State, national park leaders hammer out deal for Arches water

There is not much water in southeastern Utah’s Arches National Park. What water is there is vitally important to the flora and fauna of the popular high-desert preserve. State and federal officials gathered in the park just north of Moab to acknowledge the role water plays with a contract meant to protect the precious resource.

The deal signed by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and national park and Interior Department leaders has been a long time coming, but finally defines water rights for the park and other water users in the area. “It’s our responsibility to ensure Utah’s natural resources like water are protected, conserved and used wisely for the benefit of our state,” said Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

The contract also creates a protection zone around the park to guard “the flow of perennial, intermittent and ephemeral streams, seeps, springs and other naturally occurring water within the park, whose source is surface water or groundwater from the Entrada aquifer.”

State officials already have reached federal water agreements with Cedar Breaks National Monument, Golden Spike National Historic Site, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Zion National Park and the Shivwits Tribe. Water agreements have yet to be reached for Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks.

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