SANTA CLARA – A new venue for mountain bike events pushed out by development in the Green Valley Gap area may be coming in the form of a Santa Clara City park.
The Green Valley Gap is a popular mountain biking, rock climbing and off-highway vehicle area west of the Green Valley area in St. George. Part of the land is privately owned and is being developed which will remove access to a popular staging area for events such as the Utah High School Cycling League state championship. Last year’s event drew more than 800 riders and required parking for about 1,000 vehicles.
Recreation officials have been looking for a new staging area for the race along with other events such as True Grit, Fall Fury, Cactus Hugger and the Huntsman World Senior Games downhill and cross-country biking events.
Officials from the Bureau of Land Management, Washington County and Santa Clara City worked together to find a solution in the form of a new 20-acre park for outdoor sports in Santa Clara, county Sports and Outdoor Recreation Head Kevin Lewis said.
The new park is planned for an area south of Gates Lane and Clary Hills Drive, on a plateau in between the city water tanks and Cove Wash Trailhead. The exact boundaries have not been established.
The land the park is planned for is within city limits but owned by BLM; the city is hoping to acquire it. The location offers access to several existing mountain biking trails, Lewis said, including Barrel Roll and Cove Wash, and more trails are planned for the area by the BLM.
“We’re looking at giving them 20 acres under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act,” BLM Recreation Planner Dave Kiel said. The Act allows the BLM to transfer land for public purposes such as schools and parks. In Washington County, many schools, golf courses, parks, fire stations, cemeteries, libraries and even a BMX track were built on land acquired under the Act.
“They have to submit a plan of development and if they comply with that then after a certain period of time they get fee title to the land.”
A park in the hills south of Santa Clara Boulevard was already in the city’s general plan, Santa Clara City Parks Director Brad Hays said. The matter became more urgent with the loss of the Green Valley staging area.
Santa Clara hosted the True Grit mountain bike race March 12 in the same area where the park is planned and has preliminary approval to host the high school championship mountain bike races in November. Preliminary work has also already begun to improve the road to the staging area and allow cars to access it.
The park is in the very early stages, Hays said, but the final plans could include Frisbee golf, picnic tables, restrooms and a pump track – a circular obstacle course used for cycle cross and other events.
“These are just concepts, there’s nothing’s been approved, nothing’s set in stone, we’re just thinking about it,” Hays said.
Public input is being sought from residents of both Santa Clara and Southern Utah overall. Suggestions can be submitted to the Santa Clara Parks Department by email. When the planning process is further along, the matter will come before the Santa Clara City Council and a public hearing will be held.
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