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Table of contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | References | Questionnaire | Interview A | Interview B | Interview C | Interview D | Interview E | Interview



                The following interviews are included in this appendix for the purpose of offering additional information that may not have been included in Chapter V.  The responses are not edited in any way and are verbatim. 



Canal Trail Questionnaire


·                    The purpose of this open-ended discussion is to obtain as naturalistic a response as possible.  The goal is to gauge general sentiments and put a finger on the pulse of the major concerns and issues revolving around the development of recreational canal trails.

·                    Based on research to date a few of the biggest concerns and issues include:

Z.                   Liability of canal companies and landowners.

AA.             Increased O+M costs.

BB.               Law enforcement protection for company, landowner and trail user.

CC.               Private property owner rights.

DD.              Canal company operator’s rights.




Date of interview:  Thursday, December 03, 1998 4 P.M.


Name:  Jess Harris


Title/ Titles:         President of Logan Northern Irrigation Company


Address and Telephone #: 175 N. 400 W.

                                                Smithfield, UT 84335



Administers to what canals? 

Logan And Northern Irrigation Canal


Which of these are being considered for trail development by others? (Questions specific to these canals are italicized)

Logan And Northern Irrigation Canal


Endpoints (cities, towns, river diverted from or any other landmarks)

Logan River ­ Richmond


The total length

About 13 miles


Capacities and depths

 65 c.f.’s. max and varies.


Width of the canal R.O.W. and the canal itself

4-5 ft or more.


In what year did canal construction begin?

Mid 1800’s


In what year did the canal open?

See above.




1-       Do you know if any canals are currently being used for recreation? If so, what are the existing uses you know of?

·                    Very little with ours.  It would be a great potential though for hiking along this in my opinion and my feeling is I would like to see it. But there is a lot of static from adjacent homeowners.  All we have is a right-of-way along the canal.  If the canal is running north and south then we have it on the west bank and south side if its running east and west.  We have an easement which is about 12-16 feet something like that.  Another words big enough so that we can get back ho’s in if we need to.  But the people who have houses along there actually own right up to the canal.  So there is a lot of them that object. There is a lot of walking and hiking and that sort of thing along a section of the canal between canyon and 4th north.  And we haven’t discouraged it.  There is a section about 5 miles in North Logan that Hyde Park was pushing to get developed about 3 years ago but there was a lot of static in fact we had our annual meeting and the place was filled with property owners who came to object to it.  They were concerned about littering and a small child falling in and filling a suit.


2-       Do you allow public use/ access? If not, what signing and notice efforts do you have in place to warn recreation users not to use the canal banks?

·                    We as a company and board of directors haven’t really said yea or ney.  We have just left it up to the property owners.  We don’t have the right…I guess we could put signs up and say don’t do it and if someone comes along and say’s how are you going to stop me, we would have a hard time stopping them where we are not the owner of the land.  We as a board have just left it open.  If they hike we don’t have any objection to that.  We have signs that say enter at your own risk for our own protection.  As long as they understand that you hike or whatever at your own risk but we don’t want vehicles driven up on there so we have a gate.


3-       How aggressively are these efforts enforced?

·                    If we had someone riding up and down it with a jeep we would be right there.  But as long as its used with respect and mainly for biking or walking, to me that is great.


4-       Do you have any concerns regarding these existing uses?

·                    No, I don’t.




5-       To the best of your knowledge, have there ever been any liability or injury claims lodged against your canal company or other entities or individuals associated with the canal?  If so, what claims?

·                    Not while I have been in the directorship. But there could have been years before.  We have had quite a bit of trouble maintaining that canal along the university hill  with slides and it has cost us as much for maintenance along that mile there as it does the rest of the 12 ­13 miles of the canal together on the rest of it.  And two years ago we had a major slide and one of the houses flooded.  We had liability insurance that covered it.


6-       What existing risk management do you have in place?

·                    We have the liability insurance but if someone was injured real bad I'm not sure just how good our insurance would be to cover that.  You would have to talk to our insurance provider.


7-       How do you feel about piping or covering canals as a solution to liability or to increase efficiency of water conveyance?  Have such discussions taken place concerning the canals your company administers too?

·                    When I became president a few years ago one of the first things I looked into was piping along that mile, but the astronomical cost soon discouraged me.  Unless you can get a grant or something to do it its just too much.  It would take about a 5-6 foot diameter pipe to do it to carry that and that gets expensive. It was up at about several hundred thousand dollars just for that one mile.  About $2-300,000.  


8-       Are you aware of a cities or counties ability to shield canal companies from liability by way of indemnification or inclusion under their respective insurance? 

Typical Maintenance agreement would state that: The city or agency “ holds harmless company from any and all liability arising out of the construction, maintenance and operation of such landscaping, walkways and parking facilities.”     

