Salt Lake City continues its pause on new trail system

Sep 14, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: 9:20 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City announced it would continue to hold off any new development on its trail system plan Tuesday, as city leaders work to address concerns about how to meet a growing demand for recreation and conservation.

There are few areas in the country that boast so much open land so close to the capital city.

The foothills is currently home to more than 65 miles of trails, according to city officials, and many more miles are in the current plan.

“These foothill trails are our city’s most beautiful and admired place,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall during a press conference near the start of the trails.

Even before 2020, Salt Lake City said they saw an increase in the number of people heading out to enjoy the outdoors. And then, the pandemic hit and “just put it exponentially higher,” according to Tyler Fonarow, the city’s trail projects specialist.

“We’re not just building trails, but we’re building trail culture because the people have to understand, we’re doing this together to conserve the lands,” Fonarow said. “To balance recreation and conservation.”

From 2016 to 2019, Fonarow said the city gathered information to grow its current trail system.

In 2020, they attempted to meet a growing demand for outdoor recreation with a new trail system proposal in the foothills that would add 65+ miles of paths.

The city approved the plan last year and phase one was underway when the city was hit with concerns about what the new plan would mean for conservation and sustainability.

“One of our core concerns was the sustainability of these trails, which seem to be compromised by weather events as we’re seeing,” said Carl Fisher, executive director of Save Our Canyons. “But also the intensity of the trail network.”

Fisher acknowledged the growing population has added to the urgency for updates, calling the pandemic “the great outdoor awakening.” But, he said, “responsibility comes with that, right?”

Fisher argued the city’s plan to separate trails for mountain bikers and hikers would ensure that “you end up with twice as much of the impact on the trails.”

“When you have people very intensively using the trail system, it displaces the wildlife that people are coming up her to see,” he said. “We’re not making more mountains.”

The response to the trail development prompted the city to pause its work and reach out for feedback from the community, various conservation groups and from tribal leaders who hold some parts of the land sacred.

“Their historical accounts and input on this land is invaluable,” Mayor Mendenhall said of the relationships they were building with tribal leaders.

The foothills remain a highlight of Salt Lake City. Their proximity and accessibility bring countless bikers and hikers to the land each year, but the dilemma remains for the city and others to work to find a balanced way forward.

“What do you value about this place and what’s your vision going forward? And try to temper your behavior to support that vision rather than take away from it,” Fisher said.

“A pathway forward that is more collaborative and communicative is possible for us. We are already on that pathway,” Mayor Mendenhall said.

The mayor said the pause on the trail system would continue until June 2022, when they expect to have gathered the information and feedback they need to move forward with an updated plan.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Third District Judge Keith Kelly declined Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by transgender girls...
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Judge declines to dismiss lawsuit against Utah’s transgender sports ban

Third District Judge Keith Kelly decided Wednesday that three transgender girls and their families do have the ability to pursue a lawsuit against Utah's ban on transgender girls participating in girls sports.
21 hours ago
The Davis School District is opening five resource centers for homeless students. The centers offer...
Mike Anderson

Davis School District reveals new resources for 1,300 homeless students

Five brand new centers intended to provide needed services for homeless students are opening in the Davis School District, just in time for a return to school.
21 hours ago
FILE (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)...
Michael Houck

Weber County father booked for uploading, possession of child porn

A Weber County man was arrested for child porn charges after being reported by a tip line on Tuesday.
21 hours ago
Dan Rascon

Utah sees spike in bicycle fatalities

According to the latest numbers from the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah has seen 11 fatalities, more than any previous year in the past decade, and there are still five months left in the year.
21 hours ago
(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Neighbors in Washington Terrace pushing for ordinance to allow chickens

Some homeowners in Weber County are asking for a rule change regarding chickens.
21 hours ago
Salt Lake Police released body cam video of an officer-involved shooting in July. (Salt Lake City P...
Cary Schwanitz

Salt Lake police release body cam video from officer shooting of a man who set his yard on fire

New video from the Salt Lake City Police Department showed the events leading up to the shooting of a man who had set his yard on fire.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Salt Lake City continues its pause on new trail system