Locals look for ways to add to the Bonanza Flats pot
Many fundraising initiatives are underway
March 3, 2017
Erika Keffer loves to visit Bonanza Flats in the fall when the area's aspens change color.
The Park City native said the viewing experience is stunning, since every aspen shares a root system with other trees of its kind.
"When you look at the different aspens changing colors in the fall, you can see which ones share which root system," Keffer said. "There will be a little nugget of red from one isolated root system and massive fields of golden or yellow from other colonies."
Like the aspens that grow on the plot of land she visits high in the Wasatch County mountains, Keffer wants to become one member who is part of a bigger system. She wants to be one more person raising money to help Park City purchase and preserve Bonanza Flats.
Keffer is hosting a Bonanza Flats silent auction and opportunity drive at the Notch Pub in Samak, which will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8. The cover charge is $10, which includes one raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets are $5 each.
"I have never been much of an activist," Keffer said. "I've been supportive of a lot of things, but never a primary supporter.
"With this, it just hit close to home. Not only is this place geographically close to my home, but I have spent a lot of time up there. I didn't feel like I could sit and do nothing."
Bonanza Flats — owned by Redus, LLC — is a 1,400-acre piece of land located downhill from Guardsman Pass that could potentially be sold for development. In November, Park City residents voted in favor of a $25 million bond to help pay for and conserve the area.
In January, City Hall reached a deal with the landowner to purchase Bonanza Flats for $38 million.
Since then, many efforts have been launched to make up for the $13 million gap: A nonprofit coalition, headed by Utah Open Lands, was created in order to obtain private funding. It has raised $1.4 million. Summit County also pledged to chip in, agreeing to put $5.75 million in the pile.
Wendy Fisher, executive director of Utah Open Lands, said that while past fundraisers have been successful, the coalition still needs to close the rest of the $13 million gap before March 15, which is when the city is required to make a $1.5 million payment toward the purchase.
Fisher said the fast-approaching timeline is why it's important for events such as Keffer's and others' to do well.
A fundraiser at the Notch
Keffer said she had no clue how to plan a fundraiser when she decided to help save Bonanza Flats. But after contacting local businesses and reaching out to the Notch, she now has a place for the event and several items — donated by places such as Skullcandy and Black Diamond — for the drawing and auction.
"I started pretty much from zero and now it's a full-fledged event," Keffer said.
The fundraiser's bigger items, from skis to ski passes, will be part of the silent auction. Smaller items, from t-shirts to headphones, will be in the drawing.
Keffer said she's happy the event will be at the Notch.
"It's definitely out of the way of Park City," she said. "But it's a great venue with parking and drinks and fun bartenders. The Notch was also willing to pay for the band and contribute 20 percent of its profits from that night toward the fundraiser."
Keffer said the event will have music provided by local band Telluride Meltdown. And while she doesn't plan on raising a large amount of money, she hopes the little bit she brings in will help.
"My dad always said — when I was growing up — the crumbs add up to a slice," she said. "I guess I'm collecting crumbs."
Taking the bus can also help
Since the coalition's campaign to save Bonanza Flats is in crunch time, other nonprofits and individuals are also hoping to bring in money within the next week.
For instance, Fisher mentioned a Wasatch Backcountry Alliance pledge that impressed her.
"They will be giving all of the donations from the ski shuttles going up Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons this Saturday to the effort," Fisher said. "You'll get a great ride. You'll cut down on traffic congestion, and you'll get to help save Bonanza Flats."
Artists want to do their part, too
Like Keffer and those at Wasatch Backcountry Alliance, many local artists feel Bonanza Flats inspires them, which is why the Park City Professional Artists' Association and Summit Land Conservancy partnered with Whole Foods in Park City for an art show that is currently on display at the grocery store.
Jane Riley, along with nine other artists, contributed pieces to the exhibit, which is also a silent auction. The group will donate proceeds to the conservancy for the cause. Those who would like to bid on the pieces can visit wesaveland.org/auctions.
Fisher said Utah Open Lands is also planning on launching one more initiative before the March 15 deadline. She said it most likely will be some sort of challenge grant, but is still not sure.
She added that information about the campaign and its future plans can be found at http://www.savebonanzaflats.org. People can also visit the website to make individual donations, she said.
Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect the new price for raffle tickets for Keffer’s fundraiser. Tickets are now $5 each.