On Friday, our state legislators passed resolutions to not only reverse the recent designation of Bears Ears National Monument, but also drastically reduce the size of its 20 year-old sibling in Grand Staircase.

And today, we learned those resolutions were passed by way of an unethical hearing led by Mike Noel. Noel, who is currently angling to lead the BLM, was actually employed by the BLM in 1996 when he quit in protest over the monument designation.

He wasn’t the only local representatives who was furious. Orrin Hatch called it “the mother of all land grabs” and threatened there would be “hell to pay.

The State quickly filed two lawsuits. The first accused the federal government of violating Public Law 103-93, which outlined an exchange of certain lands within the State of Utah and the Federal Government.

The second, filed by SITLA, challenged the designation of the new monument, arguing it reduced earnings from mining and grazing on trust lands.

At stake was 176,600 acres of state land, and nearly 25,000 acres of mineral interests – all within the boundaries of the monument. These trust lands were granted at statehood by the federal government to Utah for a very specific purpose – to provide economic development for public education. The management objectives of the Monument would come in direct conflict with the development of those parcels.

It took two years of negotiation and compromise, but a resolution finally came in 1998, by way of the Utah Schools and Lands Exchange Act. It authorized payment of $50 million in cash to the state, and swapped 377,000 acres of trust lands with 139,000 mineral-rich acres outside the monument, land with an estimated development value of up to $1 billion.

This result was nearly universally praised. Federal agencies, local politicians, even conservation groups all applauded the effort. Sen. Bob Bennett proclaimed “this should be a model for future land swaps.”

To underscore just how successful this land swap has been, SITLA has generated almost $1.7 billion in revenue, which has contributed almost $320 million to Utah schools over that same period. It is no coincidence the timeline of that growth closely parallels the establishment of Grand Staircase. That land swap directly contributed to massive growth in the Permanent School Fund.

Today, we have a nearly identical opportunity. There are 109,000 acres of SITLA land within the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, and President Obama specifically called for a memorandum of understanding between State and Feds to outline the terms of a swap in the official proclamation. This is exactly the type of compromise the citizens of Utah should be pushing for.

But there is just one wrinkle. That resolution in 1998 that proved to be so beneficial? It required the state to drop their lawsuits challenging the legality of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Yet here we are, almost two decades later, and Mike Noel is hoping nobody remembers.