Our mountain playground’s future depends on your participation | ParkRecord.com

Our mountain playground’s future depends on your participation

Don’t think of it as a meeting. Think of it as a chance to fantasize about a perfect world in which commuters, skiers, hikers and cyclists, tourists and residents, move seamlessly from work to play without traffic jams or smog, where a vibrant economy is growing without impinging on natural habitat.

You are invited to attend a Community Roundtable Discussion from 6 to 8 p.m. this coming Monday at the Park City Marriott in Prospector Square to talk about the Mountain Accord initiative, an ambitious multi-agency attempt to chart the future of the central Wasatch Mountains.

The goal is to balance the area’s expanding population and resulting appetite for transportation, recreation and economic growth, with the mounting pressure those needs will exert on the environment.

Daunting challenges, to say the least. But representatives from a broad range of public and private entities already have come together to start the conversation. Now they want your input on preferences and priorities.

Unlike Utah’s other natural wonders that are surrounded by sparsely populated areas, the Wasatch Mountains are sandwiched between bustling urban communities filled with active residents who chose to live in the shadow of the mountains where they love to recreate.

As expected, conflicts between competing interests most notably between recreation and development flare up at regular intervals. But leaders of the Mountain Accord initiative hope that by asking stakeholders to invest in a cooperative plan, some of those conflicts can be set to rest.

Attendees will be asked to help prioritize options within a set of categories including recreation, transportation and the environment. Some of the options include: transit connections between Salt Lake Valley, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Park City, lift connections between Wasatch Back and Front ski areas and setting aside protected areas where development would be prohibited.

Specifics of the plans have not been finalized but some concepts include exploring a transit route or tunnel connecting the Wasatch Front and Back and seeking wilderness or monument designation for particularly sensitive wildlands.

The Mountain Accord study area stretches from the Salt Lake Valley to U.S 40, and from Parley’s Canyon to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Summit County, in particular, has a lot at stake as its mainstay business, tourism, depends on visitors being able to travel easily from Salt Lake City to Park City and beyond. And even that may be secondary to more pressing issues like air and water quality as the population grows.

The ball is in our court. The outcome will depend on the quantity and quality of public opinion gathered on Monday and in a series of meetings to come. Don’t sit this one out. The future of our playground and our community depends on it.

For more information including maps visit: mountainaccord.com

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