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Agreement reached to protect Utah's iconic Spiral Jetty
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After months of negotiations between the Utah Department of Natural Resources and a New York-based art foundation, an agreement has been struck to protect and preserve the now-submerged Spiral Jetty.

An oversight group that includes Westminster College's Great Salt Lake Institute, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the New-York-based Dia Foundation will collaborate to guide the future of the massive and world-renowned art piece.

Robert Smithson's iconic Spiral Jetty earthwork sculpture, which was created in 1970 from black basalt boulders and curls 1,500 feet into the Great Salt Lake, was briefly fought over by groups interested in preserving it.

In early 2011, Utah's Department of Natural Resources, which owns the land, claimed that Dia Foundation, which has owned the rock, earth and salt crystal edifice itself, had missed a lease payment on the property under the artwork, returning it to the control of state lands administrators.

A Utah-based group and another individual stepped forward to bid on the lease.

But Dia entered negotiations with the state, arguing it had been renegotiating the lease with a key DNR administrator who subsequently died.

The state took advantage of the opportunity to press Dia to partner with a local organization to better protect the remote Spiral Jetty and ensure public access to it, said Ryan Nesbitt, sovereign lands program coordinator for the state's Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. But it was Dia that chose to work with the GSL Institute and the UMFA, he added.

Katie Sonnenborn, director of external affairs for Dia, has worked with the UMFA and the GSL Institute in the past to protect the Spiral Jetty. "This just became an opportunity to formalize the relationship that already exists and to set some pieces in place to ensure our stewardship continues to be good," she said.

UMFA Executive Director Gretchen Dietrich said the UMFA is excited to be part of a "collaboration to ensure that something that is really important to our community and our region is cared for into the future."

Dia will still hold the lease on the state land, paying $1,000 annual rental (the group previously paid $250 a year), Nesbitt said.

The lease was issued for 10 years, but the state will review it in five years to ensure Dia has established local collaboration, Nesbitt said. "We want to make sure those agreements have worked out."

The partners plan to hold a public meeting Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Main Library to discuss the future of the Spiral Jetty.

gwarchol@sltrib.com

The future of the Spiral Jetty

The partners plan to hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, to discuss the future of the Spiral Jetty.

Great Salt Lake • Westminster College and art museum new partners in preservation.
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