The state Lands and Forestry Board wants the Legislature to come up with a plan to fund protection of scenic lands.
The board has told Patrick Spurgin, Lands and Forestry Division director, to draft a state policy on management of lands with so-called non-economic public values. The policy would be presented to lawmakers.The problem, Spurgin said, is most people view state lands as having economic value because they have mineral or livestock grazing values, or having non-economic value because they have only recreational values.
"What we need to do is evaluate the relationship between economic and non-economic values," said Spurgin. "For example, an area of striking scenic beauty brings tourist dollars to the state."
But, if Utah allows the scenic beauty to become degraded, he said, fewer tourists will come.
State law now requires land managers "to get full value," Spurgin said, in the administration of so-called trust lands. When Utah gained statehood, each 36 square miles of land in the state contained four 640-acre sections to be used to fund public schools.