Last summer I had the good fortune to travel around much of the great state of Utah by car. I was awed by the state's natural beauty and unique landscapes, most unlike any that I've seen elsewhere in our country. I was charmed by much of the built environment too, including the many small towns along the scenic roadways that we traveled. But I was also shocked and disappointed to see so much natural and manmade beauty spoiled by roadside billboards.
As the leader of Scenic America, I've long known that the billboard lobby holds great sway over Utah's elected officials and during my trip their influence was readily apparent along many of the otherwise beautiful roadways that I traveled. So I was all the more alarmed to learn of a bill now making its way through the Utah legislature that would allow for a wave of new billboards along the state's designated scenic byways.
House Bill 232 would open up Utah's eight National and 23 state-designated scenic byways to the kind of new billboard blight from which they are now protected. Current Utah law allows owners of property abutting a scenic byway to put billboards up on their privately held properties, as long as they are located in so-called designated "non-scenic" areas.