Letter: Utah Inland Port Authority dismisses conservationists

The Utah House of Representatives is shown during the final night of the Utah Legislature Friday, March 3, 2023, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

On May 11, a small group of Utah conservationists gathered in the Utah Capitol rotunda, including representatives from Friends of the Great Salt Lake, Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, and Utah Valley Earth Forum. We were there to voice concern for the proposed inland ports across the state. As a Utah County resident and member of the Utah Lake Conservation Coalition I was there to speak on behalf of Utah Lake.

The proposed Spanish Fork site, a 2200 acre industrial park, is located only two miles from the shoreline, near high functioning wetlands, and close to Provo Bay. The draft proposal for the site, a fifty page document, does not mention the lake by name once.

We attended the Utah Inland Port Authority board meeting with hopes of sharing insight during the public comment portion. Everyone filled out comment cards, many of us marking the willingness to speak publicly. However, only one of us, Dr. James Westwater of Utah Valley Earth Forum, was allowed to comment, and he was last. The other in-person commenters were developers, profiting businesses, a landowner, and a Spanish Fork City representative — all pro-port. And all men, even though our group was mostly women.

I recognize and respect that the UIPA board has a lot to consider and this is a complicated process. Everyone who attended the meeting — board and guests — wants good things for Utah. When we fail to have inclusive, empathetic conversations, we fail to move forward in a holistic and productive way. Economic growth is important, but when we don’t balance that with other essential concerns, we hurt ourselves and future generations.

Teri Lyn Harman, Saratoga Springs

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