Jim Shuler, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, File

New Tooele County areas to be opened for big-game hunting in proposed BLM land exchange

By Faith Heaton Jolley, KSL.com | Posted - Sep 13th, 2018 @ 6:40pm

SKULL VALLEY, Tooele County — The proposed exchange of some private and public lands in Skull Valley could allow for first-time access to some areas for big-game hunting, according to Utah Bureau of Land Management officials.

The “notice of decision” was first made public on July 30, initiating a 45-day public comment period and 60-day governor review, which ends Friday at 4:30 p.m., according to BLM public affairs specialist Hannah Cowan.

Castle Rock Land and Livestock Company and the Skull Valley Company Ltd. will exchange 11,586 acres of private land to the BLM in exchange for 12,603 acres of non-contiguous federal land, Cowan said. The land exchange will allow the private landowners to consolidate parcels of land to increase the public access for grazing, big-game hunting, historical landmarks and other recreational areas.

Cowan said a map of the current land status shows scattered and isolated parcels of private land that are surrounded by BLM-administered land, and the land exchange conveys ownership of these scattered, “checkerboard” parcels to the federal government while consolidating private land.

“We are pleased that we were able to come to a resolution that supports the goals of all parties involved,” Chris Robinson, a land exchange proponent and local rancher, said in an emailed statement. “This land exchange will improve the management of both federal and private lands, and will provide economic and recreational opportunities for the local community.”

Land exchanges are often available by the discretion of the landowner, Cowan said. When an exchange benefits both parties and meets agency objectives, then a land exchange proposal is prepared.

“There are 64 steps in processing a land exchange and the time spent processing can vary from several months to several years,” Cowan said. “Before the land exchange is complete, the BLM will resolve any protests, conduct a final inspection, approve easements or conversion of rights-of-way, deliver warranty deeds to escrow, deliver patents, and other exchange-related actions. … In some instances, Congress has authorized the BLM to complete specific land exchanges.”

Hunting is permitted on BLM-administered lands in Skull Valley with an appropriate Utah hunting license, Cowan said.

The Skull Valley land exchange is in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.

Faith Heaton Jolley

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