Utah is weary of waiting for federal funds to complete a heralded swap of recreational lands near Moab in exchange for energy swaths in the Uinta Basin, so state school trust officials plan to start paying appraisers themselves to seal the deal.
The Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 authorized a trade of about 45,000 acres of state lands including scenic Colorado River redrock like Corona Arch for some 36,000 acres of oil- and gas-rich lands in eastern Utah. Still, the BLM has not come up with its half of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in appraisal costs needed to make it happen.
On Thursday, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) won tentative approval from its board to pay for initial mineral and environmental appraisals that could cost $350,000. Other needed appraisals could boost the total to $750,000, half of which the state expects the BLM to reimburse in extra land when the swap is done.