Salt Lake County is in the midst of an unprecedented transformation. We’re at a point in time where we can either shape the future that we choose, or sit back and let the future shape us.
A perfect example of that is what is happening to our central Wasatch Mountains and the Wasatch Canyons. This iconic place—where the pioneers camped at the mouth of City Creek Canyon in 1847—is an essential water source, recreation destination and outdoor refuge to the more than one million people living in this valley and the fast-growing communities in Summit and Wasatch Counties. The same growth pressures that are forcing us to think about traffic congestion and air pollution and how we successfully educate our children, are affecting that landscape and how residents and visitors continue to enjoy it.
Last January, a broad group of stakeholders launched Mountain Accord. The goal of Mountain Accord is to preserve and improve the natural environment of this place by developing a plan of action that balances four broad system groups: environment, recreation, economy and transportation. Representatives from the state of Utah, Salt Lake, Summit and Wasatch Counties, the cities of Park City, Heber, Salt Lake City, Sandy City, Cottonwood Heights and Alta sat down with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Save Our Canyons, Ski Utah, the Outdoor Industry Association and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Numerous plans and studies relating to the management of the Wasatch Mountains have been undertaken in recent years. They contain important information. But this effort—Mountain Accord—stands out in one major way: the collaboration and planning will lead to action – a preferred scenario for the future that includes policy decisions that will lead to actual projects and preservation choices on the ground.
Phase One of Mountain Accord has reached a crucial stage. Working groups comprised of both experts and other interested folks have held hundreds of hours of meetings. Several public meetings have been held as well, both in Salt Lake County and in Summit County. The results are four “ideal” scenarios. They include maps showing what, in isolation, each system group sees as “a perfect world.” Because Mountain Accord is about producing a scenario that balances these equally important resources, the critical work is now at hand.
I’d like to invite you to visit the Mountain Accord website at www.mountainaccord.com
and click on the tab called “Milestones” and then “Idealized Systems.” That’s where you can view the draft proposals on each of the four systems, study the maps and check to see if anything was overlooked. Beginning in December, the entire stakeholder group will move toward what’s termed a “preferred scenario.” This will be the plan that will be presented to the public that seeks to balance the goals of each system—environment, recreation, economy and transportation—in one consensus-driven result.
If you value the clean, affordable water that flows from your tap, if you’ve ever enjoyed a powder ski day, or hiked a mountain trail to see the wildflowers, driven a canyon road to see the fall colors or simply sought a cool refuge along the banks of one of these clear mountain creeks, you can be part of the solution we seek. We want our Rocky Mountain home to offer those same quality of life experiences now, and for generations to come.