Developer drops his lawsuit over Bridal Veil Falls

Richard Losee had wanted to build a high-end rehab center atop the falls until blocked by the county in a move he believes was illegal.

(Isaac Hale | The Daily Herald file photo via AP) Water cascades down Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah, Dec. 1, 2020. A developer who wanted to buy part of the property and build a high-end treatment lodge at the top and a tram has dropped his lawsuit against Utah County for blocking his plans.

As state lawmakers eye Provo Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls for a state monument designation, a swanky drug rehab center developer has withdrawn his lawsuit against Utah County.

Richard Losee, the developer, wanted to build a treatment center at the top of the falls, accessed by an aerial tramway that the public would have occasionally been able to pay to use. The Utah County Commission shattered those plans late last year when it placed the county-owned falls under a conservation easement, and Losee retaliated with a lawsuit. His convoluted legal complaint claimed the commissioners had given away the useful value of the land and improperly declared the falls surplus property.

“I have recently learned that the State of Utah intends to create a state monument on the Bridal Veil Falls property,” Losee said in a statement. “I fully support these efforts.”

Losee added that he still believed the commission’s conservation easement was illegal and that he suspected that state lawmakers are proposing monument status, “at least in part,” because they realize the county’s actions were illegal.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, filed a bill request to designate Bridal Veil Falls as a state monument last month. Now a concurrent resolution, the proposal remains in process and does not yet have a number or text.

Stratton previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that by making the falls a state monument, he intended to assist the county in preserving its public access.

“We need to provide better safety and a better venue to accommodate the visitors who want to enjoy that treasure,” he said in January.

Conserve Utah Valley recently organized as a nonprofit in response to the outcry that ensued when Losee’s development plans for the falls became public. The group issued a press release on Jan. 22 urging state lawmakers to make Bridal Veil Falls a state monument.

“Once people heard about the possibility of the sale of Bridal Veil Falls to a potential developer, thousands came forward to decry the idea,” said Kaye Nelson, a member of the group’s executive board. “A bill in this new legislative session to give Bridal Veil Falls state monument status is a great idea that will add extra protection for that iconic area.”

In his statement, Losee maintained that he had done nothing wrong or unethical.

“My desire was to enhance public access,” Losee wrote. “I believe if I had been given the opportunity to fairly present my plans to the public and the County Commission in a calm, respectful and studied manner many citizens of the County would have supported [my] vision.”