Without Salt Lake County, individuals need to dig deeper to save Bonanza Flats
The Park Record editorial, March 22, 2017
It is disappointing that the Salt Lake County Council, last week, could not muster a majority to approve a $3 million contribution toward preserving Bonanza Flats, but Park City should not let that diminish its resolve to close the deal.
Unlike their Salt Lake County counterparts, Park City Council members have no doubt where their constituents stand on purchasing the 1,350–acre parcel along the crest of the Guardsman Pass Road. Last November, more than 70 percent of Park City voters approved a $25 million bond that covers more than half of the $38 million purchase price.
Since the election, Park City has invested $3 million to secure the deal until June 15 when it hopes to have firm commitments for the rest of the money. Summit County has also promised to plunk down $5,750,000 and local land conservation groups have been hard at work trying to raise the remainder.
Part of the reason the Salt Lake County Council balked at chipping in $3 million is the Wasatch County location. Members say they have plenty of land within their own jurisdiction worthy of preserving.
That is understandable, except that the high alpine meadows of Bonanza Flats share a boundary with Wasatch, Summit and Salt Lake counties and any development there would affect them all.
The multi-jurisdictional issues raised by Park City’s effort to protect Bonanza Flats are reminiscent of the debates surrounding the Mountain Accord initiative that grappled with competing priorities for the central Wasatch Mountains. The debates, often contentious, pitted economic development interests against environmental activists and stirred up controversy over year-round roadway access and recreation amenities.
Many of those issues are still unresolved, but on one point all can agree: the ecosystems, economies and recreation opportunities along the high mountain border between Park City and Salt Lake are intimately intertwined. And Bonanza Flats is a fragile and vital part of the seam that holds it all together.
Perhaps between now and June 15 the Salt Lake County Council can be convinced to change course. The $3 million would certainly help prevent Bonanza Flats from turning into an exclusive gated resort. Ultimately, though, it will be up to citizens throughout the Wasatch to take the high road, literally, by adding their contributions to the $25 million commitment already made by Park City voters. About 1,700 donors have already stepped forward and the $13 million gap is shrinking. But the June 15 deadline is nearing.
This spring, as the snow recedes and wildflowers emerge, consider doing your part to preserve Bonanza Flats.
To participate, go to: utahopenlands.org/save-bonanza-flats
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