Utah’s abundant natural resources add immeasurably to the state’s economy and quality of life. During the 2018 Legislative Session, there was notable movement in funding for air quality, water and recreation.
The Utah Division of Air Quality set an ambitious goal to reduce annual statewide per capita emissions by 25 percent by 2026. To help accomplish this goal, $350,000 in new funding will allow the division to hire additional personnel to address critical needs. Approximately $500,000 will be available for Utah-specific research, and $100,000 will support mobile monitoring air quality data collection.
Water availability continues to pose a challenge for the state. The newly-created Agriculture Water Optimization Task Force will have access to $1.2 million to further our understanding of how to optimize water usage. Additionally, $220,000 will leverage private funds to entice farmers to convert conventional pivots to low evaporative sprinklers in an attempt to stabilize aquifers. An $8.4 million appropriation will leverage significant federal funds toward upgrading dams to improve the safety of water storage facilities.
Among Utah’s vast natural riches, our state parks system stands out as a true treasure. An infusion of more than $10 million, the largest infusion in the history of state parks, will help restore crumbling asphalt, provide expanded lodging and camping opportunities, improve and replace restrooms and create Utah’s newest state park at Echo Reservoir. In addition to state parks funding, $1 million in FY 2019 will be targeted toward improving recreation along the Jordan River and $800,000 will expand recreation access at one of Utah’s most popular destinations: Bear Lake.