Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is expected to issue a proposed state budget on Monday, and a big question for parks users is whether the budget requests will include $11 million to build a new marina at Bear Lake State Park.

Meanwhile, Utah National Guard troops are preparing to move dirt on another job at the park.

Bear Lake straddles the Utah-Idaho border and is among the most popular parks in the state system. An estimated 250,000 visitors used the Utah side of the lake during the open season, according to the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation.

For the past four years, park officials have wanted to build a new marina south of the current structure.

People with interests in the park met about four years ago to chart the park's future. The Bear Lake stakeholders team — including nearby landowners, park staff and others — wanted to see a marina expansion for the convenience of boaters and to help recreationists get off the lake faster if necessary.

In December 2006, division director Mary Tullius told the division board that Huntsman was requesting the 2007 Legislature spend $2.5 million from the general fund for the expansion. The money would be a one-time appropriation for engineering, planning and some material for the project, according to the minutes of the board's telephone conference.

However, the project was "pulled off the table," Tullius said Thursday. Budget experts and Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard, R-Logan, the Senate's budget chairman, "recognized it was not near enough money to do the project," she said.

The full project, not only the preliminaries, may cost more than $20 million, according to Tullius.

Estimates vary on costs of such a project, depending on its extent and whether money would be invested by such entities as nearby Garden City, Rich County. Peter Wilson, the division's project manager, said one version might cost only $11 million in state money. Still, that would be far more expensive than the division's usual appropriation, he said.

Tullius said, "The two biggest cost items for building a marina like that is, first of all, bringing in the material for building a jetty, then putting in a coffer dam and dewatering" the region that will become the marina. "You do need to do some dredging to get the silt and whatnot in the new area."

The National Guard is planning to build terracing for parking west of the marina, said Wilson. It's not the same project as the marina expansion, he said. "It's quite a hilly piece of ground and there's not very many level spots. So we'll do cut and fill."

Wilson, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Guard, noted that for many years the National Guard has performed work at state and federal parks. He said jobs the Guard might do, among others, include building a better landing area for ultralight aircraft and paragliders at Point of the Mountain; trails at Antelope Island; and, next summer, a loop road at Starvation Reservoir.


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