SALT LAKE CITY — A three-way land exchange in the works for nearly 30 years has been finally stamped "done," and Utah's wildlife, schoolchildren and motorists stand to benefit.
It's a deal that will "raise money for schoolchildren, protect valuable wildlife habitat and give the public improved access to the west side of the Salt Lake Valley,” Gov. Gary Herbert said, calling the arrangement a win-win-win.
The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, the Division of Wildlife Resources and the state Department of Transportation have finalized the exchange, which was first sought in the mid-1980s.
Under the deal, the transportation agency gets rights of way near 5600 West between 1300 South and 2100 South, which will be part of the future route of the Mountain View Corridor as it is built out.
The corridor will cross state wildlife agency land once known as the Remington Arms Property, deeded to the state by the federal government more than 50 years ago with restrictions that mandate it can only be exchanged for land that will benefit wildlife.
That restriction helped propel the involvement of the school trust lands agency, which had acreage within a prime wildlife management areas deemed critical for wintering big game animals and full of marshes and wetlands beneficial to waterfowl.
The agency is giving up that land that includes property on the eastern shores of the Great Salt Lake in Box Elder County in exchange for the property state transportation officials need for the corridor. The school's land trust is selling the land to the the state transportation department, with the revenue deposited into Utah's Permanent School Fund.
The trust's executive director said the exchange could only come about through cooperation and coordination among the agencies, which had to maneuver through the red tape to get the deal accomplished.
The acquisition of the property by the state wildlife agency will also assist it in its efforts to provide more cohesive management of high-value property for hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers, according to director Greg Sheehan.
“These lands are important now, and they will provide enormous benefits for wildlife and outdoor recreation for years to come," Sheehand said. "Conserving these properties makes Utah a better place to live."