Land offerings advance the Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Although this land is just a tiny piece of the larger BST puzzle, it is a linchpin to completing the Davis County journey.
The proposed Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) alignment in Utah will traverse hundreds of private parcels where a powerful freshwater lake once lapped the Wasatch foothills.
Easements or titles to any portion of this land must be secured to complete the 280-mile trail from the Idaho border south to Nephi. This week, the vision received a major boost when the Trust for Public Land struck a deal to purchase a 4-acre lot in Bountiful to secure access to a newly built trail segment through the North Canyon.
Although this land is just a tiny piece of the larger BST puzzle, according to Carrie Kasnicka, the trust’s project manager, it is a pivot in completing the Davis County trail. The small package met many purchase criteria.
“This package is a really good opportunity. On paper it might not look like it would have a big umph,” Kasnicka said. “We work closely with the Forest Service, which manages 75% of the BST. And what they are looking for is the ability to improve connectivity, access, wayfinding, fire safety and public safety response.”
The Trust for Public Land is a not-for-profit organization that orchestrates deals to publicize private land with recreational and natural values.
The proposed alignment for the Shoreline Trail passes through or alongside 1,500 private parcels, which the trust’s regional director, Jim Petterson, said creates significant obstacles to completion.
“For the 80% of Utah’s population who live on the Wasatch Front, proximity to this trail corridor is just a lifeline for getting out and being active in nature,” Petterson said. “The reason we’re so interested is because it creates such an opportunity for recreation, and you can go on a trail in a day and do almost 300 miles. We have high hopes of being able to fill the corridor.”
Trail organizers have prioritized 200 parcels to purchase full or secure easements.
The Trust, which only deals with willing sellers, is currently working to purchase 30 of these priority lots, including the four acres that the Trust acquired this week and two others that the Group holds an option on.
Margie and Bruce Parker were the owners of the North Fork estate.
“There are many reasons why a package can be important. This one here [the Parkers’] really climbed to the top pretty quickly,” said Kasnicka. “It’s right at the end where the Bountiful Trail comes through [up North Canyon from Bountiful Boulevard]. Communities manage the lower ends of the BST until they meet Forest Service land. … Right where this Bountiful Trail ends, 6 feet away, is this package. The ability to connect to the BST is really a natural fit and an opportunity to improve accessibility and the continuation of user activity.”
“It was uncultivated land. They don’t live there and they really wanted a conservation outcome,” Kasnicka said. “Not only did this parcel have all the qualities we need, but the kind of landowner who understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
The Trust is also close to finalizing a contract for a 133-acre property near Provo needed for the development of the Utah County trail. After more than 25 years of development, the BST exists in numerous separate fragments. The longest runs through Salt Lake City from Mill Creek Canyon north to Mueller Park, looping around the University of Utah and City Creek.
In recent years, the Trust entered into deals with the Boy Scouts of America to acquire some of its extensive interests in Mill Creek Canyon. These acquisitions enabled the development of crucial trails at the mouth of the popular gorge.
Land acquired for the BST is folded into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. But with each passing year, land values continue to increase along the trail and in other places where people enjoy outdoor recreation, making land acquisitions more difficult to complete.
“Some of these are very small, small plots, some are larger, but that’s where the punch comes in. It starts with every foot and every morning, and then you come through the miles,” Kasnicka said. “If we can just smash that away, then we’ll get to a whole lead.”