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Land exchanges to provide additional revenue for rural counties across Utah

A bill passed by the 2007 Utah Legislature will provide significant revenue to many of Utah's rural counties.

Utah House Bill 134 redistributes the state's share of mineral royalties from lands involved in the 1999 exchange of state school trust lands out of the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument.

Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel indicated that HB 134 is a victory for nearly all of the state's 29 counties, especially rural counties.

"The beauty of this legislation is that it's not just one-time money for the counties; it will provide a sustained level of revenue for many years to come," said Krompel.

At the time of the Grand Staircase land exchange, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration agreed to split mineral royalties from the acquired federal leases with the state. The other half was earmarked for Utah's permanent school fund.

Since the completion of the Grand Staircase exchange in 1999, the exchange lands have generated over $138 million in mineral revenue.

Prior to HB 134, the state's share of exchange revenue was funneled through the state Mineral Lease Account, and could not be distributed directly to county governments.

HB 134 changes the distribution by providing direct payments to the counties where the minerals are produced, to mitigate impacts from mineral development.

HB 134 also distributes revenue to counties where state trust lands were traded to the federal government, to make up for lost economic opportunities associated with those lands.

Twenty-seven Utah counties, including Carbon, will receive money under the allocation.

The redistribution of exchange revenue was recommended by Gov. Jon Huntsman's Natural Resources Extraction working group last year.

"This is a process we've been working on for several years. There's no doubt that the Grand Staircase exchange had impacts on several counties. The re-direction of these funds will help mitigate impacts on those counties. We appreciate the help of Gov. Huntsman, and the many legislators and local county officials who helped make this happen," said Kevin Carter, director of SITLA.

Gov. Jon Huntsman signed the legislation on March 15 and exchange revenues will be redistributed beginning immediately.

HB 134 will also apply to future land exchanges between the state trust lands administration and the federal government.

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