Letter: Will a Disneyland-style attraction scar Utah’s most scenic and treasured canyon?

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fall color in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

At a recent meeting of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, a collection of mayors from Wasatch Front communities, voted 14-5 to issue a Draft Regional Transportation Plan for public comment. The plan includes UDOT’s “preferred alternative” to haul more humans up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird and Alta ski areas. This “preferred alternative” is a gondola with bus-size cabins suspended on 22 lattice steel towers averaging nearly 200 feet in height, with some towers approaching 250 feet in height.

At the meeting, numerous people offered public comment and overwhelmingly spoke in opposition to giving further consideration to the gondola plan. Two exceptions were the heads of Snowbird and Ski Utah, who hope to benefit from this taxpayer-funded subsidy to their organizations.

Although I am not a resident of the Salt Lake Valley, I am a frequent visitor. I visit the Salt Lake Valley to ski – usually at Alta or Snowbird. I visit to hike: in Millcreek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, or Little Cottonwood Canyon. I visit to bike.

People in the Salt Lake Valley like to talk about how beautiful it is here, but the beauty in your valley is becoming increasingly scarce.

When we visit your valley from the north, we see and smell five (yes five) oil refineries. We see the pipeline scars through Mueller Park bringing crude oil to the refineries. We see your mountains being torn down to make gravel pits.

When we visit from the east, we see more mountains being torn down to mine cement products, with even more mountains recently scheduled for destruction.

When we visit from the south, we see mountains being turned into gravel, with its fugitive dust carried into your valley by Point of the Mountain breezes.

When we visit from the west, we see holes in the ground – holes where mountains once stood. We see smokestacks and pollution. Power plants and prisons. What we no longer see is the Great Salt Lake, a once proud gem of the valley.

I suspect these four points of the compass were once unscathed. Now they are noticeable scars on the landscape … and the valley.

The Wasatch mountains and canyons are the core of the Wasatch Front natural beauty. And now, these leaders have chosen to enable more manmade scars by pushing this plan forward.

Will a Disneyland-style theme park attraction be located in your most scenic and treasured canyon? What a tragedy that would be … for you and your visitors.

Mark Holt, Logan

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