Sanpete should get fully on board and help coordinate bike and walking trails
The Manti Trail Builders Association effort to complete a 4.6-mile bike trail alongside the Gunnison Reservoir and a project to build a bicycle and walking trail between Mt. Pleasant and Spring City should awaken Sanpete County to the potential and need for a coordinated, countywide trail development effort.
The Manti Trail Builders, closely associated with the Manti Mountain Bike Association, has already competed 2 of the 4.6 miles near the reservoir.
The problem is that the other 2.6 miles are on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The BLM supports trail development. But because the land is federal, the Trailbuilders Association needs to do an environmental assessment to move forward.
Jones and Demille Engineering has offered to complete the assessment for $10,000. Ephraim City has committed $1,250 to the effort. Manti City has said it will donate but hasn’t settled on a figure yet. The Sanpete County Office of Economic Development is looking at grant possibilities.
Indeed, local government must step up and help get the environmental study done so this relatively small trail can be completed.
Notably, the 4.6 miles is one component of a potential 20-mile bike trail system the Manti Trailbuilders have mapped out, also near the Gunnison Reservoir.
Meanwhile, the first phase of the Mt. Pleasant Park Trail project is about to go out to bid. The $350,000 project will build just under a mile of a 10-feet wide, two-lane asphalt trail running east of the city cemetery. Future phases will extend the trail another 4 miles to Spring City.
Other notable walking trails in the county include the 1.25-mile Gunnison River Walk trail and the path around Palisade Lake.
But as things stand, these projects have been and are being carried out in isolation from each other. We need a bigger vision—of a countywide system with a network of interlinked trails.
If you thinks that’s too ambitious, please look south to Sevier County, a county with a significantly smaller population than Sanpete. It has a 20-mile paved trailing running from Joseph to Big Rock Candy Mountain; a bike trail near Glenwood that is comparable to what the Bike Trails Association wants to build near the Gunnison Reservoir; and is putting in 30 miles of trails west of Richfield.
Trails are very important to community aesthetics, quality of life and economic development. As one small example, the local youth mountain bike club in Sevier County estimated that a single statewide bike race on the trail in Glenwood brought in $140,000.
Let’s make Sanpete County a wonderful place for hiking, biking and simply taking walks. Let’s make it possible to safely bike or hike the length of the county, passing features such as the mosaic dragon on the Gunnison River Walk, the Manti Temple, historic buildings in Spring City and the historic train depot in Mt. Pleasant.
We call on the Sanpete County Office of Economic Development, the Manti Trailbuilders and other cities, organizations and individuals interested in the future of our county landscape to come together and begin planning our own equivalent of the Jordan River Parkway in Salt Lake County, or the Virgin River Trail in Washington County.
These systems took decades to develop. The key is building consensus, planning, and then working to develop the system, segment by segment.