BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – For the last 84 years, local family ranchers bring their sheep from the high-country mountains of Cache and Weber counties to Bear River City – traveling through the backcountry and roadways.
Bringing these sheep home requires the help of law enforcement to stop southbound traffic on Highway 89/91 in Sardine Canyon while the sheep travel from Mantua to Brigham City, and eventually Bear River.
Onlookers stand anxiously on sidewalks and street corners watching the more than 2,000 sheep herd walk the streets.
Karl and Lane Jensen are father and son who are the second and third generation ranchers on Eph Jensen Livestock and every year, they head out on a three-day journey to bring their sheep home.
The travel isn’t continuous however, Lane Jensen said the second day can be the most challenging because they have to get the sheep two miles through Sardine Canyon and pass through Brigham City neighborhoods, but rewarding as they get to show their sheep to the public as they pass by.
“It’s become a big deal because it’s so much more uncommon now for the public to see it. It’s one day a year that it happens,” Lane Jensen said.
For the last five years, Lane Jensen said they hold their annual trailing of the sheep over Box Elder County’s fall break so children can watch and have an experience they might not have otherwise.
“It’s a teaching tool,” Karl Jensen said.
This tradition began with Lane’s grandfather, Eph Jensen, when he bought their pasture in the high-country years ago.
As Eph Jensen grew older, he relied on his son, Karl Jensen to help.
Karl said he graduated from the University of Utah in 1958, and taught school and coached football for two years – until he was asked to go back home to help ‘run the outfit.’
“So, rather than be a school teacher, I come home to run my dad’s livestock, and it’s been some tough years,” Karl said. “But, we’re still here.”
Karl has now been ranching for 59 years.
Following in similar footsteps, Lane Jensen is helping his father with the ranch – and is helping grow the flock of sheep into more than 2,000.
“I don’t regret coming home,” Karl Jensen said, “to have enough respect for my father and what he put together. If I hadn’t of come home, this outfit would have been gone.”
The Jensens say their ranch is the last of its kind in Northern Utah to herd their sheep on a once-popular sheep trail.
Because the Jensens have to bring their sheep across Highway 89/91 and through local neighborhoods, Lane Jensen said the Utah Highway Patrol, the Utah Department of Transportation and local law enforcement help make it possible.
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