Record editorial: Efforts to develop trail systems in Kamas Valley are bearing fruit
Mud season has dragged on in Summit County after a winter that stocked the mountains with plenty of powder and one of our wettest springs in memory, but summer is here.
Amid a stretch of warmer weather, folks are getting back on their mountain bikes, lacing up their hiking boots and flocking to the trail systems. For many residents, having world-class trails practically in their backyards is one of the biggest perks of living in the mountains.
Fortunately, easy access to that amenity is no longer enjoyed only by those in Park City and the Snyderville Basin.
In recent years, an initiative spearheaded by the South Summit Trails Foundation, with boosts from organizations like the Summit Land Conservancy and Utah Sports Commission, has helped develop burgeoning trail networks in the Kamas Valley. The progress in the three-plus years since the nonprofit got off the ground has been swift, leaving advocates energized about what they can achieve in the coming decade.
Nowhere is the change more apparent than in Oakley, where leaders have recognized the potential for trails to serve as both a recreational amenity and as an alternative transportation option. Several trails have been built in the city in recent years, such as the Oakley Trail Park, and the municipal government is working alongside the South Summit Trails Foundation on an ambitious project to build roughly five miles worth of trails alongside the Weber River. Once completed, it would be available to users of all fitness levels and would also provide access to the river for anglers.
A major stumbling block remains in the way, however: the private ownership of much of the land adjacent to the river. That’s forced Oakley officials to get creative.
The city is negotiating with the landowners in an attempt to secure easements that would allow public use of the land and may ultimately dangle a carrot in the form of additional density on their property.
While Oakley is in a favorable position to offer that for the easements because it is not facing the same growth pressures as some of its neighbors, that potential solution illustrates the creativity and commitment required to make the vision of an expansive trail system in the Kamas Valley a reality.
That prospect is closer than ever before given recent progress, and it’s exciting to ponder how the trail infrastructure could flourish in the next several years, particularly if what happened in the Park City area is any indication of what can happen when dedicated folks tackle the issue.
It wasn’t too long ago that Park City’s trail system consisted of only a few maintained paths. Now it boasts about 400 miles of trails and is considered one of the finest trail networks in the West, providing a significant economic boost for the area.
Is a similar success story underway in the Kamas Valley? Signs point to yes.
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Our view: Pushing to protect watersheds in the Uinta Mountains would cost Summit County time and resources. But it can’t afford to do nothing.