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Public input sought on how to use cleanup money at Willard Bay

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Posted at 6:37 PM, May 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-19 20:37:15-04

WILLARD BAY, Utah -- As a result of that fuel leak that spilled more than 20,000 gallons of fuel near Willard Bay, Utah ordered Chevron to pay a $5.6 million settlement. And now officials are working to decide what to do with the money.

For more than a year fences have gated off the North Marina at Willard Bay State Park as crews worked to clean up the area from a fuel leak. But now those fences are going down and projects are coming up.

"We have about $3.1 million that is available for mitigation projects," said John Whitehead the Assistant Director of Division of Water Quality.

The Division of Water Quality is looking through 80 different proposals requesting the funds.

"These events that involve petroleum spills are difficult but if there's a silver lining it's certainty in these mitigation projects," Whitehead said.

Local botanist Sheida Hajarian said the best way to spend the money is to keep it at Willard Bay.

"Willard Bay has its own ecosystem and animals that rely on it and the projects really need to focus on Willard Bay and what happened here," Hajarian said.

Hajarian submitted a proposal for a four-year project to stabilize the banks at Willard Bay. Her goal is to get the toxins out of the soil and plants to restore the area for wildlife.

"Humans rely on it for recreation but we can go to a lot of different areas for recreation -- we have a lot of choices to where we can go but the animals who depend on the ecosystem don't have any choices, this is their home there's nowhere else to go," Hajarian said.

But those at the Ogden Nature Center hope to see some of the money go to educational purposes and research in some of their ponds that might someday help Willard Bay.

"They have the same invasion weed species that we have at the nature center and if we're able to kinda control that and what practices are best it would be a great resource for them and surrounding areas that have the same problem," said Jenny Frame, a volunteer Coordinator at the Ogden Nature Center.

The three-member board going through all those proposals are looking for public input on which projects the $3.1 million should go towards. You can send your comments by going to http://www.deq.utah.gov/locations/G/greatsaltlake/willardbay/mitigationsfunds.htm.