State legislators show support for SkiLink
February 24, 2012
The controversial lift system SkiLink, which would connect Canyons Resort in Park City to Solitude Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon, may soon receive state legislators’ stamp of approval.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, entitled "Concurrent Resolution Supporting Utah’s Interconnected Ski and Snowboard Industry," was sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (R-Sandy). The resolution mirrors a Canyons Resort study that claims an interconnect would reduce traffic and air pollution while allowing skiers to visit multiple resorts in a day.
"This is a bird’s eye view looking at the concept of connecting ski resorts," said Ski Utah Director, Nathan Rafferty. "I don’t know when it may impact SkiLink, or if it will. Ski Utah is not in the position of picking winners or losers or look at any individual resort project. Any individual project is going to need to stand alone on its own merits."
The resolution "expresses support for low-impact interconnection of the seven resorts in Salt Lake County and Summit County to enhance the ski and snowboard industry’s contribution to Utah’s economy, jobs, and tax base," the bill reads.
Ski Utah helped develop the resolution in support of any interconnect with Niederhauser, drafting the legislation in response to the decades of debate the issue has collected. Conservation groups and resorts have fought for years over whether a project like SkiLink would have any significant impact on the environment.
"We’re not supporting a specific proposal," Neiderhauser said, "just addressing the connection of any resorts on a conceptual basis. This has been an issue out there for several years and we think the bill adds to the discussion. We just need to take on these projects responsibly."
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Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Senator Orrin Hatch both submitted bills last December that would sell the Forest Service land Canyons Resort wants to begin constructing the SkiLink project.
Though there is support for SkiLink, there is also strong opposition. Carl Fisher of Save Our Canyons said the resolution undercuts the public process.
"We’re kind of shocked that senators would usurp the public process that’s going on right now in Salt Lake County on this issue," Fisher said. "It’s a short-sighted resolution created to help facilitate the SkiLink project. The goal is to show state support at the federal level, despite all the local entities coming out against it."
While some groups are concerned for the environmental impact, other state organizations including Ski Utah, see the SkiLink project as an economic boon, bolstering the industry and driving more business into the area.
"The goal is clearly stated in the resolution to support multi-area interconnect to resorts," Rafferty said. "It’s quite simple, it would create an incredible ski experience This takes our industry to the next level, in fact probably takes up several levels."
The resolution is currently awaiting committee review.