Gov. Mike Leavitt recently announced the second largest proposed state and federal land exchange in Utah's history.
The agreement calls for swapping 108,281 acres of Utah school trust land for 135,237 acres of land administered by the United States government.
"This exchange benefits the nation and our state," indicated Leavitt. "It enables the federal government to improve the management of scenic, recreation and environmentally sensitive lands and provides the state with economic opportunities that benefit schools and communities."
The agreement between the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will increase public lands governed by the state by nearly 27,000 acres, explained the governor.
Lands received by Utah will benefit schools and counties due to the potential for residential, commercial, oil, gas and mineral development activities, continued Leavitt.
The public lands in question are located in Uintah, Emery, Utah, Washington and Sevier counties.
The lands acquired by the federal government are located in Emery, Grand and Washington County. Many parcels are located in the San Rafael Swell area in Emery and the desert tortoise habitat in Washington County. Prior existing rights on all land parcels will be honored by the state and federal government.
Previous exchanges occurred in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Utah's west desert. The trades helped increase the balance in the permanent state school fund from $84.3 million in 1993 to approximately $400 million, pointed out Leavitt.
The latest land exchange transaction will require ratification by the U.S. Congress and approval of the Utah Legislature.