PROVO — Going down to Utah Lake isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but plans are in place to change all that.
The plan is called the Walkara Way Project, named after the Ute Indian Chief Colorow Ignacio Ouray Walkara, who brought his tribe to the Utah Lake shores for hunting and fishing.
Even before Walkara lived there, Utah Lake was nothing more than desert plains.
Early pioneers were charged with bringing water into the area. One of those pioneers was named Amos Holdaway, who was part of a project to bring water north into the Highland area of Utah by way of wooden canals.
After Chief Walkara’s time, the State of Utah added a reservoir in the 1970’s. However, those old wooden canals became forgotten and overrun with weeds.
Over the years, people argued about how much land people owned around the lakeshore. In the end, the State felt like they owned the property. The case went into litigation for about 30 years.
During that time, farmers couldn’t let their cows graze and the shoreline became overrun with weeds and algae blooms.
After the long litigation, private owners were given the land back with grazing rights.
Today, over 25 government entities touch the Utah Lakeshore property and each one of them has their own interests. In addition, public and private land owners also have claim over pieces of the land.
Jake Holdaway, Amos Holdaway’s descendant, took up the mantle to do something to unite all these people and allow for everyone to enjoy the lake.
“I am one of the last farmers of the vineyard area,” Holdaway explained, “and my grandfather was a part of organizing the city of vineyard.”
Holdaway said that as he got older, he recognized that the problem on the lake shore was getting bigger.
“I started to figure out how I could solve the problem and what role I could play to do it,” he said.
The Walkara Way Project
Holdaway founded what is now the Walkara Way Project. His goal is to reintroduce wildlife onto the shoreline, create a better atmosphere for visitors and educate people about the unique history of the Utah Lake.
Holdaway enlisted the help of Eric Ellis, Executive Director of the Utah Lake Comission.
“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity to preserve this heritage site for future generations to enjoy,” Ellis said, “and the commission’s purpose is improving Utah Lake — the water quality and the shoreline.”
According to Ellis, phase one of the project will be to create a 1,000 acre trail system along the lake shore and cost nearly 5.8 million dollars.
“The trail will allow people to not only see this gorgeous, expansive wetland,” Ellis said, “but also have an active transportation corridor that takes Vineyard residents, Orem residents and ties them into one trail system.”
Holdaway and Ellis hope this project will unite everyone who lives around the shoreline. The more than 5.8 million-dollar project will include 1,000 acres of shoreline.
The Next Step
The Walkara Way Project is set to be complete in the next three to five years.
Updates are posted often at utahlakecommission.org.