Record editorial: It’s been an unrivaled two-year run for land preservation in Park City
Well done, Parkites.
The string of land preservation successes over the last two-plus years, capped by the recent announcement that Utah Open Lands has completed its fundraising push to protect Snow Ranch Pasture near Thaynes Canyon, has been nothing short of remarkable.
To begin with, the last 25 months saw the completion of two of the most significant conservation deals in Park City’s history. In June of 2017, City Hall acquired the crown jewel of its lauded open space program, the 1,350-acre Bonanza Flat, which officials had wanted to buy for decades. The next milestone came last fall, when voters resoundingly approved the ballot measure that allowed Park City to purchase Treasure, preserving the hillside above Old Town and ending a contentious development dispute that dated to the 1980s.
Those two projects alone would have made the last two years a momentous stretch. But we weren’t done.
Next came the fundraising efforts to secure conservation easements on the 19-acre Snow Ranch Pasture and the 158-acre Osguthorpe Farm in the Snyderville Basin, the latter spearheaded by the Summit Land Conservancy. Those deals, made possible because the landowning families in both cases were willing to take less money for the easements than they could have fetched from developers, do not rise to the magnitude of Bonanza Flat and Treasure. But they are noteworthy achievements in their own right, and both pieces of land will be cherished for decades.
Given the shrinking amount of noteworthy land in the Park City area that has not either been developed or already set aside as open space, the two-year run of conservation deals marks the end of an era that dates to the early 1990s, when City Hall acquired the McPolin Farm. The Park City area will likely see other land deals in the future, but preservation efforts in the county may be more focused on the East Side, such as an easement Summit Land Conservancy is pursuing to safeguard a 4,000-acre ranch near Echo. At the least, a future string of successes to rival those over the last two years seems inconceivable.
So take a moment and toast to what our community has accomplished in recent months and to those who made it happen. The list of contributors is extensive, ranging from Utah Open Lands and Summit Land Conservancy to elected officials who’ve championed open space to residents who backed the cause with their votes, donations or, in many cases, both.
Present and future Parkites owe them all a debt of gratitude.
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