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New Administrator Wants To Grow Trust Fund

Judy Fahys/KUER
David Ure, onetime member of the state Legislature's Cowboy Caucus, will lead the agency that mines trust lands for income that goes primarily to public schools.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has tapped a county councilman and former state legislator to continue building the agency that turns land and minerals into funding for public schools.

David Ure is a Summit County dairy farmer and beef rancher who championed conservative, rural causes as a member of the Cowboy Caucus during 14 years in the state Legislature. He’ll soon be wrangling natural resources into dollars as director of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

“Part of what we’re talking about here today is how do we manage those public lands,” said Herbert in announcing the appointment Wednesday, “particularly the school trust lands to optimize their ability to for us to generate revenue to fund education.”

Retiring Director Kevin Carter is praised for growing the receipts from SITLA’s 3.4 million acres of trust lands and 1.1 million acres of mineral estate. This year the agency pumped nearly $46 million dollars into public schools. The money came from a two–billion-dollar trust fund that was stoked with income from land development, energy leases and mineral receipts.

Ure recently served a term as a trustee on SITLA’s governing board, and he sees his new post as a good way to keep helping kids.

“I do like the challenge of trying to build the fund bigger, because that’s that much more money that’ll go back to the schools on a yearly basis,” he said.

Environmentalists have complained that SITLA should be focusing less on fossil fuels if it's serious about protecting future Utahns from pollution, and they may find a friend in Ure. He says being a Summit County Councilman has sparked his interest in clean energy.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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