Congressman Jim Matheson's bipartisan bill to aid the Ute Tribe with a long-sought land exchange that helps preserve tribal cultural lands and provide potential energy-producing lands for the state school trust fund received a hearing today in the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs.
Witnesses who testified in favor of the bill included Ute Indian Tribe Business Council member Irene Cuch and School Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) Director Kevin Carter.
"This bill helps the Tribe consolidate its management of land that is sacred and culturally significant to the Utes. At the same time, it allows for potential oil and gas development on land not considered environmentally sensitive that would provide more school trust fund revenue and employment for energy workers," said Matheson.
Matheson said the obstacle to moving ahead has been a lack of authority by the BLM to approve the exchange, which involves different ownership by each side of surface rights and mineral rights. Matheson's bill--H.R. 4017-- provides the authority in this specific case.