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  • Cartoon: Real estate person showing ancient Anasazi sites

    Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune
  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 their lifetime.

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."

*Jeff Schmerker

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