Forest Service seeks comment on summer projects

Environment • Widening Ballroom traverse at Alta among seven proposals being considered.
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Alta Ski Area's proposal to carve a wider traverse through the trees into Ballroom bowl is among seven small summer projects being considered for approval by the U.S. Forest Service.

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest officials have determined that none of these proposals have enough impact to warrant full-blown environmental assessments. But before final approval is granted, public comments will be sought through May 7.

Alta's proposal includes five projects. The most visible would entail removing "a few small trees" and developing a bench for a road, 225 feet long and 40 feet wide, that would lead into Ballroom from the Collins lift ridgeline. The resort also would put in snow-collection devices to "improve the trail consistency, skier safety and the skier experience," said Forest Service Ranger Steve Scheid.

Other projects on Alta's list include reconfiguring the Wildcat parking lot to improve mass transit drop-off and loading zones, installing snowmaking spurs in three areas, extending power and water lines to the base of Supreme chairlift and completing the snowmaking system's power loop between Cecret Lake and Devil's Elbow run.

Also at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Forest Service wants to grade a road 100 feet long and 14 feet wide to connect Albion Basin Road campground and the Cecret Lake trailhead parking lot.

The road would create a one-way continuous loop, ending the need for vehicles to back up several times to get in and out, said Ranger Carol Majeske, but would eliminate six of 32 parking spaces in the trailhead parking lot.

Other projects would allow:

• NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network, to drill two to six holes, up to four inches wide and 20 feet deep, at Red Butte Garden. This study is collecting data about climate, atmosphere, soils, streams, ponds and organisms in 20 "eco-climatic domains" around the country. Red Butte was selected for its unique vegetation, landforms, climate and ecosystem performance, Scheid said.

• The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining's abandoned mine reclamation program to close 21 old mine openings in Weber, Morgan, Davis and Salt Lake counties.

• The Utah Department of Transportation and Crown Castle International to install a fiber-optic system from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta to upgrade traffic monitoring and to improve wireless cellular service.

The project would involve erecting 15 utility poles (35 feet tall) every half mile up the canyon, laying 8.5 miles of fiber-optic cable beneath the road and installing traffic cameras and "other intelligent transportation devices," Scheid said.

• Tooele County and the Forest Service to develop a 1-acre trailhead and parking lot at East Hickman Canyon in the Stansbury Mountains.

Comments may be submitted in writing to Cathy Kahlow, District Ranger, Salt Lake Ranger District, 6944 S. 3000 East, Cottonwood Heights, UT, 84121; by email to; or by fax to 801-733-2684.

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The proposals

Detailed information about these projects is available at