Matheson Bill Assists Ute Tribe With Land Swap

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Congressman Jim Matheson has introduced a bipartisan bill to aid the Ute Tribe with a long-sought land exchange that helps preserve tribal cultural lands, provides potential energy-producing lands for the state school trust fund and offers expanded oil and gas production in Utah’s Uintah Basin. Matheson is joined by Congressman Rob Bishop on the legislation – H.R. 4027.

“This bill helps the Tribe consolidate its management of land that is sacred and culturally significant to the Utes.  At the same time, it allows for potential oil and gas development on land not considered environmentally sensitive that would provide more school trust fund revenue and employment for energy workers. Everyone’s management objectives are better served and the local economy gets a boost,” said Matheson.

“I’m pleased to join with Congressman Matheson to facilitate this long-sought land exchange.  This legislation not only provides protections to culturally sensitive tribal areas but also allows for development of Utah’s abundant energy resources for the benefit of students and the school trust fund.  It’s always a good thing when you can address the interests of many different parties in a way that benefits everyone, including the educational futures of children in our state,” said Congressman Bishop.

Matheson said in 2005, the Tribe, the State of Utah and the Bureau of land Management (BLM) reached agreement on a land transaction involving 20,000 acres in northern Grand County which falls within the Hill Creek Extension of the Ute Indian Reservation.В  That extension was granted to the Utes by Congress in 1948.

The Utes hold the surface rights to the area, but the State Institutional Trust land Administration (SITLA) owns the mineral rights.В  Matheson said the Utes and SITLA identified BLM subsurface mineral lands north of the Grand County line that SITLA would accept, in exchange for giving its mineral rights with the Hill Creek Extension over to the Tribe.

Matheson’s bill includes language providing for an overriding interest payment from future oil and gas, and other minerals developed by SITLA that provides a royalty percentage to both the state and federal governments.

“This bill is the result of consensus reached by all the stakeholders.  The legislation is needed to get the process moving so that the Ute Tribe, Utah school children and domestic energy production and jobs benefit,” said Matheson.

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