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:
HB308, which bars government agencies from requiring Utahns to take the COVID-19 vaccination;
HB59, legislation that was introduced after The Salt Lake Tribune reported last year that a University of Utah police officer shared explicit photos of student Lauren McCluskey with his colleagues without any work-related purpose. This bill adds penalties to the criminal code specifically for those who share explicit images without consent;
HB58, which stipulates that someone arrested for felony rioting must appear before a magistrate before being released;
HB82, a bill that would wipe away key city powers for regulating mother-in-law apartments that are fully contained within a single-family home;
HB102, a measure that would allow women held in jails to be able to stay on their prescribed birth control;
HB188, which declares that honeycomb calcite is the state stone;
HB243, a bill that would task two state privacy officers with monitoring data collection and surveillance initiatives across state and local governments;
HB264, which requires police to file a report each time they point a gun or taser at a person;
HB291, a measure that restricts residential picketing, such as the anti-mask protest that took place last year outside the home of state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn;
SB34, which would put people on notice that the state conducts facial recognition searches of their driver license photos; and
SB48, a bill creating a task force to review designs for a new Utah state flag.
HB239, creates a new crime of impersonating someone online with the intent to harm or harass that person.