Investing in nature? Utah says no, bans natural asset companies on public land.

(Alysha Lundgren | St. George News) Cows stand in the forest near Panguitch, Sep. 26, 2021.

St. George • Utah seeks to curb activity that prioritizes conservation on public land with a recently passed bill.

The public land use amendments bill, designated HB 496 in the 2024 Legislature, requires the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office to recognize and promote multiple uses and sustained yields on federal public lands in Utah while opposing conservation as a use equal to recreation, grazing and others.

Additionally, it prohibits natural asset companies from purchasing or leasing state public lands, owning or managing conservation leases, and purchasing or leasing ecosystem services.

Rep. Carl Albrecht sponsored the bill, which he drafted in collaboration with the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks. The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Heidi Balderree, said it would not prevent natural asset companies from conducting business on private land.

Natural asset companies are the brainchild of the Intrinsic Exchange Group, a “financial innovation company with a mission to enable sustainable, market-based solutions to some of our most intractable problems,” according to its website.

To allow for “nature positive investment,” the company created natural asset companies, which can be formed by governments, private property owners, farmers and ranchers, and corporations, among others.

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This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.

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