For more than a hundred years, people have walked along the canal trails in Cache Valley. Community members continue to use dozens of dirt trails for jogging and biking. Now elected officials are discussing how best to preserve these trails for future generations.
“We’re all here to have a conversation and discuss our differences and understand what’s going on," said Cache County Trails Planner Dayton Crites.
Cache County community leaders held two open houses to discuss eight miles of canal trails between Logan and Smithfield.
“I’m going to have my work cut out for me going through all this feedback and trying to really categorize it, from people that live adjacent to the canal, how they feel about their segments," Crites said.
Maps showing the canal trails and the proposed changes were displayed on tables at the event. Nearly 200 guests moved around the room, marking the maps with stickers and filling out feedback cards.
Hyde Park resident Jill Blotter said she walks her dog every morning along trails in Hyde Park.
“I just would love it if they opened the canals and would let us walk where it’s safe and we don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car," she said.
“Huge reason for having these canal trails as far as looping into neighborhoods, connecting communities and just making neighborhoods more viable for recreation and exercise," said North Logan resident Barbara Middleton. “They covered a lot of different topics, which was helpful. Because some of us are just wanting to have the trails open for recreation but hadn’t really thought about all the surfacing, what the gates could look like to keep motorized vehicles off and also the liability.”
These are legitimate concerns for landowners who own parts of the canal trails.
Because differing opinions often pitch neighbor against neighbor, several landowners attending the open house did not want to share their names. One landowner I spoke with owns a part of the Hyde Park canal trail. He sees people trespassing on his property and in the past, trespassers have let out his livestock, entered his barn, and even tried to bury a time capsule under a willow tree in his yard. His biggest concern is liability if someone is injured on the part of the canal trail he owns.
Another Hyde Park property owner has land on both sides of a piped canal trail. He worries about privacy issues.
Crites and other Cache County leaders held a second open house on April 12 at the Greenville Elementary School in North Logan, where more than 150 people attended.
"It was a great turnout," Crites said. "In cards alone, we reached over 233 people that took the time to write their names down and give us feedback. I'm sure the number we reached is greater than that because this was just the number that filled out the cards."
He said the next step is sorting through the feedback from the community, then working with local officials to decide where and how to preserve the trails.
“That’ll help us make a good, informed decision," Crites continued, "on how we can hopefully work towards trails that connect our community for the good of everybody and that are also not impediments on people who have land right up on them."