Despite ample press coverage, many are unaware that there is a concrete plan underway that will shape the future of the Wasatch Range. I would like to encourage every citizen of Park City and the Wasatch Back to take a few moments to go online and make your comments heard regarding the implementation of The Mountain Accord.
For over 40 years there's been ample talk and study after study after study conducted in order to form opinions regarding the future of the Wasatch Range in general, and connecting the ski areas specifically. But once the studies have concluded, all that's left is a stack of papers with statistics on them. Interestingly, the Wasatch Back and Park City have always been left OUT of these studies. Even though we live ON the range in question, all of the studies have been Salt-Lake centric. But this time is different.
With Canyons' proposal of the Skilink project, it was apparent that there was no Master Plan for linking the Wasatch resorts, and that the Wasatch Back would be a serious player in making an interconnect happen. As a result of this, there is a very serious plan underway that will map out the future of Wasatch development, preservation, connection, etc. It is known as the Mountain Accord.
The Mountain Accord is made up of Federal, State, and County Governments, Ski Areas, Environmental Groups, the Utah Transit Authority, etc. It's purpose is to plan for the future of the Wasatch by suggesting actual, IMPLEMENTABLE courses of action. The suggestions aren't going to end up as a footnote in some survey. They WILL happen.
So where does that leave us? For the first time ever, the opinion of the Wasatch Back counts. Do we want an interconnect? Do we not want an interconnect? As residents of the greatest ski town in the world, I think that an interconnect proposal would be interesting and catch your attention!
There are nearly 100 ski lifts in the Wasatch. In order to connect all of the major resorts together, four to five additional lifts would need to be built creating one of the largest ski areas in the world, with the greatest snow on earth. We could ski from Canyons, PCMR, and Deer Valley to Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta without ever getting in our cars. Even though Solitude and Brighton are less than two miles from the Park City ridge line, it's an 80-mile round-trip to drive over and experience those great places.
Another proposal that's been discussed is building a railway though the mountain (via tunnel) that would connect Park City with Big and Little Cottonwood. They are in a straight-line, a train trip to Snowbird could take as little a 10 minutes! A rail system would allow us quick access in the summer as well. Just a few minutes away would be access to hiking high alpine meadows, peaks, and waterfalls.
Do any of these ideas that have been tossed around for 40 years appeal to you? Then PLEASE, go to Mountainaccord.com / get involved and comment that this should happen. Even if an interconnect doesn't appeal to you, please get involved and let your voice be heard. What would you like the future of the Wasatch to look like?
Let's make sure that proposals are put on the table and meaningfully discussed. Of course, we would want any projects to go through a rigorous environmental vetting process. Phase two of the Mountain Accord's agenda calls for all serious ideas / proposals to undergo a full federal environmental impact study.
Through a cooperative effort of getting the word out and encouraging people to vote, Park City was successful in being named Outside Magazine's Best Ski Town this last summer. I believe participation in The Mountain Accord's online comment form is worthy of the same attention and buzz. Let the Wasatch Back be heard!