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A state agency has provided $100,000 to help cover the initial costs of extending a road that will provide access to 10,000 acres of its lands with oil and gas development potential.

The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) gave the money to the Uintah Transportation Special Service District to help pay planning and engineering expenses for a proposed extension of Seep Ridge Road south of Ouray in Uintah County. Redleaf Resources, an oil shale development company, also has pledged $100,000 in the form of a challenge grant to industry.

The project would pave 48 miles of an existing dirt road. Cheri McCurdy of the transportation district said the extension would improve access to Interstate 70 and "greatly relieve traffic on [U.S.] Highway 40, which travels through Heber City and Daniels Canyon."

SITLA is an independent state agency that manages 3.4 million acres of trust lands donated to Utah at statehood to benefit public schools and 11 other public institutions.

- Mike Gorrell