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SkiLink bad for elk

Published June 9, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah's archery hunters oppose Rep. Rob Bishop's bill, H.R.3452, that forces the U.S. Forest Service to sell public land in Big Cottonwood Canyon to the private company Canyons-SkiLink "to construct a ski-lift, gondola, or tramway" to "connect the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back Mountains."

The proposed SkiLink is a serious threat to elk habitat (also deer and grouse) and hunting. Studies confirm that where motorized travel corridors intrude, elks' avoidance and stress increase. The SkiLink development will convert existing, pristine elk habitat into a transportation boondoggle that risks reducing the area's use as an elk birthing and nursery area in the spring and summer, and hunter success in the fall.

According to the Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow study, the vast majority of Salt Lake Valley residents oppose ski area expansion outside existing Forest Service permitted areas. For all of Bishop's political posturing supporting "local control," his proposed land sale is an end-run around residents' expressed wishes.

Worse, much of the land that SkiLink would intrude upon is not in Bishop's congressional district. Sports enthusiasts who treasure time-honored availability of excellent walk-in bow hunting for elk will forever lose if Bishop's bill becomes law.

Bill Eckerle Secretary-treasurer, Utah chapter Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Salt Lake City