Feds release EA of big Utah land swap

Posted: Apr 24, 2013

Written by

Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune
Nine Mile Canyon

A long-anticipated land exchange between the state and federal governments lurched a little closer toward the finish line Monday with the release of a draft environmental assessment of a proposed deal that would give the Bureau of Land Management nearly 46,000 of state acres with conservation and recreational values.

In exchange, the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, would gain 35,516 acres of federal lands with oil and gas and other kinds of profitable potential. Most of the lands the feds are giving up is in Uintah County, while most of the state holdings are in Grand County.

The deal, authorized by the 2009 Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act, is designed to enable the state to consolidate its scattered holdings. It loses popular recreation destinations like Corona Arch near Moab but gains land with valuable resources.

The Environmental Assessment examines how the swap would affect several Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, such as Nine Mile Canyon, Behind the Rocks and Lower Green River, big game habitat, grazing, mineral resources, local economies, sensitive species and archeological resources.

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