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Monday PM Headlines: Western states in favor of conservation and new legislation supports Utah Lake

a snowcapped mountain reflected in a blue lake
Michael Jolley
The restoration of Utah Lake is a goal for many conservationists.

Annual poll finds bipartisan support for conservation in Western states

“State of the Rockies” poll by Colorado College finds that 83% of Utah voters support President Biden’s 30 x 30 initiative, which aims to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and fresh water and 30% of U.S. ocean areas by 2030. The Conservation in the West poll has been conducted annually for 14 years, surveying registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. According to this year’s results, conservative and moderate voters were more likely to support the 30 x 30 initiative. For the first year, survey results show that majorities of all three parties, including 89% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 52% of Republicans, want Congress to prioritize conservation.

A new bill in the Utah state legislature seeks to undo laws that allowed for a controversial Utah Lake project

A Utah Senate Committee has unanimously passed a bill that seeks to undo the Utah Lake Restorations Act. Enacted in 2018, this legislation allowed private entities to undertake restoration efforts and paved the way for the controversial Lake Restoration Solutions project, which proposed to dredge Utah Lake and build man-made islands. The project received immediate backlash from scientists and community members, including a lawsuit filed by BYU Ecology Professor Ben Abbott. Their application was eventually canceled in 2022 and LRS has since declared bankruptcy. Representative Mike McKell of Spanish Fork said legislators are going “back to the drawing board” to figure out how to help Utah Lake. The new bill must clear the full Senate and House before it can be signed into law.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.