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PROVO — Brigham Young University now owns the entirety of the Y Mountain Trail, the block Y and the area around the Y, university administrators announced Monday.
In total, the university purchased about 81 acres of land on Y Mountain from the Forest Service following a bill passed by Congress in December 2014 that required the conveyance, according to Brigham Young University.
Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch sponsored the bill. With Sen. Harry Reid's help, it was included in the National Defense Authorization Act.
"With the deed from the U.S. Forest Service to BYU now recorded, we look forward to sharing Y Mountain with our neighbors, friends and visitors," BYU president Kevin J. Worthen said in a statement. "Already there are plans in place to preserve this trail for generations to come. We are especially grateful for the support we received from senators Hatch, Lee and Reid and representatives Chaffetz and Bishop, as well as (Provo) Mayor (John) Curtis."
Both the Y and the Y Mountain Trail can still be accessed the same way they were before, but with BYU as the landowner, a series of major trail improvements will begin this spring.
Crews will work to shore up parts of the trail where erosion has made it hard to pass and will put up signs that inform hikers how far they have come on the trail and native wildlife that may be seen in the area. The parking area and trailhead will also be improved.
Permanent lighting will be added to the 380-foot-tall Y on the mountain, which will help the university more quickly "light the Y," which it does for freshman orientation, homecoming and commencement.
"One of the first things that visitors to BYU notice is the presence of the mountains that rise dramatically to the east of our campus," Worthen said. "We intend to make sure the Y continues to stand as a welcoming symbol to all who come to Utah Valley."
The trail will close multiple times for some major improvements, but will remain open for the majority of the trail maintenance.
Jesse Knight, a benefactor of BYU, previously owned the land before it was transferred to the federal government in the 1930s. After the transfer, BYU continued to maintain the Y and worked with the Forest Service to create and maintain the trail.
"Mayor Curtis assisted in the acquisition of the trail by testifying before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands when the bill was introduced in 2012," according to Brigham Young University. "Rep. Bishop chaired that committee while Sen. Mike Lee spoke in favor of the bill on BYU's behalf as a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources."
Chaffetz and Hatch each released statements regarding the acquisition.
"BYU owning the land on Y Mountain finally settles who is responsible for maintaining the area surrounding the popular and heavily traveled trail," Chaffetz said. "This is a win for Utahns, Y Mountain visitors and the federal government. Local control of the trail will provide greater access, improve long-term maintenance, and preserve the beauty of Y Mountain for future hikers to enjoy."
"Y Mountain has stood as a proud symbol over Utah Valley for more than one hundred years, welcoming generations of Utahns to Provo," Hatch said. "I am pleased we were able to work successfully with the Forest Service to ensure that visitors and future residents have continued access to the trail and this historic landmark."