Mountain Accord stakeholders met with Utah County representatives on Monday to create a working group that will examine and review the proposed land exchange in American Fork Canyon.
Laynee Jones, manager of the Mountain Accord planning effort, said that the proposed land exchange would transfer 1,100 acres of land in Salt Lake County to the public in exchange for 400 acres owned by the U.S. Forest Service in American Fork Canyon. That acreage is adjacent to land that is already privately owned. Jones said the public benefits because the land that would go into public ownership is vital watershed and would be permanently managed to protect drinking water and open space.
Mountain Accord Executive Committee Co-Chairman and Summit County Council Chairman Chris Robinson says adding the working group is part and parcel of Mountain Accord’s open and inclusive process.
“During the three years we’ve spent on the draft Mountain Accord blueprint, we’ve conducted an open, transparent process where all stakeholders are working towards balancing four important aspects of the mountains and canyons we all love,” Robinson said. “We’ve had good support from Utah County commissioners to date and we welcome even more participants to the table as we continue to refine this non-binding, consensus-based document.
In response to Utah County officials’ and residents’ concerns about the exchange, the Mountain Accord executive board in consultation with Utah County commissioners has moved forward with a plan to create a working group of Utah County stakeholders to examine the issue and make recommendations to Utah County Commission and the Mountain Accord executive board. Utah County officials have been involved in the discussions on the proposal land exchange with Mountain Accord working committees and Snowbird.
Mountain Accord introduced the Snowbird land exchange proposal to the public in February 2015 as a part of a public comment period extending to May 2015. Previous to Mountain Accord, the proposal had been under public scrutiny and congressional hearings as a part of the proposed Matheson Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act.
Jones said that any interested Utah County resident should send an email with their contact information to Shawn Seager of the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) at email@example.com.
“As American Fork elected officials and others have noted, this is about the future of water, outdoor recreation, and preserving nature for everyone who loves this area,” said Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves. “We all want to ensure that we’re moving in the right direction because the growth we’re seeing in our community is inevitably going to bring change.”
Mountain Accord is an unprecedented effort to build consensus about long-term plans for the Central Wasatch. Mountain Accord does not have any authority to execute any of the land exchanges. If approved, the Accord would recommend that the US Forest Service consider several land exchange proposals as part of a formal public process consistent with federal environmental policy and state, county, and local planning ordinances. The Accord would support the creation and recommendations of the American Fork working group.
Download the press release here.