OGDEN -- Fence structures that have been popping up along trails in the Ogden foothills have the hiking community worried, but the landowner who put them there says he's keeping his property open to the public.
Chris Peterson owns a large piece of property on the Ogden mountainside, which extends all the way from 29th Street nearly to the ridgeline in Malan's Basin.
Several popular hiking trails intersect Peterson's property.
At several locations where Peterson's property abuts U.S. Forest Service land, Peterson has placed open steel portals across the trails with chain-link fencing extending perpendicularly from the trails several yards beyond the portals.
Peterson said the trails on his property are available and open for free public use, but the cumulative impacts of many users have made the fence structures and land-use rules necessary.
"Over the last several years, I have spent thousands of dollars putting up relatively unobtrusive signs welcoming people to my property and asking them to follow some common-sense land-use rules while visiting," Peterson said in an email to the Standard-Examiner. "Unfortunately, every single one of (them) was vandalized or stolen within days."
Peterson said that the new structures, although more robust, are intended to serve the same purpose as the original signs: to welcome visitors to the property, but educate them on the land-use rules.
Peterson said he plans to keep his land open for the public, but if the new portals get vandalized, he may consider more aggressive measures.
Peterson did not detail what those measures could be.
Peterson said he believes most of the hikers who tread on his property are responsible and respectful, but he has encountered issues with littering, tagging, destruction of natural landscape and other irresponsible trail behavior.
He said his rules are simple and similar to the rules that apply on national forest land, so hikers should not be impacted all that much when traveling through his property.
Prohibitions on his property include things like no smoking, no hunting, no littering, no motorized vehicles and no alcohol.
Michael Joseph, chairman of the Ogden Trails Network Advisory Committee, said he and the committee have received several inquiries about the new structures.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city is aware of the issue and the concern of local hikers. "Our interest is obviously in keeping these trails open and easily accessible to the community, but we also understand that this is (Peterson's) private property and people need to respect the rules he has in place."
For complete information on land-use rules that apply to Peterson's property, go to www.OgdenFoothillPrivateLand.com.