Wasatch Interconnected by Congressional Fiat
A Wasatch Environmental Update by John Worlock
Listen to this update by clicking here or read the update below!
We’re having a difficult time adjusting to the week’s shocking news. We already knew that Talisker Mountain, the corporate owners of Canyons Resort on the back side of the Wasatch Range, was planning to build a gondola to carry skiers over the ridge from their resort, connecting with Solitude Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We had reasonably assumed that the usual public process of debate would ensue, and that the folks on the Salt Lake County side would have something to say about the project. The recent Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow survey revealed that the local users of the Cottonwood Canyons are in agreement with the Forest Service’s rule of no further ski area expansion, and further are sympathetic to the efforts of Salt Lake City’s Public Works, which is charged with protecting the precious watershed.
The shocking news is that four members of the Utah Congressional Delegation have secretly prepared and now introduced into Congress a bill specifying that the Forest Service should sell some 30 acres of public land to Talisker. These 30 acres would provide a corridor through the National Forest, on which Talisker could then build its series of towers without consulting the public or the Forest Service. Since the gondola would be on private land, Forest Service rules would not obtain.
It’s a cunning move, and reminiscent of the congressionally-mandated land swap that Snowbasin engineered in preparation for Utah’s Winter Olympics. Cunning, we say, and quite a bit underhanded.
Our congressmen and senators are firm in stating their conviction that the public and local officials must be consulted in any plans to create something like Wilderness on the public land. Such plans should not be dictated by Washington. But when it comes to commercial development, it seems that they think that Congress knows better than we do what we need. Our four wise men in Washington are Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz, and Senators Hatch and Lee. All seem to have read Talisker’s press releases and thus have glowing things to say about how this project will elevate Utah into prosperity and into the first rank of the snowsport industry.
Please be ready to join Save Our Canyons in opposition to this commercially driven mistake!