A national conservation group has purchased 1,730 acres of land along the Strawberry River in Duchesne County for eventual use as a public fishing area.

Dave Livermore, director of The Nature Conservancy's Great Basin field office here, said the organization bought property between the Strawberry Pinnacles and Soldier Creek Reservoir for $1,019,000.Combined with 700 acres purchased in the same area last July, the Nature Conservancy now owns 2,430 acres. About 6.5 miles of the Strawberry River flows through the property.

"This is one of the finest fisheries in the state," Livermore said Thursday.

The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization with 1,500 members in Utah, is acting as an intermediary in the transaction, using funds contributed by members to purchase and hold the land until Congress appropriates enough money for the federal Bureau of Reclamation to repurchase the property.

The BOR intends to give the entire 2,430 acres to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for management as a high-quality, public fishing area. Protection of the land is part of the government's effort to "mitigate" damages to fish and wildlife caused by the $2 billion Central Utah Project.

"This is extremely important," said Bill Geer, Utah DWR director. "This area has high fish production and offers excellent fishing. It was the first river in Utah designated for fly fishing only."

Geer said a management plan for the property has not yet been prepared, but he vowed to maintain fishing quality at a "very, very high" level.

The state will retain strict control over lures, bag limits and seasons to preserve the fishery, and camping will likely be prohibited to protect the stream-side vegetation.

He said the state would like to obtain the remaining parcels of private land along the same stretch of the river.

Clifford I. Barrett, director of the BOR's Upper Colorado Region, said his agency didn't have enough money to purchase the entire parcel.