- Associated Press - Saturday, January 16, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The long-awaited proposal from U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah that is anticipated to protect about 4 million acres of state land in exchange for freeing up about 365,000 acres for oil and gas development is set to be unveiled Wednesday.

The initiative has been dubbed one of the most ambitious public lands bills, and could affect some 18 million acres in eastern Utah. It could also put an end to fights over how the state’s land should be used, Bishop said.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said last year that one idea that could come out of the proposal is a “Jurassic National Monument” at one of the largest collections of Jurassic Period fossils. It would be about 1,000 acres at the Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur fossil quarry in Emery County.

The initiative could also elevate the Dinosaur National Monument, which sits on the Utah-Colorado border, into a national park.

It has been in the works for over three years, which has allowed Bishop and his colleagues to involve over 100 stakeholders, Deseret News reported (https://bit.ly/1RqGSrB ). They reached out to elected leaders from seven Utah counties— Summit, Grand, San Juan, Emery, Carbon, Uintah and Wayne— and industry representatives from the oil and gas, grazing and mining sectors.

The process also involved such conservation and environmental groups as the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy, and more than a dozen field trips to public land.

Key to the deal is that the president won’t use his broad authority to designate any national monuments in the seven Utah counties involved, Chaffetz said.

Governor Gary Herbert said he supports the proposal.

Bishop said the process took longer than he expected because of the amount of work needed to tweak the initiative’s language.

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