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Utah lawmakers did a good thing in 1999 when they created the LeRay McAllister Critical Land Conservation Fund.
The intent was to promote quality growth throughout the state, along with preserving parcels of valued land that might otherwise be lost to development. It focuses on watershed, wildlife habitat, and recreational parcels as well as agricultural and historic tracts.
What the fund has accomplished in a decade is significant.
A state investment of $19 million has been matched by more than $170 million in other funds. That has resulted in 71 separate projects in 19 of the state's 29 counties. Over 80 thousand acres have been preserved or restored.
Like so many state programs, though, the McAllister Fund is feeling the effects of the recession. Less than a half-million dollars is available this year, while requests for help in conserving critical lands total more than $2.5 million.
The success of the McAllister Fund, in KSL's view, is an indication of a maturing conservation mindset in Utah and a widespread desire to preserve critical lands. The program has proven its value and we applaud its accomplishments. It shouldn't be short-changed once the economy rebounds and lawmakers have more revenue at their disposal.