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SITLA Sells Off Section of Comb Ridge near Bluff

Friends of Cedar Mesa

A roughly 400-acre parcel on scenic Comb Ridge in San Juan County, Utah, has been sold.

On Wednesday, the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, called SITLA, held an auction of state trust lands that had been nominated for sale. The tract six miles west of Bluff had been nominated by the nonprofit Hole in the Rock Foundation, which sought to buy it to use for preservation and education about pioneer history. But the foundation was outbid by Lyman Family Farm, Incorporated, reportedly for $500,000. Lynn Stevens of the foundation board tells KSJD the company has origins in Blanding and is connected to a company that provides emergency air service in Utah and Wyoming. Stevens says he spoke to company representatives at the auction in Salt Lake City who said they would allow the foundation to continue using the property for educational hikes by young people. Stevens says the sale was “not a disappointment” to the foundation and that Utah’s public schools will benefit from the funds raised. However, the conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa issued a press release calling the sale “a distressing loss for the countless locals, returning visitors, and Native communities bearing cultural connections to the Comb Ridge.” The group said privatization of the land may mean it will be closed to public access.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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