An undated photo of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. The Utah County Commission on Wednesday passed a resolution paving the way for the area to be turned into a state monument. (Devon Dewey, KSL.com)
Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes
PROVO – Bridal Veil Falls is set to receive state landmark status, though Utah County leaders aren’t completely convinced that’s the best future for one of nature’s most prized splendors County.
On Wednesday, the Utah County Commission voted 2-1 on a resolution to make Bridal Veil Falls a state monument. Of course, it’s ultimately up to the Utah legislature to make that happen — but all signs seem to point in that direction.
Commissioner Bill Lee, who introduced the resolution, said the county worked with the land owner, Utah Open Lands, Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, the state parks division manager of the Utah’s Jeff Rasmussen and others over the past year to help figure out the best path for the future of the stunt.
The resolution notes that it is “in the best interests of Utah County” to support the Utah Division of State Parks in its efforts to oversee the preservation and maintenance of Bridal Veil Falls.
“Preserving Bridal Veil Falls for future generations has remained an abiding goal of mine since beginning my term as Utah County Commissioner. I am grateful that the state has stepped up and recognized Bridal Veil Falls as the special place that he is,” he said in a statement after the meeting.
The Legislative Assembly website shows that Stratton is working on a resolution calling for the designation of the Bridal Veil Falls State Monument. This bill has not yet been numbered or introduced in the current legislative session.
Lee said state officials asked the county to pass a resolution supporting landmark status before beginning the legislative process. Lawmakers have until March 4 to pass all bills during this year’s session.
A spokesperson for the Utah State Parks Division told KSL.com the division is aware of the resolution and will continue to work with Stratton and other commentators as they release details of the resolution. a bill that would designate the waterfall as a state monument.
All three commissioners agree the stunt should be preserved, but the only disagreement seems to be how to preserve it, resulting in a 2-1 decision. Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner voted alone against the resolution, explaining that she had concerns about future accessibility.
At Wednesday’s meeting, she recalled many memories of her family traveling up Provo Canyon to visit Bridal Veil Falls, as it was one of the very few options for her family, who didn’t have a lot of money when she grew up.
Even to this day, it’s one of Utah’s few iconic outdoor locations that people can see up close for free — or, for Wasatch Front residents, spend the money to get to. This is probably why millions of people visit the area every year.
His concern with a monument status is that it will eventually lead to visitation fees to cover the costs of maintaining the waterfall. This could make it difficult to access the whole area for everyone.
“I believe it’s a gem in our county. … I think we all have the same end goal here, and that is to preserve Bridal Veil Falls and keep it accessible. I think we’re not agree on how to go about it,” she said, explaining her vote. “I think if the state took it over, they would charge a fee — and knowing that was such an essential part of my childhood, I want to make sure he can maintain and be part of every childhood in this county, regardless of their means.”
Lee said he also had those concerns, but explained that under any monument agreement, the county would continue to manage the area “on a day-to-day basis.” Therefore, there would be no visitation fees like state parks. In fact, visitors probably wouldn’t notice much difference other than a new plaque.
So why would the county push for this deal? Lee said this would provide the county with more opportunities to afford to preserve the waterfall area.
“It’s out of the box, so it’s not what the state normally does with state monuments,” he said. “But we wanted that designation because then we can also apply for grants to help, and the conservation easement (on the land) also has grants that (Utah Open Lands) will go for. That just takes it to the next level. for us to offset some of the other monies (transient room tax) we have there.”
But that didn’t convince Gardner, who said she’d like to see a permanent agreement in writing before agreeing to make the waterfall a state monument in case a future state employee changes the structure of the agreement.
Utah County Commission Chairman Tom Sakievich voted in favor of the resolution, breaking the tie. He noted that the county could also revoke its resolution if the state does not move forward with the management agreement.
The vote is the latest update to an area that has been a focus of preservation in recent years.
Utah County acquired five parcels of land near the falls for $2.4 million in 2015, and the commission approved $900,000 in funding for access improvements in 2019. Then, the following year , a businessman from Orem offered to buy these plots, proposing a development plan that included a lodge at the top of the waterfall and a tram that would fly over the Provo River to the building.
The commission in December 2020 ultimately voted against the bid in favor of allocating the property to Utah Open Lands along with a conservation easement that would prohibit future commercial development, following backlash from residents and neighboring towns.
Since then, efforts have been made to transfer the land in some form to the Utah State Parks Division, either as a state park or a state monument. The division received $1.2 million in the current fiscal year for items related to Bridal Veil Falls, according to the records of the Utah Legislative Assembly.
County officials said Wednesday that the design for a new pedestrian bridge in the area had just been approved, which is expected to be installed later this year. There are also plans for a new vaulted restroom, as well as trail and parking improvements planned for the near future.