Wasatch Environmental Update for June 25, 2017
By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
“Bonanza Flats is Ours!”
For a week now we have been celebrating the successful end of the campaign to “Save Bonanza Flats.” On Friday, June16, Park City closed on the purchase of those one thousand three hundred fifty acres of wild and pristine alpine land at the top of the Wasatch Range. We celebrate because the alternative to this purchase threatened to be an up-scale real estate development. Instead, now that land belongs to Park City, and the public will be welcomed to enjoy it, forever.
Although Park City put up most of the purchase price, a large number of counties, municipalities, organizations and individuals responded to fill the gap and make the purchase possible. All deserve our heartfelt thanks.
Bonanza Flats lie perched in the Central Wasatch Range, just over the Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and nestled up against the ski resorts of Park City and Deer Valley. You can get a glimpse of them from Guardsman Pass, and in the summertime you can drive down through them to Park City or Midway on the Guardsman Pass Road.
Clayton Peak towers above the flats, while below moose, elk, deer and black bears visit the alpine lakes along the property’s western flank. Visitors often see birds of prey soaring above Bonanza Flats and can hear birdsong echoing through this wild and unspoiled area. Bonanza Flats features some of the largest organisms on the planet – groves of Quaking Aspen. These groves consist of thousands of cloned trees networked together beneath the soil. We like to think of them as symbolizing our collective efforts to save Bonanza Flats. We also like to bask in their beauty.
Park City has given us a grand gift, but it has also bit off a pretty big bite of responsibility. They are in no hurry to develop parking lots and trailheads, and will take the next year to assess their new parkland. Regulation and control of recreational access might turn out to be a heavy responsibility, as it has been for the public land agencies.
But let’s celebrate Park City’s generosity, and take a trip up there to tread lightly and enjoy the clean air and the lovely alpine scenery.