HomeCeremony at Fort Duchesne Commemorates Land Transfer Benefiting Ute Tribe, Public Schools

Ceremony at Fort Duchesne Commemorates Land Transfer Benefiting Ute Tribe, Public Schools

The Ute Indian Tribe held a celebration at Fort Duchesne Thursday, October 9 marking passage of the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act (H.R. 356/S.27), which passed both U.S. congressional houses and was signed by President Obama  in July of this year. This federal legislation protects environmentally sensitive Ute tribal lands while generating oil and gas revenues for the Tribe and Utah’s public schools. HR356/S.27 allows the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to relinquish approximately 18,000 acres of trust mineral estate within the southern section of the Hill Creek Extension of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Grand County, which is managed by the Tribe for its wildlife and scenic values. In exchange, SITLA will select equal acreage of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mineral estate in the northern part of the extension located in Uintah County. No surface lands are involved. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Ute Tribe and for the outstanding work of Utah’s congressional delegation to see this important legislation enacted,” said SITLA Director Kevin Carter. “On behalf of our beneficiaries, SITLA is pleased to collaborate on this effort, which supports education funding needs and protects sensitive tribal lands in eastern Utah.” SITLA intends to lease the newly-acquired minerals to the Ute Tribe, which will then partner with industry to develop the minerals. Under the terms of the legislation, royalties will be split equally among the Ute Tribe, BLM, and Utah’s Permanent School Fund. Passage of the Hill Creek legislation comes soon after the Utah Recreational Land Exchange, which was finalized in May. The Recreation Exchange protected 25,000 acres of scenic school trust land along the Colorado River corridor, Corona and Morning Glory arches, and other recreational areas, while giving the school trust mineral lands in the Uintah Basin. Introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch, the Hill Creek legislation was supported by the entire Utah congressional delegation, SITLA, the Ute Tribe and The Wilderness Society. The bill was also sponsored by Congressman Rob Bishop, who guided its passage through the House of Representatives.

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