Envisioning the Future to Guide Growth
When planners in Utah forecasted 3 million more residents living in the Salt Lake City area and close to the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache National Forests by 2050, citizens and public officials took notice. Envision Utah, a public/private partnership that began in 1997, developed a strategy for growth that involves as many of today’s 1.6 million residents as possible.
Unless growth patterns change, urbanized lands are predicted to quadruple by 2050. However, that picture could be far different under scenarios created by local residents, mayors, city council representatives, and other stakeholders. Dozens of community design workshops organized by Envision Utah in 1998 gave participants the chance to take a look at where to place more people on the land within constraints of land and water.
Four growth scenarios for this Greater Wasatch Region (covering 23,000 square miles of central Utah) emerged from the workshops. Envision Utah shared these four scenarios in 50 town meetings. Every household in the region received a newspaper insert with illustrations analyzing each scenario.
Over 19,000 citizens responded and the vast majority supported a growth strategy that promotes preservation of critical lands, supports a variety of transportation choices, and develops more walkable communities. Families would still enjoy single-family homes, but on slightly smaller lots situated in villages and towns. New development would be placed in existing urban areas or clustered along transit routes, leaving more land for open space and agriculture.
Some examples of projects conducted by Envision Utah with the support of Forest Service in the Greater Wasatch Region include:
- For Envision Cache Valley (a visioning process spanning Cache County, Utah, and Franklin County, Idaho), the USFS had representatives at public workshops. Over three thousand residents shared their opinions through this effort.
- For Envision Morgan (a visioning process in Morgan County, Utah), Envision Utah staff met with USFS staff locally and USFS staff also had representatives at public workshops. Nearly 5% of the county’s population participated.
- For the Bear Lake Valley Blueprint (a visioning process in Rich County, Utah and Bear Lake County, Idaho), a representative of the USFS has been on the steering committee. More than 1,000 residents and second-homeowners attended.
- For the Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow (an effort to create a broadly-supported public vision and guiding principles for the future of Salt Lake County’s Wasatch Canyons), the USFS was a supportive partner, participating in the kick-off event, helping to publicize the effort, and providing technical input as well. More than 16,000 residents participated in this process.
Envision Utah 2004.
Kevin Fayles, Community Relation Manager