SLU Acquires SL County Equestrian Center at USU Land Exchange


Utah State University owns the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center in South Jordan, which transfers control of the facility to the university in the exchange of land between the parties.

Instead, the county receives 50 acres in Herriman, donated by the Bastian Family Foundation to USU. The land allows hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers to enter the Butterfield Valley. A formal announcement is expected in the near future.

Under the agreement, Holly Yocom, director of the Department of Community Services, said the county reserves the first right to refuse if the university decides to sell 119 acres in South Jordan.

The county will sell 31 shares of water to USU under a separate agreement that “will allow them to do some work on the property,” Yocom said. He said the county will have the first right to refuse water shares if the university decides to sell them.

A conceptual use project envisages the development of a natural resource area as part of the USU Bastian Agriculture Center, which includes a lake with activity island, eco island, beach and docks.

It also includes amphitheater, water courses and native plants.

County records say one of the donor’s primary goals is to provide agricultural education and experiences to a growing urban population.

Under the plan, the USU extension will continue to operate most of the equestrian services currently in the park and other agricultural and educational programs.

Plans include adding a STEM Center (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Plant Production Center, Animal Center and Natural Resources Area to the current equestrian facility at 2100 W. 11400 South.

The Bastian Family Foundation has donated land to USU and is a “trailhead property” traded to the county, located between 7902 West and 8300 West, just south of State Route 111.

Under the plan, USU will upgrade arenas and facilities to attract more horse and non-horse events in the future.

A significant change would remove the racetrack from the facility. At a recent public hearing, several county residents told the council that removing the track would result in job loss for trainers, jockeys and frontiers and end training opportunities for racehorse owners.

Glade Wantassell of Draper, a member of the Utah Quarter Horse Racing Board and the Wyoming Downs Horsemen’s Association, told council, “Everybody cares here but racetrack horses.”

Wantassell said he has been training horses at the facility since the 1970s and that removing the track would put his horse-riding jockeys out of work.

“When this happens, they don’t have a job anymore and I’m out of my job. We don’t have any track from Ogden to St George,” he said.

A horse is pictured on Friday, January 7, 2022 at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center in South Jordan.  Utah State University will take ownership of the center after years of debate over the feasibility of the facility.

County Council Member Jim Bradley, who noted his long association with the facility and its users, said the track has served the horse community well for years, “and for a variety of reasons, I see a lack of long-term support to keep Equestrian Park’s integrity alive.

Bradley is saddened to say it but to keep the facility for a long time, “USU is a better steward for us than that park.”

In 2016, the council studied whether Equestrian Park was worth $ 1 million annually to taxpayers, leaving millions in needed maintenance. The council was weighing whether to reduce the size of the park or close it.

Eventually, the facility was saved and the county used some of the proceeds from the park bond approved by voters in 2016 for maintenance and improvements.

Planned USU Bastian Agriculture Center promotes youth education through the only youth 4-H center in Utah, offering community-based adult education and “more research and development to explore better products and processes.”

Kenneth White, dean of the College of Agricultural and Applied Sciences and Vice President of Extension and Agriculture, said the center “will truly be a celebration of agriculture and provide the public with a place to learn and experience more about agriculture and natural resources.”

USU President Noel Cockett wished that the lifelong farmer and farmer, David Bastian, would be alive to celebrate the system being implemented.

“An old-time farmer was looking at all the growth around his 1,400 acres and knew that his land would be developed into residential, his goal was to keep the farm aware and connected. It allows the state of Utah to do so so this is a really exciting moment, ”he said.

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