Utah Open Lands reaches deal to protect 19 acres in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Utah Open Lands reaches deal to protect 19 acres in Park City

Utah Open Lands said on Monday it has reached a $6 million agreement to protect 19 acres on the edge of Thaynes Canyon from development and must raise the funds to finalize the deal by the middle of December.

The agreement involves land known as the Snow Ranch Pastures. It is off Thaynes Canyon Drive and Three Kings Drive close to the Park City Golf Club. The not-for-profit Utah Open Lands would secure an instrument known as a conservation easement if the funding is raised. The landowner — two branches of the Armstrong family — would retain the acreage but would agree to forego the development rights under a conservation easement.

A Utah Open Lands statement says the current zoning on the land allows three lots on each acre. The location "between the hillside slope to the west and golf course to the east and proximity to utility connections, makes it a prime candidate for all kinds of development," the statement says, describing that, if the deal is not finalized, "there will be a huge loss of wildlife, agriculture and scenic views."

The statement says the branches of the Armstrong family as well as Utah Open Lands desire the land remain available for agricultural uses. They want to retain the scenic views and intend to protect habitat for wildlife. It says sandhill cranes and an elk herd have been seen on the land. The acreage offers views toward Park City Mountain Resort.

"Now the question is cows and sandhill cranes or a large development and the added traffic congestion. The pastures are one of the last pieces of unprotected agricultural ground in the limits of Park City," the statement says.

It has been rare in recent years for a conservation deal within the Park City limits to involve such a large parcel. There have been few pieces of ground covering 19 acres come available in conservation deals inside Park City as the price of land soared in the years since City Hall acquired some of its large, crucial tracts in conservation deals.

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"If this were about the money we wouldn't be talking to Utah Open Lands. We would be talking to developers," Dustin Christianson, who is the son of one of the landowners, Herb Armstrong, said in the statement.

The $6 million must be raised by Dec. 15, and Utah Open Lands plans a campaign to attempt to cover the price tag.

The timing of the Snow Ranch Pastures deal coincides with City Hall's efforts to preserve the Treasure land on a hillside overlooking Old Town in a $64 million acquisition. The Treasure deal will require voter approval of a ballot measure in November that is expected to be pegged at $50.7 million.

The Snow Ranch Pastures fundraising is also timed a year after a major effort was made to bring in the necessary monies to finalize City Hall's $38 million acquisition of Bonanza Flat. Park City voters authorized a $25 million ballot measure for Bonanza Flat, and the fundraising efforts covered the remaining $13 million.