July 09, 2021

Action Needed – Contact your Elected Officials and Submit a Comment to UDOT

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There are TWO actions the Wasatch needs your help with: 1). Contact your Elected Officials about a shared solution for the Wasatch 2). Submit a comment to UDOT on the DEIS. 

We would like to start off by saying THANK YOU to anyone that signed the petition to Gov. Cox and UDOT asking to extend the comment period on the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS)! We collected over 2,800 signatures in one week and because of that UDOT has decided to extend the comment period from the minimum 45 days to 70 days to allow for a more thorough review of the Draft EIS. The comment period will now end on Friday September 3, 2021.

The reality is that we must face the fact that the public lands we wish to visit and enjoy don’t have an endless capacity to support human activities. So, it begs the question, how many people should we be packing into our public lands? Since the conclusion of the Mountain Accord process in 2017 and with the continued efforts of elected officials who sit on the Central Wasatch Commission. There has been a coalition of efforts to gather and understand the carrying capacity of the Central Wasatch Canyons. However, there has not been a “Carrying Capacity” study finalized with available data to inform decisions for the Central Wasatch by any jurisdiction with management authority. 

Save Our Canyons exists to be an advocate in the many issues that face the Wasatch Mountain Range. Organizationally we’ve had to take a defensive stance on development in the Cottonwoods since 1972. We’ve had some great wins for the health of this valued landscape, as well as some lasting losses. For us, protecting the Wasatch Mountains isn't a radical idea, but developing and exploiting Little Cottonwood Canyon for two private businesses is! 

Once a gondola has been built – there is absolutely no going back. And it can be hard to visualize the size and magnitude of this project. Please look through our new interactive GIS map covering everything you need to know about the UDOT DEIS.

 

There are TWO things that we need your help with:

1). Take action today by contacting your Elected Officials about a phased approach for the Wasatch Mountains.

2). Submit a comment to UDOT on the DEIS

 

With less than 1 month left in the DEIS process, we are asking you to contact your Elected Officials about a phased approach for the Wasatch Mountains.

In the form below, you will see a suggested comment – as always feel free to edit the messaging before clicking "submit"! Suggested comment going to your Elected Officials: 

Dear City and County Officials,

I support a wild and healthy ecosystem that provides our water, supports 1,200 species of plants and animals, and is depended upon for healthy outdoor recreation by millions of people both locals and visitors each year. We don't need elaborate gondolas or expansion of the roadways that damage the magnificent Wasatch Mountains. Below are six actionable solutions that will meet or exceed UDOT's goals, all the while protecting what makes the Wasatch unique and inspiring.

  1. UDOT’s goal of 30% reduction in private vehicles could be accomplished without major construction but requires higher vehicle occupancy during peak hours, weekends and holidays. By requiring 4 or more people in cars that enter these canyons, you could remove 50% of the current vehicles in the canyon, 20% more than UDOT’s $500 million+ solution in search of a problem.
  2. A flexible YEAR-ROUND bus system that gets people out of their cars, nearer their origins (homes, hotels, work, etc), aided by canyon centers across the valley where you can park your car, visit outdoor shops, get food and drink, even have affordable housing.
  3. Increase enforcement of the UDOT Cottonwood Canyon sticker program to ensure vehicles are compliant with snow tire and chain requirements under the Traction Law, making the traction inspection part of vehicle inspections. Some weather events (or known busy days) may warrant banning private automobiles in the canyons.
  4. Innovate and implement an occupancy-based toll to increase vehicular occupancy from current 1.7 people per vehicle to 4.
  5. Big Cottonwood Canyon users parking at “LCC mobility hubs” - If people going into Big Cottonwood Canyon make use of the LCC mobility hubs demand and crowding will increase, but this hasn't been included in UDOT's scope.
  6. Year-round visitation whether to a designated ski area or summer time trailhead is not served by a gondola with two terminous areas at Alta Ski Resort and Snowbird Resort.

While UDOT isn't being responsive to public comments and strategies that protect the Wasatch, we are hoping our local elected officials are. As our local representatives, I hope you will tell UDOT to protect the Wasatch, forgo the damaging development that only helps two resorts and engage with local conservation and community groups to advance robust solutions to the year-round transportation, recreation and conservation issues confronting our watershed canyons.

Take action today by contacting your Elected Officials:

After you have sent a comment to your Elected Officials, please send a comment to UDOT about the DEIS.

In the form below, you will see a suggested comment – as always feel free to edit the messaging before clicking "submit"! Suggested comment going to UDOT: 

I value the wildness and beauty of the Wasatch Mountains, please see my comments below on the Little Cottonwood Canyon Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS):

  1. Is the goal to reduce private vehicles in the canyons? UDOT’s own proposal says the gondola won’t reach that mark (UDOT,LCC EIS, p.2-16).
  2. Since the conclusion of the Mountain Accord process in 2017 and with the continued efforts of elected officials who sit on the Central Wasatch Commission. There has been a coalition of efforts to gather and understand the carrying capacity of the Central Wasatch Canyons. Is that “Carrying Capacity” known and how does UDOT weigh that information in this Draft EIS Process?
  3. Year round visitation whether to a designated ski area or summer time trailhead is not served by a gondola with two terminous areas at Alta Ski Resort and Snowbird Resort.
  4. Canyon road expansion will impact the 1,200 plant and animal species that rely on their ecosystem. How can we as a community of people help this process to ensure the flora and fauna won’t be pushed out of their habitat? Does the “Purpose and Need” of the UDOT EIS process alternatives allow for a shared habitat to continue to thrive or even be restored?
  5.  Traffic congestion in LCC “the red snake” will still continue even with the gondola because the gondola still is highly reliant on private vehicles in the canyon. We need to remove private vehicles from our roadways, not add them! Driving to the gravel pit and to the gondola base doesn't eliminate car congestion, it will only enhance it. Connecting people from their point of origin (homes, hotels, etc) to access the Wasatch Mountains will reduce congestion, air pollution, and allow equitable access for all of us who wish to enjoy the beauty and wildness of the Wasatch Range.

 

Want to send UDOT a written comment? Mail the letter to the address below OR submit a comment online today! 

Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS c/o HDR

2825 E Cottonwood Parkway, Suite 200

Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

Submit your comment below to UDOT on the Little Cottonwood Canyon Draft Environmental Impact Study:

  

 

 

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