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STATE WITHDRAWS 3 TRACTS FROM SURFACE-LEASE PROGRAM

SHARE STATE WITHDRAWS 3 TRACTS FROM SURFACE-LEASE PROGRAM

Property the state selected near Lake Powell in a federal land exchange was temporarily withdrawn Friday from the surface-leasing program to allow the state time to study developmental possibilities.

The state Lands and Forestry Board unanimously adopted a staff recommendation to withdraw three sections of land from surface-lease application until planning in conjunction with the Federal Exchange Resolution is completed in about a year.The action is consistent with withdrawal policy the board adopted last month.

Withdrawn were two sections in the Bullfrog area and a third in the Devil's Garden. The lands, totaling 10,874 acres, are near the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The action was recommended because of mounting pressures from individuals and companies interested in developing the property, and because of other related issues rising from the federal exchange program, according to information presented to the board by Ed Storey, Southern Regional Office manager.

In a memo of alternatives for the board to consider, Patrick Spurgin, state Lands and Forestry Division director, said temporary withdrawal of the lands from surface-lease consideration will give the state time to work with county officials on the direction and scope of development desired in the area.

"It is very likely that, if this land is not withdrawn for a period of time, the division will be trying to deal with numerous lease or sale applications without adequate staffing or planning," the memo said.

Storey and Richard Wilcox, a division land planner, presented the staff recommendation, which was adopted on a motion by board member Willard Gardner.

Member Reed Christensen had suggested withdrawal of all uses, not just surface leasing, so there would be no encumbrances on the state while it works on plans for the properties.

"Anything you can put on hold for that period, let's do it,"

Christensen said.

The withdrawal does not affect mineral leasing or grazing permits.

The state applied to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 1983 to acquire some 7,355 acres in the Bullfrog and Devil's Garden areas through an exchange program. The state recently received approval of that application.

The division also applied for a second section near Bullfrog in 1986, which, according to the memo, could be transferred to the state soon.

Storey said his office in Richfield has received many letters of interest in developing the property when it is acquired by the state.