Wasatch Environmental Update; Winter Recreation Trails

Wasatch Env Update img

Wasatch Environmental Update for January 05, 2104

By John Worlock, Member, SOC Board of Directors

“Winter Recreation Trails”

A lot of winter recreation in the local mountains makes use of the roads and highways that are closed to automobile traffic and allowed to accumulate Utah’s famous snow, said to be the World’s Best.  So it comes as a shock to learn that UDOT, the Utah Department of Transportation, is studying the possibility of obliterating many of those playgrounds, bringing in the snowplows, and keeping open some segments of state highways that have traditionally been closed as the snow accumulates at the higher elevations. That snow, of course, has invited Nordic skiers and snowshoers, along with their motorized cousins, the snowmobilers, to venture into the countryside.

Some of these winter playgrounds are easily accessible from the Salt Lake Valley.  One, in particular, the  five-mile stretch of State Route 65 along East Canyon from Mountain Dell in Parley’s Canyon to Morgan County has become an inviting route for Nordic skiers since the Utah Nordic Alliance, known as TUNA, has undertaken to set and maintain ski tracks on that unplowed highway.  Another popular winter route whose snow might be removed is State Route 150 or the Mirror Lake Highway, stretching into the western slope of the Unitah Range from just east of Kamas.  This route is a big favorite of snowmobile riders, so we can expect an outcry from that community if UDOT begins keeping it snow-free in the winter.

Yet another route in our neighborhood that might be cleared for winter automotive traffic is the State Route 190, the Guardsman Pass, stretching from Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon over the ridge into Bonanza Flat and Park City in Summit County.

Our immediate concern with making this road into a 12-month highway would be the predictable commercial development in the pristine Bonanza Flat.  Much of that territory is owned by the Talisker Corporation, the aggressive real-estate operation that owns the ski resort known as the Canyons as well as the land on which the Park City Ski Resort lies.

Pardon us for our suspicion that the push to clear the snow from Utah’s elevated highways comes from commercial interests.

Both the Utah Nordic Alliance and Save Our Canyons will be happy to help you express your concerns to the Utah Department of Transportation.

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