The signed Accord, directs us to ask the U.S. Congress to create a special designation for the public lands. This special federal designation will provide special protections against development and environmental degradation for approximately 80,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land and would allow all existing recreational uses and permits to continue.
One of the major accomplishments of the signed Accord was settling on a plan to clean up the land ownership map in the Central Wasatch. Many lands currently used for public water supply and pubic recreation are in private hands. Land exchanges among the U.S. Forest Service and the four Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts would clean up the map. The public would receive important lands for watershed, environmental protection and recreation in exchange for land in established base areas.
The future promises more traffic congestion and the continued exclusive reliance on private automobiles to access the Central Wasatch is a grave threat. Transit that serves all populations, in all seasons is a goal of Mountain Accord.
Right now there is prolific spiderwebbing of trails that occurs when hikers, bikers, climbers and other users venture off established trails and create new ones, causing confusion, erosion and damaging the watershed. Trail Improvements, like the Grit Mill Project, underway at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, will help organize and improve the vast network of trails within the Central Wasatch. Organizing trails helps prevent erosion and confine recreation to managed areas.
Mountain Accord includes transit solutions that allow for cyclists to ride safely. Road biking on the foothills and into each of the canyons in the Central Wasatch is already a popular activity. We’re going to get started on plans to better connect existing routes and improve safety for cyclists and drivers in the canyons.
Right now Mountain Accord leaders are putting together Requests for Proposals and preparing to seek bids for the wide-ranging engineering and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) needed to continue the work under the rules of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Accord will establish an environmental monitoring program that will allow the identification of changing environmental conditions and adjustments to management practices.
Mountain Accord represents a once in a generation chance to come up with serious commitments to preserve the Central Wasatch Range’s vibrancy. The signed Accord is fragile and we need vocal supporters to help us on social media and elsewhere to stand up for the future of the Central Wasatch and make sure that meaningful compromise is achieved that will have lasting affects far into the future.