House-Senate negotiators have accepted proposals for three federal land acquisitions in Utah, located in Westwater, Desolation and Red Butte canyons.
The acquisitions have been strongly endorsed by Utah Representatives Howard Nielson, R-Utah, and Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and supported by conservationists, said Rudy Lukez, conservation chair for the Sierra Club's Utah chapter."We're elated to see these acquisitions go through," Lukez said. "This shows the good deal of support that we've received from those involved."
Lukez said it was a "small miracle" that Utah was able to get approval for the acquisitions since only 10 of 200 land and water requisition projects submitted to the government were funded and approved.
The land parcels in Westwater Canyon near Moab are mostly canyon land and rock country, Lukez said. "It's also the primary put-in and take-out points for river users."
The 153-acre Rock Creek Ranch in Desolation Canyon, east of Price, is especially spectacular, said Mike Medberry, Utah representative of the Wilderness Society.
"It includes the historic ranch buildings, a clear cold stream, access to archeological sites and the most popular camping site in Desolation Canyon," he said.
The Red Butte acquisition is 60 acres of land north of Salt Lake City.
Negotiations must still take place between private landowners and the federal agencies before transfer of title may occur. The three parcels are valued at $387,000.
The expenditures were authorized under the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, which is primarily financed by offshore oil and gas leasing fees. Each year, Congress uses this fund to allocate money for federal and state projects throughout the United States.
This year, $206 million was approved, a $36 million increase over last year's appropriation.