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Now it's time for the public to weigh in on a "blueprint" for the future of the central Wasatch Mountains.
People surely will have plenty to talk about when they scrutinize the concept developed by 20 or so government agencies, ski resorts and conservation groups involved in the Mountain Accord process.
• A tunnel through the mountain linking Alta and Brighton.
• Another tunnel or an aerial tram to connect Brighton to Park City.
• A train running up Little Cottonwood Canyon, or perhaps rapid transit buses in a dedicated lane protected from avalanches by snowsheds.
• Major land exchanges that allow more development at the bases of Wasatch Front ski resorts plus an expansion of three of their boundaries. In exchange, sizable chunks of private land would be transferred into public ownership and receive some sort of additional status to protect their watershed and backcountry recreational values.
• A complete trail network interconnecting the Wasatch Front and Back.
• Express buses from Salt Lake City International Airport to Park City, maybe even a train down the line.
To be released Wednesday on the website mountainaccord.com, the concept will be the subject of a question-and-answer session Feb. 11 at Cottonwood High School.
Public comments may be submitted online or at two meetings Feb. 24 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts in Park City and Feb. 25 at Skyline High School in Millcreek. All three meetings start at 6 p.m.
"We want as many people to comment as possible," said Laynee Jones, the independent consultant who coordinated the planning the past two years.
"We're looking at taking actions today to determine the future we want to see 100 years from now," she added. "We don't want development of the central Wasatch Mountains incrementalized death by 1,000 cuts."
That's why it's important, Jones said, for the movers and shakers in Mountain Accord to find out what people think about the blueprint's more controversial aspects before the next planning round.
It would entail the lengthy and expensive preparation of environmental impact statements, plus congressional action on land exchanges and the designation of extra protections for parcels entering the public domain.
"We will listen and revise the concept as we move forward," pledged Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a member of Mountain Accord's executive committee.
While there still is likely to be dissent over details, McAdams said Mountain Accord meetings made it clear to all involved that "doing nothing and fighting tooth and nail for complete victory will result in a loss for everyone. We need a consensus to protect what people want most."
Even Save Our Canyons and the ski industry traditional foes have bought into the goal of consensus, although there's no certainty either side won't back away from the plan that ultimately emerges.
"I would guess people would be shocked at how much the resorts are willing to give to get this deal," said Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, marketing arm of the state's 15 resorts.
As of now, Alta and Snowbird are considering giving up their holdings across Little Cottonwood Canyon road from their resorts the slopes below Mount Superior and Flagstaff, perhaps even Grizzly Gulch for acreage that would allow more base development.
Privately held parcels in White Pine Canyon, Cardiff Fork and Brighton also could be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service. In return, Snowbird could get 416 acres in American Fork Canyon, Solitude could add lower Silver Fork Canyon and Brighton could expand into Hidden Canyon. The resorts also could get more water for snowmaking.
"The resorts are really excited that these conversations are taking place. This needs to happen if we're going to make any meaningful headway," Rafferty said. "But it's really early in this process, there are a ton of moving parts and I would be cautious to jump to any conclusions that it's a done deal."
Similarly, Save Our Canyons Executive Director Carl Fisher said "we like the direction of conservation gains, but we have a lot of concerns about some of the transportation proposals as well as the potential for resort expansion and development."
Fisher said he entered the process knowing "we wouldn't get everything we wanted and that there would be trade-offs." He's counting on public comment to help decide whether "trade-offs on the table are worth it and going to yield a favorable environment going into the future.
"Public feedback is going to be taken seriously by everyone. If everybody in the community says there's no way a train up Little Cottonwood Canyon is a good idea, I think that will be heard by the Mountain Accord executive committee and deciding folks," he said. "But if this whole thing falls apart, we'll probably go back to a piecemeal fashion of dealing with ideas as they come up."
Nobody wants that, Jones said, and that's why the process has progressed this far.
"It's a starting point," Rafferty observed. "It's further than we've ever gotten before."