SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — After three homes were destroyed and more were evacuated due to a landslide in Draper, residents on mountains and foothills in Utah may be wondering if their property is also at risk during 2023's spring runoff.
In fact, most of the landslide sites in the Beehive State that are being monitored by geologists are near residential areas.
Crews from the Utah Geological Survey have had the daunting task of watching and keeping up with landslides across the Wasatch Front. Some haven’t been on their watch list until this year.
One slide has been slowly moving for many years just north of the Utah State Capitol Building in City Creek Canyon.
Resident Cathy Babcook has lived right next to the canyon for 10 years. In just the past few weeks, she’s seen new movement.
Just a few weeks ago, a portion of her neighbor’s fence slid down the hill.
“That used to be a complete fence with the corner visible,” she said, pointing to a spot where the land has shifted. “There is a Russian olive tree that’s, sort of, halfway down the hillside now.”
Babcook said the city has fortified the slope next to her property, but her lot was deemed unbuildable many years ago.
“I don’t know that the previous owners knew that,” she said.
City Creek Canyon was one of over 100 slide areas being watched by the Utah Geological Survey, and most of those have been near residential areas.
New slides have popped up just this year.
For instance, two were reported in Layton. A slide that injured a couple in Fruit Heights was not on their radar.
Senior geologist Greg McDonalds said they recently got a tip about a new landslide in Logan by Cliffside Drive.
“It’s an area that’s prone to landslides, but this is an area that has never slid before,” he said.
Two areas were being watched in North Salt Lake – one in the Spring Hill Lane area, and another in Parkway Drive, where a large slide happened nine years ago.
City manager Ken Leetham said they have equipment in the ground near Parkway Drive to track any soil movement.
2News asked what was being done to ensure the areas that appear to be safe for now, stay safe later. Leetham said the city was adjusting to previous landslides as they’ve happened.
“Since the slide in 2014, we have changed our city ordinances. We require much more comprehensive geotechnical studies,” he said.
They’ve also kept close watch over known problem areas.
“In both of our landslides, the (US Geological Survey) is monitoring those slides. They have instrumentation that has been placed in the ground,” Leetham said. “Our public works department is out in the city every day.”
He said the city engineer has also watched for problems.
The Utah Geological Survey has also been watching new slides in Emigration Canyon, Mountain Green and Bear River City near the cemetery.