President Bush's 1992 budget proposal provides some good news - and surprises - for Utah water projects and forests.
That includes $50 million to keep construction on schedule for the Central Utah Project's Bonneville Unit, which is designed to bring water to the Wasatch Front from eastern Utah rivers that naturally drain into the Colorado River.The proposed budget also includes $10 million regionally for a new program to upgrade long-neglected U.S. Forest Service facilities near urban areas, with the Wasatch Front expected to receive the lion's share.
And the budget also includes $3.74 million to complete the Little Dell Dam near Salt Lake City - which was a shock to local water officials because they thought all the funding needed to complete the project had already been provided in fiscal 1991.
But Larry Johnson, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers life cycle project manager for Little Dell, explained why.
"We saw that the project was not moving as fast as we thought and there was no way it would be completed in 1991. We took away $4 million and gave it to other projects. The $3.74 million request is just to replace what we took away."
Nick Sefakis, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake City, said, "We had no idea they had done that." Sefakis also spent much of Monday on the phone trying to find out why the additional Little Dell money was in the budget, until Johnson explained it.
The Corps of Engineers also is proposing to fund two other projects in Utah, $475,000 for engineering and design of flood-control projects on the upper Jordan River in Salt Lake County and $200,000 for surveys of the Weber River and its tributaries.
The $50 million request for the CUP's Bonneville Unit - down from $81.7 million in 1991 and $116.2 million in 1990 - was among $69.5 million the budget requests for U.S. Bureau of Reclamation work in Utah.
Other reclamation project funding requests include $9.2 million for rehabilitation work on the Weber Basin Project, $2.6 million for the Ogden River Project and $605,000 on the Strawberry Valley Project.
For the Hyrum Project $429,000 was budgeted along with $100,000 for the Hyrum Dam and $50,000 for the Uintah Project. An additional $1.3 million was in the budget for six general investigations projects, and $2.6 million was listed for investigations on existing projects.
Forests along the Wasatch Front should also be helped by a new initiative announced by Bush.
He is proposing a three-year, $625 million program to enhance recreation at U.S. Forest Service land to help decrease overcrowding of other federal recreational facilities, including the national parks.
Of the $88 million proposed for 1992, $10 million would go to the Forest Service's Region 4 covering Utah, Nevada and southern Idaho, said Forest Service spokesman Len Carey. He said the lion's share will likely go to the Wasatch Front.
"That's because the emphasis will be placed on lands adjacent to urban areas. That pretty well defines the Wasatch Front," he said.