If a proposal by Utah's Trust Lands Administration goes through, state-owned lots containing Native American ruins will go on the block to provide money for public schools. One lot includes an Anasazi house structure probably dating to the time of Christ; another contains a Fremont culture dwelling dating back 1,000 years.
State officials say they want to
sell the land for two reasons: to earn the highest amount possible
for state schools - as directed by the state constitution - and to
protect the sites from rampant looting.
Just as a
developer in Cortez, Colo., cashed in on the Anasazi heritage of
his land (HCN, 3/20/95), the presence of ruins will likely help to
sell the state's 86 acres, which may be divided into as many as 10
lots. "We think there are people out there that will pay extra to
have something that is threatened and unique on their land - for
the coolness factor," says Kenny Wintch, archaeologist for the
Trust Lands Administration.
Buyers would be
prohibited from building near ruins and would have to hire a
certified archaeologist to do any excavations, adds Wintch. Any
collected artifacts would belong to the Utah Museum of History,
though homeowners will probably be allowed to keep them during
But the sell-off has its
critics. Ken Rait of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says
divesting may be the model for future state land management: "This
just shows the ends to which Utah will go to make a buck."