SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's wildlife division has agreed to pay a sister agency $300,000 to allow hunters and anglers to continue using state-owned land.
Budget cuts earlier this year prompted the state Division of Wildlife Resources to eliminate its annual $579,000 payment to the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
The wildlife agency has agreed to a partial payment to the trust lands administration this year but will ask state lawmakers in January to make up the difference.
The annual payment is part of a 10-year agreement between the two agencies that began in 2007.
SITLA raises money for Utah schools by selling and leasing on more than 5,300 square miles of state-owned land it controls.
The 2007 agreement provides hunters access to most of its land. In exchange, the agency agreed not to make any business deals -- such as leases with private commercial outfitters -- that would keep hunters off the land.
Over the course of the decade-long agreement in which payments increase incrementally, the wildlife agency would pay $6.3 million.
The payments ensure that hunters can access some of the most popular big game spots in Utah, including the Book Cliffs and Tabby Mountain.
Kim Christy, SITLA's assistant director, said his agency could probably get more money per year than what's provided by the Division of Wildlife Resources -- one estimate was $1.3 million per year -- but both agencies wanted to make sure the public had a chance to get on the land for hunting and fishing.
"This has been in the spirit of compromise," Christy said.
Greg Sheehan, administrative services chief for the state Division of Wildlife Resources, said the partial payment to SITLA was made Sept. 1. Lawmakers will be asked to provide an additional $279,000 when they convene in January.
The Division of Wildlife Resources gets most of its budget from hunting and fishing licenses and about 10 percent from the state's general fund. Cuts approved by the Legislature earlier this year affected several programs.