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Group clarifies Utah Lake vision

Cleaning up reputation is listed as major need

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PROVO — Marinas, harbors and boat launches received the most votes. But sandy beaches, a trail system and getting rid of carp are right up there, too.

Members of the Utah Lake Commission met Thursday to discuss their vision for Utah Lake that will be included in the master plan, and many of the discussions focused on what Utah County residents had to say. Public comments taken from several commission open houses were folded into comments and suggestions from officials who attended the meetings.

Recreation, natural resources, land use and transportation were discussed in groups that included members of the governing board as well as members of the commission's subcommittees and facilitated by URS Corp., the company in charge of the master-planning process for the lake commission. About 50 people attended the meeting to discuss the lake, including mayors, city council members, legislators and officials from other state and local agencies involved in the lake commission.

Recreation on the lake could mean more tourism and more money for Utah County. Joel Racker, the executive director of the Utah Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he would like to see the lake promoted for wakeboarding and waterskiing competitions in the future. He also said there should be more bird watching, fishing and hunting.

All who attended the meeting agreed there needs to be a balance between development and protecting the wildlife.

Changed perceptions of Utah Lake stood out as one major need. Reed Price, executive director of the Utah Lake Commission, said it's important for people to know that Utah Lake will never be a clear lake, but that doesn't mean that it's a dirty lake or less of a prize.

"We need to let them recognize it as a jewel," he said.

Many people throughout the county think the lake is extremely polluted and is a cesspool or that it has raw sewage in it, said Saratoga Springs Mayor Tim Parker.

Utah Lake is a relatively clean lake even though it is green. Mike Donahue, a member of URS Corp. and the former president and chief executive officer for the Great Lakes Commission, said Lake Eerie had become clear because of an invasive species of mussels.

"Just because it's clear doesn't mean it's healthy," he said.

He added that many of the lakes in Canada that have been contaminated with acid rain are clear lakes, but that's because they are biologically dead.

Although Utah Lake has several invasive species, such as carp and phragmites, which the commission, county and state agencies are trying to get rid of, it is a healthy lake.

The master-planning committee will take the comments from Thursday's meeting along with the public comments, write up a vision statement and present it to the governing board to make sure everything is within boundaries the board agrees upon. A draft of the master plan will also be included in the presentation, which will happen in several weeks.

E-mail: csmith@desnews.com