Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

West Desert Wilderness Land Exchange

This land exchange proposal grew from the West desert Wilderness Bill of 1999. Although the Wilderness bill did not move through the congress, the land exchange portion of the bill and survived and passed the congress in late 1999. Attributes of the Exchange

    • The school trust acquired approximately 128,000 acres in Box Elder, Tooele, Juab, Millard, Beaver, Iron and Washington Counties.
    • School trust administrators carefully targeted lands that could be more intensively managed by the state for the benefit of the county economics. For example, the state will acquired BLM lands near the Intermountain Power Project, Brush-Wellman and Continental Lime sites; land that could be made available to support local economic development. Other similar lands were selected near the towns of St.George, Cedar City, Beaver, Milford, Delta, Tintic, Tooele, and Snowville.
    • BLM acquired 118,000 acres of school trust lands in Box Elder, Tooele, Juab, Millard, Beaver, Iron, Washington and Kane Counties.
    • Over 225 scattered school trust parcels were consolidated into approximately 18 manageable blocks – another step toward completing the goals envisioned by former Governor Scott Matheson’s Project BOLD.
    • The state trust lands that were traded to the federal government were in many cases special – including lands in the heart of the Deep Creek Mountains and other wild West Desert areas.   These lands had not generated significant revenue to the school trust in recent years. It was a win-win solution for the people of Utah to protect these lands while obtaining federal lands that could be used to generate more revenue for our public schools.
    • The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve acquired $6 million of school trust lands immediately outside the City of St. George to be permanently protected for open space and desert tortoise habitat.
  • The exchange resulted in no net gain of federal surface acreage.
Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service