Guest Editoral: Community needs to take a stand for wild, open spaces
May 1, 2015
I attended a Summit Co Planning Commission meeting last night about a proposed trailhead on Silver Summit Pkway. What a frustrating experience! It appeared that the recommendation for approval was somewhat of a foregone conclusion and that the public input was simply a formality.
I and numerous others lobbied for and donated money to the purchase of the Stone Ridge property to prevent development. Now, I’m again fighting against development and this time it’s with the City. Park City initially proposed a 40 vehicle parking lot with 2 restrooms along Silver Summit Pkway. The request that was presented last night is for an initial 10 spots with two portalets ( how are 2 portalets necessary for 10 parking spots!!) with the option to expand to 40 spaces.
Why is this necessary – its not! Within 1/4 mile there are 84 parking spaces at Trailside Park with restrooms that are open year round. This parking lot has a paved trail that ends at the LDS church which is only 350 feet from the proposed trailhead. A simple solution is to extend the paved trail & park at Trailside. The public has access to the property and can hike and mtb on the trail that Mtn Trails built last year.
But, it appears the City has other plans for the Gilmore property and they include groomed Nordic trails. For those who know me, I’m a fanatic skate skier and I xc, trail run, hike, & mtb. So why don’t I support groomed Nordic trails on the Gilmore property? Because there’s something on the Gilmore property in the winter that’s far more valuable and that’s the elk herd and deer that winter there. If we put trails in, run grooming equipment, & fill it with people on the weekend like the rest of Round Valley, where are the elk going to go? We’ve robbed them of all their space. Are we really going to develop their last vestige of open space?
We are so fortunate– we have over 40k of groomed trails and over 400 miles of single track to ride and hike. What we don’t have in Park City is public open space that’s undeveloped. I know of two tracts: the Gilmore property and Toll Canyon and both are under extreme pressure to put in trails. Why are we blind to the treasure we have? These properties work well exactly as they are. Let’s provide a home for the elk and deer in the winter by barring winter groomed trails on the Gilmore property. And perhaps you’ve taken a survey on Toll Canyon, it appears that someone doesn’t like the answer they are getting because they just reissued the survey for the third time!
Why aren’t we as a community taking a stand for wild open spaces? We can xc, hike/run, & mtb on more terrain than any other community in the United States. Isn’t it about time that we think about preservation of wild spaces & the animals who inhabit those lands? Tell Park City, Summit County Council, Basin Rec, and Utah Open Lands that you support preserving land without adding trails.
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And let’s be clear, both of these properties already have trails — I simply ask you consider the concept of preserving the status quo. Nature is doing a good job of providing a winter home for the elk and deer on the Gilmore property and for the moose, elk, deer, mountain lions, bear, and other inhabitants of Toll Canyon. Let’s appreciate what we have– we can’t improve it, we’ll only hurt it.