Gov. Spencer Cox signs bill to create Utahraptor State Park near Moab

The governor also signed measures on COVID-19 vaccines and launching a state flag review.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) A Utahraptor skull reconstruction is displayed next to the speaker’s seat in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 5, 2021, the final day of the Utah Legislature’s 2021 general session. HB 322 creates a state park in Utah that would protect the dinosaur quarry in the Dalton Wells area near Moab.

Utah is getting two new state parks, one paying tribute to its official “state dinosaur” and another protecting a recreational area in Morgan County.

Gov. Spencer Cox on Tuesday signed into law the bill that sets aside about $37 million to establish Utahraptor and Lost Creek state parks. They will become Utah’s 45th and 46th state parks, and supporters say these official designations will help conserve natural and historical treasures and allow visitors to enjoy them safely for years to come.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, who sponsored HB257, has called the creation of Utahraptor State Park a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The park will be located 15 miles north of Moab and preserve the quarry that yielded the first fossils of Utahraptor and many other species unique to Grand County.

The area is also the site of a historic Civilian Conservation Corps work camp that served as the Moab Isolation Center, a facility for “relocating” Japanese-American internees during World War II.

Lost Creek State Park will cover Morgan County’s Lost Creek Reservoir, an area that people currently visit for fishing and boating.

That state parks measure was one of the the 172 bills that Cox endorsed on Tuesday, as he continues to work through proposals passed by the Utah Legislature during the general session that concluded earlier this month. Cox has given his approval to 259 bills so far and has until March 25 to decide whether to sign or veto the rest.

Other bills signed Tuesday include: