SALT LAKE CITY — The future of Bridal Veil Falls — be it as a state monument or state park — is in the hands of the Utah Department of Parks and Recreation.
Gov. Spencer Cox recently signed HCR13, a resolution that passed the Legislature this year calling for a study for "improving recreation opportunities at the Bridal Veil Falls area and for showcasing the unique beauty of the Bridal Veil Falls area to sightseers throughout Utah and the world."
The resolution arose from the events that have spun around Bridal Veil Falls since last fall. Richard Losee, owner of the Cirque Lodge alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, proposed developing the land and building a tram that would take people to the top of the falls.
Provo City Council opposed plans for any development of the land, even though the falls and over 20 acres of the land actually fall under the ownership of Utah County. The council passed a resolution Dec. 2 calling upon the county to protect the area that sits just north of Provo.
The Utah County Commission on Dec. 8 voted unanimously to place an easement on the falls and gave management and care of the area to Utah Open Lands.
County Commissioner Tom Sakievich said the conservation easement is reliant upon local government — in this case, the county — and therefore the tax burden would be as well.
"If it's a state monument, then we can disperse the funds more equitably so that individuals that visit from anywhere in Utah can have an equal participation as people locally have," he said.
Sakievich said the commissioners and Provo officials worked with HCR13 sponsors, Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, to see what more could be done for Bridal Veil Falls.
Sakievich said the passing and signing of HCR13 was a positive step because of the strong interest in making Bridal Veil Falls a state monument.
"So many people from across this country and literally other parts of the globe have come to see it, along with many other sites in this area," he said.
Devan Chavez, spokesman for the Utah Department of Parks and Recreation, said the department is evaluating companies to contract that would perform the study, and in turn would provide the department with the information needed to present proposals to the Legislature by fall, as required by HCR13.
"The Division of Parks and Recreation, they have a long history in this and they can bring their expertise and perhaps outside interest groups and how to best use this land, use the landscape," said Sakievich.
Chavez said that just like HCR13 notes, the department wants stakeholders, such as Provo and Utah County, to be a part of the process.
"(To) have their voices heard, too, because this is their backyard," he said.
The study will help the department determine what the falls need in terms of staffing, maintenance, safety measures and anything else that would improve the visitor experience while protecting the area, Chavez said.
The difference between the amenities of a monument versus a park come down to what is best for the area and for the visitors, he said. A park would have full-fledged campgrounds and visitor centers and a "big old entrance gate," Chavez said, versus something on a smaller scale with the monument style of some amenities and picnic areas.
"It's an interest because it's early on, but we're excited to get going on it. ... As soon as we can get people out there and conducting this study, it's going to happen," said Chavez.
Sakievich said he didn't think the COVID-19 pandemic would impede progress, but could actually be good motivation to get the study done.
"Let's do something useful we've been talking about for years. Let's finally get it going. And let's make something beautiful out of this place so that everyone can enjoy it for a very long time to come," said Sakievich.