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New 'Utahraptor State Park' will provide a second entrance to crowded Arches

Utahraptor State Park announcement
Posted at 8:37 AM, Feb 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 10:37:39-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to create a new state park dedicated to recognizing Utah dinosaurs will also provide another benefit to help Moab: a second entrance to Arches National Park.

At a news conference Friday, Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus spoke in favor of the creation of "Utahraptor State Park" and said it could helpthe community, which is feeling the impact of heavy tourist visitation.

At times, the entrance to Arches National Park is so clogged, cars line up down the road to get in. Mayor Niehaus said "dispersed camping" has also been a large issue, where people are camping in unauthorized areas.

"It's been a bit of a lawless area," she told FOX 13, advocating for preservation and organization through the state parks system.

Moab sees tourists from all over the world and has seen a spike in visitation over the past five years.

"Moab has been just trying to develop areas and provide infrastructure to be able to support all the visitors," she said. "This state park is going to provide Moab with more camping areas, more restrooms, better protection of the resource."

House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, would create the new state park at the site of a fossil dig where the famed Utahraptor was discovered, about 15 miles north of Moab. The ground is also the former site of an internment camp in World War II and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s.

He is seeking $10 million to fund the creation of the park. Rep. Eliason told reporters on Friday that he believed ongoing state park fees would maintain it.