Code changes planned to help protect wildlife
July 20, 2011
While no new subdivisions are currently being built in Summit County, the county sustainability coordinators and Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioners want to ensure the wildlife are protected once the building begins.
The Planning Commission is currently in the process of changing the wildlife code to mitigate the impact of developments on wildlife.
"In our current wildlife code, new subdivisions need to show if there is significant wildlife but then we lack any kind of follow up," said Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Ashley Kohler.
The code changes will require developers to be more detailed in their wildlife studies and submit site-specific plans to show what wildlife habitats exist in the development zone.
Doug Sakaguchi, a wildlife habitat biologist with the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources, told the planning commission it is important to make sure habitats aren’t fragmented, which can lead to animals entering subdivisions and roads.
"It has always been important to us to preserve contiguous open space and cluster developments," said Synderville Basin Planning Commission chair Julie Hooker. "Those are just good planning principles, but now we know they are also important in preserving the wildlife."
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Sakaguchi highlighted numerous areas in the Snyderville Basin that could have significant wildlife habitat, including the Silver Creek Estates area, East Canyon Creek corridor and Promontory Ranch as well as smaller areas existing in between subdivisions.
According to Sakaguchi, many wildlife habitat areas that are smaller and within developments aren’t being protected since housing infrastructure is already in place.
"With this study and code changes we are hoping to preserve the wildlife habitat that remains and address remaining outlining wildlife areas. For example, there is important sage grass in the Promontory area that we need to take into consideration even though it’s in a development," said Hooker.
According to Kohler, the reason the wildlife code is being revised is to create a proactive approach to preserving habitat and because residents have expressed how important preserving the wildlife habitat is to them.
"When we were in discussion about the Discovery Project [a proposed subdivision near Gorgoza] a lot of people came out and said that the wildlife in the area needs to be considered more in the approval process," said Hooker. "So we decided with the General Plan changes this would be the perfect time to address it."
The proposed wildlife code changes will be voted on by the council after a public hearing at an upcoming Snyderville Basin planning commission meeting. To find out when the public hearing is scheduled, residents can go visit /http://www.summitcounty.org and check the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission agenda.