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S.J.R. 1 Enrolled






Chief Sponsor: Dennis E. Stowell

House Sponsor: Michael E. Noel

             8      LONG TITLE
             9      General Description:
             10          This joint resolution of the Legislature expresses support for the construction of a
             11      Heritage Center in Escalante, Utah, and for improvements to the Hole-in-the-Rock
             12      Road, to highlight the journey of the San Juan/Hole-in-the-Rock colonizing expedition
             13      during the winter of 1879-80 and to preserve the history of the most difficult
             14      colonizing expedition in all of the West.
             15      Highlighted Provisions:
             16          This resolution:
             17          .    expresses support for the Escalante Heritage Center's effort to preserve the history
             18      of the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers, the history of the early explorations of the
             19      Escalante Valley, and the settlement of the town Escalante in 1876 through the
             20      heroic efforts of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to
             21      follow the call of their leader to colonize and tame a part of the frontier; and
             22          .    expresses support for improving safety and year round travel on the
             23      Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
             24          .     Special Clauses:
             25          None
             27      Be it resolved by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             28          WHEREAS, in 1879, citizens of towns throughout Southern Utah answered the call of
             29      John Taylor, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to colonize one of

             30      the most remote parts of the Territory of Utah;
             31          WHEREAS, taking what these colonizers thought would be a shortcut to the San Juan
             32      area, they traveled through the frontier town of Escalante, which was settled in 1876, to the
             33      Colorado River where they blasted and chiseled out a road in the crack of the canyon wall,
             34      descending one thousand feet to the Colorado River;
             35          WHEREAS, while this was the most difficult part of the trek, it was only one of many
             36      difficulties they experienced before reaching their destination and establishing a settlement at
             37      Bluff, Utah;
             38          WHEREAS, what they thought would be a six-week journey took six months;
             39          WHEREAS, the road these individuals created on their journey became the first road
             40      in the Territory of Utah, traveling from west to east, to be funded by the Legislature, though it
             41      cost only a few thousand dollars to purchase dynamite to blast through the walls of the
             42      Hole-in-the-Rock;
             43          WHEREAS, during the winter of 1879-80, 250 men, women, and children, trailing
             44      over 1,000 head of livestock, blazed a trail through 200 miles of the most rugged terrain in the
             45      West;
             46          WHEREAS, Elizabeth Decker, a member of the colonizing party described it as ". . .
             47      the roughest country you or anybody else ever saw. It's nothing in the world but rocks and
             48      holes, hills and hollows";
             49          WHEREAS, during their six-month journey, the San Juan colonizers were tempered
             50      like fine steel for the formidable task of tilling the land and establishing law and order;
             51          WHEREAS, in reaching the San Juan area, the colonizers demonstrated unwavering
             52      faith and devotion to duty and set the standard for future generations;
             53          WHEREAS, in 2002, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated nine
             54      acres of land in Escalante to build a Heritage Center, and also donated a water meter, which
             55      was critical in allowing the project to move ahead;
             56          WHEREAS, in 2007, the Richfield office of the Utah Department of Transportation
             57      granted the Escalante Heritage Center $125,000 to do a feasibility study, which was performed

             58      by Landmark Design of Salt Lake City and completed in 2008;
             59          WHEREAS, in 2009, the Salt Lake City office of the Utah Department of
             60      Transportation granted the Escalante Heritage Center $500,000 to build the first of four phases
             61      of the project;
             62          WHEREAS, the Escalante Heritage Center is a nonprofit corporation engaged in
             63      raising private and public funds to construct and maintain a center dedicated to preserving the
             64      history and heritage of the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers and the Escalante area;
             65          WHEREAS, the state transportation improvement program includes $200,000 for
             66      preliminary engineering to improve Hole-in-the-Rock Road;
             67          WHEREAS, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has expressly recognized in an
             68      administrative determination in 1988 that Garfield County owns an R.S. 2477 right-of-way for
             69      the Hole-in-the-Rock Road;
             70          WHEREAS, Garfield County, Kane County, and the state of Utah have valid
             71      documentation that this road has been in existence since 1879 and has been in continuous use
             72      for over 131 years;
             73          WHEREAS, Garfield County, Kane County, and the state of Utah have expended
             74      public tax monies to improve and maintain this road and other R.S. 2477 roads in their
             75      respective counties for access to BLM and National Park Service-managed lands;
             76          WHEREAS, Kane County has filed a Quiet Title Action to secure forever the property
             77      right to this road and other roads in the county;
             78          WHEREAS, this case, called the Hole-in-the-Rock Quiet Title Action, will be heard in
             79      federal court in the near future;
             80          WHEREAS, the Garfield County Commission fully supports this endeavor and is the
             81      government sponsor of the project;
             82          WHEREAS, the Mayor and City Council of Escalante fully support the Escalante
             83      Heritage Center in its endeavor to preserve the history and heritage of the area;
             84          WHEREAS, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area project has declared the
             85      building of the Escalante Heritage Center its top priority project;

             86          WHEREAS, the Escalante Heritage Center Board has received letters of support from
             87      officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the offices of both Senators Hatch
             88      and Bennett, and the office of Congressman Jim Matheson;
             89          WHEREAS, the Escalante Heritage Center Board has the support of officials of the
             90      Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, who feel that a science center on one side of
             91      the town of Escalante and a history center on the other side would represent bookends of
             92      learning for everyone visiting the area; and
             93          WHEREAS, Garfield County has received a letter of support from the Grand Staircase
             94      Escalante National Monument for road improvements:
             95          NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah
             96      expresses its support for the Escalante Heritage/Hole-in-the-Rock Center Board's efforts to
             97      preserve the history of the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers and the settlement of the Escalante area,
             98      and to construct a building in which to tell the story of these historic pioneers and to improve
             99      the road over which they traveled.
             100          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Escalante
             101      Heritage Center Board, the Garfield County Commission, the Mayor and City Council of
             102      Escalante City, the Richfield and Salt Lake City offices of the Utah Department of
             103      Transportation, Landmark Design, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to the
             104      members of Utah's congressional delegation.

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