Cottonwood Heights, Utah (Aug. 3, 2015) — Mountain Accord, a historic agreement 30 years in the making, was signed today by Gov. Gary Herbert and members of the Executive Committee in shadow of the Cottonwood Canyons.
“The Central Wasatch is important for all of Utah,” Herbert said. “[Mountain Accord] is a comprehensive and significant document that gives us a blueprint to accommodate the challenges we face as a fast-growing state.”
The signing event represented the culmination of two years’ worth of public feedback, stakeholder involvement and leadership decisions. Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker lauded the consensus-based process that brought many groups to the table from government agencies, environmental and recreational advocacy groups and ski resort and private landholders.
“The Central Wasatch Mountains tower above the valley and are a constant reminder of our stewardship over these resources,” Becker said. “Our quality of life and prosperity are dependent on this mountain range. We have, through Mountain Accord, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to come to a common understanding about what the future should bear.”
Now approved, the Mountain Accord will enter Phase 2, which includes significant research into each recommendation, continued public feedback and completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the required NEPA, National Environmental Policy Act, process. The Mountain Accord represents the culminating commitment of more than 20 organizations who, through a voluntary, multi-year, public, consensus-based planning process agree to proceed with a suite of proposals designed to ensure that future generations can enjoy all the activities we do today, while preserving our watershed and natural environment.
“The Mountain Accord is a model process for future decision making,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said. “We are making generational decisions here and coming forward with the Mountain Accord we have a road map that represents our plans, hopes and vision for protecting the Wasatch, our water and the land that gives so much life in our region.”
The Accord is intended to influence future, local, regional and statewide planning and to initiate efforts to enact meaningful protections and preservation for the Central Wasatch. Important highlights of the Accord include:
The Accord proposes to petition the U.S. Congress to create “A National Conservation and Recreation Area” in the Central Wasatch. The federal land designation will specifically prohibit expansion of ski areas onto public lands beyond the resort area boundaries. The ski areas are in support of the land designation, and are willingly agreeing to this preservation package.
A series of proposed land exchanges among the US Forest Service and ski areas, primarily in established base areas, will clean up the map and organize the piecemeal mess of land ownership in the Central Wasatch. This will enable better decisions and planning in the future.
The signers of the Accord recommend considering alternatives that dis-incentivize single occupancy vehicle use in the Cottonwood Canyons.
The Accord proposes the creation of an environmental monitoring “scorecard” to give decision makers a way to track the Central Wasatch’s environmental heath and evaluate impacts in future planning discussions.
The Accord proposes an effort to clean up and organize the trails system in our canyons, to control erosion and protect the watershed.
The public is invited to sign the Accord, learn more about its proposals and get involved as Mountain Accord moves into Phase 2, which asks the US Forest Service to consider several land exchange proposals as part of a formal public process consistent with federal environmental policy and state, county, and local planning ordinances.