The Central Wasatch mountain range is beloved by those of us who live along both sides of its ridge line. We hike, we bike, we ski, we discover wildlife, we ramble and amble and find solitude amid one of the world’s most spectacular backyards. And even as these mountains are source of peace and spiritual renewal they are also, literally, the reason life is possible in Utah’s arid climate. More than 500,000 people rely on these mountains as a water source. And Utah is one of the fastest growing states in the union in no small part because of the quality of life these mountains provide.
“If this process fails,” says Mountain Accord Program Director Laynee Jones. “It will be another 30 years before anyone tries anything like it. We must come to some decisions and take action now. With the growing population, the Central Wasatch will continue to be pinched from both sides and what we love about these mountains will suffer. The cost of doing nothing is too high.”
To that end, Mountain Accord has brought to the table more than 20 organizations—from city governments to environmental watchdogs, from ski resort managers to conservation groups— and nearly 200 stakeholders to discuss a plan for future that preserves the legacy of the Wasatch.
This document represents the consensus among all of the organizations working toward Accord, it is not a perfect document nor even, a legally binding one. It represents more than a year of meetings and public comment and is the consensus thus far. When signed it will represent a public statement of commitment to proceed with the agreed-upon actions with the goal to ensure the activities we enjoy in the Central Wasatch will continue while protecting the valuable watershed and sensitive environmental area that we all benefit from.
This draft of the Accord details the intent and purpose of the accord as well as its intended outcomes. Below you’ll find details about a historic land swap in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, the brass tacks about plans to study further transportation and transit options in Parley’s Canyon and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, that will serve all segments of the population in all seasons and particulars about plans to seek special federal designation for the Central Wasatch Range, which will require federal approval and jumping through the hoops of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The work, to be sure, is not done. But this document represents unprecedented cooperation among all of the organizations that have concern for the future of the Central Wasatch Range.
NOTE: Previous language in the Accord detailing of proposed land exchange that involved acreage in Utah County’s American Fork County has been deleted. Signers agreed to respect Utah County’s jurisdiction in the matter and are not taking a position on the land proposal as it relates to Utah County.