Utah County Commission Approves Bridal Veil Falls Conservation Easement
PROVO, Utah – Provo Canyon’s popular Bridal Veil Falls will remain free from private development after a vote by county commissioners.
Utah County Commissioners Nathan Ivie, Bill Lee and Tanner Ainge met Wednesday afternoon to decide if a developer should be allowed to build around the falls or leave the area preserved as it stands now.
Turnout at Wednesday’s meeting was a testament to how much the falls mean to so many people. County residents filled as much space as they were allowed at the limited in-person meeting. Hundreds more gathered online and many of them signed up to speak.
“It is a jewel that signifies the beauty and opportunities that set Utah County apart from other counties,” one man said during the virtual public hearing. “The issue of bridal veil falls comes down to doing what the public wants.”
The public hearing dragged on for more than five hours — largely in favor of placing the falls under a conservation easement to prevent any private development on the property.
“Obviously Utah County is growing. We need to be able to have space for people but I would really really recommend and voice my concern about overdeveloping in our wild spaces,” one woman said.
The county has owned the falls since 2015. Commissioners said the popular spot was not for sale, but they still had to decide on whether to place it under a conservation easement.
The proposal came from outgoing Commissioner Nathan Ivie in his final weeks in office.
I really appreciate @IvieNathan’s leadership on this final legacy project. The area is now permanently preserved for public use and enjoyment—forever foreclosing the possibility for private development on the falls
+ $1.5m set aside for the trails, bridges, etc. https://t.co/bHRcdeYkHF
— Tanner Ainge (@TannerAinge) December 10, 2020
If passed, a conservation easement would likely protect the falls from any private development.
There was not a proposal to sell the falls, but the owner of a recovery treatment center has met with Commissioner Lee about adding a private lodge at the top of the waterfall, and a tram to get there.
News of the possible development sparked protests and a push to preserve the property for public use.
Tonight, after a 5+ hour meeting, the Utah County Commission approved a plan to place Bridal Veil Falls under a conservation easement to protect it from private development. @KSL5TV
— Matt Rascon KSL (@MattRasconKSL) December 10, 2020
By the end of the night, all three commissioners were on board with the easement, including Commissioner Lee, who previously told KSL he wanted to explore amenities and additions like a tram.
Lee had also met with Richard Losee, the owner of a recovery center who proposed building a tram at the falls and a landing and lookout area at the top.
Losee’s attorney attended the county meeting virtually and told the commissioners the project would make the falls more accessible, not less.
“No person would be distracted or in any way prohibited from going to Bridal Veil Falls in its natural state,” attorney Bruce Baird said. “The ice climber would still be able to climb it. The birds would still be able to fly. Everybody would be able to see it except they’d be able to see it and more.”
But most rejected that idea, pushing instead for an option that would not only prevent Losee’s proposed development but future proposals.
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