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State, county leaders push for park expansion in San Rafael Swell

State, county leaders push for park expansion in San Rafael Swell

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HANKSVILLE — Emery County has its eye on some wild country currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the San Rafael Swell.

The county is collaborating with the state's Division of Parks and Recreation on an expansion of Goblin Valley State Park, but that idea has met with some resistance.

"I know there are people who look at this and refer to it as a land-grab, and it’s just the state wanting to get their hands on land. That’s not the case at all,” Emery County Public Lands Director Ray Petersen said. “This is about making good land use management decisions.”

County leaders contend the Swell has come under heavy use from its growing popularity and they believe the Bureau of Land Management can't manage the traffic. Search and rescue efforts into the Swell can prove timely and costly, given its remote location and the complicated terrain. The county and Goblin Valley State Park often assist with those rescues.

“Someone gets lost and search and rescue is knocking down the door of the state park to come assist the rescue and they do,” Petersen said.

The proposal would extend state land ownership from Goblin Valley's borders into the San Rafael Swell.

“Since they have a presence there they can move quickly and get some management in place quite soon,” Petersen said.

If approved, the land swap would trade about 130,000 acres of land from federal protection to state ownership. It's likely to be rolled in with a larger public lands management project currently being spearheaded by Rep. Rob Bishop. Brianna is a reporter and weekend anchor for KSL News Radio. Contact her at: bbodily@ksl.com or on twitter @BriannaBodily

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