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Utah close to settling lawsuit over Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

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Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 04, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah appears to be close to settling a long-running lawsuit over control of land within the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

In a court filing obtained by FOX 13 News, lawyers for the Utah Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice asked for more time to evaluate an appraisal of the land.

"The proposed settlement contemplates the acquisition by the United States of certain lands and interests within the Refuge in exchange for payment to the State," attorneys wrote to U.S. Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg.

Utah sued the federal government in 2012, laying claim to lands within the refuge that lie below the Great Salt Lake's ordinary high water mark dating back to statehood. The filing indicates the two sides settled on where that line is and in 2020, they began settlement talks.

While progress has been made, lawyers told the judge, there is more work to do.

"Any final settlement of the claims in this case will require sequential approvals by the Parties’ principal decision-makers, who include the Utah State Legislature or Legislative Management Committee... for Plaintiff and the appropriate high-ranking officials in the United States Departments of the Interior and of Justice for Defendants," the filing stated.

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