Trust lands officials are hoping to make another killing by auctioning a coveted piece of southern Utah this week when it puts five parcels, totaling 1,550 acres, on the block.
The most interesting parcel offered for the state’s twice-a-year land auction Wednesday is the 120 acres that the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration had proposed for a sand and gravel operation on the edge of Teasdale in Wayne County.
But a group of local residents raised a stink, arguing industrial activity had no place on a scenic ridge between Teasdale and Torrey, two historic ranching towns that are a gateway to Capitol Reef National Park.
SITLA leaders agreed it would be more profitable to sell this parcel than mine it. They canceled a contract with a local road builder and set a minimum bid at $790,000, or nearly $6,600 an acre. But it could go for much higher.
At its last auction, SITLA accepted a record $2.5 million from a conservation buyer for the Needles Outpost. This 1-square-mile section at the Needles entrance to Canyonlands National Park will continue to be operated as a private campground and convenience store, but it likely will never be developed further.
The Teasdale Bench parcel could someday have homes overlooking the Fremont River, but a mine is unlikely because once the land is privatized it will be subject to Wayne County zoning, which identifies this area for agricultural and residential uses.
Also available on Wednesday are parcels near the Emma Park Road in the southeastern corner of Utah County, just south of the Ashley National Forest. These two offerings, 640 acres and two 40-acre parcels to be sold together, have steep slopes and no guaranteed road access, but they offer great big-game hunting potential.
Rancher Korey Wright of Nephi holds the grazing permits to these parcels, which will be deleted from the permits once the sale goes through.
Sealed bids must be received by SITLA by 10 a.m. Wednesday. That’s when officials open them and invite top bidders to participate in oral bidding.
The agency has posted a list of parcels available at future auctions, including a 519-acre lot just south of Cannonville with Yellow Creek running through it. It borders a part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that President Donald Trump is expected to remove from the monument when he comes to Utah next month.