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Provo City Council opposes private development plan at Bridal Veil Falls

FILE: Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah County. Photo: Getty Images

PROVO, Utah – The Provo City Council has passed a resolution opposing a planned private development near Bridal Veil Falls. 

Utah County commissioners will hold a public hearing on December 9th about the proposal, which would sell part of the county-owned land to a developer. In turn, the developer would build a tram and a small lodge on top of the falls.  

The public would be able to use both for part of the year for a fee.   

 

Even though Bridal Veil Falls is on county land, Council Chair George Handley said during a work meeting on Tuesday that the city has a financial interest in keeping it as is. 

“We manage and own the Provo River Parkway Trail that leads up to Bridal Veil Falls,” Handley said. “I think we all recognize that Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most popular destinations…for every demographic.”  

There are also environmental issues. 

“It potentially has some ramifications for our broader plans for conservation and preservation of the foothills and canyon areas of our city,” Handley said. 

Councilor Dave Sewell said during the city council meeting later that night that Provo residents are against the development. 

“I haven’t seen one message yet saying that what we should do is sell that off for private development,” Sewell said.

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi signaled support for sending a letter to Utah County commissioners, as well as reading it during the public hearing December 9th. 

The idea to build a recovery center at the top of the falls is also getting major backlash from hikers and from other Utah County officials. 

The area has a special place in the hearts of hikers like James Logan. That’s where he learned how to ice-climb. He understands the county commission may have to make upgrades to trails, and they may build a new set of stairs. However, he’s adamantly against any kind of treatment center with a tram.

“That is a completely different world than what they’re talking about now,” Logan said.

Even though no formal plans have been submitted to the county commission, Logan believes the discussions about it have gone on behind closed doors for a long time.

“They say, ‘Oh, we don’t have all those details,’ but they’ve already talked about prices, the prices for the land. It is way further along than what they’re letting people think,” Logan claims.

Outgoing commissioner Nathan Ivie is expected to propose placing Bridal Veil Falls under a conservation easement, which would prohibit those types of developments.

Commission Chair Tanner Ainge tells KSL he will back that move.

“This is a landmark of Utah Valley. So, I think we can enhance the experience for the public,” he says.

Ainge believes the vast majority of the county would also support the easement.

“It’s universal support for preserving and enhancing for public use.  People don’t want to see development on the top of Bridal Veil Falls,” said Ainge.