Park City wants to protect Treasure acreage from wildfires
Officials prepare to tap a firm to study health of vegetation, take steps to reduce threat
The City Hall-owned Treasure acreage provides a picturesque community backdrop, a steep swath of forested land with ski runs cutting through sections of the hillside.
But the ground is also located on the edge of Old Town, a tightly packed neighborhood with houses moving up the land from Main Street. There has long been concern that a wildfire could be especially devastating in Old Town and on the terrain like Treasure that surrounds the neighborhood.
Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall wants to hire a firm that would be tasked with reducing the amount of fuel, such as dead or overgrown vegetation, that could be ignited in a wildfire as well as create so-called defensible space, or essentially making a buffer of sorts between the open space and structures. The firm would also provide an analysis of the health of the vegetation.
City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work. The window for proposals closes June 30 with the intention of the work occurring in the fall. It is not clear when staffers will present a contract for consideration to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council. The request from City Hall for proposals was posted in the days before the skies in the Park City area became smoky as a result of a wildfire, covering more than 800 acres, in the area of the East Canyon Reservoir. The fire started Tuesday, and smoke was visible rising to the north of Kimball Junction that afternoon. The location is north of Park City and the Snyderville Basin.
The work on the Treasure land will be especially notable with its high visibility from Main Street and Old Town neighborhood streets. It will also be noteworthy as one of the steps City Hall will take in the protection of what was, by a wide margin, the municipal government’s most expensive conservation acquisition.
Heinrich Deters, who is the trails and open space manager at City Hall, said officials want to tap one firm to study the health of the vegetation on Treasure and other lands and then craft recommendations to reduce the threat of wildfires on the acreage. Deters called Treasure a “wildfire danger area.” He said the Treasure land abuts Old Town and is closer to structures than some other notable tracts of City Hall-owned open space, such as ground in Round Valley.
The Treasure land stretches across a high-profile hillside on the west side of Old Town. The land is located steps from residential streets, and there are houses essentially on the border of Treasure. The acreage from there becomes especially steep as it climbs further into the terrain at Park City Mountain Resort. The land is along the route of the resort’s Town Lift. The vegetation on the Treasure hillside includes scrub oak, aspen, maple and white fir trees.
City Hall officials and the Park City Fire District have for decades been concerned about the wildfire risk of Old Town. The residential streets in the neighborhood either abut hillsides or are located just blocks away from them, and on many streets the houses are located in close proximity to one another.
The concern centers on a wildfire starting on one of the hillsides surrounding Old Town and then quickly moving through the neighborhood and onto the terrain at the mountain resorts. The impact of a wildfire like that could be devastating to the Park City economy.
Park City acquired the Treasure land in a conservation deal in 2019. The $64 million deal blocked the development of a portion of the land and ended a long-running dispute about a proposal for a large residential and commercial project. City Hall instead acquired the land for conservation purposes. The municipal government, as the owner, is responsible for the management of the Treasure land, including overseeing work like the upcoming efforts to guard against a wildfire.
Deters said the Park City Fire District and state forestry officials are also involved in the discussions about protecting the land in Park City from wildfires.
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