Solitude proposing to replace Summit chairlift
Environment • Forest Service seeking public comment before deciding on small projects.
Published: July 8, 2014 10:03AM
Updated: July 7, 2014 10:03PM
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Karl Hugh | Utah Shakespeare Festival 2014

Solitude Mountain Resort is looking to begin preparatory work later this summer to replace its Summit chairlift with a bigger, faster version following a new alignment.

The lift upgrade is one of five proposals in the central Wasatch Mountains that the U.S. Forest Service has determined do not have enough environmental impact to warrant detailed studies.

But before signing off on the projects, the Salt Lake Ranger District is soliciting public input through Aug. 4.

Comments may be submitted in person or in writing to 6944 S. 3000 East, Cottonwood Heights, 84121; by telephone at 801-733-2660; or by email to comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-saltlake@fs.fed.us.

Solitude is seeking to amend its special use permit to replace the fixed-grip, two-seater Summit lift, installed in 1982, with a high-speed detachable quad capable of carrying 1,800 people per hour.

Forest Service project manager Polly Bergseng said the resort also has requested to move the loading terminal down the canyon where the beginner Deer Trail run goes.

Accessible up to now only from Sunrise lift, Summit’s new base location would be reachable from Apex Express and Powderhorn II lifts as well, she said. The lift realignment would require the removal of trees from 1.2 acres.

The Forest Service also is considering:

• Alta Ski Area’s request for a special-use permit to formalize the avalanche-control work it has traditionally done along Patsy Marley Ridge. Although the ridge is outside its boundaries, the resort has done control work there with avalaunchers, helicopters and hand charges to minimize impacts on the ski area.

“All current public uses and other permitted uses of the area would continue as they currently exist or are permitted,” Bergseng said. The goal is to have the plan in place next ski season.

• Its own proposal to finish cutting a “fuel break” around the recreation-residence community in the Mill D area of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Project manager Jeff Sanocki said area residents responded favorably in June to a test cut on a 500-foot-long section. It was cleared of dead trees and small fuels. Green trees with trunks less than 5 inches in diameter were cut down to increase crown spacing and branches were pruned up to 10 feet above ground, he added.

“Phase II would extend the benefits of the fuel break [another 4,500] feet to the entirety of Mill D,” Sanocki said, expecting the work to take two weeks. The cut wood would be stacked for firewood, piled and burned, or chipped.

• The Forest Glen Homeowners Association wants to replace the water line under the dirt road to its community off Guardsman Road in Big Cottonwood.

• The Brighton LDS Girls Camp is seeking to make its lodge, a sleeping building and restrooms accessible to people with disabilities.

Both the Forest Glen and Girls Camp projects would be done in 2015, said Forest Service ranger Steve Scheid.

mikeg@sltrib.com

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