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SALT LAKE CITY — Antelope Island State Park, which draws about 400,000 visitors a year, generates just shy of $1 million annually through hunting tags and bison sales — money that one lawmaker says should stay in the park's coffers.
Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Syracuse, said the park has a number of infrastructure needs and deserves to be able to tap into the revenue it generates.
"The island has many needs," Lisonbee told members of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee on Tuesday. "It has not received the money it deserves. The money will go to critical capital improvements on the island."
Her bill, HB317, proposes to restrict the money to the island itself.
Fred Hayes, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, said the parks budget depends on the flexibility to move money around. In a year where one park generates a profit, that money can go to help a struggling park, he said.
"It is a major change from what we have been doing," Hayes said, referencing Lisonbee's bill. "This is a policy shift, good or bad, as you see it."
Hayes said those funds are monitored internally and used for wildlife management or habitat restoration.
Rep. Steve Sandall, R-Tremonton, said he was uncomfortable with stripping the division of flexibility over how it spends revenue.
"I think this is taking us down a slippery slope," Sandall said.
Antelope Island is the largest island on the Great Salt Lake. The state park offers camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The island also is home to free-roaming herds of bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.
The bill failed to advance out of the committee on a 4-6 vote. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: amyjoi16