Path Of Resistance: Question Of Canal Trail Access Creates Conflict

Jun 13, 2019

Joggers and bikers who use the bridle path along the Upper Canal linking North Logan and Hyde Park were met with a surprise last month: fences, gates and no trespassing signs. 

The additions were the latest volley in a conflict between residents who say they’ve used the canal trails for years, and property owners who say they haven’t granted public access and don’t want strangers on their land.  

One of those property owners, Jamie Forbush, said the issue is pretty clear-cut.

“Do I believe you have a right to come in and trespass on people’s private property? Absolutely not," said Forbush. "At some point, you have to put a stop to it.”

Forbush said his family has owned parcels along the canal since the 1950s, and that they’ve posted no trespassing signs for years. 

"We’re not inherently opposed to trails," Forbush said. "What we’re opposed to is government coming in and creating trails. I don’t believe that’s the proper role of government.” 

Dayton Crites, trails planner for Cache County, said he understands where property owners like Forbush are coming from.

“Somebody screws up my property as they come through, I’d be kind of upset as well," Crites said. "So, I absolutely am sympathetic to it.” 

Dayton Crites, Cache County's trails and active transportation planner, in his office.
Credit Chris Polansky

At the same time, Crites said a petition he created has gotten close to 200 responses, and many longtime residents have asked the county to preserve access to the trails.

“Anyone who’s used these corridors socially over the years definitely feels their loss pretty acutely," Crites said. "That’s why we’ve circulated the petition, to understand the public reaction to it. Absolutely sympathetic, I think there’s a great way forward that preserves recreational trail access, but we will see.” 

As for Forbush, he said that he and other property owners won’t be backing down.

“We’re gonna have to probably press charges," he said. "You know, we’ll certainly challenge it legally. We have to. We’re fighters, and we’ll fight this to the bitter end.”