Deal Reached on Martin's Cove Lease to LDS Church

Deal Reached on Martin's Cove Lease to LDS Church

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has agreed to a 25-year lease of Martin's Cove from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a spokeswoman for Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo, said Tuesday.

Martin's Cove is a pocket of prairie encircled by pink granite cliffs in central Wyoming. Many Mormon pioneers headed to Utah froze or starved to death there in 1856 after being trapped by a snowstorm.

A management agreement between the church and BLM expired in 2001.

Thomas introduced the proposal Tuesday in an amendment to the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. The bill was headed for a vote Tuesday night or possibly Wednesday.

"The church was looking for us to sell it to them, and then they were looking for a 99-year lease, and this is where we are now," Thomas spokeswoman Carrie Sloan said.

She did not have additional information about the lease.

A BLM spokeswoman in Cheyenne, Cindy Wertz, said no one with the BLM in Wyoming had heard of the lease agreement. She said she did not speak with BLM officials in Washington, D.C.

A call to Mormon church officials was not returned.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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