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The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is getting help to finish an equestrian center in central Utah's Mount Pleasant.

The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has awarded $305,000 in grants to the Mount Pleasant equestrian center project.

Monte Bona, the heritage area's executive director, said the foundation provided $105,000 in funding to finish the indoor arena — the first of three phases in a $2.7 million project.

Bona said the foundation also has offered $200,000 in matching grants for the second phase, including an outdoor arena, 154 horse stalls and a perimeter riding trail.

The eventual goal is to have training tracks and a "Cowboy and Pioneer Hall" at the city-owned arena. Bona said the equestrian center would also be used for horse-therapy programs.

The heritage area backs the project because it honors the contribution of horses to the settlement of central and southern Utah by Mormon pioneers.

The heritage area follows U.S. Highway 89 from Fairview to Kanab, along with Highways 24 and 12 in southern Utah.

Donald W. Meyers