Utah senators advance resolution to connect ski resorts

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After some rewriting to please conservation groups, the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to a resolution promoting connecting Salt Lake County's four ski resorts with the three around Park City.

It voted 22-7 to endorse SCR10 by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, and sent it to a final vote in the chamber.

It urges counties, cities and the U.S. Forest Service to "consider the benefits of connecting the various resorts and expeditiously approve a low-impact interresort transportation system based on appropriate analysis and balanced public input."

Niederhauser said it is not intended to endorse any particular system — such as the proposed SkiLink gondola between the Solitude and Canyons resorts. A bill to force the Forest Service to approve a land trade to allow that is moving through Congress.

Niederhauser said his resolution is needed now to call for careful evaluation of how interconnect systems will affect the watershed and the environment of the canyons — and said he added wording to make that more clear as recommended by the conservation group Save Our Canyons.

But Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights, said, "I believe the resolution is premature," because not enough research has been done to conclude that an interconnect system should be endorsed.

Niederhauser said the interconnect would boost the ski industry enormously. "This will be a game-changer. There's nothing like this in North America, a European-style connection of resorts."