"It is such a generous offer and gift from the family," said Cort Ashton, an open-space advocate as a then-Salt Lake County councilman and now head of the county's Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Committee.
"We're just in awe," he added. "We're so used to having to buy these parcels, and people wanting top dollar for them. To end up with property like this in our stewardship is just incredible."
The decision to donate was not completely philanthropic, acknowledged Joyce Jackson, 81, one of Kenneth and Ada Marie White's four children, all now in their late 70s and early 80s.
The family had paid property taxes on the parcels for decades, she said, and the county had not allowed any development to occur there because of the rugged terrain, which already contains a stretch of road that served quarries abandoned long ago.
But Jackson said the family also was inspired by knowing that people have enjoyed walking those foothills for years and that many more will do so in decades to come, especially when the whole Bonneville Shoreline Trail is completed from Cache to Juab counties.
"Mother and father would be pleased," she said.
Their family name already is etched into Salt Lake County's political landscape. White City is the name of several islands of unincorporated land surrounded by Sandy, subdivisions that Kenneth White developed in the mid-1950s when Sandy was mostly farmland.
White also developed water companies that have been merged into today's water districts. He bought lands and built homes from Kearns to the east-bench neighborhoods below Grandeur Peak and Mount Olympus.
He and Ada Marie also kicked in money toward construction of the White Community Memorial Chapel, a replica of the LDS Church's historic 18th Ward building that occupies a prominent position on the bench just south of the Utah Capitol.
"My grandparents were very generous to the community all of their lives," said W. Kevin Jackson, Joyce's son, and the family's contact on the deal with county Real Estate Director Lee Colvin. "If there was a need for something, if there was a way they could accommodate a request [for assistance], they did it."
The White family approached the county this spring with the offer to donate the parcels directly south of 14 acres the county owns at the mouth of Parleys Canyon.
Colvin was excited, knowing the land "has a beautiful view of Grandeur Peak and the whole valley," he said. "And we [the county] have a good trailhead at the mouth of Parleys where you can get up there on your mountain bike or two feet and take a hike."
An outside appraisal valued the property at $205,000, an amount that can be deducted on tax returns of MK White Enterprises, the company that handles the holdings of four existing generations of White family members.
"We just need to find a way to extend the trail over to Mill Creek Canyon," Colvin said. "But there are a lot of property owners [in the remaining stretch]. Getting all that land will probably cost a pretty penny. So to get a third of a mile for nothing is incredible."
Kevin Jackson said he is eager to see the Bonneville Shoreline Trail take shape on his family's former lands, and leading his grandchildren and great-grandchildren up there "and telling them this is partly because of our family. We have connections to the ground here."
Ashton is convinced future Utahns will be appreciative, too.
"Trails rank very high in what the public wants and what they think their governments ought to be providing for them," he said. "To have property like this, where people can recreate and enjoy the place in which they live, it adds so much more to the community."
Bonneville Shoreline Trail
The envisioned trail follows shorelines left behind by the lake that covered much of western Utah and extended into southern Idaho and eastern Nevada from 32,000 to 14,500 years ago.
The trail would stretch from Idaho to northern Juab County. In Salt Lake County alone, 56 miles of trail have been identified.