Record editorial: Be part of the solution, not the problem, at Park City’s trailheads
Summit County is getting serious about overcrowding at trails.
Basin Recreation recently announced plans to implement more stringent parking enforcement at the Rob’s Trail trailhead as well as certain high-volume trailheads in Summit Park where congestion spills onto the surrounding neighborhoods. People who violate the parking rules will be ticketed, booted or towed.
That the situation has gotten bad enough to require such drastic action is disheartening, if not surprising to those who frequent popular trailheads in the Park City area. Overcrowding has been worsening for some time, and the amount of folks flocking to the trails during this time of social distancing has certainly not helped matters.
But nestled in Basin Rec’s announcement detailing the enforcement effort was a troubling acknowledgment: The decision to take a harder tack comes only after repeated attempts to solve the problem through community dialogue and urging users to do their part have failed.
That’s frustrating, because personal responsibility remains the best way to alleviate trailhead parking issues and other problems on the trails such as poor etiquette. While Basin Rec is stepping up action at Rob’s Trail and in Summit Park, the problems are not isolated to those trailheads — and Basin Rec and the other organizations that manage our trails system simply lack the financial resources to police the trails system more broadly.
Even a paid-parking system, as some Parkites have called for, is impractical, as the cost to enforce it would likely be greater than the revenue it would bring in. Most residents would agree that taxpayer dollars would be far better spent on maintaining trails and bolstering outdoor recreation opportunities than on handing out parking tickets.
The same concerns apply to the notion of making only out-of-county users pay for the privilege of utilizing the trails. They certainly contribute to the problems, but the idea of charging them also runs counter to the long-held notion of our trails network serving as an economic driver that attracts people to Main Street shops or local restaurants after they finish a hike or bike ride.
Close proximity to one of the best trails systems in the country is a primary perk of living here, one that’s become even more cherished during the pandemic. But it’s up to those who use the trails to get the situation under control.
So when you set out for a trailhead, make sure personal responsibility is one of the things you’re packing. Otherwise, you’re part of the problem.
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