Provo City partners with US Forest Service to preserve foothills and canyons

The Provo City Council voted in favor of a resolution to work with the Utah Valley Trails Alliance and US Forest Service to preserve and develop trails in the foothills from Provo Canyon to Slate Canyon. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

The Provo City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, March 16, in favor of a resolution outlining support for the US Forest Service’s continued ownership and preservation of sensitive lands in Provo’s foothills and canyons.

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and the City Council have been working with the Utah Valley Trails Alliance to “support sustainable recreation on the trails of the southern Wasatch Mountains, especially ‘foothill’ trails in the wildland-urban interface,” according to the alliance’s website. 

The website also states the organization “will be helping Provo City and the U.S. Forest Service Pleasant Grove District develop trail plans for the foothills from Provo Canyon to Slate Canyon.”

Prior to the vote to support this resolution, Provo City Council members reached out to members of the public for their opinions on the plans for new trails.

“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We had close to 500 responses and many comments, and (they were) overwhelmingly positive in favor of the plan,” Councilman George Handley said.

Handley said the feedback from the public provided a “template for thinking about how to improve and create new recreational opportunities within city boundaries, and how to take better advantage of some of the open space in the possession of the Forest Service.” 

Residents also commented during the City Council meeting. 

“I just want to throw my support behind this. I think it’s a wonderful idea and I appreciate all the work and effort that’s gone into it to get it to this point,” Provo resident Kay Nelson said. “Hopefully, this will help preserve some of the wonderful treasures that we have in the foothills and in the canyons.”

“Things like a pandemic help us to realize how fabulous these resources are, and the need to maintain open access and the ability for us to enjoy these incredible resources that are right here in our backyard,” Provo resident Craig Christiansen said. “Other cities dream of this, and I’m so grateful that our city isn’t just dreaming about it. (It is) actually doing it.”

Provo residents and city government members look forward to the preservation of the lands that so many hold dear.

“We wanted to send a clear message to (the citizens and) the Forest Service that we would like to partner with them to continue to keep those areas especially areas up above Route 189 in Provo Canyon, south of Route 189. There are areas that are much beloved by our citizens,” Handley said. 

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