Charting the future of Bridal Veil Falls: conservation groups encourage public input
Last December, the Utah County Commission voted to place Bridal Veil Falls under a conservation easement. Since then, the state Legislature has tasked Utah State Parks to study what the future of the falls should look like. They’ve been taking public input from residents about planning ideas through an online survey.
Options for the falls include designating it as a state park, a recreation area, state monument or leaving it as is.
Groups like Conserve Utah Valley have been trying to raise awareness about the survey that will determine what will happen to the falls.
Craig Christensen, executive director of Conserve Utah Valley, said there was a lot of input from Utah County residents when Bridal Veil Falls was being considered for development last year. But much of that has died down.
He said it’s important for people to know the future of the waterfall is still an ongoing discussion.
“It's difficult to cut through the clutter because people think it's all done,” Christensen said. “‘Oh, it’s been put into a conservation easement.’ Well, no, that's actually just the start. So we've tried to get people educated in terms of, no, it's not over. They still need to be active [about what happens to the falls].”
One of his group’s biggest concerns is that if it becomes a state park, it doesn’t become cost prohibitive for people to visit. He said it’s one of the free “crown jewels” of Utah County.
As he’s done outreach efforts he’s heard from a lot of residents who want to keep the falls the way it is now.
“They don't want a gate where they have to swipe a card to get in,” he said. “We lose a whole demographic of people who can't afford to just go visit the falls for an afternoon [if that happens].”
Mary Karen Howard is a Provo resident who’s lived in the area for more than 50 years. She attended the open house for public input on Sept. 29 to learn more about the study and give her feedback.
Howard said Bridal Veil Falls is a special place to her and her family. She’s taken her children to the canyon to see the waterfall over the years.
While she’d like to see some improvement like more parking or a couple more bathrooms, she said it’s important to leave it as it is.
“Keep it clean, keep it natural,” Howard said. “It's been that way longer than we’ve been alive. I just want the minimum that we have to put up there and let it be itself.”
After the study concludes, Utah State Parks plans to present its findings and return recommendations to the state Legislature in November.
The public can give comments through a survey until Oct. 25.