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Bears Ears’ SITLA land agreement with US Department of Interior terminated

In a news release on February 6, 2024, the offices of the Utah Governor, Senate and House of Representatives formally withdrew a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the U.S. Department of Interior planning a land exchange of SITLA land and mineral interests.

The termination of the land exchange by Utah leadership echoes sentiments common to recent elections – that many Utahns feel local leadership is better qualified to manage local land than federal interests. Photo by Bob Wick/courtesy of BLM.

Said the statement: “Utah has sought for a collaborative, inclusive approach to managing our public lands, including in the management of the Bears Ears National Monument, yet the Biden administration continues to ignore our good faith input. The federal government has signaled that it once again plans to adopt a restrictive land management plan that will harm recreational access, grazing and other traditional public uses of these lands. When the administration is prepared to have a serious and good faith collaborative discussion about land management, we stand ready to renew discussions of a land exchange.”



The statement was cosigned by Governor Spencer Cox, Senate President J. Stuart Adams and House Speaker Mike Schultz, and was attached to House Joint Resolution 26, sponsored by Representative Casey Snider - the statement specified that HJR 26 “accomplishes the following:


  • Rejects the proposed exchange of state SITLA and mineral interests in and around the Bears Ears National Monument for United States government lands.

  • Recognizes the state would better manage and administer the lands in the proposed exchange for the benefit of the state’s trust land beneficiaries and economy than the federal government.

  • Rejects the federal government’s proposed land management plan.”


The statement also included a letter from the office of the Governor, which cited section 8 of the MoU allowing the agreement to be terminated by any party prior to the ratification by Congress, and decisively concluded, “All terms, provisions and conditions of the Agreement are hereby terminated.”


Further information can be found on the legislature website under the house’s section, searching H.J.R 26., as well as on the Governor’s press release page.

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