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Provo City Council throws support behind protecting Bridal Veil Falls

Hikers sit near the water at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.
Hikers sit near the water at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — The Provo City Council made clear its opposition to a proposed private development at Bridal Veil Falls Tuesday night, passing a unanimous resolution in support of granting a conservation easement that would protect the iconic Provo Canyon waterfall.

The area is currently being eyed by Richard Losee, owner of the Cirque Lodge alcohol and drug rehabilitation center. According to documents obtained through a public records request, Losee hopes to build an aerial tram that could take Cirque Lodge clients, and the general public, to a prospective lodge built at the top of the waterfall.

Although Provo city owns and manages the land near the area in question, including several trails, the waterfall itself is owned by Utah County, meaning Tuesday’s resolution has little impact. On Dec. 9, the Utah County Commission will vote on the conservation easement, which if passed, will likely sink Losee’s development plans.

The proposal has met pushback, notably from County Commissioner Nathan Ivie and Chairman Tanner Ainge, who reaffirmed his support to keep Bridal Veil Falls free of private development in a social media post Sunday.

“(Nathan Ivie) is right. Bridal Veil Falls is a public treasure,” Ainge wrote on Twitter. “Not only should the area be preserved — we should also ensure a proper endowment of resources to enhance & maintain public enjoyment … for generations to come.”

On Tuesday, Provo City Council members echoed Ainge, claiming their constituents would be “overwhelmingly” against the proposed development, a sentiment backed up by numerous emails sent to county commissioners obtained by the Deseret News.

“I am wholeheartedly in support of the resolution,” said Councilman Bill Fillmore. “I think if we did an instantaneous poll of our citizens we would have overwhelming support of this.”

“This kind of conservation and preservation of a recreational space is in line with the policies that they themselves (Utah County) outlined,” said Councilwoman Shannon Ellsworth. “I’m really excited about this and I’m excited that the county could, in perpetuity, preserve a special place for all of Utah County.”