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Development on contested land west of Clarkston to continue now with proper permits

A road is cut into the mountain near Winter Canyon in Clarkston.
Eli Lucero
The Herald Journal
A road is cut into the mountain near Winter Canyon in Clarkston.

It appears that development will continue on the highly contested land west of Clarkston. The landowners now have all the needed permits to continue developing roads on the property, despite early concern from locals that the roads could impact the local watershed.

Winter Canyon Ranch LLC’s land near Clarkston has been quite controversial. The LLC has been in a lawsuit with Cache County over trails and public access on the property, which Winter Canyon Ranch blocked off when development on gravel roads began.

Besides the public access lawsuit, Clarkston officials are also concerned that the road development could impact water flow off the mountain.

Clarkston, Newton, and Trenton all receive water from springs on the top of the mountain range on which the land resides. Earlier this month, Clarkston Mayor Craig Hidalgo said that he and other officials were concerned that the roads would impact the flow of water coming off the mountain.

Mainly, Hidalgo was concerned that construction began on the roads before any proper permits were obtained.

“I can’t believe he didn’t have to have an environmental impact study before he did anything,” Hidalgo said.

The court documents that Winter Canyon Ranch LLC filed against Cache County for the public access trails confirm that construction on roads began without proper permits.

“In April of 2024, Plaintiffs began repairing and improving the logging road. County officials showed up and demanded Plaintiffs stop until they obtain a Notice of Intent from the EPA, as well as a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. Plaintiffs obtained the NOI and SWPP,” the document reads.

A Notice of Intent for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction Activity was indeed filed and certified with the Utah Department of Environmental quality on May 7. The NOI states that approximately eight acres of land will be disturbed for the development.

Winter Canyon Ranch LLC received a Land Disturbance Permit from the Cache County Public Works Department on June 6 for the project as well. That permit included fees for developing eight acres of land and for a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan review.

Now that the project has received the proper permits from both the county’s public works department and the state, development of the roads should continue. The lawsuit between the county and Winter Canyon Ranch LLC reached an agreement to keep public access trails open for now as litigation continues.

However, it is still yet to be seen if damage was done to the local watershed before proper permits were obtained, according to Hidalgo earlier this month.

“We’ve got our attorney looking at the water rights and our water protection resource plans, and we’re going to see what we’re going to have to do now if he’s caused any damage up there to our systems,” Hidalgo said.