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Utah Lake Amendments Bill passes in committee

Photo from Monday's rally for Utah Lake
Ellis Juhlin
Photo from Monday's rally for Utah Lake

House Bill 240, the Utah Lake Amendments Bill, sponsored by Representative Keven Stratton proposes changes to two key parts of the Utah Lake Restoration Act of 2018. First, the bill requires approval from the Utah governor and legislature regarding the sale of public lands to a private company. In the case of Utah Lake, this refers to the state of Utah allowing the private company Lake Restoration Solutions to dredge the lake, build islands with that material, and then build residential and business developments on them.

Additionally, specific authority is given to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands for review of restoration proposals.

“the State Forest and Fire has to determine these thresholds have been met, but not the legislative management committee or anything. So this has greatly enhanced the transparency and process”, said Representative Stratton

Representatives in the House Natural Resources committee unanimously agreed that Utah Lake needs to be restored, but members varied on what restoration should look like.

“We really need to be careful in picking winners and losers, that's a fundamental policy, its governmental, not to pick winners and losers. We certainly all need to be recognizing that the winner here needs to be Utah Lake, that whatever the solution for the lake, that we pursue, is scientifically sound.”, Stratton said.

A rally for Utah Lake was held on the steps of the state capitol Monday. And the outcry against this development project continued in the committee meeting, with nearly a dozen members of the public offering comments, including Craig Christensen, the Director of Conserve Utah Valley

“This amendment is about process and transparency, I don't understand why that wouldn't be a really good idea with something as significant as Utah Lake, I'm asking you. The idea of process transparency is something that we as the public have not seen.” Said Christensen.

The bill passed the committee with a vote of 7 to 6 and will now move into the House of Representatives for a vote.

Aimee Van Tatenhove contributed to this report. With Utah Public Radio, I’m Ellis Juhlin.

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!
Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.