By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
Original air date: June 5, 2016
We woke up a few days ago to some astounding and encouraging news, originating, of all places, in nearby Mill Creek Canyon. It’s a story that has been silently brewing for a couple of years. Some 848 acres of private land near the bottom of the canyon will shortly become part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. We are delighted with this development, as it will preserve our access, into the foreseeable future, to several hiking and biking trails in Mill Creek Canyon that are especially close to the Salt Lake Valley.
Here is what has happened. The Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America has been ready for some time to dispose of its holdings in the canyon that are not useful for the operation of Camp Tracy. The Boy Scouts have been gracious hosts to hikers and bikers for many years, but if they were to sell, who knows what might happen.
Into this question has stepped the Trust for Public Land. They turn out to be the heroes in this story. They didn’t wait for the Forest Service to find $3 million to purchase the land, but put up $2 million as a down payment, trusting that eventually federal money would be forthcoming.
So now, guess where they found the money! They found it in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund! This is particularly gratifying, because Congressman Rob Bishop did his best to defund that program on the grounds that the federal government should buy no new acres, owning already more than half of Utah.
Another of the heroes in the story is the Boy Scouts’ local council, who could very likely have gotten much more for their land, but wanted it to go to the public. And after all, they got the land originally from a generous donor.
One of the beneficiaries of this deal will likely be the Bonnevile Shoreline Trail, which is projected to drop down into Mill Creek Canyon via Rattlesnake Gulch and then climb back up the south slope to its continuation.
It’s an altogether exciting and heartwarming story, and we are grateful to Brian Maffly for his excellent piece in The Salt Lake Tribune.