Utah lawmakers move to tighten requirements for Utah Lake island real estate project

The laws, sponsored by Orem Republican Rep. Keven Stratton, would put guardrails on “restoration” work to the Utah Lake.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Lake at Winery Seaside on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.

In a near-unanimous vote Tuesday, the Utah Home authorized a measure that may strengthen thresholds a controversial dredging undertaking on Utah Lake would wish to fulfill earlier than profitable approval.

Sponsored by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, HB240, would increase important guardrails on any proposed switch of lakebed to personal actual property builders in trade for “restoration” work on the long-suffering lake on the coronary heart of Utah Valley.

The invoice is available in response to the Utah Lake Restoration Undertaking, which proposes sculpting 34 synthetic islands from a billion cubic yards of lakebed sediments with the hope of cleansing the lake’s water.

The $6.4 billion effort, now beneath overview by the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers, could be funded by actual property improvement on about half the 18,000 acres the undertaking would create.

However Utah’s scientific group has raised severe issues that the undertaking may devastate the 150-square-mile lake, the West’s third-largest freshwater physique. Deepening the lake by 7 toes and elevating islands would disrupt the lake’s pure ecological operate, in accordance with a critique signed by 26 Utah scientists.

Stratton’s invoice would require dredging proponents to show the undertaking will end in substantial environmental advantages, is “fiscally provident” and is “on stable authorized footing,” Stratton mentioned on the Home ground.

Below an modification added Tuesday, the invoice would require the Division of Forestry, Hearth, and State Lands to specify aims the undertaking should meet and the way and when these aims must be met.

A skeptic of the Utah Lake restoration proposal, Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise, praised the invoice for safeguarding the state’s curiosity in Utah Lake’s future, noting that the dredging proposal has modified dramatically because it first gained legislative assist in 2018.

“It’s our prerogative and an crucial that we, too, change by time. This invoice permits this course of to be extra clear,” Snider mentioned. “It supplies extra checks and balances on this undertaking. I’m satisfied that if this undertaking has benefit, it’ll cross based mostly on these deserves. And I feel on the finish of the day, due to what my good colleague from Utah County is proposing right here, all of us shall be extra snug with that end result.”

Whereas six members of the Home Pure Sources, Agriculture and Atmosphere Committee opposed HB240 following a committee listening to final month, the invoice registered solely three no votes on the Home ground.

A associated invoice, HB232, can also be awaiting motion on the Senate ground. That invoice, which Stratton voted in opposition to, would create the Utah Lake Authority, an company with unique jurisdiction over administration of the lake and taxing authority to fund initiatives.

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