Sunday, December 13, 2009

Standard-Examiner: Wolf Creek Trail Public Easement Threatened With Restrictions - UPDATED

We encourage our steely-eyed WCF readers to show up at Tuesday's County Commission meeting en masse

For those readers interested in preserving Weber County trails system access rights, we'll highlight an item in this morning's Standard-Examiner, involving Ogden Valley's Wolf Canyon Trail. Here's Di Lewis's lede:
POWDER MOUNTAIN — A popular Ogden Valley hiking trail on a public easement has been bulldozed into a wide swath and may become private property for part of the year.
The Wolf Canyon Trail leads to 160 acres of public land via an easement on private property that is part of an out-of-bounds area of Powder Mountain.
The trail is part of the Weber Pathways system and a popular destination for summer and winter outdoor enthusiasts. A public hearing and vote on closing public access for part of the year is on the Weber County Commission’s Tuesday meeting agenda.
Eden resident Alan Wheelwright said it is sad to see the trail destroyed and turned into a 15-footwide track.
The resort has the right to modify the trail as long as public access is preserved, said Curtis Christensen, Weber County engineer. The easement doesn’t exclude the rights of private-property owners, he said.
“They are requesting that, during the wintertime, they rescind the public rights because there is some avalanche control that needs to take place there. Plus, it may interfere with other uses, such as a ski tour,” he said.
Check out the full story here:
Access to trail at issue - Public use of area may face restrictions
As Weber County outdoor enthusiasts will recall, this trail leads to the controversial 160-acre parcel once owned by Rulon Jones, former linebacker for the Denver Broncos. It is now back in public ownership, thanks to a group of residents of Ogden Valley who sued the County and took the case all the way to the Utah Supreme Court where they prevailed.

For those readers who might be keen on addressing this issue, and opposing any County Commission action which would limit the lumpencitizens' hard-earned easement rights to this important feature in our Weber County trails system, it might not be a bad idea to attend this Tuesday's commission session.

Although we couldn't find Tuesday's commission agenda on the county website, we'll remind our readers that
County Commission meetings are generally held most Tuesday mornings (unless otherwise publicly noticed) at 10:00 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers, 2380 Washington Boulevard, Ogden.

If you'd like to verify the exact time of Tuesday's meeting, call the Weber County Commission office at (801) 399-8406.

We believe Ogden Valley resident Robert Fuller gets it exactly right:
“Keeping it open is in the public’s best interest,” he said. “(Restricting access) is a chance for a profit entity to utilize public land. It’s just another way of closing people out of public lands.
“They’re whittling down time the public can use it, which is the point of having it there. There is [an] absolute right of the public to use that, and it’s a bad idea to intimidate the public out of using it.”
We thus encourage our steely-eyed WCF readers to show up at Tuesday's meeting en masse.

Update 12/14/09 10:47 a.m.: We've checked with the Weber County Commission office, and the above-referenced public is indeed set for 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, December 15, 2009, at the above-indicated Council Commission chamber venue.

Ogden Valley Forum is also covering this story too, and raises the question why notice of this meeting has not been posted on the county website, pursuant to the 24-hour notice requirement prescribed by Utah state law.

Weber County officials do inform us that the meeting agenda has been posted on the Utah State website however (see paragraph F, item 2), but offer no explanation as to its absence from the county site, (although we will submit off the cuff that the the Commission is probably thus in adequate compliance with necessary public notice requirements).

For those readers who can't make it to the meeting, here's the County Commission's bulk email contact link, so our readers can register their opinions about this ham-handed landgrab with all commissioners beforehand:
(Be sure to specify in you email that you'd like copies distributed to ALL commission members.)


OgdenLover said...

This couldn't possibly be retribution for the widespread opposition to Powderville? Or is it just pure greed?

Curmudgeon said...

Just out of curiosity, did PM receive anything in return for granting the public easement for access to the property? I don't know. I'm just asking. Was there some kind of quid pro quo?

Curmudgeon said...

And another query: I have been out of town for some days. Naturally, upon returning to Junction City, I devoured four day's worth of accumulated Standard Examiners, focusing, of course on the most significant stories ["Sarah Jessica Parker Reveals Her Recipe For Being Both a Mommy and a Movie Star!" and a bit of op-ed drivel by a former governor of Alaska who quit before her term was up].

But I did not see a story through this Sunday's paper about Hizzonah's new developer for the River Project having submitted to Hizzonah a new development plan --- which the SE reported earlier this week that Hizzonah had announced was going to happen before the week ended.

The week has ended.

Did the SE follow up on its own story? Did it report that the new developer [still unnamed?] had in fact submitted a new plan to Hizonah, as the SE reported Hizzonah announced he intended to announce before the end of the week?

Or did I miss something in my haste to get to Sarah Jessica Parker's exciting piece?

Just askin'....

Dan S. said...

Curm: I was wondering the same thing. But perhaps the announcement came late Friday afternoon, after everyone at the S-E went home for the weekend. I've noticed lately that our local paper rarely seems to be in much of a hurry to publish its news stories.

Rudi: Thanks for highlighting the Wolf Canyon Trail situation. This is a serious threat and we need to let the county commissioners know how we feel before Tuesday.

Dan S. said...

Good news: Early this afternoon the county commissioners unanimously voted to deny Powder Mountain's request to close the Wolf Canyon trail to public use during the winter months.

About a dozen citizens spoke against the proposal, and it was apparent that the commissioners had also received quite a few emails expressing the same sentiment.

The commissioners urged the Powder Mountain representatives to sit down with interested parties and try to find a compromise that would meet everyone's needs. Some citizens suggested that a compromise might involve short-term closures for avalanche control work.

During the discussion, it was also reported that Powder Mountain had illegally failed to obtain the needed Storm Water Pollution Prevention Permit before doing their recent excavation work to widen the road along the public right-of-way.

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