Thursday, October 20, 2016

Auction nets $ for Utah schools, sells off part of land in Bears Ears struggle

The president of a Utah farming corporation outbid Mormon history buffs and conservation groups to snatch up nearly 400 acres of school trust lands in an area that could become enveloped in a Bears Ears national monument should it happen. The Comb Ridge parcel sold for $500,000 — $200,000 above what defeated competitors offered — to Lyman Family Farm's Joe Hunt, who responded, "What Bears Ears?" when asked. Lyman Family Farm prevailed in a number of bidding wars at Wednesday's Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands auction that garnered $5.5 million for the benefit of the permanent school trust fund, which distributes money to Utah schools. The Hole in the Rock Foundation wanted the 391-acre parcel at Comb Ridge adjacent to federally managed lands to lead youth groups on historical and cultural tours of an area that was blazed by Mormon pioneers over the winter of 1879-80 in a treacherous journey. Groups like Friends of Cedar Mesa prize the area for its abundance of cultural artifacts and stunning sandstone scenery. Both groups reacted with disappointment to the auction's outcome, but they are hopeful some "arrangement" can be made with the new private property owner. "I personally don't anticipate any difficulty in working out something that is acceptable to us," said Lynn Stevens with the Hole in the Rock Foundation. Stevens said an important part of the trail crosses the school trust lands property, which is why it was so important to the foundation...more

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