Summit Land Conservancy marks 10th anniversary with big turnout |

Summit Land Conservancy marks 10th anniversary with big turnout

Former Vice President Al Gore stole the spotlight when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 2007, but he was quick to share the credit with a group of international scientists including Dr. Terry Root from Stanford University. Root was the keynote speaker at the Summit Land Conservancy’s tenth annual breakfast fundraiser held at St. Mary’s Church Friday and, judging by the large and enthusiastic audience, she was preaching to the choir.

The local nonprofit serves as a trust that holds easements on about 2,000 acres of dedicated open space in and around Park City and is working with landowners throughout the county to more than double that number.

On Friday Summit Land Conservancy president Richard Sheinberg looked over the crowd with a wide smile and said, "We are pleased beyond measure at the turnout." About 250 people attended the event and were asked for a minimum contribution of $100 each to help the group continue its stewardship and defense of undeveloped land.

Root’s presentation covered several familiar themes global warming, development pressure on native species and the need for immediate planet-wide environmental action.

As a local example of climate change, Root pointed out the growing bark-beetle infestation plaguing the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Because the winters are not as cold the beetle population is increasing, she said. Root also noted the potential effect of global warming on the local ski industry. Without a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions Root said scientists are predicting an average 1.8 F-degree temperature increase by 2020, a 3 F-degree increase by 2050 and 7.9 F-degree increase by 2080. The aftershocks of those temperature increases would be floods, droughts and species extinction.

But Root also sounded a hopeful note. "Why am I getting everyone depressed by giving these talks? Because I believe we can make a change."

As an example, Root reminded her audience about the old Ron Reagan cigarette ads in which he appeared as a ruggedly handsome cowboy drawing on a Marlborough. "We need a new paradigm and we can do it," she said.

According to Summit Land Conservancy executive director Cheryl Fox, part of that paradigm shift includes a proactive approch to preserving open lands. She emphasized that the group uses local money to buy and preserve local land.

"Open space is our most essential resource, " she said adding "the chances to preserve it will only diminish over time The money we raise here stays here and leaves a legacy that will last forever."

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