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Georgina Chandler loves amusement parks but not in the canyon she calls home.
Bouncing up and down near a crowded intersection near the Salt Lake County Government Center, the 11-year-old protester elicited honks and waves as she cried out excitedly, "Save our mountain!"
Her voice rose from a crowd of more than 120 protesters, who gathered Monday at the corner of 2100 South and State Street to speak out with the Save Our Canyons coalition against a proposed mountain coaster at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort.
The coaster would serve as the resort's latest summertime attraction, allowing visitors to zip through intermittent woods near the foot of Mount Superior on a fixed-rail track. It would start near an old mine shaft, cross State Road 210 and end in the village.
Chandler doesn't like the idea.
"We live in one of the most peaceful, beautiful places in the world," the Alta youngster said. "We like roller coasters, but not here."
Dozens of signs expressed similar displeasure during Monday's rush hour: "Superior Peak vs. Inferior Idea," "A coaster belongs under my drink, not in my canyon," "Have you heard? The bird is the turd."
Some protesters chanted into microphones. Others sported Mickey Mouse ears printed with the phrase, "Don't Disneyize Little Cottonwood Canyon."
"Obviously, Little Cottonwood Canyon is a very special place," Snowbird spokesman Jared Ishkanian said. "We understand this is a sensitive issue. We respect the rights of the people to be here and disagree with our position."
But Ishkanian says there are misconceptions about the project.
For one thing, it's a mountain coaster, not a roller coaster. The ride would resemble the Park City Mountain Resort ride, he says, without the hydraulic, air or magnetic machinations found in amusement park coasters. Secondly, the track wouldn't come close to the peak of Mount Superior. The top of the track, he says, would be more than 2,600 feet below that peak.
Snowbird will defend its project Wednesday before the Salt Lake County Board of Adjustment. The Save Our Canyons coalition and canyon user Tom Stephens have filed separate appeals that will be heard during the board's 1 p.m. meeting at the County Government Center, 2001 S. State St.
The issue is whether a mountain coaster really is appropriate for the canyon, as determined by the County Planning Commission earlier this year.
But protesters are making their feelings known in advance.
"We are doing everything we can to stop this coaster," said Carl Fisher, executive director of Save Our Canyons. "We are disgusted with the idea of amusement parks dumbing down the scenic beauty of our canyons."
Fisher urged Snowbird to put "preservation over profits" and withdraw the mountain coaster application voluntarily.
Snowbird officials insist the project wouldn't harm Little Cottonwood Canyon. The ride would be installed using an existing road. The track would be placed low to the ground. The slopes would be replanted.
"We want to have this fit in the canyon aesthetically," Ishkanian said.
But Salt Lake City resident Tom Lund says a mountain coaster doesn't fit.
"Mount Superior is probably one of the most beautiful mountains in the Wasatch," he said. "It just seems like poor judgment to put a roller coaster on it."
Appeals to be heard
P The Salt Lake County Board of Adjustment will hear appeals Wednesday opposing a planned mountain coaster at Snowbird. The hearing will begin at 1 p.m. at the County Government Center, 2001 S. State St.