Students pitch in to help Park City purchase Bonanza Flats | ParkRecord.com

Students pitch in to help Park City purchase Bonanza Flats

Treasure Mountain’s National Junior Honor Society raises more than $1,500 for effort

The Treasure Mountain Junior High School National Junior Honor Society raised more than $1,500 to support Park Citys effort to purchase Bonanza Flats, an area of open space in Wasatch County.

Students in Park City are getting behind the effort to purchase Bonanza Flats.

Members of the Treasure Mountain Junior High School National Junior Honor Society recently raised more than $1,500 that will be donated to Utah Open Lands for the effort. The nonprofit Utah Open Lands is working with Park City and other entities to secure enough money for the city to buy Bonanza Flats, a parcel of prized open space in Wasatch County that could be slated for development if the effort fails.

Megan McKenna, adviser for the National Junior Honor Society, said the students were eager to get involved. They understand the significance of preserving Bonanza Flats, which is a popular spot for recreation is vital as a watershed and habitat for wildlife.

"For a lot of them, they were surprised that it wouldn't always be there," she said. "For a lot of us in Park City, that's such a special place, and this is the first time we realized it might not always be there. I think it's an important lesson for the students, that we need to work to protect the places that we love."

Added student Hanna Wiczek: "There are a lot of people that would like to build on that land, but it's important the land stays recreational. That's the purpose of this."

McKenna said that the students chose to get involved because it was an opportunity to make a difference in their own backyard.

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"This year, the kids wanted to do something that directly impacted their community," she said. "Last year, we did the American Cancer Association, which was really great, but the kids felt strongly that they could leave their mark here and show that we helped save this important part of our community."

The students raised most of the money through events like bake sales. One student, Eli Kimche, said participating proved rewarding. He was particularly excited to see the community rally to help.

"The experience was really cool, being able to raise your own money for a greater cause than just yourself," he said. "People were a lot more enthusiastic about the bake sale because it wasn't just us trying to raise money for ourselves. We're trying to help out to save the land. You can tell there was kind of a different vibe because of that."

The students are partnering with Andrew Muse, a local blogger and athlete, for their donation. On Monday, they presented a check to Muse, who is organizing an auction and raffle Saturday at Rock & Reilly's pub on Main Street to fundraise for Utah Open Lands. The money from the students and Saturday's event will be pooled into one donation to the nonprofit.

Muse, for one, said the students' dedication has been impressive.

"It's cool to see kids this young being aware of things that are happening and the exploitation of the place we live in," she said. "To be able to protect that is really cool. … When I was their age, I had no clue about anything like this. Obviously the Park City community is pretty aware and conscious, and that gives me hope."

McKenna said it's important to get students engaged in the community when they're young. The hope is they'll continue to be involved as they grow older because they've seen how hard work and determination can change the places they live.

If the effort to purchase Bonanza Flats succeeds — the deadline for Park City and the other entities involved is June 15 — the students will always be proud of the part they played in securing the land, she said.

"I think it will be so special for the students, and it will be something they'll never forget," she said. "They'll always be able to remember it. When I went to Treasure Mountain years ago, we helped protect the wetlands. It still feels like such a special place to me to feel like I was part of that with my teachers then. Our students today will have the same feeling about Bonanza Flats."

Muse's event to raise money for the effort to purchase Bonanza Flats was scheduled for Saturday, May 13, at 7 p.m. at Rock & Reilly's. Attendees must RSVP at facebook.com/events/1402884763108862/.

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