skip to main content

H.R. 4968 (107th): Federal-Utah State Trust Lands Consolidation Act

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 19, 2002 (Introduced).


HR 4968 IH

107th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4968

To provide for the exchange of certain lands in Utah.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 19, 2002

Mr. CANNON (for himself, Mr. HANSEN, and Mr. MATHESON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources


A BILL

To provide for the exchange of certain lands in Utah.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Federal-Utah State Trust Lands Consolidation Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) FINDINGS- Congress finds the following:

      (1) The San Rafael Swell in Utah is a 900-square mile, wild and beautiful region west of the Green River. The San Rafael Swell is dominated by the jagged, uplifted San Rafael Reef, which has nearly two dozen major canyons and many side draws and box canyons. The San Rafael Swell towers above the desert like a wilderness castle, ringed by 1,000-foot ramparts of Navajo sandstone. Its highlands have been fractured by uplift and scooped hollow by erosion over countless millennia, leaving a tremendous basin punctuated by mesas, buttes, and canyons and traversed by sediment-laden desert streams.

      (2) The San Rafael Swell region was one of the country’s last frontiers and possesses important natural, historical, and cultural resources, including exceptional backcountry recreation opportunities, productive habitat for Desert Bighorn Sheep, important historical sites, including sections of the Old Spanish Trail and the Outlaw Trail, significant paleontological resources, and multiple wilderness study areas created pursuant to section 603 of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976, or otherwise identified by local government and conservation interests as having significant conservation values. The beautiful rural landscapes, historic and cultural landscapes, and spectacular scenic vistas of the San Rafael Swell region contain significant undeveloped recreational opportunities for people throughout the United States.

      (3) The State of Utah owns approximately 102,871 acres of land located in the San Rafael Swell region and administered by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. These lands were granted by the Congress to the State of Utah pursuant to the Utah Enabling Act of 1894 (chapter 138; 23 Stat. 107), to be held in trust for the benefit of the State’s public school system and other public institutions. The lands are largely scattered in checkerboard fashion amidst the Federal lands comprising the remainder of the San Rafael Swell area.

      (4) Development of surface and mineral resources on State trust lands within the San Rafael Swell area, or the sale of such lands into private ownership, could be incompatible with management of such lands for nonimpairment of their wilderness characteristics pursuant to section 603(c) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, with future congressional designation of the lands as wilderness, or with future designation of such lands as a national monument, national heritage area, or other conservation designation.

      (5) The State of Utah also owns 3,533 acres of land within or directly adjacent to the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Grand and Emery Counties, Utah, and 6,411 acres of land within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a conservation reserve established in 1995 by the United States and Washington County, Utah, to implement a multiple-species habitat conservation plan approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service under section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Reserve contains the highest density of critical habitat for the Mojave desert tortoise, a threatened species, in the United States. These State trust lands are also administered by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, but the use of such lands by the State is limited because of the conservation designations of surrounding Federal lands.

      (6) The United States owns lands and interests in lands elsewhere in Utah that can be transferred to the State of Utah in exchange for the San Rafael Swell inholdings, the Manti-La Sal forest lands, and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve lands without jeopardizing Federal management objectives or needs.

      (7) The large presence of State trust land inholdings in the San Rafael Swell region, the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve makes land and resource management in these areas difficult, costly, and controversial for both the State of Utah and the United States.

      (8) It is in the public interest to reach agreement on exchange of such inholdings, on terms fair to both the State of Utah and the United States. Such an agreement, subject to ratification by Congress and consent by the Utah legislature, would save much time and delay in meeting the legitimate expectations of the State school and institutional trusts, in simplifying management of Federal lands, and in avoiding the significant time and expense associated with administrative land exchanges.

      (9) The State of Utah and the United States have reached an agreement under which the State would exchange certain State trust lands within the San Rafael Swell region, the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve for various Federal lands outside of those areas but in the same region of Utah.

      (10) The parties agreed at the outset of negotiations to avoid identifying Federal assets for conveyance to the State where any of the following was known to exist or likely to be an issue as a result of foreseeable future uses of the lands:

        (A) Wilderness study areas.

        (B) Areas proposed for wilderness designation in pending Federal legislation.

        (C) Significant endangered species habitat.

        (D) Significant archaeological resources.

        (E) Areas of critical environmental concern.

        (F) Other lands known to raise significant environmental concerns of any kind.

      (11) Because the State trust lands to be acquired by the Federal Government include properties within some of the most spectacular wild areas in the western United States, and because a mission of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration is to produce economic benefits for Utah’s public schools and other beneficiary institutions, the exchange of lands called for in this agreement will resolve longstanding environmental conflicts with respect to existing and proposed wilderness study areas, place important natural lands into public ownership, and further the interests of the State trust lands, the school children of Utah, and these conservation resources.

      (12) Under this agreement, the State interests to be conveyed to the United States by the State of Utah, and the Federal interests to be conveyed to the State of Utah by the United States, have been examined by licensed independent real estate consultants and, taken as a whole, have been found to be approximately equal in value.

    (b) PURPOSE- The purpose of this Act is to enact into law and direct prompt implementation of this agreement, and thereby to further the public interest by consolidating State and Federal lands into manageable units while facilitating the protection of lands with significant scientific, cultural, and natural resources.

SEC. 3. RATIFICATION OF THE AGREED EXCHANGE BETWEEN THE STATE OF UTAH AND THE UNITED STATES.

    (a) AGREEMENT- The State of Utah, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture have agreed to exchange certain Federal lands in the State of Utah for lands of approximately equal value managed by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration in the San Rafael Swell area of Utah, the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

    (b) RATIFICATION- All terms, conditions, procedures, covenants, reservations, and other provisions set forth in the document entitled ‘Agreement for Exchange of Lands 2002 Federal-Utah State Trust Lands Consolidation’, dated June XX, 2002 (in this Act referred to as ‘the Agreement’), are hereby incorporated in this Act, are ratified and confirmed, and set forth the obligations of the United States, the State of Utah, and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, as a matter of Federal law.

SEC. 4. CONVEYANCES.

    (a) CONVEYANCES- All conveyances under sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Agreement shall be completed not later than 70 days after enactment of this Act.

    (b) MAPS AND LEGAL DESCRIPTIONS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The maps and legal descriptions referred to in the Agreement depict the lands subject to the conveyances under the Agreement.

      (2) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY- The maps and legal descriptions referred to in the Agreement shall be on file and available for public inspection in the offices of the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Intermountain Regional Office of the Forest Service, and the Utah State Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

      (3) CONFLICT- In case of any conflict between the maps and the legal descriptions in the Agreement, the legal descriptions shall control.

SEC. 5. MINERAL DEVELOPMENT.

    All payments received by the United States pursuant to section 13(c) of the Agreement shall be subject to sharing with the State of Utah in the same manner the United States shares bonus bids, rentals, and royalties with the State of Utah under section 35 of the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 191).

SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION.

    There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act, including such sums as may be desired to reduce the balance of the interest and principal amounts owed by the United States to the Trust Lands Administration pursuant to sections 4 and 5 of the Agreement.

SEC. 7. COSTS.

    The United States and the State of Utah shall each bear its own respective costs incurred in the implementation of this Act.