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National Defense Bill Includes Provisions Critical to Utah

Congress is expected to pass, in the next several days, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes key provisions critical to Utah. Senator Orrin Hatch introduced and championed legislation as part of the annual defense policy bill, to expand the Utah Test and Training Range, which will not only assist our military, but also help generate revenue for Utah’s $2.2 billion public school trust fund.

The NDAA directs a federal-state land exchange compensating Utah’s public education system for the approximately 84,000 acres captured within the training range expansion area.

“On behalf of its public school beneficiary, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) commends Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, and Representatives Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart for representing and protecting the interests of Utah and its school children,” stated SITLA Director David Ure.

Ure added that Senator Hatch’s seniority, Representative Bishop’s leadership, and Representative Stewart’s defense expertise were essential in keeping the land exchange provision intact throughout negotiations and numerous versions of this compromise bill.

Specifically, the NDAA directs the exchange of approximately 70,650 acres of school trust land and approximately 13,886 acres of school trust mineral estate in Box Elder, Juab, and Tooele counties for approximately 95,532 acres of public lands in Beaver, Box Elder, Millard, Juab, and Tooele counties.

Parcels to be acquired from the BLM as part of the exchange include lands adjacent to an existing limestone mine in Millard County, lands with industrial development potential north of Delle in Tooele County, and surplus BLM parcels in the Tooele Valley. The school trust will also acquire parcels in Beaver County with geothermal resources and a large parcel in Millard County adjacent to a proposed photovoltaic solar facility.

As part of the exchange, SITLA will also convey to the BLM, trust land inholdings within the Cedar Mountain Wilderness and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area near St. George for conservation and endangered species management.

SITLA manages school trust lands to generate funds for the $2.2 billion Permanent School Fund, a perpetual endowment providing annual dividends to every K-12 public and charter school in Utah.