Amy Roberts: In Park City, even wildlife struggles to find housing
It won’t be long now — a matter of weeks really — before the seasonal workers and families on vacation and second home owners once again permeate our town.
And while most locals welcome this confederacy of powder seekers or have at least made some form of peace with them — acknowledging the economic impact of each hotel stay, night out, equipment rental and lift ticket purchased — there is, of course, a consequence to all that benefit. Be it the extra traffic or lack of parking, the longer lines at the grocery store or the improbability of getting a reservation pretty much anywhere all winter long, during the “on season” Park City can feel kind of “off” for a lot of locals. The bustle of a new crowd each week can make our town seem uncaring and impersonal. At times, it can be easy to feel detached and convince ourselves this isn’t the same town we once knew and question our place here.
But last week, with the help of a few busy beavers, I was reminded that we are still a small town, filled with people who care and act, and with leaders who are willing to respond to the concerns we voice.
I live in Prospector and use the Rail Trail almost daily, often times two or three times a day. There’s been some type of water project going on for a few weeks — large equipment and thick pipes line the path for over a mile. I hadn’t given it much thought until a neighbor shared information that due to beaver dams in the nearby ponds, traps had been set. She’d been informed the beavers would be “euthanized.” Which is a softer version of reality.
Euthanization is relieving an animal’s suffering, be it your 15-year-old dog or a deer hit by a car. It is an act of mercy. What was planned for these juvenile beavers was extermination. They weren’t sick or injured; they weren’t posing a threat. They were just living their best beaver lives in a place their ancestors have lived for decades, which suddenly became inconvenient to humans.
When the plan to trap and kill the beavers was confirmed, it only took a post or two on social media for much of the neighborhood to learn about the animals’ fates and voice concern.
In the way unique to small towns (and anymore, just kind of unique), those who were opposed to the trap and kill plan learned the facts and contacted city leaders to respectfully request the city reconsider. Together, they acted quickly to find an alternative solution and within 24 hours, multiple state agencies and the Utah Humane Society were involved and a plan to relocate the animals was underway.
While there is a greater discussion to be had about the need to live harmoniously with nature, for now I think it’s a win that a few eager beavers in our community worked together to find an acceptable and ethical alternative.
The snow is coming, and so are the tourists and all the cash they’ll sprinkle upon us. But living next to people who see something that doesn’t sit well with them, who are willing to lead an effort in hopes of a better outcome, and having city leaders who respond those concerns, who return phone calls and emails, and who are willing to correct course when they learn about a policy likely buried in Section V. 108.2 on page 517 of the city’s handbook — those are the real benefits of living in this town. It’s a reminder that no matter how big Park City is about to get, locals are still the large fish in the beaver pond.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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There are several major development proposals looming in Park City. Tom Clyde says the time is now to “place your bet on which one turns the first shovel of dirt, and which one goes back on the shelf.”