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UPPER HALF OF MILL CREEK CANYON OPENED

The Forest Service opened the upper half of Mill Creek Canyon Thursday but plans to close the Church Fork picnic site for the summer to renovate the facilities.

The Terraces picnic area in Mill Creek and Storm Mountain in Big Cottonwood Canyon may also be closed except on weekends this summer, said Salt Lake District Ranger Michael Sieg.Forest Service officials had hoped to enter a partnership with Salt Lake County to make Mill Creek Canyon a fee area, with the idea of using the fees to rehabilitate deteriorating facilities in the canyon, which sees more than 700,000 visitors each year.

But that plan was rejected by the County Commission last week, leaving forest officials questioning whether their $3,000 annual maintenance budget for Mill Creek could keep up with wear and tear from the summer season. Sieg said earlier this week that the Forest Service might close the Church Fork and Terraces picnic areas and leave the gate locked that gives access to the picnic and trail areas in the upper half of the canyon.