2,500 Acres Along Bonneville Shoreline Trail Protected (UT)

Sandy, UT, 9/1/2009: U.S. Senator Robert Bennett joined The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), local leaders and other project partners today to celebrate the protection of 2,500 acres of important wildlife habitat in the Wasatch Mountain Range at Hidden Valley Park.

The property is protected as part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, helping to connect existing public lands to the foothills, including the Lone Peak Wilderness and the 1,000-acre Corner Canyon property that TPL worked to protect in 2005. The property also protects over a mile of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST).

Senator Bennett, a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and key supporter of the BST, secured funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund over three fiscal years to protect this property. Standing up with project partners and supporters overlooking the BST, Bennett said, “I am pleased that I have been able to secure funding for this project making the trail available for Utahns and visitors to enjoy. Not only is it important for us to identify the necessary areas to protect, but we must also make sure that the Forest Service has the funds and resources needed to maintain these remarkable lands.”

Funding for the BST has also been supported by other members of the congressional delegation representing Utah.

“Many partners-local, state and federal-have come together to create this uniquely Utah trail corridor for future generations. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail will be a lasting amenity for thousands of families along the Wasatch Front. They’ll continue to enjoy access to the foothills and the forests above the urbanized valleys, literally out their backdoors,” said U.S. Representative Jim Matheson.

TPL, a national land conservation organization, worked with the landowners to secure the property and transfer it to the USFS as partners sought federal funding to permanently protect the property.

“TPL is committed to creating recreational opportunities where people live,” said Roger Hoesterey, TPL’s Senior VP and West Division Director. “The BST has been a priority for us, and we look forward to continuing our partnership to expand its protection in the coming years. All of the work we do along the BST would not be possible without the leadership of the Utah congressional delegation, in particular Senator Bennett, who is instrumental in securing the federal funds needed to protect these critical recreational lands.”

This project was a top priority for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The property serves as an important buffer for fire protection for this rapidly developing area along the Wasatch Front and also provides watershed protection for neighboring areas.

“The US Forest Service is delighted with the additional acres. This natural space in the foothills protects critical habitat and winter range for mule deer and elk as well as enhances the watershed,” said Brian Ferebee, Forest Supervisor, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. “The land purchase also benefits recreators by providing access to trails from Draper city and protecting the Bonneville Shoreline Trail alignment.”

For years, residents of Salt Lake, Weber, Davis, Utah and Cache Counties have benefited from their unique geographical location along the slopes of the Wasatch Range, which provides recreational opportunities, an escape from urban pressures, and a sense of community pride and identity. Development pressure poses the most serious threat to this valuable resource and will increase as the Wasatch Front doubles within the next ten to fifteen years. To meet this threat, TPL has worked with the USFS and local governments since 1991 to acquire and protect properties along the BST. From the initial concept of 90 miles along the four most populated Wasatch Front Counties, the proposed BST has grown, stretching 280 miles from Idaho in the north to Santaquin in the south. To date, TPL has conveyed 5,111 acres and 100 miles of trail towards the BST program.

TPL has also received critical support from private individuals who want to see the BST protected for recreational access. Particularly instrumental in helping TPL’s effort here have been Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr.

“We are extremely grateful for assistance of the TPL in acquiring these lands, for the support of Senator Bennett in securing the funds, and for the support of Katherine and Zeke Dumke Jr. for the development of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail,” said Jim Byrne, Chair of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee. “The BST is complete now in Salt Lake City and mostly complete in Sandy and Draper, and we look forward to the completion of an Environmental Assessment by the USFS which will allow progress on the BST from Sandy to Parleys Canyon.”

Protecting the BST would not be possible without the support of the local leaders.

“I join with TPL and other local officials to celebrate this great accomplishment in preserving wildlife and recreational lands for future generations. This has been an exemplary demonstration of a partnership between TPL, local, state and federal officials. Senator Bennett has demonstrated great leadership and vision in being a facilitator and securing critical federal funding for this important legacy,” said Sandy City Mayor Tom Dolan.

“Thanks to the work of many individuals and organizations, residents along the Wasatch Front have the benefit of an accessible trail that links our urban surroundings to natural areas. Today’s celebration highlights the vital component of protection to the implementation of the vision for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail,” said Salk Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

“Open space in our urban interface areas may well be one of the final frontiers,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon. “It’s no secret our valley is growing dramatically and with this project, and others, we will provide future generations with that elbow room we used to think was so readily available here in the Mountain West.”

“The BST is an inner city trail system that provides activities and recreation for Draper residents,” said Draper Mayor Darrell Smith. I am thankful to all of the partners that helped bring this part of the trail to Draper and am committed to preserving open space and trails for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

After the ceremony, guided hikes were offered to the public along the BST. Joining the hike was a group of women that form the Draper Parks and Trails Watch group who have been hiking the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and the Corner Canyon Property daily for three years. “At first it was a way to exercise,” said Debbie Elggren, on behalf of the Draper Parks and Trails Watch group. “It has become so much more! It is a sanctuary, a place where we come and enjoy the peace and beauty of nature, a spiritual retreat and a beautiful place to strengthen the bonds of friendship. Best of all it is just a few blocks from our homes. We are grateful to all those involved in bringing to pass the BST and Corner Canyon Property.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic and cultural resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2.5 million acres nationwide. TPL depends upon the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.