Comments solicited on Toll Canyon management plan
September 25, 2015
Joel Bound has been hiking in Toll Canyon for more than 50 years. He has several friends who live in the area and, like them, he has done what he can to help preserve the space for use by longtime residents like himself.
When the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and Utah Open Lands purchased the 781-acre property behind the Pinebrook, Summit Park and Timberline neighborhoods, Bound made a contribution. The property was then put under a conservation easement.
Thursday, Bound was one of several residents who attended the first of two open houses being held to solicit comment from the public about a management plan to govern the property. Since January, the Basin Rec has been working with Utah Open Lands to draft the plan, which includes ideas for trail systems and allowed uses. A public comment period opened Sept. 1.
"I like the amount of land that is being left as it is. It is a real jewel," Bound said. "But growth is coming and we’ll have more hiking and biking up here. The goal is to make that as pleasant for anyone who comes up here. Trying to figure out how to provide access without conflicting it conflicting with frequent users is a real challenge."
With a conservation easement, there are values placed on the property, including recreation use, which has some residents concerned about the increased traffic it could bring, said Bob Radke, Snyderville Basin Trails Department manager.
"We are just trying to appease the larger community and a lot of difference needs, wants and desires from the public, but we have to have a recreation component as a part of this," Radke said.
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Several trails traverse the Toll Canyon area, but do not connect to other multi-use trails. According to the recreation district website, Toll Canyon has five primary access points, three of which require users to cross private property or roads. No parking is available.
Gus Sherry, a Summit Park resident, is especially concerned about trail access and parking. Sherry suggests building a trailhead in a new location to reroute traffic away from his neighborhood.
"I think the conservation easement was premature," Sherry said. "They went ahead and put in trails without sufficient trailheads. If they link the mid-mountain trail system to this trail system as they are proposing, it will make the situation here way worse."
Part of the challenge in devising a management plan is balancing the views of those who want more access versus those who don’t, said Wendy Fisher, executive director of Utah Open Lands.
"Once we protect a piece of property it becomes more accessible and something we can become good stewards of," Fisher said. "I think what we looking for when we are seeking comments on the land management plan is how does the community want to be a good steward of open lands?"
Since the public comment period opened, Fisher said more than 200 responses have been received. The comments have expressed concerns about parking, equestrian and biking access, and wildlife protection.
"We tried to create a plan that is adaptive. If there is a new trail it will be monitored, water quality will be monitored But will there be new trails? That is why we are having this public input. It is as much of a balance between recreation uses and experience in addition to all things we value in that canyon," Fisher said.
Nancy Bradish attended the open house and commented that she often walks Toll Canyon in warmer weather or snowshoes there in the winter. The parcel is located directly behind her Summit Park home.
Bradish said it the last piece of open space that is undisturbed by an overwhelming amount of foot traffic and bikers.
"I think they have done a terrific and comprehensive job on the plan, but I would just like to see no mountain bikers," Bradish said. "We have trails linking Pinebrook all the way to Deer Valley and we don’t need any more connecting trails. I don’t want to make enemies. I used to ride bikes, but we don’t need it here. I would like to see this saved from intrusion. We don’t need anything disturbing it. We need a place of tranquility and peace."
Public comment will be accepted through Oct. 26. Officials expect to have a draft of the management plan to the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District Board Nov. 18 for approval.
The recreation district and Utah Open Lands will host a hike through Toll Canyon on Thursday, Oct. 1 from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Another open house will be held Thursday, Oct. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Basin Recreation Trailside Boardroom, 5715 Trailside Drive.
To view the Toll Canyon management plan or to submit public comment, go to http://basinrec.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/?appid=a9841c103588484496d0ac3978c3e2c0 .