WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has agreed to transfer ownership of Minersville State Park to Beaver County, which hopes to develop lands around the popular fishing hole in southern Utah.

"This bill will help to keep the park open and allow families in Beaver County to continue enjoying these facilities," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the legislation along with Sen. Bob Bennett, both Utah Republicans.

"Local officials are best equipped to handle the day-to-day management of the park," Hatch said. "Transferring the property to Beaver County will allow these officials to keep the park accessible and ensure that it continues to be an excellent recreational retreat, superb fisher and a great place to visit."

The bill, which passed a voice vote late Wednesday night, now goes to the House.

In 2002, the state decided it could no longer afford the costs associated with managing the 200-acre facility around Minersville Reservoir, which the state had developed into a fishery over the 38 years it had the site.

When the state decided to back away, Beaver County sought title to the park and indicated it might sell off parcels around the lake to finance park operations. That, however, would have been a violation of a 1964 agreement that transferred what was then federal land to the state for use as a state park.

The agreement specified that ownership of the land would revert to the federal government if it was no longer used as a state park.

The Bureau of Land Management told Beaver County it would remove the boat ramps, docks and other improvements totalling $1 million unless the park was taken over by another governmental entity.

The Hatch bill gives the land to Beaver County free of cost or restriction.