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(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) The future of transportation in the central Wasatch Mountains -- such as the "S" curve in Big Cottonwood Canyon will be evaluated in a yearlong study designed to develop a blueprint for future use of the mountains and canyons.
Public input sought on use of central Wasatch
Future land use? » Hearings will contribute to proposal on futures of canyons, mountains.
First Published Jan 27 2014 04:49 pm • Last Updated Feb 01 2014 08:06 pm

A group trying to plan future uses of the central Wasatch Mountains hopes to produce a blueprint in the next year.

The wide-ranging plan is projected to make specific recommendations about transportation to, from and between all seven ski resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons and Park City. It’s also expected to delineate areas that should be preserved in their natural state and those that can be developed to enhance the area’s vibrant and economically important snowsport industry.

At a glance

Have your say

The public will have two chances next week to comment on proposed studies of transportation and recreational and environmental preservation in the central Wasatch Mountains:

» Feb. 4, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd.

» Feb. 5, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at Skyline High School, 3251 E. 3760 South.

For more information, go to http://mountainaccord.com

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But before putting plans on paper, the diverse group behind the initiative — now known as Mountain Accord — wants to hear what the public cares about most as it crafts a futuristic vision for the beloved and heavily used canyons and mountains.

Meetings are set for Feb. 4 in Park City and Feb. 5 in Salt Lake County to gather those perceptions.

The commentary will be included in a multi-pronged proposal that will be submitted to a federal agency — maybe the Forest Service, maybe a transportation or transit department — for a full-blown environmental impact study (EIS).

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker pitched the process Monday to The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board. He is part of a team designed to reflect the diversity of the Mountain Accord group.

The contingent included Carl Fisher of the conservation group Save Our Canyons, who sat next to Nathan Rafferty of Ski Utah, marketing arm of the state’s ski industry. Becker was seated beside Park City Councilman Andy Beerman, who emphasized the importance of finding a regional solution to transportation issues in an area that fans out from Salt Lake City International Airport to include everything from Park City to Little Cottonwood Canyon.

"It’s unusual to start a process with everybody together," said Becker, noting that Mountain Accord’s executive committee includes nearly two dozen members from federal and state agencies, eight local governments, the Utah Transit Authority, water experts, the Salt Lake Chamber, outdoor enthusiasts, Ski Utah and Save Our Canyons.

The Legislature has put $2.5 million into this goal-setting part of the process, which will be coordinated by independent consultant Laynee Jones.

Her work takes advantage of a half dozen previous studies, including the Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow report in 2010, that led to the formation of the Mountain Accord group.

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Originally called Access Wasatch, then Wasatch Summit, the group had figured it would embark initially on an EIS. But a year of meetings made it clear that if Mountain Accord came up with a multi-pronged plan that could be put through the microscopic scrutiny of an EIS, the proposal likely would face fewer regulatory hurdles.

"This is an effort to raise the bar on how the public is involved in planning for this important community resource," Save Our Canyons’ Fisher said.


Twitter: @sltribmikeg

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