Trading state property for land along the shores of Lake Powell to encourage economic development in southeastern Utah is a "dead end," a member of a committee appointed to study the issue says.
But other members of a subcommittee of the Lake Powell Region Resource Development Committee meeting Thursday disagreed and continued to pursue their study of the effects of such a swap.The state wants 60,000 acres of lakeside property from the federal government in exchange for the same amount of state land scattered throughout less desirable portions of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Capitol Reef National Park.
Questions have been raised by National Park Service officials and environmental groups about the need for more development along Lake Powell. There are already seven marinas in the recreation area.
Committee member Terri Martin, who represents environmental groups, said the deal would never win congressional approval. She suggested that the state sell its park lands to the federal government.
"To pursue a blockup of lands on Lake Powell is just a dead end and a waste of time for this committee," Martin said, adding that the arrangement would also be opposed by environmental groups.
Scott Flandro, special projects coordinator for the State Division of Lands and Forestry, said that while Martin may be correct about the trade, committee members have a mandate to continue their study.
"I fully recognize that it might be a waste of time," Flandro said. Still, he said, committee members shouldn't "say it won't work. We don't know it won't work."
The proposal was announced last October by Gov. Norm Bangerter, who also established the committee to identify economic opportunities on the Utah side of Lake Powell.
The governor said at the time that since the lake was created, Arizona has gotten a larger share of the rec-reation area's tourists. Building new facilities along the Utah shoreline with the help of private developers was suggested as a way to correct the imbalance.
The land that the state would trade with the federal government involves so-called school trust lands set aside by the federal government at the time Utah became a state to help fund education.
Much of the land is located within federal holdings, such as national parks and recreation areas, Indian reservations and military bases. It is seldom used except for grazing.