 Colorado:  1.   Audubon section of the Colorado River Trail which parallels the Redlands Canal. (Mesa Co. indemnified)

12.     Highline Canal  (each respective city)

13.     Westminster and Farmers Highline Canal. (Westminster)

·                    Logan city has been real good to work with.  I think Hyde Park was ready to do that but it was the landowners that said no your not going to do it…so until you convert them the majority…


9-       Are you aware of Utah’s Recreational Use Statutes?  If so, how much do you know about it?

·                    I don’t know a lot about them. 


10-   Do you feel the liability risks associated with recreational use of canals are higher or lower or equal to the risks associated with other recreational facilities?

·                    I think it might be a little bit higher because of the water there where small kids can drown.


11-   Do you think some of your liability concerns can be addressed given proper design, construction and maintenance of a trail along any of your canals? If so, which concerns?

·                    Yes, in my feeling it can be worked out but there are some members on the board that don’t feel that way.  On the concerns are that we don’t want to be liable if an accident happens.  We also need to have to get our equipment on there also.




12-   To the best of your knowledge, what is the existing adjacent land use along the canal/ canals by percentage?

40    % Residential

                                60    % Agricultural

                                        % Business


13-   What are the existing ownership standings along the length of the canal/ canals?

In terms of:

0      % Public

                                100  % Private


14-   Does your company or WUA own land under any portion of the canal/canals?

·                    One little spot its about a 150 feet we pay taxes on.  That’s another reason we don’t want to own is because we would have to pay taxes on that.  I think that as stock holders they would own the water and the canal. 


15-   Does your company or WUA own easements for any portion of the canal/ canals?

·                    We have an easement all the way along that was established way back in the 1800’s.  its an old enough easement that if someone comes along and builds a house and says hey I'm going to shut you down your not going to travel along this right of way, I'm going to put my fence up and you stay out.  Then if they were that ignorant then we would have to take them to court and there is no question that they would loose.  Its an easement for maintenance. 


16-   Does the respective city own land under any portion of the canal/ canals?

·                    Not that I know of.


17-   Are you familiar with general ownership standings along the canal/ canals.

-  How much of the canal corridor is owned in fee simple by adjacent landowners? (Own land and canal company has an easement.) 

-  Have adjacent landowners or the city adversely possessed any  sections of the canal R.O.W.?

·                    See above.


18-   Please explain your relationship with the BOR regarding ownership of underlying land.

·                    We don’t have one to the best of my knowledge.


19-   Are there any existing encroachments such as fencing or vegetation? If so, how have you dealt with the problem?

·                    We had some trouble here in Hyde Park.  There was two or three people who built a home on the west side of the canal.  They started to put up a fence right up against the canal.  They called me and I said that I can’t stop you as long as you have a gate for us to get through with back ho’s and whatever, otherwise if we needed to get in there we would just come tearing through and push it down.  I think the city tried to discourage it.  I'm not sure what the outcome is yet.  I think they were doing it to stop this trail.


20-   Does your company or WUA have the legal authority to provide (if you wish to) the right for recreation trail use for all parties or some parties? Please explain.

·                    No, not unless the landowners agree.


21-   Conversely, Would consent from your canal company be legally required if easements for recreational trail use on your canals were acquired from the underlying landowner by a recreational entity or agency?

·                    I don’t know for sure.  In my opinion I don’t think it would have to be but then I might be wrong.  I think strictly think that the landowner that would have to agree to it.


22-   Are there different answers for different sections of the canal?

·                    N/A see above.


23-   If easements for a recreation trail were acquired from the underlying landowners by a public entity such as the respective city would Bureau of Reclamation consent to this use be legally binding?

·                    N/A. See #18.




24-   Do you foresee any obstacles in developing a canal as a recreational trail?


F.       Liability ­ Why?

-  Attractive nuisance

-  Liability should cover entire corridor not just path.

II.       Safety ­ Why?

JJ.      Crime ­ Why?

-  Law enforcement: Time of response

-  Changing emergency procedures/ protocol

-  Protection of facilities and appurtenant structures. Such as flow measurement gauges and spillway structures.

KK.  Operation and Maintenance ­ Why?

-  Increased O+M costs

-  Canal company rights: it’s a work space, headgates get daily attention during irrigation season, need availability of frequent daily access to headgates, ditchriders use heavy equipment, need to access both sides of canal, inspection of canal daily.

-  Vegetation management for visual inspection.

-  People need to honor the ditchriders need to pass!

(Have headphones on, dogs running loose, dogs in canal, horses and get spooked, bicyclist not paying attention.)

-  and M of dirt canal will not allow surfaced trails along side on canal bank.

LL.    E.  Funding ­ Why?

-  Lack of resources (funding) to cope with the increased costs that may or may not be associated with trail development.

MM.           Lack of Management entity ­ Why?

NN.  Other ­ Please explain:

-  Public perception that the canal is public land.

-  All uses should be subordinate to agricultural use.

-  Private property owner’s rights: taking without compensation, multi-purpose easements.

