Small contributions help preserve lands
In 2005, the Summit Land Conservancy established the One Percent for Open Space campaign to further its mission of preserving open land.
The goal was to help Summit County businesses get involved in preserving local land, said Megan Fernandez, outreach and development director for the Summit Land Conservancy.
"The idea, which was inspired by a similar program in Crested Butte, Colorado, is that local businesses add a small contribution from their customers’ purchase prices and that extra money is donated to our organization," Fernandez explained. "For example, Park City Lodging asks renters to add one dollar a night in the rental costs, so if someone stays for a week, Park City Lodging donates seven dollars to us."
The customers aren’t required to participate, but Fernandez has found most people are happy to shell out the extra cash.
"We have raised more than $150,000, since 2005," she said. "These are critical funds that help us do our job, which is saving land."
To date, 13 local businesses are participating in the campaign. They are Cole Sport, Copper Moose Farm, Deer Valley Resort, Heidi & Peter Gatch Real Estate, Jans/White Pine Touring, Michael LaPay Real Estate, Park City Lodging, Park City Rental Properties, ParkCitySkiPlaces.com, Peterson/Calder Real Estate, Snow Flower Property Management, 350 Main Brasserie and Treasure Mountain Inn.
The program varies depending on the types of businesses that want to become involved, and the funds donated are not taken from the pockets of the businesses, Fernandez said.
"When Deer Valley Resort guests buy a season-pass or a local-coupon book and skier-services products they are given an option to add one percent of the price to the total purchase as a donation to the Conservancy," she said. "Some Realtors, like Kurt Peterson and Michael LaPay, donate one percent of their real estate commissions on behalf of their clients to us."
While the program has been successful for the Summit Land Conservancy, the organization would we like to expand the program.
"We are looking for more businesses to join," Fernandez said. "We are currently involved in a project at the Stoner Ranch along the Weber River. We are attempting to save the area, because the Weber River is such an important water source for the Wasatch Front. Even though it’s just a dollar here and there, the money will help preserve the ranch."
The benefit for the business owners, other than helping to preserve open lands, is their businesses are listed on the Summit Land Conservancy’s website and Facebook page.
"We’ll direct people to their organizations," Fernandez said.
Rhonda Sideris, president of Park City Lodging, Inc., who has been involved with the One Percent for Open Space program since 2005, said it is important for her guests to see open space in and around Summit County.
"If we continue to build out on available land in no time we will just be another resort town built right up to the Interstate," she said. "When people come to the mountains their activities are not restricted to the ski resorts. They hike, bike and enjoy the views."
Likewise, Realtor Heidi Hatch said open lands helps to keep balance and perspective, within Park City’s ongoing development and evolution.
"We are honored and proud to live in a town that places as high a value on wide, open spaces as we do," she said. "In our opinion open space is the most precious commodity a community can have."
Andy Beerman said the involvement of the green Treasure Mountain Inn in the program is a way to give back to the community.
"We view the preservation of open space as critical to the long term health of the resort economy, making it an easy and smart investment," Beerman said. "Treasure Mountain Inn adds a one percent open space surcharge to all reservations. It’s mandatory, (and) guests may ‘opt-out’ by staying elsewhere."
Summit Land Conservancy board member Kurt Peterson said the open space that exists in and around Park City adds "immeasurable" value to owning property in Park City.
"Trails, open space and schools are the first thing new residents want to know about," Peterson said. "We love supporting the one-percent program because we benefit so greatly form the efforts of the conservancy on both a business and personal level."
Once the land is gone, it’s not coming back, Fernandez said.
"We have seen so many changes throughout the years, and we are so lucky to have open spaces around our town, and and it’s important to preserve it," she said.
For more information or to get involved with the Summit Land Conservancy’s One Percent for Open Lands program, visit http://www.summitlandconservancy.org/ or call Megan Fernandez at (435) 649-9884.
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Beerman said he is aware of landlords offering relief of some sort, but he also acknowledged the landlords earn a living off the rents they collect.