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Why the nation’s largest military airspace, right here in the West, wants more land

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FILE - Heat waves rise from the runway as two F-35A Lightning II jets with the 388th Fighter Wing's 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base taxi back to the hangers at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home A

FILE - Heat waves rise from the runway as two F-35A Lightning II jets with the 388th Fighter Wing’s 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base taxi back to the hangers at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho for two months while the main runway at Hill Air Force Base was reconstructed.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Two government agencies are proposing to swap a significant chunk of land with each other to support a Congressionally mandated expansion of the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah's western desert.

The range is the U.S. Department of Defense's only location capable of supporting overland testing of cruise missiles and is the largest special use airspace in the continental United States.

Some of that range is also in eastern Nevada, but the land trades are focused on acreage in Box Elder, Tooele and Juab counties for buffer zones and additional ground space.

The Bureau of Land Management has an environmental assessment on the trade out for review, with public comment being accepted until Sept. 6.

Under the trade, 83,600 acres owned by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration would be traded to the BLM in exchange for 95,740 acres of BLM land concentrated mainly in central Utah.

FILE - In this June 28, 2018, file photo, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, attends a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hatch bemoaned the disappearance of political civility, kinship and cross-party collaboration durin

FILE - In this June 28, 2018, file photo, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, attends a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hatch bemoaned the disappearance of political civility, kinship and cross-party collaboration during a farewell speech Wednesday, Dec. 12 where he called the Senate a legislative body in “crisis.”

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

To ensure a value-to-value trade, an additional 4,370 acres of school trust lands in Washington County may be part of the exchange once appraisals are finished.

The trade is part of legislation by then-Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that was cobbled into the National Defense Authorization Act in 2017.

Overall, the range expansion encompasses an additional 625,000 acres sought by the military to also support Hill Air Force Base's acquisition of the F-35.

Kim Christy, deputy director of the trust lands administration, said the scattered parcels owned in the exchange were primarily used to support grazing, which will not change with BLM ownership.

FILE - An F-35A Lightning II with the 388th Fighter Wing's 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base taxis back to the hangers at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho for two months wh

FILE - An F-35A Lightning II with the 388th Fighter Wing’s 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base taxis back to the hangers at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho for two months while the main runway at Hill Air Force Base was reconstructed.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

FILE - A F-35A Lightning II takes off at Hill Air Force Base during the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings' combat power exercise where they launched 35 F-35A Lightning IIs within a condensed period of time in Ogden on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

FILE - A F-35A Lightning II takes off at Hill Air Force Base during the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings’ combat power exercise where they launched 35 F-35A Lightning IIs within a condensed period of time in Ogden on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

The administration will pick up key parcels in both Millard and Beaver counties.

"These will manifest much stronger revenue generating potential for us in mineral extraction," he said.

In particular, the Graymont limestone mining operation in Millard County will be able to expand its operation, increase production by 100% and extend its mining life significantly.

An F-35A Lightning II with the 388th Fighter Wing's 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base makes its final landing approach at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho for two months wh

An F-35A Lightning II with the 388th Fighter Wing’s 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base makes its final landing approach at the base near Ogden on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. The squadron was at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho for two months while the main runway at Hill Air Force Base was reconstructed.

Steve Griffin

Tom Faddies, who oversees the hard rocking mining division for the trust lands administration, said Graymont ships its products as far away as the Carolinas for use in coal mining operations, the manufacture of paper products and for use in environmental remediation.

The school trust lands administration will also be able to expand its footprint next to the Intermountain Power Plant and in Beaver County, and improve access to and possibly increase potash mining activity.

Christy said he is hopeful the exchange may be completed sometime early next year.