Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Wharton: Study Utah’s Interconnect idea as a whole
First Published Apr 17 2013 09:32 am • Last Updated Apr 17 2013 04:37 pm

If I could be dictator for a day, there would be no roller coaster or revolving mountaintop restaurant at Snowbird, no SkiLink gondola connecting The Canyons with Solitude and no system of seven lifts joining Park City with Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.

Since that is not going to happen, I would settle for a comprehensive look at Wasatch Front and Back ski resort expansion plans that would be a joint project including the U.S. Forest Service, Summit, Salt Lake, Utah and Wasatch counties, Salt Lake City, Park City and the state of Utah.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Such a study would include input from environmental groups, wildlife organizations and biologists, ski resorts, private canyon landowners and watershed managers.

The problem with the way things are being done now is that the tops of these beautiful canyons may be slowly ruined, a small cut at a time, without knowing the cumulative effects until it is too late.

Take, for example, Interconnect, the proposal to use lifts, trams or gondolas to link Park City and the Cottonwood canyons.

What’s on the table is the awful precedent-setting sale of 31 acres of pristine Big Cottonwood Canyon land to the Canadian company that owns The Canyons ski area and wants to connect it with Solitude. Then there is Alta’s recent proposal for a lift on Grizzly Gulch and another to Flagstaff Peak that would essentially connect Little and Big Cottonwood canyon resorts.

Add to that rumors of a Deer Valley to Brighton lift and who knows what else, and what you have is massive development that will forever change the top of the Wasatch canyons.

No matter what your stand on ski resort expansion, SkiLink and Interconnect, wouldn’t it make sense to look at the entire proposal rather than fighting over each single lift and ski resort proposal?

Shouldn’t we be having a discussion on what we want the tops of our largely publicly owned canyons to look like in the future?

Do we want expensive lift-served resort skiing on nearly every peak at the top of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons or do we want to leave some land as it is, unmarred by unsightly lift towers, midmountain restaurants and development?

story continues below
story continues below

Isn’t it about time to have a discussion about the cumulative effects of resort expansion on water quality for the Salt Lake Valley?

Wouldn’t now be a great opportunity to talk about how many people should be on the mountain at any one time, what the capacity of resort parking lots should be, and to look at a comprehensive traffic plan?

Perhaps these studies would show that those of us who think there is already too much development in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons are wrong. They might reveal that Interconnect would help decrease traffic, that the public really wants more lifts and that water quality wouldn’t be harmed by the extra people new development would bring.

But how can we know if we don’t do a cumulative study?

A lift here, a roller coaster there, a mountain restaurant or a new gondola connecting one peak to another might not individually make much difference. But put them all together, and they could create serious problems.

I wish we would stop all development at the Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts. But I could be wrong. And the only way to find out is with a comprehensive plan, not little proposals that slowly change what is left of our beautiful canyons.


Twitter: @tribtomwharton

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.