Ski Area Citizens’ scorecard is inaccurate, misleading | ParkRecord.com

Ski Area Citizens’ scorecard is inaccurate, misleading

Carl Fisher, Executive director, Save Our Canyons

We wholeheartedly agree with Solitude that SkiLink is not "bona fide" and we’re delighted to see that Solitude seems to be distancing itself from the proposal saying, "It’s not even my proposal!" While we applaud Solitude’s distancing themselves from SkiLink, were they not interested in the first place, deciding instead to work within the collaborative, data-driven planning and transportation initiative, the legislation would have been a non-starter. It takes two to tango. The Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition (SACC) appropriately penalized Solitude for their involvement in this debacle (ranking Solitude the ninth worst ski area in the West in its most recent Environmental Scorecard).

That said, SACC’s analysis in other areas of the report card was fraught with omissions. Save Our Canyons cannot support the SACC scorecard as these grades do not accurately consider the projects and proposals currently facing the Central Wasatch Mountains. As such, we have removed our name as an endorsing organization of this project. Here are a few of the missed proposals.

1. The Canyons Resort. As we all know now, Canyons Resort is the primary driving force behind the SkiLink project. Somehow, Solitude received a score of 18/30 for "Maintaining ski terrain within existing footprint" citing SkiLink as the reason. Canyons received 30/30 full credit! Save Our Canyons recommends a score of 0/30 for the Canyons as they are not only seeking this expansion, but setting a horrible national precedent in the process. Additionally, Canyons was not docked for opposing wilderness expansion in the Wasatch and were credited for working with Save Our Canyons finding resolve on the 9990 lift. Canyons Resort is not even remotely deserving of an "A" grade.

2. Snowbird Ski Resort. We give credit where credit is due! To our knowledge Snowbird has not opposed the Wasatch Wilderness Legislation, yet received a 0/5 score. Additionally, there is no mention in Snowbird’s score about their infamous rollercoaster debacle, nor the current effort to construct seven homes on the flanks of Mt. Superior. Snowbird is also in the process of constructing a 30,000 square foot, 4-story structure atop Hidden Peak. (For info on Hidden Peak, http://saveourcanyons.org/campaigns/snowbird_hidden_peak_structure/ ).

3. Alta Ski Resort. On Oct. 31, 2012, Alta Ski Company filed a Master Development Plan revision that would expand the resort from the Hellgate Cliffs to Grizzly Gulch code for Flagstaff Lift and now a companion lift up Grizzly Gulch (still under the guise of "avalanche control"). It also discusses the potential of ski interconnection to Heber City. Save Our Canyons is awaiting response from the USFS on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response. (Read some of the project details here: here )

4. What about interconnect? There is no mention of the effort afoot to pursue a massive ski interconnection among the seven Central Wasatch ski areas as pursued by the "Lift Utah" coalition. While it identifies SkiLink as an important first step, this massive multi-resort expansion is much larger than SkiLink alone. We feel that myopic schemes like interconnect are dangerous, but similar goals can be accomplished while protecting what is amazing about our local environment.

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Save Our Canyons has yet to fully digest the entire scorecard for our Utah resorts, but feels that the information gathered to administer ski area scores is flawed and incomplete and should be retracted and corrected. Furthermore, we question the usefulness of this scoring system as it has the potential to mislead and misinform the public about uses taking place on public lands and inside municipal watersheds. It is very difficult to assess what has already been lost.

We hope in years to come that SACC reaches out to groups working on the same issues to not only validate the data collected, but understand the lay of the land before issuing misleading scorecards.