Under the proposed Y Mountain Access Enhancement Act, a bill promoted by Congressman Jason Chaffetz, BYU would be given ownership of the entire Y Mountain Trail and land the Y sits on.
Currently, the land surrounding the Y is under two commands, BYU and the US Forest Service. BYU owns a portion of the trail and trailhead, while the US Forest Service owns the remainder of the land.
“Split ownership complicates maintenance and long-term management, which ultimately puts public access at risk,” Chaffetz said in a press release.
A focus in public access appears to be the primary concern for all locally involved due to the heavy public use of the land.
“The land is used a great deal for hiking, mountain biking and horse-use,” said Loyal Clark, a representative from the US Forest Service. “No matter the outcome of the bill, the focus will be to maintain public access to national forest land.”
BYU currently maintains the Y trail and wants to but the upper portion to better serve outdoor enthusiast, visiting tourists and the entire Utah County community Chaffetz said.
Todd Hollingshead, a BYU spokesperson, said BYU currently maintains the entire trail.
“We will continue to [maintain the trail] and ensure the opportunity to keep it preserved and make sure it is open to the public,” Hollingshead said.
The Y stands as a landmark for locals and students and many agree hiking the Y is a necessary part of the BYU experience.
Dani Peterson, a junior from Orem studying Neuroscience, has hiked the Y multiple times.
“It has been a tradition in my family for years,” Peterson said. “I used to hike the Y with my family all growing up, and then coming to college I’ve hiked it with friends.”
Many students and locals have sentimental feelings associated with the Y and see it as an icon welcoming home, including Provo Mayor, John Curtis. Curtis has recently expressed his support for Chaffetz’s bill.
The Y Mountain Access Enhancement Act is bipartisan co-sponsored by several BYU alums in Congress, Eni Faleomavagea (D-America Samoa), Buck McLeon (R-CA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and it has the support of local elected officials.
Utah County Commission supports the bill and values the enhanced ability to control erosion and secure a place for the Y on the mountain.
With local and national support, Chaffetz will continue forward in moving the bill through the legislative process.