September 14, 2021
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced today the continued pause of new trail construction, and a plan for moving forward on the Foothills Trail System Plan based on the City’s work with valued stakeholder groups to gain a better understanding of the issues related to the first phase of construction, and to collaborate on a vision for the best pathway forward.
“I am pleased to announce today that the City will continue its pause of new trail construction until June 1, 2022 at the earliest, in order to put the environment first and work with environmental consultants, continue our collaborative work with valued stakeholders, incorporate the feedback of those groups and our residents into guidance documents, and integrate consultant recommendations to refine the plan’s construction procedures,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “As a City, I believe that today, with the conversations we have started and a pathway forward that is more collaborative and communicative, we are in the best possible position to ensure that these trails, new trail work, and natural resource protection, is representative of the voices of our community.”
After concerns were raised by the community earlier this year, the City paused new construction on the trails in May and underwent a process of communication and collaboration, which has included taking in resident comments, building relationships with Tribal leaders, coming together with the Parks, Natural Lands, Urban Forestry & Trails Advisory Board, and advocacy groups like Save Our Canyons and Save Our Foothills.
Trail construction will be paused until June 1, 2022 at the earliest while the City works with environmental consultants, incorporates additional stakeholder and public feedback into guidance documents, and incorporates recommendations to refine the plan’s construction procedures.
The City will also continue its work of building relationships with Tribal leaders and indigenous residents with the goal of developing appropriate and respectful land acknowledgements and practices in the foothills to honor the indigenous people with ties to this land.
The City will be engaging with three separate consultants based on their specific areas of expertise to evaluate the work that has been completed to date and refine practices for future trail construction and communication:
- The City will continue to work with SWCA Environmental Consultants to analyze areas of the Foothills Natural Area where trail construction could occur and maximize conservation. This will include:
- An analysis of the impact of trails on vegetation and wildlife habitat.
- An analysis of cultural resources and strategies for conservation, acknowledgement, and culturally responsive management.
- The City will be releasing a Request for Qualifications for an independent trail system and land conservation consultant to:
- Review the work completed in 2020-2021, trail design construction methods and best practices.
- Assess any areas of concern in the existing trail network and new trails.
- Review pre-existing user created trails on an individual basis on how to best integrate or discourage their use.
- Develop trail maintenance protocols for the Foothills Trail System for the unique environment of the Foothills Natural Area.
- Develop guidelines for how SLC will adapt to evolving user patterns, trail conditions, increasing trail use, and emerging recreation trends.
- Once input is received from the first two consultants, the City will work with a communications and planning consultant to compile stakeholder and public feedback into guidance documents that supplement the Foothills Trail System Plan and improve and refine plan implementation moving forward.