June 14, 2015
(NICK) My name is Nick Clarke. I’m from Alpine, Utah. My involvement in here is I have grown up here and I have family property and a family cabin up by Silver Lake Flat.
I have been really disappointed in the fact that I am pretty dialed into what’s going on in terms of public land development. I’ve read the Mountain Accord stuff and I still haven’t heard anything about this from any official sources. Just word of mouth and I‘ve been really disappointed in the response we’ve gotten from the Forest Service and the way this has been handled.
Meeting (NICK) Was AF Canyon included in any of the Mountain Accord proposals?
(KAREN) This is part of the reason I started to bark.
(NICK) A lot of the major stake holders like the mayors in the area, the mayor of Alpine, the different interest groups in Utah County haven’t really heard about this. I consider myself someone who’s is pretty well informed on what’s happening with public lands issues here in the area and I hadn’t heard anything about it having read the Mountain Accord proposals and what not
Meeting(KAREN) Back in the 1980’s I went to a Lehi City public meeting when Dick Bass was starting to purchase little land pieces here and there. This started going on in the mid 80’s. Buying this, buying this, no one knew. Well all of a sudden there’s a thing in the paper, back in the days when everyone had a paper. Oh, there’s a meeting about Snowbird coming into Mineral Basin. I’m like, no, no, no, no. It was me, a couple Forest Service Employees and a couple Snowbird employees, Dick Bass and his son. Back then the public wasn’t voicing their opinion and saying no so we basically gave Snowbird the key. “Come on in, come on in, here’s the key.” Time goes on, they get a couple lifts, then all of a sudden they get the tunnel, etc., etc. and in the meantime, their buying up more little pieces, more little pieces…and here’s the Mountain Accord thing that no one really knows about in Utah County. If you take the Salt Lake paper, you hear about it, but some of us, if you have kids in sports, we take the Herald. I can’t look at the Tribune and see anything about Utah County, so us Utah County people are still left in the dark because we’re not really paying attention to what’s going on up there.
Basically the way Save Our Canyons have Good, Bad and Ugly about Mountain Accord blueprint. Bad-Snowbird is negotiating a land exchange with the US Forest Service for areas in Utah County. These lands would surely be developed by Snowbird as they edge toward securing a second base in Utah County. But what’s AWESOME about it is as part of that same land exchange Snowbird and Forest Service, parts of Mount Superior, Flagstaff Mountain, plus holdings in White Pine Canyon and Day’s Fork will be permanently protected from future condos, roller coasters, development and ski area expansions. On our website there was a fifty minute long pod cast with Mountain Accord, the guy from Black Diamond, Save Our Canyons. Laney Jones, the lady that’s over Mountain Accord, she said basically, almost word for word, “We didn’t want to include Utah County because we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew” so there you go. But in order to save White Pine and Mt Superior, “Oh, Snowbird will give us this and you can have this.” Well this down here is in Utah County.
(NICK) Andrew McClain is something of a prominent activist in Wasatch preservation in Park City. He was writing about Ski-Link and the one Utah initiative. He was quoting another one of his friends and was saying “The Wasatch Range is a very small, very limited range, near to a really large population center.” It is very unique. It’s a very small range and gets an incredible amount of use in a way that you really don’t see in Boulder, you really don’t see in Montana. Maybe a little bit in Tahoe in California. The Wasatch is a very unique place and it has a lot of demands.
Fifty, sixty years ago, we all as a public decided ok we are going to give up really the vast majority of the high quality, upper elevation, north facing, steep slopes to private enterprise for a ski industry which has really driven the economy here. It’s what we are known for internationally. We made that compromise. We made that compromise to give up a huge swath of the highest quality of land in the Wasatch. And now, fifty years later we’ve got the same parties coming back to the table saying “We need to compromise, we need to compromise, there needs to be more development. We need to link up all these ski resorts, we got to compromise.”
The Wasatch hasn’t grown at all in fifty years, and unfortunately, the geological time frame is not going to permit the Wasatch to grow any more for anything that is relevant to us. We’ve made our compromise. We don’t need to compromise anymore. The public has given up a lot of the best land and we need to preserve what we’ve got still. The fact of the matter is American Fork Canyon is really the only close mixed use canyons in the Wasatch. It’s still accessible to people, equestrians, bicyclist, skiers, back country skiers, snowmobilers, four-wheelers, ATV’ers.
You can’t do that in Little Cottonwood Canyon. You can just barely do that in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I don’t think you can do that in Mill Creek. Parley’s Canyon has a freeway going through it. Provo Canyon’s got it a little bit but it’s just a whole other deal. It’s really important to have that mixed use with our public lands and I think it makes good sense to say we’ve already given up a lot of the land already for private use and restricted rights as the public and we don’t need to continue to do that. We really need to strike a balance and we’ve already struck a balance. We have a healthy ski industry. We’ve got a lot of resorts that have some of the best terrain in the world. What’s to be gained as a skier from having them spill over into this canyon? It’s not worth the price. It’s not worth the price at all.
I think that it’s really important that we recognize that fifty years ago the public gave up the vast majority of the high quality, upper elevation, north facing slopes and those compromises that all those parties are coming to the table saying we need more compromise, we need more compromise. We need to have more access to the Wasatch. The Wasatch hasn’t gotten any bigger, we made our compromise. We need to have a nice balance of mixed use. I really think the compromise has been made and we should keep AF Canyon in the state that it is in now.
If we want more development to happen, let it happen in the tri-canyon area.
I’m really disappointed by the fact that this development has gone on behind closed doors. There’s not a whole lot of discussion that I’ve heard about independently. And I think it would be really good to have some one like Doug Fabrizeo or someone over at the KUER news desk to talk about this and get a little more information on both sides about what is going on here with this development and these recent developments with Mountain Accord, and American Fork Vision. Lets go to KSL, Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune. Let’s have a discussion about what’s going on here so that all of the stakeholders can be involved.