Years of complex negotiations are nearing an end as five entities come together to preserve 781 acres of open space in Toll Canyon. And within the next three weeks, Utah Open Lands hopes to raise $250,000 to secure the deal

Utah Open Lands has been collaborating with the Summit County Council, the Park City Council, Snyderville Basin Recreation District (Basin Recreation) and Basin Open Space Advisory Committee to assemble the $6.1 million needed to purchase the land.

"It's a key piece that connects Pinebrook and Summit Park, and ties in with a lot of other open space that we have in the area," Summit County Councilmember Chris Robinson said. "Toll Canyon has a really nice riparian area, pristine forest, important wildlife habitat and a lot of trail connections. But right now you have to go around. It's like a big Chinese wall."

Basin Recreation plans to contribute the initial $2 million down payment using open space funds.

However, because there isn't enough open space money left to pay the entire purchase price, Summit County needed Park City's cooperation to help come up with the rest of the money.

Since the county-owned Gillmor property in Round Valley is adjacent to Park City's existing acres in Round Valley, and Park City owns property in the PRI open space in Kimball Junction, Park City agreed to purchase the county's portion of the Gillmor property for $3.9 million and also give their share of the PRI property to the county.

"So it trues things up," Robinson said. "We wind up owning all of the Kimball Junction (parcel) and all of Toll Canyon, which is in our sphere."

Through the open space funds and land deals, the city and council were able to earmark all but $860,000, which will be lowered to $250,000 if the public can raise the amount by year's end.

"We're cutting it very close," Robinson said. "I'm a little frustrated that we are cutting it so close, because we've known all along that they needed to get this sold by the end of the year. So now we're now in this awkward position where it was, hurry up and wait, and now it's hurry up again. But we'll get it done."

As of Thursday night, Utah Open lands had received $39,000 through 46 donations.

Nancy Leechman and Craig Eroh, Citizens for the Alignment of Growth and the Environment president and treasurer, added $2,500 to the pot.

"We usually do a small charitable contribution around the holidays," Eroh said. "We pick a different cause each year, and this time we stepped up the amount quite a bit."

Eroh is encouraging the community to donate to the cause, arguing that preserving the Toll Canyon open space is important for all members of Summit County, as well as Salt Lake City.

"There are a lot of people that come up and use the trails," he said. "This will potentially complete the Mid Mountain Trail, possibly up to the Millenium Trail. This is an important piece of land for trail connectivity, as well as wildlife habitat. I think this will be the crown jewel of the Park City open space."

Leechman said Toll Canyon is what Utah used to be before the area was developed. "This is our natural state and it's one of the few places within Summit County that is left like that."

She added that while there are other places in Summit County to see elk and moose, bears and mountain lions also inhabit Toll Canyon. "It's just an amazing place."

Donations for the purchase of Toll Canyon can be made through www.utahopenlands.org .

Dec. 9: The public is invited to meet CAGE representatives at Park City Bread and Bagel, located at 3126 Quarry Road, at 9 a.m. to canvass neighborhoods for donations. RSVP by noon Saturday to Eroh at (435) 729-9096.

Dec. 13: Utah Open Lands is holding a fundraiser at New Park Resort from 6 to 8 p.m. RSVP to catherine@utahopenlands.org .

Dec. 19: The Summit County Council will consider the Toll Canyon proposal at 4 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, located at 60 North Main Street in Coalville.

Dec. 20: The Park City Council will consider the proposal at 445 Marsac Avenue, time to be determined.