Bill to extend Utah’s scenic byway program causes stir over billboard provision

Jan 16, 2024, 6:00 PM

A car travels the Morgan-Parleys Scenic Byway between Salt Lake and Morgan counties on Sept. 23, 20...

A car travels the Morgan-Parleys Scenic Byway between Salt Lake and Morgan counties on Sept. 23, 2023. The Utah Legislature will consider a bill this year to extend the state's scenic byway program. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)

(Carter Williams, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposed bill to extend Utah’s scenic byway program is getting backlash from a nonprofit that argues a provision to shake up who serves on the committee which oversees new byway proposals will threaten the purpose of the program.

State lawmakers, on the other hand, say the changes will make for a better “representative sample” as new roads are considered.

SB28, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, calls for a few changes to the Utah State Scenic Byway Program, including how a highway is designated as a scenic byway, how one is declassified and how one is nominated either a National Scenic Byway or an All-American Road. It also would remove the program’s existing Jan. 2, 2025 sunset date.

Utah’s program has been active since the mid-1980s to “preserve and promote the unique roads throughout Utah that link travelers with tourism destinations, outstanding recreational opportunities and public lands,” according to the Utah Office of Tourism, Film and Global Branding. There are 28 national and state byways scattered across the Beehive State.

However, leaders of Scenic Utah, a nonprofit working to “protect and enhance the scenic qualities” of Utah’s communities and roads, say they take issue with allowing a representative of a billboard company to serve on the committee that oversees new proposals.

If approved, the new board would include individuals appointed by the Utah Office of Tourism, Utah Department of Transportation, every county where a scenic byway exits and the Utah League of Cities and Towns, as well as “one representative from the outdoor advertising industry appointed by the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.” The Utah Office of Tourism appointee would serve as head of the committee.

Please read Carter Williams’ full story at KSL.com.


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Bill to extend Utah’s scenic byway program causes stir over billboard provision