Facebook Twitter

Conflict centers on canyon road

SHARE Conflict centers on canyon road

Those in south Utah County who enjoy a feast for the eyes and a good day's hunting on a mountain don't want the Pole Canyon Road shut off to the public.

In fact, several residents told the Utah County Commission in a public hearing Wednesday it is just plain wrong to close a road for what they see as one cabin owner's whim.The hearing was scheduled so the public could respond to a request from Steven J. Lund, a Provo Nu Skin executive who owns 800 acres and a mountain cabin on the south end of Pole Canyon, east of Santaquin.

On behalf of Lund, George Bills of Gardner & Associates told the commission that Lund's personal safety and that of his family has been threatened by vandals, hunters, partyers and campers who make fires on the property.

Lund has offered to build a parking lot on his land to allow hikers and those with horses to park their trailers and still access the property through a trail. In exchange, Lund wants to be allowed to gate the road closed. Approximately two miles of the dirt road continues into his land and, according to the maps, ends inside Lund's property.

He already has an automatic iron gate in place along with electronic surveillance cameras and a 7-foot chain-link fence.

Bills said Lund has the support of both the Uinta National Forest and the Division of Wildlife Resources because there is a wilderness management area beyond his property that needs protection from motorized access.

Residents from Santaquin and the nearby area objected strenuously to the request.

"We do not need more private people taking away public lands," said Leonard Beckman, a 72-year-old resident who said he's been going up into the area for "years and years."

"It's an area that's extremely beautiful," Beckman said. "I could live just about anywhere I want but I choose to live in Utah because we have public lands we can enjoy.

"But I've seen too many roads closed off by people with no right to close them off."

R.D. Searle, representing the Lone Peak 4-Wheelers association, said his organization is flatly against any closures that prevent public access to recreational areas.

"This is a beautiful road to take a drive on," he said. "And by eliminating the good people, you'll let the vandals work unwatched," he warned. "Take the high road and don't vacate it."

Kay Tischner said that over a two-day period, more than 500 people in Santaquin signed a petition protesting the closure. He said the property above the place where Lund wishes the road closed is ideal for Scouting adventures, a great area for deer hunting and the kickoff area to hikes into Bacon and York canyons.

"It's one of our family's favorite areas and has been for four generations," Tischner said.

Resident Paul Terry agreed that vandalism is a problem and a shame, something that happens too often to people and their property all over the county - not just to Lund's cabin.

"But, in my opinion, it is as wrong to close public ground as it is to vandalize someone's property," he said.

He described walking over the hill along the road and finding himself locked in on the other side of Lund's gate. "It is being closed now," he said.

"It is public ground up there. It is real beautiful," he said.

He said it isn't true that the road ends on Lund's property unless Lund owns the entire mountain. "That road goes clear to the top," he said.

No action was taken Wednesday. The commissioners plan to review the request in a regularly scheduled commission meeting within 30 days.