Newly released documents from the Western Values Project reveal that Utah State Representative Mike Noel failed to disclose land ownership within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), and subsequently that he potentially abused his position with the Kane County Water Conservancy District to enrich himself and his family.
“At the very least, Mike Noel has some explaining to do about his involvement in President Trump’s attacks on protected public lands in Utah,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “At worst, his involvement in the monuments debacle calls into question the very foundations of President Trump’s entire review.”
Rep. Noel is Executive Director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District and a representative for Utah District 73. As a Utah legislator, Noel is required by law to disclose the names of his companies and what those companies do. One of his companies, Noel Properties LLC, has not been disclosed. This company owns $1.29 million in land, including a 40-acre inholding in the GSENM.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Kane County leaders” were tasked with submitting proposals for new GSENM boundaries to the Department of Interior following President Trump’s executive order directing a review of national monuments across the West. The county refused to release information to the public regarding the proposed boundaries, making it unclear as to whether Rep. Noel was one of the “Kane County leaders” who helped draw the new boundaries. Rep. Noel met several times with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke during his May visit to Bears Ears.
The new GSENM boundaries submitted to Secretary Zinke by Kane County leaders specifically exclude Johnson Canyon, including the undisclosed land that Noel owns. The final map from the president’s order to reduce GSENM specifically carves out Noel’s parcel of land.
For years, Noel has been using his positions in the legislature and Kane County Water Conservancy District to advocate for the $2 billion Lake Powell pipeline — which would benefit Noel’s land by recharging the groundwater in lower Johnson Canyon, which suffers from water quality issues.