The Salt Lake City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday restricting hunting in City Creek Canyon northeast of the city, a measure praised by hunting groups but assailed by Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck as too weak.
The measure, passed after its first and only public hearing Tuesday, restricts shooting firearms one mile from an occupied building, effectively prohibiting hunting in the lower four miles of the popular canyon.The ordinance brings the city, which used to permit hunting in parts of the lower canyon, into compliance with state law restricting gunfire close to occupied buildings.
City Public Utilities Director LeRoy Hooton Jr. said the canyon has seen a huge increase in use by hunters, hikers and bikers since a City Creek Canyon master plan was implemented in 1986.
"So there has been some concern relative to safety," he told the council in introducing the amendment.
The law restricts hunting in the lower part of the canyon. But during deer hunting season, 35 vehicles a day can carry hunters into the upper reaches of the Canyon above Rotary Park.
Hunting groups lauded the measure as a good compromise between hunters, who will deer hunt in the canyon for 11 days during this year's deer-hunting season beginning Oct. 22, and non-hunters.
Michael Spence, an attorney representing Sportsmen for City Creek Canyon called the measure a "compromise between the people who support multiple-use in the canyon."
Hunters can still hunt in the canyon, turned into a "nature preserve" under the 1986 master plan. But non-hunters can also enjoy the canyon, he said.
"We want people to picnic in the canyon; but we also want the opportunity, 11 days a year, to hunt in City Creek Canyon," he said.
But Fonnesbeck said the ordinance did not sufficiently restrict hunting in the upper canyon and challenged Spence, saying hunters have "thousands and thousands" of other places to shoot at deer "and anything else that moves."
Despite Fonnesbeck's objections, the six other council members voted for the ordinance, citing safety concerns and the fact the city does not conform to state firearms laws.