Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(| Tribune file photo) A skier carves through powder at the Snowbird ski resort on March 23 2011. Majority interest in the ski resort was sold to Ian Cumming and his family in May 2014.
Ski industry to push for interconnected resorts
Chairlifts » Ski Utah to unveil plan to tie areas in S.L., Summit counties.
First Published Mar 18 2014 07:25 pm • Last Updated Mar 19 2014 10:06 am

Utah’s ski industry is ready to interconnect the seven ski resorts in Salt Lake and Summit counties.

Ski Utah and the resorts have called a 2 p.m. news conference Wednesday at the Salt Lake City Sheraton Hotel to discuss their concept of a series of chairlifts on private lands that would link resorts from Deer Valley to Snowbird.

At a glance

Mountain Accord

The public has until March 28 to comment on “issues, concerns and possibilities” that should be examined in studies to determine the future of the central Wasatch Mountains. To comment, go to:

» http://www.mountainaccord.com/Get_Involved.php

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The plan would not include the controversial SkiLink proposal that would have connected Canyons Resort outside of Park City to Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon, said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, the marketing arm of the state’s 14 active resorts.

Other than that, he declined Tuesday to discuss specifics of the revived concept, which has been advocated and attacked for years.

Backcountry skiers fear more lifts will flood their prime terrain — which until now has been reached only by those willing to work to get there — with lift-delivered skiers going beyond resort boundaries even though many don’t have the skills to traverse those slopes safely (while also raiding powder stashes).

The ski industry, however, believes that interconnecting the seven resorts — Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Canyons, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort — is vital to Utah’s ability to keep up with, or even gain ground, on Colorado and California.

Those two states attract far more skiers and snowboarders than Utah’s 4 million or so per year. Colorado draws three times that, a gap state ski officials believe will diminish only if Utah takes advantage of the geographical proximity of the seven resorts, interconnecting them with a system similar to what is done in the Alps.

While the concept has been around for decades, conversations about linking the resorts picked up in the last year. Resorts met with each other individually or in groups to talk possibilities.

The conversations even were cited in the high-profile legal battle being waged between Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort over whether PCMR allowed its lease to expire on the 3,800 acres of mountainside it rented from Canyons.

"Discussions About A Possible Interconnection Among The Ski Resorts In the Salt Lake City Area Were Consistent with the Leases’ Requirements," said a bold-faced headline over a section in a Jan. 22 motion by Canyons Resort for summary judgment on part of that case.


story continues below
story continues below

As a courtesy, Rafferty gave Save Our Canyons Executive Director Carl Fisher a heads-up Tuesday afternoon about Ski Utah’s announcement.

Like many, Fisher had known for some time that an interconnect proposal would surface, so he was not surprised. But he expressed doubt that all of the required links could be made without involving public lands, which likely would subject the plan to a lengthy environmental impact study by the U.S. Forest Service.

"I asked [Rafferty] about the lift alignments and he said, ‘There’s none yet.’ But you can’t really say you’re not going to impact public lands if you don’t have the alignments," Fisher said.

One of the problems with SkiLink was that its proposed alignment went over a block of Forest Service land.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, introduced legislation in Congress to force the Forest Service to sell that land so the agency’s process would not impede the project, but his controversial bill withered without action.

Fisher also maintained that providing more upper-mountain access so skiers can ply the backcountry amounts to "de facto resort expansion that we feel the public is vehemently opposed to."

It’s unclear how the ski industry’s initiative will impact the Mountain Accord, an effort by a broad-based group of vested interests to forge a long-term plan for the central Wasatch Mountains.

The ski industry, conservation groups and backcountry skiers all are part of that still emerging effort, whose call for unity and cooperation could be undermined if the industry launch evokes distrust instead.

"You always knew interconnect or resort expansion would be issues Mountain Accord would have to grapple with," Fisher said, expecting the industry to be "all in. They want interconnect. They want improved transportation. They want it all."

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg



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
Videos
Jobs
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.