Washington • Brigham Young University is one step closer to owning the land under its iconic mountainside "Y" after the House passed a bill Monday sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
The Utah lawmaker's legislation requires the U.S. Forest Service to sell 80 acres to BYU at fair market value. Chaffetz sponsored the bill at the request of the university, which already owns the lower half of the trail to the concrete "Y."
"It's a mainstay in our community and something that we're all proud of," Chaffetz said. "And really in an effort to make sure that this is properly maintained, continuity of maintenance, this really does make sense."
Chaffetz is a former kicker for BYU's football team and his proposal also is sponsored by three other alums: Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Buck McKeon, R-Calif.; and Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa.
"The 'Y' has always been a symbol of pride for us," Faleomavaega said.
The proposal received no opposition in the House and now moves to the Senate where Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has introduced a companion bill co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, son of a former BYU president.
BYU has been working with the Forest Service to maintain the entire trail, but sought to officially own the property to ensure it stays open and is cared for.
"From the public's point of view, they won't notice anything different," said BYU spokesman Todd Hollingshead. "This will make it more efficient for us to preserve and maintain the trail."
The "Y" monument was completed in 1906, spanning 32,847 square feet. The university previously owned the land under the "Y," but it became government owned decades ago. One of the provisions in the bill requires the school to keep the trail open to the public, which LDS Church-owned BYU says it intended to do anyway.