Efforts to improve Utah Lake and deal with issues involving its use frequently get bogged down in a maze of red tape and bureaucratic regulations. So a governor's task force has come up with a solution - to create still another office.
Despite the temptation to snicker at this answer, it actually makes good sense. A special Utah Lake Commission-Coordinating Council would simplify many things for people interested in the freshwater lake.There is a precedent. A Great Salt Lake Authority was once established for similar reasons. In the early 1980s, it was folded into the Department of Natural Resources and ceased to exist as a separate entity,
As a body of fresh water, Utah Lake has different problems from the Great Salt Lake. Members of the task force noted that many issues fall into areas supervised by a variety of state agencies, making planning and regulation a bureaucratic nightmare.
A single office with a full-time director and staff and council members from federal, state and local agencies could provide a central place to deal with water quality, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat and other issues.
One of the biggest problems for Utah Lake at the moment is a question of boundary rights. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the state ownership of the lake bed on the basis of the shoreline that existed when Utah became a state in 1896. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive documentation of this boundary line as it existed nearly 100 years ago.
Land owners around the lake have been locked in a struggle with the state to resolve the issue. The governor's task force recommended that the process - being handled by the Utah attorney general's office - be speeded up and completed by the end of 1996.
The task force said that five priorities must be met to promote wise use of Utah Lake. These include reducing lake level fluctuations, improving water quality, enhancing fish-wildlife habitat, more recreational opportunities and improved transportation access.
Those are all commendable objectives. A good start can be made if Gov. Mike Leavitt approves the proposed Utah Lake Commission-Coordinating Council by Jan. 31, 1995, as the task force recommends. But a more easily digestible title might be an improvement.