Summit and Weber County Nonprofits Join Forces to Protect Land Farmed by Monks

Apr 13, 2021

Last week, the Summit Land Conservancy announced that it is partnering with the Ogden Valley Land Trust to protect a 1,080-acre property near Huntsville that was once home to a Catholic monastery.

 

The Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity was a Trappist Cistercian monastery settled in 1947 about 67 miles north of Park City in eastern Weber County. The monks kept bees, farmed and ranched on the land, and they were known for their locally produced creamed honey. 

 

In 2016, Huntsville resident Bill White (no relation to the owner of Bill White Farms in Park City) purchased the monastery and the land. The monks, all of whom are in their 80s now, have since moved to an assisted living center in Salt Lake City.

 

Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox said the Ogden Valley Land Trust approached the Summit County nonprofit to help them obtain a conservation easement on the land. She said the property was expensive, and Fox's staff thought it would be a good way to partner with the fellow open space group.

 

“In order to save it, it required, you know, another huge federal grant of the magnitude that the Osguthorpe 160 grant was, and an all-volunteer organization didn't really have the capacity to put in that kind of a federal grant,” she said. “So, the Summit Land Conservancy wrote that grant and we were here today because we've learned that that grant has been awarded, and that's $8.8 million, the total project costs which includes the purchase price plus transaction costs is nine and a half million.”

 

Under the conservation easement, the landowners would retain the property, but it would be under an easement protecting it from development. Fox said Summit Land Conservancy was able to write a big federal grant request, but they're looking to the Ogden Valley Land Trust to help supplement another $700,000 toward the conservation easement purchase. 

 

“The landowner is donating 58% of the easement value, but often with our landowners, it's somewhere between about 35 and 25% that they donate so this is a big contribution from this landowner,” she said. “He's also spent millions of dollars installing new irrigation systems.” 

 

The landowners have had to tear down old buildings that made up the cloisters and the church, which were filled with asbestos and faulty wiring. 

 

“He’s really restoring, renovating, upgrading the property so that it can be a long-term organic farm, actually, on over 1,000 acres.” 

 

You can find more information about saving the Huntsville Monastery at the Summit Land Conservancy's website.