Lehi officials celebrate 'victory for open space' through conservation easement

Draper Mayor Troy Walker and City Manager David Dobbins on a biking tour of the Corner Canyon trail network on Aug. 25, 2021. Lehi has approved a conservation easement with Draper to preserve 900 acres of open space in Traverse Mountain.

Draper Mayor Troy Walker and City Manager David Dobbins on a biking tour of the Corner Canyon trail network on Aug. 25, 2021. Lehi has approved a conservation easement with Draper to preserve 900 acres of open space in Traverse Mountain. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

1 photo
Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

LEHI — Lehi is celebrating a conservation easement it made with Draper in preserving 900 acres of open space in Traverse Mountain.

A ribbon cutting ceremony by Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson will be 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hidden Canyon Trailhead, 6363 N. Fox Canyon Road. The event will also celebrate National Trails Day with information tables on mountain biking, trail systems, conservation groups, local businesses and other outdoor enthusiast groups.

The Lehi City Council unanimously passed a resolution on March 26 approving the conveyance of a deed of conservation easement to Draper under the Utah Land Conservation Easement Act.

"I'm thrilled to celebrate the preservation of this significant open space," said Todd Munger, director of environment sustainability for Lehi. "As Lehi continues to grow, it's crucial to maintain areas where residents and visitors can connect with nature. The Traverse Mountain Conservation Easement ensures that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful space."

Munger said there is sprawl occurring everywhere around the city, and conserving this open space will help preserve the quality of life in Lehi.

City officials said this easement is a "victory for open space," made possible through years of master planning in the Traverse Mountain area and Draper's "willingness to encourage sustainability by holding the easement grantee."

Lehi will oversee the maintenance of the native biological diversity, including managing invasive weeds, trail restoration, erosion control and habitat restoration, according to the easement agreement. Lehi is still the property owner and bears responsibility for all operation, upkeep and maintenance costs.

Draper will be tasked with enforcing the "conservation values" which the agreement outlined as preservation of natural habitat for plant and wildlife species, protection of scenic views, public recreational experiences and educational values, and safeguarding the property's proximity to other open spaces including Corner Canyon Regional Park, Little Valley, Forest Service Land, the Salt Lake County Flight Park and Flight Park State Recreation Area.

The agreement said the purpose of the easement is for the property to "remain forever open and accessible to the public for recreation and scenic enjoyment, protecting in perpetuity its unique natural, wildlife habitat, open space, educational, public recreational, public access and scenic conservation values" and prevent any activities that would harm the property.

Uses allowed on the open space include public access for educational purposes; recreation including hiking, mountain biking, e-biking and equestrian use; trail management and construction of trail-related structures and signs; maintenance and restoration of the native ecosystem; agrichemicals and biological controls to contain weeds, invasive species, and mosquitoes; fire suppression and managing existing utilities.

The easement prohibits construction for human habituation or industrial activities, harassment of wildlife, alteration of watercourses and topography, introduction of nonnative species, new roads, motorized vehicles, agricultural uses, dumping of waste and mineral activities such as exploration, mining, mass grading, or extraction of substances from the property.

Community development director Kim Struthers said at the March 26 meeting that the easement was a culmination of months of effort and Lehi will still own the property, but it is "relinquishing certain rights to conserve the value of this area." He added, its the city's way of "trying to eliminate the possibility in the future that this would ever be developed or mined or graded."

The Lehi mayor said although he doesn't like to "tie future councils' hands," preserving the open space is "really important." At the meeting when the resolution was approved, he said he was comforted to know the agreement allows Lehi and Draper to work together to amend the easement if the cities deem it necessary to do something they believe is still appropriate within the conservation values in the future.

Draper Mayor Troy Walker said his city is happy to be part of this agreement and said Draper has a core community value of open space.

"Open space is a big deal and it's really a game changer for quality of life," Walker said. He added that this specific open space is valuable as it keeps the gravel pit mining at the point of the mountain in check.


Most recent Environment stories

Related topics

UtahEnvironmentSalt Lake CountyUtah CountyOutdoors
Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast