Utah's House members asked Congress Thursday to put $19 million worth of Utah projects in the annual interior appropriations bill - which funds the care of the two-thirds of the state that is federally owned.
Projects ranged from buying land near Zion National Park to prevent a proposed theater to providing better protection of ancient Indian ruins, improving national parks and campgrounds and studying how to stop the Bonneville Salt Flats from shrinking.Reps. Wayne Owens and Bill Orton, D-Utah, and Jim Hansen, R-Utah, wrote a joint letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior outlining what proj-ects they agree are priorities. They also testified individually about other projects they would like beyond that.
Following is a list in order of the priority assigned by the delegtion, and which member is leading the push for each project:
Big Cottonwood Canyon Sewer (Owens) - $725,000 for phase II of installing a sewer to help protect the watershed of Salt Lake City. Owens said, "4.7 million people used Big Cottonwood Canyon's ski resorts, campgrounds, picnic areas and trails last year - and that obviously creates the need for the completion of the sewer line."
Bear River Refuge restoration (Hansen) - $1.7 million to continue repair to facilities and flora ruined by salt sediment from years of flooding by the Great Salt Lake.
Grand Gulch/Cedar Mesa Area BLM Cultural Resources Program (Orton) - $1.2 million for programs to better protect Indian ruins on U.S. Bureau of Land Management areas in the Four Corners region, including $800,000 for a visitors' center, $250,000 to hire five new workers and $116,000 for equipment.
Orton, who was an archaeology major in college, said part-time management and the openness of the ruins has allowed abuse. "We are rapidly losing much of our cultural heritage to greed, vandalism, carelessness and neglect." Orton also asked $5 million more for BLM cultural resources program in general.
Albion Basin land aquisition (Owens) - $80,000 to buy undeveloped private land in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest to help protect the watershed of Salt Lake City.
Zion Park Shuttle (Hansen) - $3 million to start a shuttle service to relieve traffic congestion in Zion Canyon.
Canyonlands National Park Needles District construction (Orton) - $2.5 million for phase III construction of vault toilets, trail-head parking and completion of 18-unit housing area for employees. Also, a $300,000 operations increase to maintain them plus help operate a recently finished visitor's center.
Redman Campground expansion/rehabilitation (Owens) - $190,000 to upgrade the campground in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Owens said it is "crippled by its popularity and in need of improved sanitation facilities, picnic areas, camping facilities and trails, as well as access for the handicapped."
Bonneville Salt Flats Study (Hansen) - $1.5 million for the BLM and U.S. Geological Survey to study why the salt flats are shrinking and how to save them. Since they were first surveyed in 1926, they have shrunk from 96,000 acres to 25,000.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Vernal Station (Orton) - $300,000 to maintain the station and its management of threatened fishes in the upper Colorado River basin.
Capitol Reef National Park powerline replacement (joint priority) - $750,000 to replace underground the Garkane power lines.
Zion National Park land purchase (Owens) - $500,000 to help attempt to buy 11 acres at the park entrance where a big-screen indoor theater and motel are proposed. Owens said such activities "do not seem appropriate just a few yards across the Virgin River from the popular Watchman Campground in Zion.
Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (Owens) - $1.6 million for "strong motion sensors," diagnostic tools for earthquake preparedness.
Bitter Creek Ranch acquition (Orton) - Orton is actually asking that a $1.2 million recommedation for buying the ranch be postponed.
"I think that there is a good chance that the land for which funding is being requested can be obtained through exchange rather than purchase," Orton said.