Kathy Wheadon, president of the Senior Principal Higher Education Studio at the architectural design firm CRSA, shared a presentation regarding an update on the Bridal Veil Falls feasibility study at the Provo Municipal Council on Oct. 12. Multiple survey responses have now been gathered and forwarded to the Utah State Legislature to know what is to become of the falls.
CRSA is the architecture firm that has been working on the stakeholder study for the last few months and they are also the consultant hired by the state to look at the question of Bridal Veil Falls being set aside as a state park, a state recreation area, a state monument or be retained as it is by the county.
Craig Christensen, executive director of Conserve Utah Valley, said that many Utah County residents had lots to say when Bridal Veil Falls was being considered for development last year. But since then, many have forgotten about it.
To have a better sense of what should be done with Bridal Veil Falls, a public engagement plan was created in which an online survey would be the main tool to understand what the public wanted. The main goal of the survey was an engagement that permits an outreach to all Utahns; it had to be voluntary and provide no significant burden to its respondents.
Christensen believes that it is important to know that the future of Bridal Veil Falls is an ongoing discussion and that the public had a voice in it until Oct. 25. All comments made by the deadline will be accounted for and part of the presentation to the Utah State Legislature.
As of Oct. 12, there had been almost 3,000 survey responders.
“The survey has been going well but 3,000 people out of the population of the whole state is a bit small. We would love to see tens of thousands of peoples’ input,” Wheadon said.
Wheadon stressed that there is much that has been learned by all of the survey results in how people use the falls location and how they access it. The survey was very detailed and extensive, but the ultimate goal was to ask the public what they see as the value of the site and what they would like to see in the future of its land use.
“So far the survey’s response has been what we expected, which is we love the falls, we love the sights, we’ve been going there a long time and would love to continue to go there,” Wheadon said.
Some of the bigger questions are what would change on-site for the users by putting the falls in the hands of the state? Will there be entrance fees if it becomes a state park or monument?
Regan McGreer, a BYU student studying business, enjoys visiting Bridal Veil Falls specifically during the fall months.
When asked what she thought of Bridal Veil Falls becoming a state park or monument, she responded “I think the canyon is fine the way it is, if anything, maybe just add restrooms or places to sit along the pavement. I wouldn’t want people having to pay to get into this place and I personally wouldn’t go if I had to pay to get in either.”
Wheadon’s in-person findings have also been similar to what McGreer said.
“Many of them are at Bridal Veil Falls on a weekly basis or at least once a month. Several of the respondents want the site to remain as it is; particularly undeveloped, just more amenities that make the visit more pleasant such as more restrooms or more places to sit down,” Wheadon said.
Most respondents are leaning away from a state park and are all for leaving the falls just as it is, she said.
“Many people don’t want fees but are willing to support funding for restrooms and other amenities. There is significant use and there’s significant interest in what the future of Provo Canyon can look like in the long run,” Wheadon said.
As of now, the public can no longer comment through the survey, but the information shown from the studies will be discussed as the Utah State Parks plans to present the findings to the state legislature later this month.