December 17, 2019

Comments for Little Cottonwood EIS in 2019

Wasatch Environmental Update for December 15, 2019

By John Worlock

Comments for Little Cottonwood EIS in 2019

Here are some words from those preparing the Environmental Impact Statement for traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon:

“The purpose of the EIS is not to increase or decrease the number of people in the canyon. Rather, the underlying purpose is to solve a transportation issue that affects local travel and recreation and tourism experiences.

The USDA Forest Service has determined that many areas on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest may handle increased use, without significant resource impacts, while maintaining quality recreation experiences for visitors, and is therefore not presently considering limiting access.”

The comment period for the Little Cottonwood Environmental Impact Statement ended last Friday, December 13, but I thought you’d like to know what I told them about future traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Here’s my statement:

 “We are fortunate that there is a single public access point to the Little Cottonwood Canyon.  We must begin to plan NOW for the near future when we will have to limit human access into the canyon.  The Forest Service must begin the process of determining the ‘carrying capacity’ of the canyon's finite resources.  Plunging ahead with plans to increase without limit the numbers of humans entering the canyon is insane.  Zion and Yosemite National Parks learned this lesson long ago, and Arches is trying to learn it right now.  We should begin to think about electronic links between the canyon's mouth and some of the crucial access points, such as trailheads, resort parking lots and avalanche barriers.  There IS A LIMIT to the tourism that the canyon can entertain without serious degradation of its special, and precious, characteristics.  More buses and fewer cars might be a satisfactory stop-gap solution, but eventually there must be limits to visitation.  We are told of predicted Salt Lake Valley population increases of 50%.  It should be obvious that Little Cottonwood Canyon cannot support similar increases in visitation. 

So we need to begin to plan NOW to find the policies and practices that will be activated to preserve ‘the Wildness and the Beauty’ of Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

Just my own personal thoughts and hopes about the future of Little Cottonwood Canyon.