By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
KANARRAVILLE–Yes, people are finding the way to Kanarraville.
David Ence, long time town-clerk has spent most of his life in the little town that has become something of a shiny magnet for day-hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
According to Ence, up to 60,000 hikers find their way to Main Street in Kanarraville each year, and up to the base of a trailhead where they can park all day at $ 10 a pop. While the town has resisted serious growth over the years, he recalls that streets were mostly unpaved into the 1960’s with few services or reasons to linger.
“This has always been a fantastic place to grow up,” says Ence of their newfound popularity, where residents still embrace the quiet, no-frills lifestyle that began when pioneers first settled here in the 1860’s. But as with any growing Utah community, says Ence, all issues are local and unique.
“We’re working on the spring (and water-supply) issues right now,” say Ence of the Township and the impacts of tourism. In short, “Trail use impacts everything from water resources, and land erosion, from litter to emerging waste issues,” says Ence, whose desk is covered with stacks of paper and the post-it-notes that dot the walls around him.
“There aren’t any (services) latrines along the hiking trail up to the Falls, so there are waste issues to address,” explains Ence of the topic. “I’d say we’re not trying to close anything off, but to better manage use issues and to educate visitors.” He says that signs are posted outlining the rules about ‘no dogs’ and also the responsibility to ‘remove any litter or waste’ from the trail.
“Basically, we’re asking hikers and others to be considerate (of neighbors) as they walk along the streets — to park in designated areas, and to avoid impromptu picnics in a resident’s yard. Like Mayor Allred says – please, leave only the footprints.”
According to Ence, the two-acre parking space (at the base of the trailhead) has alleviated much of the overflow issues that had previously beset quiet, neighboring streets. “The residents that live (at those addresses) tend to get grumpy about parking rules, so it was a tremendous blessing when we finally found a remedy.”
And he estimates that up to 80 percent of the visitors now park their cars in designated areas.
The Township is now turning their attention on ways to protect their water supply and natural resource. “It’s pretty intense usage (on the trail) from May to Labor Day,” says Ence of the environment. “We’re now seeing the extreme hikers that want to test themselves in winter conditions, so we have to take some action on water-protection and how we can (best) maintain water quality for residents.”
When Ence isn’t pondering those issues, there are other matters to address for 355 residents who call Kanarraville home — like the use and management of the (dump) transfer station in town. “We actually run a pretty tight ship here,” says Ence of their community, “And that has meant enforcing some restrictions.”
Over the years, (the transfer station) began to be used by Iron County and Washington County residents but was intended for the Town of Kanarraville. More recently, people just weren’t following the (environmental) restrictions. “Basically, the Township pulled 12 refrigerators out of the (station) between January and August, 2017 – along with dead animals, paint buckets, batteries and cool-on units.”
Aside from threatening the ground and water supply (per federal EPA standards) there were removal costs too. “When we have to take those (restricted) items over to the Iron County landfill depot, there is generally a bill.” The Township recently decided to maintain the site as an open transit station for residents, and to apply a key system for access.
Ence recalls Kanarra as a town with few convenience points or paved roads, back when (Old) Highway 91 was the main route to Cedar City or all-points south.
“Kanarraville has a beautiful cemetery here, a fantastic ball field and the old Dance Hall (dating back to the 1930’s) – And, it’s just a great space for families or gatherings that we offer them at no cost to use,” says Ence.
In November, Ence is predicting a high turnout of voters. “We had our first Primary vote here with a 62 percent turnout,” says Ence of the Mayoral and Town Board race, “And I’m predicting a 90 percent turnout for the General Election (with write in ballots included).”
In short, Ence is optimistic about the future of the little township situated just outside the big city. “I have to say, what is there not to be happy about?”
Caption: David Ence, born and raised in Kanarraville, has served as Township Clerk since 2005. He and Mayor Allred are tackling local issues that include managing and improving Kanarra Falls’ trail usage, protecting and enforcing local and environmental protections for the natural water-spring supply, and improving local services for residents.