Outdoor enthusiasts and picnickers have until May 16 to enjoy Millcreek Canyon free of charge.
Beginning that day, they will be stopped at a booth in the mouth of the canyon and told to pay $2 per carload.Salt Lake County commissioners made the decision Wednesday after negotiating an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. Commissioner Randy Horiuchi said the fee is needed to keep the popular canyon from becoming so polluted it would have to be closed.
"The fee is really a last resort," Horiuchi said. "When you have 700,000 people a year going up the canyon, a fee is warranted."
Horiuchi noted the once-popular Church Fork area of the canyon already is closed because of pollution and erosion. He said the area will be reopened this summer.
He also said the fees will be temporary. Money collected will be used to restore the canyon. After it has been restored and protected, the canyon again will be opened to free use. Horiuchi did not know how long that will take.
Not everyone will have to pay the $2 fee. Seniors with Golden Age or Golden Access passports will pay only $1. The passports can be issued to anyone over 62 or to people with a disability.
The following people will be allowed in free of charge:
- Patrons of the Tracy Wigwam Scout Camp.
- Owners of cabins in the canyon, as well as their families and guests.
- Owners of land in the canyon.
- Everyone on Tuesdays.
People who eat at the Log Haven Restaurant in the canyon will be receive credit on their restaurant bills reimbursing them for the entrance fee.
The fees will be collected only during warm-weather months, ending on Oct. 31. However, fees will be collected on weekends and holidays through Dec. 31, officials said.
Under the agreement, a committee will be established to give advice on how the money should be spent.