Sam Penrod, Deseret News
PROVO — City officials are making sure one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in Provo will remain the way it is.
Eighty acres of private land in Rock Canyon is being purchased by the city for $1.6 million to preserve it from development and mining, and to keep it open for the community to enjoy, city officials announced Tuesday.
“I’m glad the city is going to preserve it,” said Provo resident Denise Durrans, who hikes with her dog, Roxy, a few days per a week in Rock Canyon.
"The peaks and how beautiful it is, and it is semi-private the higher up you go," Durrans said. "Nobody is there. It's beautiful. You can see the valley.”
Provo will own the land as part of a deal between the Richard Davis Estate and Red Slab.
There have been concerns over the past decade about the privately owned land in the canyon. Rocks were being mined by the landowner, and Provo city went to court to stop it.
For the past 15 years, the city has been in negotiations with the Davis family to keep the canyon pristine and prevent the land from being mined.
Now, the city is buying that private land, beginning at the city-owned trailhead to the U.S. Forest Service border.
"This announcement is the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people, not just the city,” Provo Mayor John Curtis said. “It has been many years in the works, and the city for a long time has had a priority to preserve this canyon.”
Some residents say $1.6 million for the property — a combination cash deal and land swap in Provo Canyon's South Fork — is worth it.
“I keep seeing all these things about Provo being the top in healthy living and lifestyle and happiness, and I think this is one of the reasons, to have the resource to go out and enjoy the outdoors,” Provo resident Everett Jamison said.
The mayor said the city will explore ideas to make the canyon even more accessible.
“What happens at the trailhead? Do we put in improvements? Do we keep it just the way it is?" Curtis asked. “And we will invite all of our stakeholders into that discussion. And whatever we do, we will make sure we preserve first and make sure this is available to our children and grandchildren.”
The canyon offers access to Squaw Peak, world-class hikes and rock climbing. For Jess Johnson and Darren Flack, Rock Canyon is the place to be.
"Further up the canyon there is that limestone that's got some harder routes,” Flack said. “It is pretty cool — cool rock features.”
The canyon is also used by university geology students to study rock outcrops and formation from Precambrian to the present.
The Provo City Council will appropriate the funds for purchasing the canyon next week.
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