Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior Republican in the United States Senate, introduced the Confirming State Land Grants for Education Act—a bill that would make certain federal lands available for the purpose of raising revenue for Utah’s educational institutions.
Under the Utah Enabling Act, certain Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands are available for land exchanges with the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), which was given land with the purpose of supporting public education, state hospitals, and universities. At the time of statehood, SITLA received both lands as well as credits that were to be used to acquire BLM lands to advance public education in Utah. Because legal technicalities make it more difficult for these credits to be used to acquire BLM lands under certain land-use plans, Hatch’s bill makes clear that a specific 500-acre parcel of land in Utah County is eligible for acquisition.
“For nearly two decades, a legal technicality has delayed BLM’s approval of this parcel acquisition, forcing SITLA to expend significant time and money throughout the process,” said Hatch. “My proposal will move this project forward to benefit Utah State University and its students for years to come.”
Since 1998, SITLA’s proposed selection of 500 acres of BLM land, near the towns of Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs, has been stalled by a legal technicality.
The Confirming State Land Grants for Education Act eliminates that formality, allowing SITLA to acquire these lands, which will provide millions in revenue for the benefit of Utah State University in the coming years.
Once legislation is passed, the BLM must complete environmental reviews before the lands are transferred to SITLA.