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IN THE NEWS: ABC News CH4-Lawmakers and environmentalists find common ground in Daggett County land agreement

October 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – It's being called an historic agreement that can serve as a model to resolve the dispute over public lands in Utah once and for all.

Thousands of acres in Daggett County will be preserved as conservation, forest and wilderness areas.

In return, the county and state will receive lands for economic development.

It's not a scene you see every day in Utah politics, conservative law makers at the table with environmentalist groups to announce a proposed compromise.

"We're honored to have you here on what I think is an historical occasion," said Governor Gary Herbert, (R) Ut.

A public lands management agreement on thousands of acres in Daggett County.

It's all part of Representative Rob Bishop's Public Lands Initiative, bringing all parties together to find the balance between conservation and economic development.

"Utah is a public lands state, it's always going to be a public lands state. The real issue is trying to get more decisions on that land being done by Utahns," said Bishop, (R) Ut.

In the Daggett County Compromise more than 100,000 acres will be designated for conservation.

"We'll see things protected along the Green River in Daggett County, portions of the High Uintas were protected, Diamond Mountain was protected," said Scott Groene, with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Other parts will be developed to contribute to the state school trust fund and boost the local economy dependent on tourism.

"We need to diversify our recreational opportunities other than fishing in the Flaming Gorge and the Green River," said Daggett County Commissioner, Jerry Steglich.

This will allow the county to do that by developing a ski resort, shooting range, power substation and more.

What at times seemed like a stalemate.

"I did want to walk away, several times," said Steglich.

Is now being praised as the negotiations move from county to county.

"We've been able to bring people together here in agreement, which i think is going to be a model for us for the rest of the state," said Herbert.

Representative Bishop plans to introduce his Public Lands Initiative bill this January.

He believes it could take a good year to get it through congress.