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Utah farmer hoping to save firefly habitat from housing developmen

By Emily Tencer

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    SPANISH FORK, Utah (KSTU) — A Utah County farmer is fighting to protect the fate of fireflies. She says proposed property development threatens the bugs on her land.

At the Thompson Century Farm near Spanish Fork, every day is a countdown to summer.

“Every night I get excited to hear people experience that magic,” said owner Diane Garcia.

For the past six years, Garcia gives free firefly tours every night in June.

“They see all the fireflies and a lot of the little kids think they’re Tinkerbell,” she said.

Garcia is concerned about what could happen if the land south of her property becomes a new neighborhood with nineteen homes.

“This particular project is a response to a demand that we know exists in this market,” said Dave Anderson, Spanish Fork’s community development director.

Developers promise a six-to-eight food masonry wall would be built on the boundary because of “wetlands light sensitivity concerns.”

“You could have a 6-foot wall, a two-story house and lights could shine like crazy into my fields,” said Garcia.

Garcia built a fence along the west side of her property to stop the light pollution from cars driving by on Bradford Lane. She also worked with the city to require new developments to have dark-sky-compliant street lights that point down to the ground.

“While certainly there’s not a silver bullet that I think would likely address all the concerns that the neighbor has in this case, I think the city has done some important things to try and be sensitive,” said Anderson.

The Spanish Fork City Council will listen to public comment and vote on the project at Tuesday’s meeting.

Anderson said construction could start late summer/early fall.

“I just keep hoping through education, through persistence we can keep making progress,” said Garcia.

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