Accord over Wasatch is masterful example of cooperation
It it difficult to fathom the diplomacy and stamina required to bring nearly two dozen public and private entities together to form a consensus — especially when it comes to a topic as intimately entwined with our lifestyles and livelihoods as the future of the Wasatch Mountains.
Everyone involved with the Mountain Accord initiative, which aims to balance disparate interests along the Wasatch Front and Back, is to be congratulated for Monday’s unanimous support of a master plan that sets parameters for future development. At the same time, it encourages environmental conservation along the spectacular ridgelines and forested canyons that form a natural barrier between Summit County and the Salt Lake Valley.
In particular, local interests along the Wasatch were well represented by Park City Council member Andy Beerman and Summit County Council member Chris Robinson. Despite misgivings of many in the community that the Accord was being driven by the more densely populated communities on the Wasatch Front, Beerman’s and Robinson’s perseverance likely averted several potentially detrimental proposals.
Beerman and Robinson successfully conveyed Park City’s concerns about breaching the wintertime divide between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City with either a tunnel or year round road over Guardsman Pass. Those proposals were removed from the current plan. They were also instrumental in helping refocus the Accord’s priorities on environmental rather than economic gains.
Some Park City and Summit County officials advised withdrawing from the cumbersome and expensive Mountain Accord process. Their concerns had some validity. The $150,000 and $300,000 contributions that the county and city will pay to help subsidize the upcoming studies are not trifling. But the potential gains from leveraging funding from the entire region along with federal money will make those investments worthwhile.
continuing to participate in the Mountain Accord process, even when voices (both online and in person) grew strident, Summit County and Park City representatives were able to shift the plan’s focus from aerial lifts to much-needed ground transportation solutions and to fuel efforts to establish greater federal protections for an irreplaceable resource – our mountains.
The hard-won accord represents a deep commitment by citizens on the Wasatch Front and Back to ensure their air and water quality as well as recreation and economic opportunities will still be available for future generations. And while we might continue to disagree on how to turn the overarching principles of the plan into action, Monday’s unanimous agreement is proof that when future of our mountains is at stake we can and must all work together.