Robert Redford credits Provo Canyon with giving him an education in political activism.
That education has included lessons in semantics, perception and bureaucracy.It has also included lessons in what committed citizens working together can achieve, as exemplified in the modified multiuse proposal now adopted by UDOT.
Redford said the multiuse plan proposed by the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee integrates all aspects of the canyon and is what should have been done in the first place.
As perhaps the most well-known citizen involved in the Provo Canyon controversy, Redford shared his experiences Friday at a Brigham Young University natural resources law symposium.
Redford said that when the controversy over Provo Canyon started, he was naive about what was happening and what could be done about it.
"In 1969, we found out UDOT was going to put in a new road when bulldozers were posed at the mouth of the canyon," Redford said.
He was approached by a consortium of groups for help in focusing attention on what they saw as problems with the design of that road.
Eventually, then-Gov. Cal Ramp-ton was brought into the fracas, and UDOT was directed to do an Environmental Impact Study on the proj-ect.
Redford said the resulting study stated there was no need for a four-lane road through Provo Canyon and that the road UDOT was poised to build did not take into consideration the canyon's amenities. UDOT was sent back to the drawing board.
A second EIS left the consortium of concerned citizens feeling pretty good, Redford said.
"In 1978, we felt the process had been properly observed, the consortium felt good and everybody went to sleep."
The road everyone thought had been agreed upon called for two travel lanes, and two passing lanes at periodic intervals throughout the canyon.
But in 1985, when the first segment of road was constructed at the mouth of the canyon, citizens realized that what had been agreed upon and what was being built were two different things.
Redford said the lawsuit filed in 1987 to stop construction in Provo Canyon was not filed on behalf of the group he was associated with (Citizens for a Safe, Scenic Canyon), but he believes it was necessary.
"I welcomed it (the lawsuit), although it was unfortunate that things had come to that point," he said.
Redford said the lawsuit was effective in that it required additional study before construction continued. He said UDOT was granted five stipulations for utility installation while a third study was completed. But, he said, again there was a communication problem.
"Again, UDOT has exceeded what was expected. Those five points have literally destroyed much of the canyon," Redford said. "The canyon looks like Mount Rushmore without the faces."
He said the continuing communication problem requires that citizens continue to be involved. Redford said citizens need to attend the design hearings that will be held later this year, and they need to hold UDOT to its commitment to build the modified multiuse alternative.