LOGAN For decades, Cache Valley residents have cooled off during the summer by floating down a canal in Logan Canyon.
But that activity will be severely curtailed this summer.
After representatives of several agencies studied the issue, the Utah Department of Transportation posted no-parking signs at the canal's head near Second Dam. Heavy traffic on winding U.S. Highway 89, coupled with more people enjoying the pastime, created a dangerous situation, UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders said.
"At that place, it's a blind corner, and people coming from the east run smack-dab into a group of people there who are milling around the road," Saunders said. "It can create a really hairy situation."
Last July 4, a Chevrolet Suburban towing a boat swerved to avoid a car pulling out of the parking area, hit another car and ended up in the canal. Although no one was killed, that was the worst of several accidents near the gravel area where tubers park, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Tony Hutson said.
"Last year around the Fourth of July, we had four crashes at that spot," Hutson said. "And that just really got our attention."
During the 1960s, tubers could float down the canal to the mouth of Logan Canyon, then continue south through a golf course and miles of farmland all the way to Green Canyon Road. But the course's operators, worried about people getting hit with golf balls, have tried to discourage tubers and suburban development has replaced much of the farmland along the lower canal.
A recently completed stretch of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail included a tunnel under the highway at the mouth of the canyon, which made it easier for tubers to get out there and walk to a parking lot at First Dam, avoiding the golf course. The activity became so popular the Cache Chamber of Commerce promoted it to the chagrin of the Logan-Hyde Park-Smithfield Canal Co.
Jim Huppi, a member of the canal's board, said the company had turned a blind eye toward trespassers for years. But he said tubers have grown brazen, building dams and trashing the canal.
The last time crews cleaned the upper canal, Huppi said, they hauled out four big bags of trash, mostly beer bottles and cans. In the old days, he said, most of the people tubing in the canal were from farm families and understood the importance of irrigation water.
But now many of them don't care, he said."The canal company doesn't like people using it because they have no respect for it," Huppi said.