Our Mission

SCENIC UTAH is a 501c3 nonprofit working to protect and enhance the scenic qualities of our communities, skylines and roadways. We offer guidance to local governments, businesses, community groups, developers, and private landowners who are seeking to preserve the visual character of their properties and public spaces, and we focus policy attention on the impacts of outdoor advertising and other forms of visual pollution.

An affiliate of the national organization Scenic America, our launch in 2018 was a bold statewide effort to reduce visual pollution, reclaim our stunning vistas, and encourage action to protect our globally renowned scenery. Our passion for Utah’s exceptional beauty, and the lack of interest by too many state leaders in protecting it, drives our mission to restore and protect our visual realm through the power of civic engagement, education, advocacy, and accountability.

Our Work

Our work centers on research, education and outreach, guidance and advisory services, and public policy advocacy. Focus areas include sign and billboard control, night-sky protection, undergrounding utilities, and aesthetic protection of gateway communities and other built environments.

History

A White House Conference on Natural Beauty convened by President and Lady Bird Johnson in 1965 led to passage of the Highway Beautification Act, a federal law aimed at controlling outdoor advertising and roadside blight along America’s new Interstate highways. Sadly, since passage of the Act, outdoor advertisers have been working hard to gut it. Billboard, cell phone, and utility companies in Utah and throughout the country spend millions backing political candidates at all levels and paying powerful lobbyists to influence legislation and regulations.

Lady Bird at California Scenic Highway 1

As a result, some of America’s most inspiring landscapes are being fundamentally altered. Ungainly, industrial-level cell towers and metastasizing, overhead transmission lines loom above streets and highways. Banal, poorly planned development degrades our neighborhoods. And rampant outdoor advertising—including ultra-bright, flashing digital billboards (40 times brighter than traditionally illuminated signs)—obstruct skylines and visually pollute roadways, town centers, starry nights and, often, Utah’s singularly stunning natural surroundings.

Inspired by the intent of the Highway Beautification Act, Scenic America and its affiliates like SCENIC UTAH believe protecting our scenic values should be seen as it was 50 years ago: as an act of patriotism.  Investment in scenic conservation and preservation should be an integral part of local and national policy making. And citizens and their elected leaders should have a say in how their communities look.

Visit the Scenic America website for a more detailed history of the scenic preservation movement, and for useful information and resources on a range of topic related to America’s visual resources.

Visit Scenic America

Center of Scenic America

From the early 1920s through the mid-1950s, state leaders promoted Utah as “The Center of Scenic America.” Artistic flyers, maps, postcards, stamps, and tourist booklets touted Utah’s endless beauty. Today, state leaders still tout Utah’s beauty to attract visitors and new business, but state laws adopted over the past 90 years have resulted in visually polluted landscapes and cityscapes that detract or altogether eliminate the ability to appreciate our scenic wonders. We are working to restore Utah’s rightful place as the ‘Center of Scenic America’ by reminding state and local leaders of the enormous value, then and now, in eliminating visual pollution and protecting Utah’s endless beauty.

Vintage Postcards

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