Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks during a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, about the city’s plans to review the Foothills Trail System and pause building trails. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the city will continue its pause on new projects within its Foothills Trails System Plan following concerns brought up by residents and trail users.
The Salt Lake City Foothills Natural Area is about 6,000 acres of land outside of the city. The foothills area includes City Creek, Emigration, the south part of Parleys and Red Butte canyons, among other smaller canyons and gullies.
The first phase of the Foothills Trails System Plan focused on new trails in the Central Foothills, between City Creek and Dry Creek canyons. It wrapped up earlier this year.
City leaders said Tuesday they will work with three consultants to review future trails scheduled for the next couple of years before crews begin work on them. That includes an independent consultant that will review the processes of trails added over the past year.
Mendenhall said the city paused its plan earlier this year and decided to extend that pause through at least June 1, 2022.
“Our goal there with this pause is in order to put the environment first and work with environmental consultants,” she said.
The mayor’s announcement follows months of concerns raised by residents and trail users, who said the degradation of trails is the result of poor planning. For instance, Eric Edelman, a Salt Lake City resident, civil engineer who studies soils and an avid trail user, told the Salt Lake City Council on July 20 he was disappointed with what he saw as he followed the project along.
“I’m rather disturbed and saddened that Phase One has gone so poorly,” he said. “These Phase One trails could not have been located in worse terrain than what they were placed in.”
He was among other residents who urged the city to pause future trails so that they could review the project further and prevent similar damage with future trails.
The group Save Our Canyons also pushed back against the plan following the first phase. Carl Fisher, the executive director of the organization, said Tuesday he welcomes the city’s decision and looks forward to working with them in the future.
This story will be updated.