Boundaries look like ‘pick-up sticks’: Stakeholders look to solve American Fork Canyon maps problem

AMERICAN FORK CANYON — No one really knows who owns what in American Fork Canyon.

Some areas are private property, others are federal lands, and everything else belongs to either Snowbird or the rest of us.

Thousands travel to Mineral Basin, Mary Ellen Gulch and Miller Hill every year for recreation activities like hiking, camping, hunting and skiing.

And visitors use countless maps to navigate the 1,500-acre terrain.

Finding out where private and public property lines are drawn all depends on who drew the map.

Mark Allen, founder of the American Fork Canyon Alliance, is working to update survey maps and property lines for all stakeholders in American Fork Canyon.

“When we first started this project, the question I asked was: ‘Who’s in charge?’ There’s a lot of jurisdictions up here,” Allen said. “They all play a role in creating accurate maps.”

Several stakeholders — including private property owners, Utah County commissioners and representatives from the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service — hiked to Miller Hill on Monday to discuss the best way to update survey maps of the area.

An example of the problem is the road leading to Miller Hill. Although the road is open to the public, there are Snowbird signs welcoming visitors but prohibiting hunting and warning about video surveillance.

“There’s no signage that says you’re on a county road,” Allen said. “It felt like we were on a private road and trespassing.”

The lack of signs and confusing property lines make the area confusing for visitors.

“When they put the map down, I looked at it and I couldn’t tell (who owned what). There’s no way I could tell with the different lines,” said Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee. “It’s an issue we need to go forward with and see if we can solve.”

The overlapping property lines also frustrate private property owners.

Ted Kimball owns 144 acres near Miller Hill, land claimed by his great-great-grandfather. But the boundaries look more like “pick-up sticks” than “nice, rectangular blocks of property,” he said.

“Here, where you’ve got this giant population that’s coming up here to recreate, they want to know where the public land starts and ends,” Kimball said.

“If we can get these groups to come together…

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