I may have hiked Bell Canyon more times than I can count on my fingers, but I don’t know anything about it. Sandy City in Salt Lake County, Utah, purchased 220 acres of Lower Bell Canyon Reservoir in order to create a nature park in the area. This wasn’t the only reason; the purchase was also intended to protect the watershed in the region . I don’t completely understand what a watershed is, and why they were protecting it.
A watershed is an area of land that collects water from rain and snow in its reservoir system. This water is considered drinkable! Bell Canyon Reservoir along with other canyons alongside the Wasatch Front are key sources of our drinking water, and are designated “Protected Watershed Areas .” I was able to download and read Sandy City’s master plan for Bell Canyon. There are three goals from Sandy City for implanting the watershed preservation time: “(a) Maintain adequate water quality in the canyon; (b) promote uses that do not conflict with the overall purpose of maintaining the watershed; and (c) encourage partnerships with other affected entities and interests in the canyon .”
In my last post I talked about how I witness Bell Canyon reservoir’s water level had sunk. Along with it being low, it was also not transparent water. If I were to go to Bell Canyon then and now, I wouldn’t be able to drink the reservoir water. This can be from environmental effects. But this can also be from individual human behavior, to cause overuse of land and/or accidental fires. Allow the high public use of the land can be a con to controlling the water quality of the reservoir. With the destruction of the reservoir’s water, where do the politics stand? Do we preserve Bell Canyon watershed? Or do we continue to use land for hiking and fishing?
Instead of digging deeper into the canyon, I decided to move outward geographically. This area was first visited and recorded by white settlers in 1776, despite the Native Americans that lived in the area for generations. The American Indian groups that lived in the area were Utes, Paiutes, Goshutes, Shoshone, and Navajo . While there were Native Americans living in the area, I wasn’t able to find out if there were Native Americans who lived/claimed the Bell Canyon area.