Trails Foundation of Northern Utah

OGDEN — A recognizable nonprofit organization operating in Weber County for a quarter of a century is changing its name.

Weber Pathways will celebrate its 25th anniversary in February, and with it, the organization will change its name to the Trails Foundation of Northern Utah. 

"(The new name) is a better reflection of who we are, what we do and where we do it," said Mark Benigni, the nonprofit's executive director.

According to its website, the organization's mission is to "plan, promote, construct, and protect a network of public pathways, trails, and related open spaces for non-motorized users throughout the greater Weber County area."

Board Chairman Ron Thornburg said the new name "clearly communicates our mission to both old and new residents." Both he and Benigni said the word "pathways" can be easily misunderstood. "Foundation" makes the group's nonprofit status clear and "Northern Utah" shows the regional nature of the organization.

The trails organization has always focused its work in Weber County, which will continue with the name change, Benigni said, but the group also works on regional trails that extend into nearby counties.

Board member Elizabeth DeWitte created a new logo for the organization, which features a stylized mountain trail set inside an outline of the state of Utah.

Benigni said officials at the trails foundation studied and discussed the issue for some six months before making a decision to change the name. 

"With the name recognition we had, of course there was some reservation," Benigni said. "But we just felt like this was the right thing to do. It was time."

Weber Pathways was formed in 1995 by community activists who saw a need for a pedestrian trail in Ogden Canyon, Benigni said.

From 1995 to 2010, the group focused on advocacy, fundraising, education and preservation of open space, Benigni said. During that period, Weber Pathways purchased the rail corridor from the Union Pacific that is now the Rail Trail in western Weber County. Funding was also raised for the Centennial Trail, Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Pineview Loop Pathway.

From 2011 through today, the organization has constructed 40 miles of natural surface and 12 miles of paved trails, tunnels and bridges with a combined construction cost of more than $4 million. The projects were funded through private donations and grants from RAMP and other government agencies.

This year, the organization will begin work on two multi-year construction projects totaling more than $2.7 million. One project will restore aquatic habitat on the Weber River for a sensitive fish species, the bluehead sucker. After that phase, a section of the Weber River Parkway trail will be constructed to connect to the Fisherman’s Point trailhead in South Weber City. The project will cost $1.6 million.

A second project will add 1.5 miles to the Pineview Loop Pathway, connecting the Old Snowbasin Road to Huntsville. Once that portion is finished, there will be a 20-mile paved trail from Wolf Creek Resort to Snowbasin mostly separated from motor vehicles. Only a short section of Old Snowbasin Road will be shared. The project will cost $1.1 million.

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