Mountain Accord looking for initial public input
January 28, 2014
Formerly known as the Wasatch Summit, the Mountain Accord is a collection of public and private entities that is seeking to address issues surrounding recreation, transportation, the environment and the economy, as they pertain to the future of the Wasatch Mountains.
Next week, the Mountain Accord will begin its first public meetings, and its members are looking for valuable input on these issues from the community.
Comprised of representatives from governments, businesses and non-profits from across the Wasatch Front and Back, the Mountain Accord’s Executive Committee has been meeting over the past several months to identify issues facing the Wasatch Mountains with a regional population that is only expected to grow.
Summit County Council member Chris Robinson serves on the Executive Committee and said the group recently decided to form four subcommittees based off of the four goals in preserving the legacy of the Wasatch Mountains: (1) the environment, (2) the economy, (3) transportation and (4) recreation.
Robinson sits on the transportation subcommittee and said transportation is a priority in the minds of those in Summit and Wasatch Counties, especially with a growing population and increased demand being put on State Roads 224 and 248.
"Where the rubber hits the road in Summit County is literally the rubber hitting the road," Robinson said. "Most of the geographic area we’re studying is in Salt Lake County. The impact to us is how can we get people in and out of there in an efficient way? We have issues on [S.R.] 224 and 248 the same way the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon roads do."
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Laynee Jones, Program Manager for the Mountain Accord, said the group is "an unprecedented collaboration of a lot of diverse groups." She said they are looking for the input of another important voice: the public.
"Our goal is that, 100 years from now, we preserve what we love about the Wasatch Mountains," Jones said. "It’s important we do this now because our population is increasing."
The Mountain Accord is currently in what it calls Phase One of its process, where future scenarios are identified that seek to address the four goals. At the end of this phase, which is expected to take a year, a "preferred scenario" will be chosen and proposed actions will be given to address that scenario.
Phase Two, which will take two years, will then constitute implementation of the proposed actions, studies and approval processes and environmental impact statements.
"In January of 2015, we want to have a blueprint for what areas we want to preserve, which areas are suitable for development and transportation corridors and modes that will connect those areas we want to develop," Jones said.
In the realm of transportation, Jones said most of the Mountain Accord’s members agree that transit-focused solutions are most important, as is getting fewer people to drive cars.
Robinson stressed that the Mountain Accord is not a "maximization effort," but an "optimization effort." This means, he said, that any solution for one of the four goals has to take into consideration the other three goals. Thus, a transportation fix would have to accommodate environmental, recreational and economic goals.
The Mountain Accord will request input from residents both at the public meetings and on its website.
Robinson said that, although no solutions to problems the Wasatch Mountains face have been thoroughly discussed yet, it is important that the process move along.
"We might not get any eating done, but we need to show up at the banquet," Robinson said. "The most important thing is that the public become interested in this."
The Mountain Accord will host two upcoming public meetings: Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Boulevard, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Skyline High School, 3251 East 3760 South, Salt Lake City, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.