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.
At statehood, Utah was granted four sections of land per township, resulting in a checkerboard pattern of ownership that does not lend itself to efficient management. SITLA, whose mission is to maximize revenue off its lands, holds sections land-locked within wilderness study areas and other BLM tracts with special designations that complicate development.