Parks board critical of Snow Canyon management proposal

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The wrestling match over who should manage Snow Canyon State Park in Washington County continued Tuesday, without a step toward resolution.

In fact, when members of the Utah State Parks and Recreation Board reviewed a draft memorandum of understanding between the entities vying for a piece of the park's management, they did not like it, not one bit.

Two things stuck out in Tuesday's memorandum: an appearance of desire by local government entities — Washington County, St. George, Ivins and Santa Clara — to be directly involved in the regulations of Snow Canyon; and a stipulation of eventually eliminating the $6 entrance fee to the park for local residents.

So, the battle ignited by Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, at the 2012 Legislature — with a proposed bill that would have transferred management of Snow Canyon State Park to local officials — will seemingly continue.

Utah State Parks Director Fred Hayes has been working to heal the relationship between the state and Washington County officials and the memorandum of understanding seemed like it might appease Ipson, but it proved too much for the board.

"I have real reservations on this. If we start changing MOUs and they have special treatment in Washington County other counties might be right there at the door," board member Joe Hull said. "What is the motivation? That is such a beautiful park it should be shared with everybody. This is not a local jewel that should just be kept for locals. That is what state parks are about."

The board was not alone in its distaste for the most recent memorandum of understanding.

Heather Shilton, an assistant attorney general, told the parks and recreation board members the document "would not withstand scrutiny in a court" and was "legally defective".

Hayes is now faced with reworking the MOU to appease the state parks board and the government entities of Washington County.

Parks board Chair Irene Hansen suggested the board schedule a meeting in May or June to visit with Washington County officials.

"What we probably all want is the same: the most people having the most fun and the most possible time in our state parks," she said.

Ipson may not want to wait that long. The 2013 legislative session is just around the corner.