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Utahraptor to get a place of its own as lawmakers OK 2 new state parks

The autumn leaves continue to change on Lost Creek Reservoir in Morgan County pictured Oct. 19, 2011.
The autumn leaves continue to change on Lost Creek Reservoir in Morgan County pictured Oct. 19, 2011.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s namesake dinosaur will have its own place for visitors after legislators decided to create two new state parks.

HB257 will fund the purchase of parts of the Dalton Wells area for what will become Utahraptor State Park in Grand County. It will also rename Lost Creek Reservoir in Morgan County the Lost Creek State Park. The costs for the creation of both parks will be $36.5 million.

“This bill has been over a hundred million years in the making, and its time has come,” bill sponsor Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said of Utahraptor State Park.

HB257 passed the Legislature after the House voted, 63-9, on Thursday and heads to Gov. Spencer Cox for his signature.

Eliason said the two state parks have their own distinct natures of recreation and emphasized the need for the parks given Utahn’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“(Our citizens) are very interested in outdoor recreation opportunities and our state parks have been heavily used,” he said.

Rep. Mike Peterson, R-North Ogden, was concerned that people will have to pay an entry fee to Utahraptor State Park, when they could use the land currently for free.

“It is being used and abused,” Eliason said. “Fossils are being stolen from the property. Human waste is spread across the property. ... This is a unique opportunity to show that that management is more than just turning a blind eye but actively taking a role in protecting the land.”

After the initial spending on development is done, the two parks will be expected to be self-sustaining. Both new state parks will be managed by the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, along with the other 43 state parks that exist in Utah.

Under the change, hunting in Lost Creek State Park will be limited to waterfowl.