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The Utah Land Board added its voice Thursday to others pushing for federal legislation that would - at long last - compensate the state for trust lands that lie within the boundaries of federal tracts.

The board joins the offices of Gov. Norm Bangerter and the Utah Attorney General's office in an effort to encourage Congress to accept plans for a direct land exchange for some of the lands and an increased share of mineral income for others.The problem of "inholdings" of state lands within parks, forests, Indian reservations and other federal lands is a longstanding one, in some instances dating back to statehood. The state was guaranteed in-lieu selections for these lands but has never successfully consummated its options.

Bangerter is pushing a concerted effort to remedy the situation. Two from the attorney general's staff have been assigned to work on the compensation proposals full-time. A task force with representation from the disparate groups interested in resolving the inholdings problem developed the proposed federal legislation. A number of meetings have been held in Washington D.C. to muster the support of the state's congressional delegation and affected federal agencies.

Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, introduced two bills last week in the House, and a Senate version was expected to be introduced by Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah.

One of the House proposals would involve a trade of trust lands in national forests for mineral royalties. Under consideration for several months, a version of this proposal hit a snag when the federal government did not appear willing to increase the 50 percent of mineral royalties that already go to the state. Hansen's proposal would increase the state share to 75 percent for 25 years, said Assistant Attorney General John Harga. If accepted, that plan could add as much as $17 million annually to the permanent school trust fund, based on current income figures, he said.

The bill also would require the federal government to continue to pay "in-lieu-of-taxes" money to counties that would be affected by the loss of forest land, he said. That has been a major concern for local governments.

San Juan County, where approximately 32,000 acres of trust land are located on Navajo Indian reservations, also would be granted a selection of 5,000 acres as compensation. This provision is opposed by Utah environmental groups, although they "approve in general the effort to get trust lands out of federal tracts," said Ken Rait, spokesman for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Another 1,000 acres of land on the Goshute Indian Reservation also would be exchanged for other land. No land in existing federal installations or under consideration for wilderness status would be offered to the state.

Because the proposals would cost the federal government money, the Utah proponents have also held meetings with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in the nation's capital and left them feeling "encouraged," Harga said.

The proposed solutions could also benefit the federal government by simplifying management of their lands, the bills say.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Boyden said the effort to find a legislative remedy for Utah's right to compensation for inholdings is a first step. If it is not successful, the potential for judicial remedy remains, he told the board. "This is a starting point only. We have tried to concentrate on what is do-able." Resolution of the inholding problem has an inevitable domino effect, he said, and there are many different points of view that will enter into the debate.

Board Member Ruland Gill, who presented the motion to register board support for the effort, said it is "the most important thing to come before the board in my experience. . . . It is an exciting process that has moved faster than I anticipated."

Margaret Bird, a representative of several of the trust lands beneficiaries, suggested the state have a "wish list" ready of lands that the state might want to acquire if the exchanges are granted. Such a list before-the-fact might forestall potential political difficulties, she said.

Board members, however, preferred to stick with support for the broad concept at this point. "We have a 50-day window of opportunity," said Gill, referring to the remainder of the current congressional session. "This is the part of the loaf we can get now."

Many details will remain to be worked out if the state and federal governments can reach basic agreement on the concepts, he said.