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SALT LAKE CITY — A committee of lawmakers, anxious to protect the Provo Canyon jewel of Bridal Veil Falls, unanimously endorsed a resolution that would designate it a state monument and afford it the protections that come with that status.
HCR13, sponsored by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, was moved to the consent calendar in the House on a 9-0 vote Wednesday by the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee. Placement on the consent calendar expedites a measure's passage and flags it for its universal support.
Utah County bought about 40 acres of the Bridal Veil property in 2015.
"The whole point behind purchasing it was to preserve it," Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee told committee members.
But the community learned of a development proposal that called for the installation of a tram and a drug and alcohol treatment lodge at the top of the falls. That proposal galvanized fierce opposition, a campaign to save the falls and a series of intense public meetings.
After a marathon meeting in December 2020, the Utah County Commission unanimously voted to allow a conservation easement to be placed on the property by Utah Open Lands, which will keep it from development.
Utah Open Lands is one of the state's leading land conservation organizations, routinely working with private property owners and government entities to protect natural resources.
Last session, the Legislature set aside $1.2 million for a feasibility study on a potential Bridal Veil Falls Monument that was carried out by the Utah Division of Parks.
Under Stratton's measure, the falls would become part of the park division's suite of monuments and parks, but in a new model it would be managed by Utah County.
The county has set aside $1.5 million for trails and improvements and will match, dollar for dollar, any money the state spends on the monument in the future.
The state takes care of its maintenance needs at parks through visitor fees, but there was strong public sentiment that access to Bridal Veil Falls remains free.
Craig Christensen, with Conserve Utah Valley, said the organization supports the designation.
"The organization has been very concerned about this particular site. This is one of those sites that gets loved to death. The desire is to keep this free, and keep it natural," he said.
Stratton added that thousands of people a year visit Bridal Veil Falls, and a monument status would help protect this "jewel" in Utah.
He added there had been some confusion over his resolution and he emphasized in the committee that the resolution does not create any avenue for commercial development, an avenue for concessions or an avenue to levy admission fees.