Conservation community mourns privatization of parcel of Comb Ridge
Friends of Cedar Mesa is deeply disappointed to announce that a 391-acre section of the Comb Ridge west of Bluff has been privatized. At an auction in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, October 19th, Lyman Family Farms purchased this scenic parcel of the Comb Ridge north of UT Highway 163 from the Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). The buyer paid $500,000 outbidding conservation interests.
The sale is a distressing loss for the countless locals, returning visitors, and Native communities bearing cultural connections to the Comb Ridge.
With this purchase, this frequently visited section of the Comb may be closed to public access. We are currently unaware of the development intentions of the buyer. It is now the only privatized section of the 80-mile sandstone spine north of the Navajo Nation.
We are also concerned about the sensitive Archaic, Puebloan and Navajo archaeology on the parcel, which the buyer is responsible for protecting under the sale covenant.
When the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation nominated this parcel for auction earlier this year, they opened up Pandora’s Box and as a result, the land was sold to the highest bidder. The results show what happens when lands that should be public are not protected for future generations.
A loss of this nature emphasizes just how much work we have to do to protect public lands in Bears Ears. Our work isn’t done: SITLA is on Bluff’s doorstep as we speak, proposing land trades that would result in a massive energy block just north of Bluff within the proposed Bears Ears boundary.
Now more than ever, we ask you to stay in touch and see how you can help protect the invaluable cultural and natural resources in southeast Utah.