‘Stop SkiLink’ campaign moves onto Park City yards
Ryan Summerlin November 6, 2012
Campaign signs were not the only ones posted in Park City-area yards with a political message as Election Day neared.
Signs in opposition to SkiLink, the politically charged idea of a skiing connection between Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort via a gondola, have been seen recently as critics of the idea continue their drive to squash the connection.
Early in the week, a few of them were spotted in Park City. They were greatly outnumbered by political signs for candidates, however. The signs are red and white, with an image of a gondola placed inside an octagon that appears to be a stop sign.
There has been organized opposition to SkiLink in Park City and along the Wasatch Front since the idea was publicized in 2011. Talisker Mountain Incorporated, the parent of Canyons, wants to be allowed to purchase federal land needed for the connection. Legislation is pending.
Save Our Canyons, an environmental watchdog that is especially active in the Cottonwood Canyons, has been the key group in the opposition movement. The organization printed the signs that are now posted.
Carl Fisher, the executive director of Save Our Canyons, said the group started promoting a SkiLink opposition campaign in the summer. The image on the signs comes from one that was used on a sticker early in the campaign, he said.
Fisher said a supporter of the group had 250 signs made initially and distributed them in few days. He said Save Our Canyons made approximately 1,500. Nearly all of them had been distributed by early in the week, he said. Fisher estimated at least one-third of the signs went to people in Summit County. The group is asking for $3 each to cover the cost of making them.
"We won’t stop until the final nail of the coffin of this horrible idea of SkiLink has been driven through," Fisher said.
He said the signs are "helping immensely with awareness." Fisher said the group is asking people who request a sign why they want one. The majority tell Save Our Canyons they do not trust Talisker Mountain Incorporated, he said. Fisher said the distrust embodies the wider Talisker Mountain Incorporated presence in Utah and a thinking that the firm wants to establish a monopoly on skiing in the state.
The people obtaining the signs also worry about development — both residential and ski area expansion — in Big Cottonwood Canyon that they fear SkiLink could trigger, he said.
Fisher said Save Our Canyons in Salt Lake City last Friday held its most lucrative single-event fundraiser in its 40-year history. The event centered on the SkiLink opposition and raised approximately $30,000, he said.
Black Diamond Inc., an action sports equipment maker, is among the corporate interests in opposition to SkiLink. A release from the company indicated more than 80 other brands and conservation groups have signed a petition opposing SkiLink.
Talisker Mountain Incorporated and Canyons see SkiLink as something that would increase the competitiveness of Utah skiing by offering access to the terrain of the two resorts to customers. The firms also argue that the connection could reduce traffic between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon, providing environmental benefits. SkiLink hinges on federal legislation that would allow 30.3 acres of federal land to be sold to Talisker Mountain Incorporated.
Mike Goar, the managing director of Canyons, said he has seen the opposition signs in Salt Lake City but not the Park City area. He said Save Our Canyons sent him a photo of one prior to them being posted.
"Not everyone is in favor of SkiLink. I know I’m stating the obvious," Goar said.
Goar, though, said he is "certain" that there is a "silent majority" in support of the connection. He did not provide details. He said, though, Talisker Mountain Incorporated does not dismiss other opinions.
"Any amount of opposition has our attention. We consider that when we’re evaluating projects," he said. "I certainly don’t ignore it."
A sign was seen early in the week outside a home in Prospector appearing to be in favor of SkiLink. The message "Link the Wasatch" was printed above an illustration of a gondola between two peaks. Nobody answered the door at the home Monday afternoon.