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Utah, feds ink deal at bird refuge

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BEAR RIVER MIGRATORY BIRD REFUGE, Utah (AP) -- State and federal officials are signing an agreement at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

The deal takes a step toward resolving who owns 35,000 acres of federally managed refuge on the Bear River at Great Salt Lake, about 15 miles west of Brigham City.

Utah legislators insist the state always owned the wetlands and deserves money for it. The agreement calls for doing an appraisal.

State attorneys say the price was supposed to be $15 million a few years ago, but the Interior Department decided it didn't have the money and the deal fell through.

Friday's deal lets the federal government continue to manage the refuge for three years -- a deadline for both sides to sort out ownership and compensation claims.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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