BYU seals deal on Y Mountain land purchase

BYU Photo courtesy of BYU News
An example of new signs that will mark each turn in the trail to the Y, marking progress and providing relevant information. (BYU News)

BYU now owns the trail leading to the Y and its surrounding land.

BYU University Communications announced Monday the purchase of 81 acres of land on Y Mountain from the U.S. Forest Service after a years-long deal that included an act of Congress.

The Associated Press reported in December the purchase was worth $500,000.

The release said the trail will remain open to the public.

“One of the first things that visitors to BYU notice is the presence of the mountains that rise dramatically to the east of our campus,” President Kevin J Worthen said. “We intend to make sure the Y continues to stand as a welcoming symbol to all who come to Utah Valley.”

Until the purchase, BYU only owned the first third of the land surrounding the trail, university spokesman Todd Hollingshead said; the rest was on forest service land.

Federal land purchases must be approved by Congress. Efforts by the Utah legislative delegation on behalf of BYU began as early as 2012, according to

Hollingshead said the purchase of the land will always “guarantee” increased access, maintenance and improvement of the trail.

Beginning in the spring, the university will repair the trail, add signs at each bend to detail progress and point out native wildlife and install a permanent light system for lighting the 38-foot Y for special BYU events.

Before the purchase, BYU maintained a relationship with the Forest Service to keep and maintain the trail and the Y, according to Hollingshead.

Deputy General Counsel Steve Sandberg said the purchase will allow BYU greater flexibility to maintain the trail.

“Under forest service ownership, BYU went through a permitting process for maintenance and improvements,” Sandberg said.

Aaron Cornia, BYU Photo
BYU said in a statement that the trail to the Y will be improved starting in the spring. (BYU Photo)

Provo Mayor John Curtis testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands when the bill was introduced in 2012. He said that he would do anything he could to support BYU.

“We are big advocates for anything that’s important to BYU,” Curtis said. “The second reason is we like the trail, so it was easy to support.”

He said Provo City had no interest in purchasing the trail and adding it to Provo’s trail system.

“With the deed from the U.S. Forest Service to BYU now recorded, we look forward to sharing Y Mountain with our neighbors, friends and visitors,” President Worthen said. “Already there are plans in place to preserve this trail for generations to come. We are especially grateful for the support we received from Senators Hatch, Lee and Reid and Representatives Chaffetz and Bishop, as well as Mayor Curtis.”

The Y was originally constructed in April 1906 and made of sand and lime. The plan set forth by then President George Brimhall was to paint BYU on the mountain. Yet only the block letter Y was completed.

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