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Utah Open Lands secures Midway’s support for open space funding application

Utah Open Lands

Utah Open Lands is asking local governments and organizations to commit to funding for open space as it applies for millions in federal conservation dollars. Midway has pledged to support its efforts.

The land conservation organization is working to secure federal funds to go toward easements for Wasatch County land.

Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher says she’s in the process of applying for funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a federal project offering $1.5 billion for conservation nationally.

At Midway’s City Council meeting June 18, Fisher asked city leaders to commit to supporting the conservation project with a letter for the application. She told them RCPP funding depends on collaboration among local entities.

“The key there is the partnership,” she said. “We have gone to a corporate entity… who would be interested in being a partner and would be committing some funding to enable us to match the funds that we’re asking for from NRCS. We’re going to be making a similar ask to Wasatch County about providing a partnership letter.”

She told councilmembers agreeing to the letter would commit $1.25 million from Midway for conservation easements, to be placed on the North Fields, the Lundin family farm, and the “Heart of Midway” property.

The North Fields includes more than 250 acres north of Heber City, the Lundin farm is about 120 acres near Wasatch Mountain State Park, and the Heart of Midway land comprises 16 acres in town.

To qualify for the funding, Fisher said land must meet certain criteria.

“As we’ve looked at what we are trying to work towards in the conservation of these landscapes, it involves agricultural heritage in the area of water resources and scenic values, in addition to working farms or ranches that really represent an American western landscape,” she said.

Originally, Utah Open Lands planned to apply for funding just for the North Fields, but Fisher said the Lundin and Heart of Midway properties hew to the same conservation goals.

“We felt it was appropriate that this area shouldn’t miss out if it fits the same criteria,” she said.

The $1.25 million Fisher asked from Midway is the sum of the $1 million the city promised for the Lundin farm and the $250,000 planned for the Heart of Midway project.

In total, Utah Open Lands plans to apply for up to $20 million in federal funding, so the organization is seeking $15-20 million from local foundations, corporations and government agencies to match.

The application is due later this summer, but Fisher said grant awards won’t be announced until at least the end of this year.

The Midway City Council voted to approve the application letter pledging conservation funds.

Meanwhile, a fundraiser to help preserve the North Fields is scheduled for Saturday, June 22.

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