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Tabby Mountain Sale Suspended

The SITLA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to temporarily suspend proceedings on a proposed sale of SITLA’s popular 28,000-acre Tabby Mountain property that has been under consideration by the agency and recently opened for competitive bids.

At its monthly meeting today, members of the board of trustees were updated by the agency and received written comments from the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office, which represents beneficiaries with trust land holdings within Tabby Mountain. Beneficiary advocates raised procedural concerns, largely over the appraisal protocol and restricted time allotted to prospective bidders to conduct proper due diligence.

Melvin R. Brown, Chairman of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee stated that the committee could not conclude that the best interests of the beneficiaries were being served by the sale of the property at this time.  He further recommended that alternative strategies to monetize the asset be vigorously explored to evaluate and optimize value to the beneficiaries at the earliest opportunity.

“We’ve seen strong market interest in Tabby Mountain, which makes this a prime opportunity to sell this property and meet our fiduciary responsibility of maximizing returns from this and other trust assets where possible,” said SITLA Board Vice Chairman Roger E. Barrus. “However, that includes ensuring marketing opportunities are broadly understood before proceeding with a sale.”

Several months ago, the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) petitioned SITLA to purchase the Tabby Mountain trust lands. Since then, SITLA completed its due diligence, advertising and considering of competitive bids as required by Utah State Code. While two qualified competing bidders came forward, Trustees suggested the process should be expanded and not be conducted in such a compressed period of time.

The 28,482-acre Tabby Mountain parcel is located in northeastern Utah and was acquired as trust land through an exchange with the U.S. Forest Service in the 1960s. Straddling Duchesne and Wasatch counties, the area is renowned for its wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, and recreation opportunities.

Unlike public lands, trust lands are held in trust for 12 specific institutions and were designated at statehood to generate the maximum possible long term revenue for each beneficiary institution. SITLA manages Utah’s 3.4 million surface acres and 4.4 million sub-surface acres of trust lands on behalf of these institutions. Since 1994, SITLA has generated $1.87 billion for trust beneficiaries.

Proceeds from all trust land development and sales are deposited into each beneficiaries’ respective permanent endowment funds, which total nearly $2.5 billion and provide interest income in excess of $75 million annually.