral development potential, totaling 35,516 acres, primarily in Uintah County. The Administration expects development of these high potential parcels to increase public school funding across Utah.
Completion of the Exchange Act adds to the 540,000 acres of sensitive lands SITLA has helped to conserve and protect while earning more than $1.4 billion for the beneficiaries of trust lands, primarily public schools.