Friends of Alta has been a part of the Mountain Accord, and later Central Wasatch Commission, process since its origins. As Alta’s only environmental nonprofit, we make it our business to be involved in the projects that impact our sensitive flora and fauna, as well as the ever important watershed. With the population of the Salt Lake Valley growing and with the outdoor industry becoming ever more popular, our Central Wasatch Mountains are seeing more and more traffic (foot and car), particularly now during the Coronavirus. We risk overusing our canyons so much, and without mitigation, that we deteriorate this beautiful habitat. Invasive plants are prevalent in Alta and can take over an area very quickly.
Additionally, our watershed is, by all intents and purposes, pristine and lacks the time and facilities to catch contaminants. Water pollution can move for the Albion Basin to your tap in 24 hours. This very short when compared to the 2 weeks that it takes water to move from Jordanelle Reservoir to our taps. We want to protect this environment so our children can enjoy it in all the splendor that we enjoy it. One way of doing this is by having readily available, scientific data that can monitor environmental impacts and mitigate damages before the grow too large.
In 2015, the Mountain Accord environmental systems group determined that there wasn’t an easily accessible or centralized hub of information about the ecology of the Central Wasatch. Members of the environmental systems group asserted that without access to information about the environmental conditions in the Wasatch, it would be difficult to make decisions about how to recreate, travel, develop, and protect the Central Wasatch Mountains. This assertion served at the foundational concept in the development of the Environmental Dashboard, which, upon its completion, will serve as a centralized access point for information specific to several environmental indicators in the the Central Wasatch Mountain Range. The members of the environmental systems group under Mountain Accord in 2015, when the concept for the Dashboard was drafted, and the Central Wasatch Commission, now, envision the Dashboard serving as a tool for policy makers, technical users, other stakeholders, and the public as each user group evaluates impacts in future planning discussions specific to the Central Wasatch Mountains.
The Mountain Accord process came to a close in 2015 after the charter was signed, which called for the creation of the Central Wasatch Commission, the government entity tasked with implementing the Mountain Accord charter, carrying out transportation improvements for the Central Wasatch Mountain range, and seeing the Environmental Dashboard project to completion. At the time the Mountain Accord charter was signed, the Environmental Dashboard steering committee, program managers, and project consultants were in the middle of considerable work on the project — gathering data and developing the online framework. The project team paused work on the Environmental Dashboard to allow the Central Wasatch Commission time to take shape.
Work on the Dashboard has since resumed, and it is projected that the first iteration of the Dashboard will be online and available to the public in late 2020.
History of the Environmental Dashboard
Phase I of the Environmental Dashboard - Completed
In Phase I, the crack team at the University of Utah identified existing data points and sources where those data points were being gathered. Because our mountains are so unique and sensitive, and because there is a significant interest in understanding environmental impacts, there are a lot of information being gathered. However, that information is not collected in a single a locations. Phase I identified that information and identified gaps in the data that will need to be collected.