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More than 80 outdoors companies or conservation groups have signed a petition initiated by Black Diamond, Inc. that opposes SkiLink, a proposal to connect Canyons Resort near Park City and Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon with a ridge-spanning gondola.
Peter Metcalf, president and CEO of Holladay-based Black Diamond, said the petition includes signatures from national-level businesses and advocacy groups such as Patagonia, Petzl, Voile, The Wilderness Society, Mountain Hardware, Armada Skis, The Conservation Alliance, Eastern Mountain Sports, the Swedish company POC Sports, Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards.
Local signatories, he added, include Save Our Canyons, Alta Lodge, Wasatch Touring, Friends of Alta, International Mountain Equipment (IME), Pagan Mountaineering of Moab and Utah Rivers Council.
"What is being publicly sold as a solution to traffic is a private-interest land grab of some of the most pristine and heavily used recreational public land in the Wasatch for the benefit of a single real estate developer," said Metcalf, referring to Canadian-based Talisker Inc.'s efforts to forge the first interconnect between ski resorts in Salt Lake and Summit counties, tying its Canyons Resort to Solitude.
Republican members of Utah's congressional delegation are sponsoring a bill that would remove the U.S. Forest Service from the regulatory process overseeing any applications for a gondola.
The bill would require the Forest Service to sell 30 acres of public land within the tramway's corridor to Talisker at fair market value. That would leave regulation of any proposed lifts to local government authorities.
Studies produced by Talisker said the proposal gondola will benefit the state's economy by giving Utah a unique quality in interconnected resorts and would reduce vehicular traffic flowing daily on roads between Canyons and Solitude.
Metcalf maintained "SkiLink threatens our precious watershed, and shuts out the interests of the multitude of existing stakeholders involved. The industry is against SkiLink but in favor of more sustainable and true Wasatch-wide transportation solutions that benefit all ski areas and the entire community."
Save Our Canyons Executive Director Carl Fisher said it was ironic that "snow sports companies are speaking out against what is being sold to the public as a pro-snow proposition a proposition that is definitely not for the ski community at large. SkiLink is simply a vehicle to enrich a Canadian real estate developer at the expense of all outdoor enthusiasts."
Talisker did not respond immediately to a request for comment.