Utah Governor Gary Herbert is asking Utah’s state lands agency not to lease about 20-thousand acres in the Book Cliffs for oil and gas drilling. Sportsmen and environmental groups have said the area near Bogart Canyon needs to be protected as wildlife habitat.
The governor told reporters at the state capitol Thursday afternoon the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, has done a good job getting money out of Utah’s state lands, but in this case, it needs to look at a long-term strategy that could bring in even more in the long run.
"So we need to be careful about what we're doing here," Herbert said. "And I think if we'll step back and take a look at the long-term aspects of this, we can come up with a proverbial win-win."
Republican State Senator Kevin Van Tassell, who represents the Uintah Basin, says Utah needs to get as much revenue as it can from the limited state land that’s available.
“I have been saying for seven years that I’ve been in the Senate that unless we can get to our school trust lands and start producing, we are going to fail to be able to fund all these kids that we’ve got.”
More than 60-percent of Utah’s public land belongs to the federal government, while a much smaller portion belongs to the state and private landowners. SITLA announced its plan to lease the land to Anadarko Petroleum last week.
KUER's Andrea Smardon contributed to this story.