Mar 27, 2010 at 12:39 PM MDT
(St. George, UT) - The Bureau of Land Management transferred four pieces of land totaling 277 acres to local governments Friday. Its the first step in the implementation of the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act passed Congress over a year ago.
St. George, Hurricane and the Washington County School District received parcels of federal land, to be used for protection and improvements along the Temple Quarry trail in St. George, two parks in
Hurricane and room for a school and other facilities near Sand Hollow.
The land transfers begin an effort by the various government entities try to implement the federal law designed to designate which parts of the county need to be protected, and which parts can be developed.
The school district received 75 acres that could play a significant role providing land for schools in the Sand Hollow area.
Marshall Topham, assistant superintendent for secondary education at the school district said " “It’s a huge savings for taxpayers because the district doesn't have to purchase property for the appraised value of
the property when it received from the BLM in this manner." Topham said similar agreements helped the school district receive property for Snow Canyon and Desert Hills High Schools.
The federal conservation bill preserves natural and historical sites. Kent Perkins, director of the Leisure Services Department for St. George, said the city was required to do environmental studies along the Temple Quarry trail before acquiring the land. The city is required to protect sensitive plant and animal species while improvements are made, he said. New additions are planned for the Temple Quarry trail in then future including side trails, benches and other improvements, but the historical site will also be better preserved, Perkins said.
The Washington County Growth and Conservation Act was one of more than 170 actions contained in a massive omnibus public lands bill passed by Congress a year ago. The work of years of negotiation and public involvement, including the community Vision Dixie involvement. The bill designates 256,338 acres of county lands as wilderness with 5,000 acres for development.
The conservation act lays out the protection and development future for much of Washington County, including the creation of two new conservation areas, protection for parts of the Virgin River and its tributaries, the transfer of land into a trust for the Shivwits Band of Paiutes and the creation of a new trail for off-road vehicles.
Selma Sierra, state director of the BLM, said the legislation is used nationally as a model for other communities to reach similar positive outcomes. “It was a lengthy, difficult process that enabled a wide range of special interest groups to come together and agree on balanced land management solutions that for will benefit generations to come in these vibrant communities,” she said.
Source: BLM, WCSD, City of St. George and The Spectrum