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Boy Scouts settle lawsuit

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The state of Utah settled with the Boy Scouts of America in a lawsuit concerning a forest fire that occurred in the Uinta Mountains in 2002.

The Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council agreed to pay $330,000 in damages and oversee the planting of 9,000 tree seedlings on state land.

"This settlement is a win-win situation for taxpayers and Boy Scouts. The state recovers money to put out fires and the Scouts will help restore the damaged forest and learn valuable lessons to prevent future fires," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in a press release.

Boy Scouts are also being better trained in fire safety, says Kay Godfrey, a spokesman for the organization.

"We are pleased to have settled this issue and are looking forward to partnering with the state on these important matters," Godfrey said.

Several Scouts from Peoa are accused of lighting the East Fork Fire that consumed more than 14,000 acres. U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell could still order the Boy Scouts of America pay around $13 million in fire-suppression costs the federal government incurred fighting the blaze.

But a 10-day federal jury trial scheduled to begin last week was cancelled.

"The case is still continuing," said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. "There has been no (federal) settlement."

Investigators contend that a group of Scouts camping in the area failed to properly extinguish a campfire while 15-year-old camp counselors supervised them in the woods.

The fire was found burning near Bear River Service June 28, 2002, at 1:30 p.m.


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