Utah DWR's Lake Canyon sale on hold
State wildlife officials are rethinking the sale of 1,070 acres in Duchesne County's Lake Canyon that were set to be auctioned June 25.
The land in question is not essential to the conservation goals associated with the wildlife management area there, acquired by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in 2001 to establish and protect a brood population of native cutthroat trout, the agency said.
This week, however, DWR decided to wait pending federal approval for the sale.
"These parcels may be included in a future auction, but we need more time to evaluate them with our conservation and funding partners. We will provide advanced notice of any future auction dates," the agency said in a Web post.
Utah's angling community is keenly interested in Lake Canyon and a federal grant helped fund the land acquisition. For that reason the sale requires U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval, which is not expected to come in time for the auction date.
The conservation area occupies a narrow canyon for several miles above the Strawberry River where nearly 5,000 of acres once owned by the Pinder family passed to the state through The Nature Conservancy. Lake Canyon Lake now harbors a conservation population of Colorado River cutthroat biologists tap in an effort to recover this trout in Utah waters elsewhere.
But to win the governor's approval for the purchase, DWR had agreed to sell some of its conservation holdings out of respect for the wishes of Duchesne County, which is trying to prevent a net loss of privately owned and therefore taxable acreage within its borders. The two parcels to be sold were chosen because they lie downstream from the lake, which is the focus of the Lake Canyon Wildlife Management Area.
Since the state's acquisition, this area has become an oil and gas hotspot with several wells along the canyon bottom.
Still on the block next Wednesday are an 896-acre parcel Utah State University owns near Horse Canyon in Carbon County and two smaller parcels managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, in Emery and Sevier counties.
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