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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We all probably know that the powerful "water buffaloes" in the legislature want to spend billions of our tax money on diverting water from the Bear River and the Colorado River in in effort to bring water for more development. Well this update is to let you know the status of that and other things that affect us as waterfowlers here in Utah.

First: There is a bill titled SB80 that is sponsored by Senator Adams (I think he is from Layton) that will shift some of our sales taxes that go toward roads and send that money to a special fund to finance the Bear River dam/diversion project and the Lake Powell diversion project. This would be disastrous to the GSL marshes, it would lower the lake levels even further and cause permanent damage to the remaining wetlands and cause even more habitat to be lost. This means fewer waterfowl, and those that come through will stay around here a shorter amount of time. Bad for duck hunters-bad for birds. This bill will be heard on the senate floor today or tomorrow...email your state Senator if you can. Mine is Sen Ann Millner.

Second: Diverting money from GSL and state owned public lands to other issues. This threat is not contained in a bill this year but is an ongoing threat that we fought and partially won last year. A few powerful legislators continue to raid this fund that is made possible by the royalties paid by the shrimpers, the mineral extractors, and the salt companies that use the Great Salt Lake. This fund is supposed to be used to protect Utah State Sovereign Lands (the GSL marshes are all state sovereign lands). Instead they keep raiding the fund to pay for lobbying against wolves, sage grouse, and fighting with the feds about lands. If you feel like taking a minute to email your legislator, this is a crucial issue to waterfowlers.

I'm sure there will be more shenanigans as the weeks progress, but, as duck/goose hunters, these are direct threats to the sport we love.
R
 

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Thanks R.... I have had some interesting emails back and forth with my Rep's. ... Knudson gets it... and strongly opposes the bill.... Good to have an old time duck hunter in there!

The other rep thinks this bill has nothing going to do with The bear river project... He told me I have been miss informed.... it was a very frustrating bunch of emails for a few days.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update on SB80--The bill that will start funding for Bear River Diversion:
Waterfowl Alert!! Public Meeting about SB80-
The Board of Water Resources, the entity proposing both the Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Dam/Diversion, is holding a public meeting on Thursday, February 11th at 1:00 pm at the Utah Department of Natural Resources Auditorium, 1594 W. North Temple.

Basically, our esteemed legislators want us (taxpayers) to act as a bank account for future funding of a dam/diversion project that will cause HUGE devastation to the Great Salt Lake marshes and will cause major problems with the Willard Spur. The Willard Spur is an extremely important holding area for ducks and it feeds birds into Ogden Bay, Howard Slough, Salt Creek and the Bear River Refuge. As waterfowlers, we owe it to the birds to try and keep some water in the Spur. Attend this meeting if you can.
R
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Another threat to our duck marshes:SB110

There is a bill titled SB110 that will affect the water quality that flows out of the lakeside sewer treatment plants and into the Great Salt Lake marshes.
Basically, there are some new tighter regulations that legally need to be implemented on the water quality that the water treatment plants discharge into the GSL. A few of the big water districts don't want to upgrade and have backed this bill that will allow a panel of "experts" to decide if new regulations really need to be implemented. The bad thing about this is that the bill EXCLUDES all the local scientists that have experience with our GSL ecosystem. It will not allow these local experts to participate...Weird, but it allows the districts to pack the panel with whoever they want (except local experts) in order to get a favorable ruling. This will also violate the Federal Clean Water Act and will cause the EPA to get involved in our local water discharges. It seems odd that a legislature that hates the feds so much would want to pass a bill that will pretty much guarantee that the Feds will step in and enforce the law instead of our local govt.
Anyway, the effort to keep the sewer plants from discharging harmful pollutants in to our GSL marshes continues, but this bill does the exact opposite.
R
 

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Thanks for the update R! Wish i could make the meeting. Middle of the day in SLC make its hard for most other working folks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I read an article from the Associated Press yesterday that the bill that will start funding the Bear River Diversion and the Lake Powell Pipeline passed out of the Utah Senate. It will now go to the Utah House for a vote. SB80 will take some of our tax dollars earmarked for road construction and start up a fund of hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare to divert water from the Bear River to the southern part of the valley.
The GSL marshes are the big loser here. If you care about saving our duck hunting areas, this is a good place to make your views known.
R

P.S. These nutjobs (that we elected) do a lot of goofy things during our Utah legislative session, but I only post things here that will directly affect our duck and goose hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Another tidbit that concerns waterfowlers and phrag (some good and some bad):

