U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, introduced a bill this week that would allow for the completion of Utah’s Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, sponsored by Romney and Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, would adjust forest and wilderness boundaries “to allow the advancement” of the trail. Specifically, the legislation would swap approximately 326 acres in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah and Salt Lake counties with land in the Mountain Olympus Wilderness.
During a Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining hearing on Wednesday, Romney told lawmakers that the ultimate goal of the bill is to allow for the creation of a continuous 280-mile long trail “that would stretch from Utah all the way up into Idaho and allow people for generation after generation to walk this trail along the side of the mountains and see nothing but the beauty of the landscape.”
“You’ve heard of the Great Salt Lake, you’ve probably seen it,” Romney told committee chair Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, and other subcommittee members. “The Great Salt Lake is actually one-tenth the size of a body of water that used to be there. Some 20,000 years ago, there was a lake there called Lake Bonneville. It stretched from southern Utah all the way to the Idaho border. It was some 20,000 square-miles in scale, about the size of Lake Michigan.”
The Utah senator continued, “And as you fly into Salt Lake, or Provo or those communities, and you look at the mountains, you can often see a shelf, if you will, where the shoreline of the old Lake Bonneville used to exist.”
Romney noted that there are trails “that various communities have made along that shoreline” but added that “unfortunately for the people who like to walk along the shoreline, now and then it crosses wilderness areas.”
Connecting the trail from southern Utah to Idaho, Romney argued, “would be a treasure for the people of our country, and a legacy for future generations.”
“I hope this committee will see fit to bring forward and to the floor this proposal to make that swap, if you will, of wilderness area land for Forest Service land so that this trail can be completed and generations can enjoy it,” he said.
Curtis introduced the bill, which is backed by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Reps. Burgess Owens, Chris Stewart and Blake Moore, in the House in March.
The bill also has the support of Gov. Spencer Cox, who said the Bonneville Shoreline Trail “has the potential to be both a beautiful recreational asset for Utah residents and a tool for teaching us about ancient Lake Bonneville and Utah’s fascinating geologic history,” as well as the support of Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee Chair John Knoblock.
Other supporters of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act include Trails Utah Executive Director Sarah Bennett, Utah High School Cycling League Director Dallen Atack and Salt Lake Valley Trails Society Executive Director Kevin Dwyer.