Popular climbing spot may undergo changes

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SALT LAKE CITY – One of Utah’s most popular climbing locations may soon get a face lift as the U.S. Forest Service is looking to make access to the site easier.

The Old Grit Mill is located about a mile up Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Environmental Coordinator Steve Scheid, U.S. Forest Service, said the area has become a prime location for climbers in recent years.

"It was constructed in the 1950s as a grit mill for pulverized granite,” he said.  “Around the late 60s, it went into disrepair and unuse.”

Scheid said the site is in need of an overhaul.

"It's something that the community has ownership to and has a value to however as its aged and dilapidated it's now become a safety hazard and a nuisance."

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing tearing the mill down and replacing it with a parking lot and an improved trail system. Scheid said currently climbers and hikers are often forced to park on the side of the road or down at a park and ride location.

"We do monitor it by the numbers of vehicles parked along the road; any given weekend we easily find  a dozen to two dozen vehicles parked along the roadside," he said.

The proposal from the Forest Service would develop 1.4 miles of new trails, while working to protect watersheds and current hiking areas. A public comment period has opened, as the Forest Service hopes to hear from Utahns regarding the proposal.

"We're anxious to hear from folks really, how they feel that might impact them," Scheid said.

A plan for the proposal, which is estimated to cost about $350,000, is expected to be made available in a few months, after which another public comment period will be opened any issues.