On December 12 a bill passed the House of Representatives that would remove 326.27 acres of land from the wilderness system in the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest along the Bonneville Shoreline. This would allow the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to be extended in these parts and open up opportunities for mountain bikers to use those sections of the trail. To offset the wilderness land lost, 326.27 new acres would be added to the Mt. Olympus wilderness area near Mill Creek Canyon.
This bill would end up being net neutral for wilderness areas while also opening up the possibility of making a lot of progress on connecting sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This trail has the potential of reaching up to 280 miles from the Utah-Idaho border down to Nephi in Juab County.
Conserve Utah Valley is working with city and county officials and private landowners throughout Utah County to protect and connect the existing sections of the trail. We have also collaborated with Brandon Plewe from the Utah Valley Trails Alliance to protect sections of the trail between Provo Canyon and Slate Canyon. Brandon created an interactive map that shows all of the official and unofficial sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Other groups that have helped maintain and expand the Bonneville Shoreline Trail include BikeWalk Provo, Runner’s Corner, and the Outlaw Bike Team. BikeWalk Provo and the Outlaw Mountain Bike Team worked together at a trail-building event on September 17, 2022.
Earlier this year Conserve Utah Valley led the second annual hike from Bridal Veil Falls to Slate Canyon along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Most of the trail was in good condition but there were a few sections where we had to descend into neighborhoods and walk along the road because the trail ended. We are working with private citizens and the city of Provo to get access to these sections in order to build new trails.
What does this mean for the conservation of the natural areas around the trail? Are developers able to build on the trail now? That was the fear I read about that had me wondering if this was such a good idea…
The natural areas around the trail will still be on Forest Service land so they should still be protected from commercial or residential development. They will just no longer be designated as “wilderness” in order to develop the trail. This will also allow the mountain biking community to use those sections of the trail now.