The Natural Resources Committee approved spending (from the Sovereign Lands Restricted Account) of $300,000 for phragmites removal and $200,000 for navigational hazards removal on Great Salt Lake. The Committee also supported restricted fund expenditures for Quagga Mussel mitigation statewide (DWR - $700,000) and State Parks improvements ($8.5 million).
The committee voted to continue previously authorized funding
for fighting to keep wolves out of Utah ($400,000) and to resist federal efforts to protect sage grouse habitat ($1.2 million). Another $480,000 was approved to hire more Public Lands attorneys to litigate RS 2477 road claims.
The Sovereign Lands Account is, as I've mentioned before, the special fund paid by royalties and fees on the industries that use the Great Salt Lake for industrial use (Brine Shrimpers, Salt Companies, Compass Minerals, etc). It's purpose was supposed to be for helping preserve and protect our state-owned public lands, but unfortunately our legislators tend to raid the fund for other uses whenever they feel like it.
Now you know...
R
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Latest update on the Bear River Dam/Diversion:
If you are concerned about our GSL wetlands--We got SB80 assigned to the taxation committee. That is a GOOD thing! It's weird, but the house Natural Resources Committee almost always immediately rubber stamps anything that destroys our natural resources (rather than protect them)...so having it in the taxation committee may allow it to at least get a fair hearing. It may get heard on Wednesday morning, so now is the time to contact the Revenue and Taxation Committee members. FYI-The water districts employ 36 paid lobbyists to work over our legislators. This bill will pull approx. 36 million per year away from roads and into a fund to pay for the Bear river project and the Lake Powell pipeline.
Here is an update from our man on the hill:
In a small but possibly key tactical victory, conservation advocates helped get SB 80 - Water Infrastructure Fund - assigned to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, where it will get much greater scrutiny than it would in the NRAE Standing Committee, and where it could be defeated. SB 80's twin, HB 257, has been assigned to House NRAE, where it will be approved. This sets up a big House floor fight - and funding fight - for later in the Session.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee:
Rep. Dan McCay, Chair [email protected]
Rep. Ken Ivory [email protected]
Rep. Jeremy Peterson, Vice-Chair [email protected]
Rep. Brian King [email protected]
Rep. Joel Briscoe [email protected]
Rep. John Knotwell [email protected]
Rep. Rich Cunningham [email protected]
Rep. Mike McKell [email protected]
Rep. Gage Froerer [email protected]
Rep. Brian Greene [email protected]
Rep. Eric Hutchings [email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I sent an email to the members of the Taxation and Revenue Committee, asking them to please not vote for SB80 because it will enrich big developers while destroying our state-owned wetlands...here is a classic response from the esteemed Rep McCay from Bluffdale. Maybe a duck hunter from Bluffdale or Herriman will have better luck:

To Whom it May Concern;

Thank you for your email. I read every email that I receive but due to the volume of the email it is difficult to respond to every message. Please review the following:

Constituents: Please call or text me on my mobile at (801) 810-4110 or send an email with the city you live in the subject of the email and I will answer.

Colleagues: Please call or text me on my mobile at (801) 810-4110.

Invitations: Please send a meeting request and I will accept or decline the invitation.

Everyone Else: Good luck.

Sincerely,

Representative Daniel McCay
Utah House of Representatives
Riverton, Bluffdale and Herriman
C: (801) 810-4110
E: [email protected]
 

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I got a response to my email within 5 minutes! Guess he got heated over what I had to say to him,lol.






Since you dared me to respond, I will. Thank you for the email. I am also suspicious about SB80. I don?t know how I am going to vote yet, but I really appreciate your fears and want to make sure we do the right thing to balance the needs of the waterfowl and the needs of our growing population.

*

Sincerely,

*

Representative Daniel McCay

M:*(801) 810-4110

E:*[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for making the effort to help save our wetlands on the Great Salt Lake! Most folks won't take the time.

FYI--Here is how the vote went in the committee (it passed with a favorable recommendation):

Yeas - 7
Cunningham, R.
Froerer, G.
Ivory, K.
McCay, D.
McKell, M.
Peterson, J.
Stanard, J.
Nays - 5
Briscoe, J.
Greene, B.
Hutchings, E.
King, Brian S.
Sagers, D.
Absent - 1
Knotwell, J.
 

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Dang! The state of Utah needs to get real! Time for water rates to reflect the true cost of water and our farming communities need to get away from old watering practices. Flood irrigation needs to go! we have options, but sadly taking more water from the lake is a lose-lose!!
 

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Funny that gauge Froerer voted for it. Here is his reply to me from last week.




Dear Mr. Smith,*


Thank you for your email on this important issue. *I like you have concerns about this bill. *I am hopeful we can arrive at a better solution.*


Thanks,*


Gage Froerer

Sent from my iPad
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well this crappy bill will be voted on by our House representatives this week. Hopefully a few of us can email our representatives and ask them to protect our state-owned public wetlands and not destroy them by diverting and piping water from the Bear River over to the Salt Lake valley.
Here is a copy of the email I sent to my rep this morning:

Hello Representative Dee.
It appears as if SB80 (water infrastructure bill) will be up for a vote this week. This bill allows some of our tax money for roads to be diverted to big water projects like the Bear River Dam/Diversion. This would devastate our state-owned Great Salt Lake marshes and enrich big developers by siphoning water from the Bear River to the Wasatch Front. How sad it would be to tell our children and grandchildren that we destroyed our beautiful wetlands in order to pipe water to Salt Lake. Hopefully, you can look to the future and see that some state lands (Great Salt Lake wetlands) are worth saving and shouldn't be destroyed under the guise of economic development.
Thank you,
R. Jefre Hicks
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah, they tweaked it a bit to sound better, but the result is the same. I think the final version removed the specific names of the Bear River Diversion and Lake Powell Pipeline, and the bill's sponsor said it now has no specific project in mind (does he think we are fools?) Anyway, it will still divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars from the road fund over to a "non-specific" water infrastructure fund. We all know what they want to do with that money...destroy our public marshes along the Great Salt Lake in the name of progress.
Wow, can you imagine what they would do if they had millions of acres of federal lands they could treat in the same manner? Scary.
R
 

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Yeah, they tweaked it a bit to sound better, but the result is the same. I think the final version removed the specific names of the Bear River Diversion and Lake Powell Pipeline, and the bill's sponsor said it now has no specific project in mind (does he think we are fools?) Anyway, it will still divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars from the road fund over to a "non-specific" water infrastructure fund. We all know what they want to do with that money...destroy our public marshes along the Great Salt Lake in the name of progress.
Wow, can you imagine what they would do if they had millions of acres of federal lands they could treat in the same manner? Scary.
R
Very scary, hopefully some new people will be voted in before anything comes to pass that are much smarter and more environmentally considerate. Our current Utah politicians are not good for our resources or future generations.
 
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