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Vernal Resident Earns $500 Trust Lands Reward

Vernal resident Scott Abel received a $500 thank you from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for reporting illegal dumping on school trust lands in Uintah County.

Abel was presented with a $500 check after witnessing and reporting the crime to the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, which led to a citation, fine, and cleanup by the violator.

Uintah County Sheriff Vance Norton and Uintah County Commissioner Bill Stringer joined SITLA Deputy Director Kim Christy to recognize and reward Abel.

“This is the first reward we’ve presented since the program’s inception,” said Christy. “With more than 3.4 million surface acres of trust lands scattered throughout the state, we rely on private citizens and local law enforcement to help us protect trust lands.” Christy also thanked the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office and county commissioners for their support and leadership.

Money spent cleaning up illegal dumpsites reduces revenues that would otherwise be deposited into permanent endowments for public schools, state hospitals, universities, and other institutions.

Unlike public lands, which are held in the public domain, trust lands are held in trust for public schools and other state institutions. SITLA manages trust lands on behalf of these beneficiaries and works with businesses to generate funds from energy, mineral, and other development projects.

Revenues from development activities are deposited into permanent endowments, which provide annual interest and dividends to each beneficiary to spend on their greatest need.

Schools in the Uintah School District received $617,400 in school land trust funds this school year and $4.4 million since 2002.

“Citizens like Mr. Abel are not only keeping their communities beautiful, but helping to support local schools,” added Christy.

SITLA encourages anyone with knowledge of trespass, dumping, littering, and other illegal use on trust lands to report it at 801-538-5100 or online.