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Company appeals state rejection of Utah Lake islands project

Posted at 3:15 PM, Dec 05, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — The company behind a project to dredge and build islands on Utah Lake is asking the state to reconsider its rejection of the project.

But Utah's Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands has signaled it is unwilling to change its mind.

"The Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands stands behind the cancellation of the Lake Restoration Solutions proposal," the agency said in a statement to FOX 13 News on Monday. "The division received a petition for consistency review and determined that the petition is complete according to Utah Admin Code R652-9-300. With that determination, the petition for consistency review has been provided to Joel Ferry, the Department of Natural Resources executive director. He will review the petition and will make a final determination as to whether or not the division acted inconsistently with the statute, rule or policy described in the petition."

Lake Restoration Solutions insists the Division did not act consistently with new Utah laws on the lake.

"LRS has invested millions of dollars into scientific research, engineering, and design to better understand the problems facing Utah Lake and develop potential solutions. The Division’s arbitrary action described above limits Utah Lake’s restoration and the implementation of the Project," Lake Restoration Solutions wrote in a formal appeal.

The proposal, which calls for dredging the lake and building a number of islands in order to improve its habitat, create developable lands, has been controversial since its inception. Community groups have mobilized against it, and the Utah State Legislature passed laws that required a more thorough process before any restoration project goes forward.

The Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands rejected the application earlier this year, declaring that it did not pass constitutional muster and would be "detrimental to the citizens of the state of Utah." The land underneath Utah Lake is sovereign state lands. The agency has already been in the process of environmental restoration work on the lake.

"Lake Restoration Solutions has filed an appeal because Utah Lake still has massive environmental challenges that need to be addressed. Lake Restoration Solutions is committed to its mission of helping to restore and rejuvenate a struggling Utah Lake to once again be a gem for all Utahns to enjoy," the company said in a statement on Monday. "We are continuing our collaboration with the Division of Forestry, Fire, & State Lands to find the optimal solutions for Utah Lake that maximize the public benefits while still using private funding solutions to ensure there is not a tax increase for the restoration efforts. With the right restoration and enhancement efforts, Utah Lake would become an incredible recreation destination."

Lake Restoration Solutions has also submitted an application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on its proposal. In a filing, the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands suggested the Corps had its own concerns on the idea.

"Additionally, the Corps was still unclear of 'how [LRS’] proposed activities, specifically dredging, would improve or solve' the identified issues," the state's filing said.