Friends of Cedar Mesa failed to block a controversial sale by the Utah State & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) of a section of Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah that lies within boundaries of a proposed Bears Ears National Monument.
The property was sold to a mysterious bidder, Lyman Family Farms, that outbid the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation which had originally nominated the parcel for auction.
The newly privatized land used to be a popular hiking area that contains a distinctive overhanging rock ledge featured on the cover of the premiere issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine. A news release from Friends of Cedar Mesa calls the sale a distressing loss to the local community, and that “we are currently unaware of the development intentions of the buyer.”
Also sold at the SITLA auction was land adjacent to Zion National Park, property on the road to Canyonlands National Park, and elk and deer habitat within the South Slope/Diamond Mountain Limited-Entry Hunting Unit (a sale strongly opposed by backcountry hunters & anglers). There is no public review process for sale of SITLA lands since under Utah Law, “the beneficiaries [of SITLA] do not include other governmental institutions or agencies, the public at large, or the general welfare of this state.”
Friends of Cedar Mesa: friendsofcedarmesa.org;
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
Amy Brunvand is an academic librarian who currently works in the University of Utah Sustainability Office, coordinating sustainability education, research and initiatives at the University.