·                    You have got to convince the majority of the landowners.  We would just have to be free of liability and make sure there was plenty of room for heavy equipment to get in there if need be along he trail.  Because we have headgates we are concerned about that being vandalized.  If we had to up the Anne to help maintain the trail then no.   We deal in a very low budget another words we try to get by with as low a cost as we can.  We don’t have a lot of money to spend on a lot of things.  If we start raising the taxes on the shareholders then hey what is going on here.  Another concern is not knowing if its going to be maintained like it should years down the road.


25-   If a trail were developed along one of your canals what implementation measures would you like to see?

-  (Risk management, set backs from maintenance road, fencing, restrictions on time of use, etc.)

·                    We wouldn’t want partying at all times of the night. 


26-   Have you ever been contacted by anyone concerning trail development on any of your canals?  If so, who is it and where do negotiations stand?

·                    Hyde Park came to us when they were really pushing it about two years ago.  But when we had that meeting that night that pretty well through it out.  The majority of the landowners that was there…there was only one that was in favor out of over a hundred people.  So, it was shot down.


27-   Are you aware of any other trails built next to irrigation canals in Utah?

·                    Not that I am aware of.


28-   What forms of recreational use permission are you aware of?

-  Donation of easements, sale of recreational use easement, sales of fee title to the land under the canal easement?

·                    No.


29-   Given that there is no easy way to keep the public off the canals, how do you feel about the idea that opening the canal for recreational use might actually help manage existing uses, as opposed to complete closure, which could be expensive, difficult to enforce and difficult to defend regarding public relations?

·                    This is one thing that I felt would be good.  This is one of the things that the city of Hyde Park brought out, the city council, this very thing.  If someone was managing it there and it was open for use and managed properly it would be better than the way it is now.  I'm my opinion it wouldn’t be any worse if it was managed properly.  And my feeling is that it would be of tremendous amount of value it would be for a lot of people that like to hike, walk whatever.  Especially as the population of the valley grows.  More and more pressure for those kinds of places.


30-   What is your position regarding controlling use through Cooperative Recreational Use Agreements with public entities in order to get help managing the recreational use without interfering with the water works?

·                    In my opinion I would be all for it, another words if we had an agreement with any of the cities.  We talked about a few uses we wouldn’t like such as vehicles and horses with the city.




31-   From what month to what month does the operation season last?

When are the canals generally filled and drained? 

What typical O+M tasks are performed during this period?

-  Type of equipment used? -Grade all. Skid Loaders, Track Ho (Hydro Unit), Road Graders, and Draglines.

·                    Officially its from May first until October first, but that is just the official months that we pay our water master or ditch rider.  If we have a dry spring we will put water in as early as early April.  Usually we are through irrigation by the end of September.  There is a small stream of water that goes on until November, usually for stock watering.  The labor was all done by hand at one point but now you can’t find the labor to do that so its all done by back ho’s.  We contract out for that type of work.  We also have a rotary mower that we go along with out as close to the edge of the water as we can.


32-   Do your ditch riders perform O+M checks on a daily basis during operation seasons and if so at what times of the day?

-  How many ditchriders do you have.

·                    We also have our ditch rider that is on duty twenty four hours a day right from May first until September thirtieth.  He is on call.  He won’t get along the whole canal everyday but he will check parts throughout each week and continue the same routine the next week.  It used to be that you could ride all the way along it with a horse or bike but its getting harder and harder to do that with development.  But what he will usually do is drive with his pick up as far as he can then he will park and walk the rest. 


33-   What typical complaints do they have concerning ease of O+M?

-  What uses have they reported conflicts with during routine maintenance?

·                    We still have people taking water when they are not supposed to.


34-   Briefly discuss the operation and maintenance tasks you feel would most likely be interfered with due to increased recreation.                    

·                    The biggest concern I would have is that we could still get along there to maintain what we have to do.  That we sill have access to do what we need to do when we need to do it.  As long as they didn’t put trees in our way so we couldn’t get through there.  In terms of people being on the trail though theres no problem because they can move in a hurry.  Along with vandalism if there was a recreation trail along there. 


35-   Do you feel a developed trail would increase, decrease, or have no effect on your ability to maintenance the canal? Why?

·                    I think if it was done right I don’t think it would interfere much in my opinion.  I just think the benefits for the recreational use along there would be terrific for them substantially if it was done right.  And that is just my opinion.




36-   Do you feel there are any resolvable solutions to any of your concerns? Explain.

·                    I think they can all be worked out without much difficulty.


37-   Could you summarize what it is you feel are the most important issues involving public recreational use of your canal R.O.W.?

·                    The number one thing that we need to keep in mind is that there are a lot of farmers/stockholders that rely tremendously on this water for their livelyhood to water and irrigate their fields with.  So that is number on, that comes first.  The recreational part of it is secondary but still I just feel it would be a good thing in my opinion.


38-   Can these concerns be addressed with creative and proper design, construction and management of the trail.

·                    I think it could from my veiwpoint.


39-   Do you have any final thoughts, feelings, or general concerns regarding recreational use of canals?

·                    I think we covered everything.


Related topics:

More resources:

Updated September 1, 2006

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