Some 46,720 acres of private land in western Box Elder County could end up in the hands of the Bureau of Land Management if a proposed land exchange is approved.

Leon Berggren, Bear River area manager of the Salt Lake District of the Bureau of Land Management, met with county commissioners recently to discuss the proposal.According to Berggren, a Box Elder County landowner has requested the land be exchanged for a much smaller parcel of BLM land in Park City.

Commission Chairman Lee Allen responded that while the county can't stand in the way of private citizens' land sales, commissioners are concerned because such an exchange would take a large chunk off county tax rolls. Allen also pointed out that, contrary to information given in early November by Deane Zeller, district manager, Salt Lake District BLM, the exchanged lands would not be eligible for federal payment in lieu of taxes.

Allen added that the proposed exchange, along with another proposed 19,000-acre exchange and 17,000 acres acquired by the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, would take a total of 83,000 acres out of private hands in Box Elder County.

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Berggren said the local BLM is currently preparing to update the land-use plan involving the proposed exchanged lands. The process, which is expected to take several months, will determine how the lands are to be managed. He said initial plans for the 19,000-acre exchange call for use as wildlife habitat and emergency grazing land.

Berggren also announced the approval of a Back County Byway that will allow vehicles to drive the railroad grade from the Golden Spike National Historic Site to Lucin. The route will be dedicated at a May ceremony.

Commissioners said the establishment of the Back Country Byway puts extra pressure on county law enforcement, both for handling crimes and rescues, and asked for the commitment of BLM help.

Berggren acknowledged the request and added that private citizens can also be a big help. In a recent case, a resident reported adults shooting at BLM signs in the area: The offenders were caught and fined.

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