From the creation of Lake Powell in the 1960s, Utah officials have felt like street urchins settling for table scraps from the recreational feeding frenzy just over the border in Arizona.
But now, thanks to new plans to develop restaurants, gas stations and boat-launching facilities on the Utah side of the Wahweap rec-reation area near Page, Ariz., Utah officials feel like they may finally get their just deserts.Dee Hansen, director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said a draft master plan prepared by the U.S. Park Service for Glen Canyon Recreation Area includes a proposal for about $5 million in commercial development on the Utah side of Wahweap.
Hansen points out the proposal is not final yet. It is one of three alternatives being considered, all of which include development on the Utah side. But he said one of the three alternatives provides greater benefit to Utah, and he makes no apologies about preferring that option over the other two.
"One of those alternatives puts a significant number of commercial facilities on the Utah side," Hansen said. "That's one we will support because we've been critical of the fact we have all the boaters and Arizona has all the money."
The final choice will be made only after the standard public comment period, but Hansen said Park Service officials seem to favor the alternative providing for greater development on the Utah side.
"The Park Service has indicated they prefer the alternative to put most of it in Utah," he said.
Glen Canyon Superintendent John Lancaster was unavailable for comment.
The alternative favored by Utah officials includes a variety of new facilities on the Utah side, including a boat-launching facility that would move all house and speedboat rentals to the Utah side. Utah would also get gas stations for cars and boats, as well as a convenience store and a fast-food restaurant. Finally, Utah would get a boat repair shop and laundry.
And while the proposal seems to be weighted heavily toward Utah, Arizona wouldn't be left out. Hansen said Arizona would be allowed to expand its Wahweap Lodge and convention facilities and enlarge its recreational vehicle park.
For a long time, Utah officials have felt resentful about Arizona's greater economic windfall. That feeling of inequity has been exacerbated over the years because recreationists almost inevitably cross into Utah once they get out on the lake. And that's where they get into trouble, as Hansen puts it, through drinking or boating accidents or both, and Utah is responsible for policing those activities.
Hansen attributed Gov. Norm Bangerter's sustained demand for greater equity as a key factor in the Park Service's decision to give Utah more facilities.
"The governor has said in number of meetings that Arizona gets all the revenue and we get all the problems," Hansen said.