Positions and Official Comments
Mountain Accord & ONE Wasatch
The staff and Board of Friends of Alta (FOA), are often asked “where do you stand” on issues affecting Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC)… Read More
Planning the Future of the Central Wasatch
We are excited to announce that today, Representative Jason Chaffetz took the legislation for the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act (CWNCRA) to DC. This legislation is an outcome from the Mountain Accord program and we want to thank all the various stakeholders in making this effort possible. Friends of Alta has been a dedicated stakeholder attending meetings, writing letters, sharing progress reports with you, working closely with like-minded organizations, and finding common ground with not so obvious stakeholders all in the name of conserving and enhancing what makes the Central Wasatch so great!
Your support allowed us to be voice for conservation, recreation, and thoughtful planning for the future of Alta, THANK YOU for helping us get to this point.
The proposed legislation will accomplish a great deal for the Central Wasatch: protections on approximately 80,000 acres of our USFS lands, add 8,000 acres of new wilderness (Grandeur Peak/ Mount Aire Wilderness Area and an addition to Lone Peak Wilderness Area), establish the White Pine Special Management Area, authorize evaluation of the Albion Basin Special Botanical Area, direct wilderness boundary adjustments for transit infrastructure improvements in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and authorize the USFS to conduct NEPA analysis on proposed land exchanges between the USFS and four cottonwood canyon ski areas.
There is still much work to be done following the legislation, working with the other stakeholders, and overseeing and guiding the Alta land swap. Please consider a donation today to help us continue our efforts and sign this petition by Save Our Canyons.
- Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act – the proposed legislation
- Central Wasatch NCRA Map
- Land Exchange Map
First off, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has taken the time to get involved in the Mountain Accord Program. Mountain Accord, a collaborative effort of local, state and federal stakeholders and private entities, released a proposed Blueprint for the Central Wasatch Mountains in February and accepted public comment through May 1st. The Mountain Accord Executive Committee reached consensus at their meeting on July 13th, 2015 and voted unanimously on “An Accord” that “represents 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.” (Mountain Accord website). Please click here to download and read the full version of the Accord.
We want to thank all of you, our concerned supporters, for following this process and your involvement and comments along the way. Please read our recent blog update providing positive highlights and areas of concern from the Accord here. While the Accord may not be perfect, it represents a compromise on all sides. Throughout this process we have advocated 1) that watershed protection has to be the priority 2) a robust system of environmental monitoring must be initiated and maintained 3) Albion Basin should be given elevated status as a Botanical Area within the USFS system for its unique flora communities 4) the carrying capacity of LCC both socially and environmental needs to be agreed upon, and 5) that a train up LCC and a tunnel to Big Cottonwood Canyon would be environmentally devastating as well as ruin the character of Alta.
We are extremely appreciative of the collaborations and partnerships that have been formed with other like minded groups. We are committed to being involved in the next phase of this effort, including a NEPA process and legislative action and will continue to be your voice for conservation as various actions are considered. The “Accord” contains both specific actions that will be taken, and a range of proposed actions that would be considered under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA process ensures and requires federal agencies to consider environmental factors in their decision making process. It also allows for public participation in defining a project’s purpose and need, analysis methods, alternatives to be considered and the preferred alternative. Thus, the public involvement that has occurred over the last two years is just the beginning.
In April, FOA commissioned a survey by Dan Jones of Cicero Group to gain insight on the Alta community’s response to MA’s proposed Blueprint. Please read the full report here. Responses show that our community cares most about preservation and protection of both the environment and the culture of Alta. 43% of respondents said MA’s greatest opportunities lie in transportation improvements yet due to environmental impacts the biggest opposition (37%) was to a train. Furthermore, only 3% said a train was the greatest opportunity. This survey provides data that backs up our positions as we seek to influence the MA program based on our shared community values.
Friends of Alta has been actively engaged in this process since its inception and we need your continued involvement to help us shape the future of Alta and the Central Wasatch. Please stay tuned for Phase 2 of the process.
Friends of Alta’s Perspectives
As Alta’s local land trust, FOA believes that watershed, wildlife and open space are the foundation of our unique end of canyon experience. They are why people come to Alta, our identity. We acknowledge the need for a solution to the sometimes difficult transportation situation. We are FOR an enhanced bus service, possibly including a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system coming up the canyon that incentivizes use. Our reasons are summarized as the enhanced bus service or BRT being more flexible, less destructive to the environment and less costly. With regard to interconnect via Alta, we have great concerns about a tunnel. Adverse impacts on the underground stream flow, aquifers and other cumulative impacts to our community and environment would need to be VERY carefully studied. There is still a great deal of information needed on the Blueprint, however we encourage you to include your opinions on transportation modes, tunnels, recreation opportunities and land swaps with your comments.
We are not supportive of a train up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Here are some of the positions/perspectives Friends of Alta is FOR while engaging in this process to shape the future of the central Wasatch:
- Watershed protection is our highest priority!
- Our remaining open spaces, such as Albion Basin must be conserved
- Have the least impact on the environment by limiting our footprint
- Conserve wildlife habitat that also enhances the outdoor experience
- Maintain the current balance between resort and human powered recreation
- Preserve a variety of recreation opportunities for all as the population grows
- Watershed, wildlife and open spaces are the foundations of Alta’s economy
- Preserve the unique “top of the canyon” character that cannot be replicated
- Town of Alta has a limited quantity of water to provide for additional developments
- Greater population will increase the appetite for unspoiled space and our dependency on limited natural resources
- Iconic scenic views should be preserved
- Increase safety on Highway 210, a Utah Scenic Byway
Specifically, some of our reasons FOR supporting the enhanced bus service or BRT option in the existing road corridor:
- Retains more of the environmental and character aspects of our end of canyon location.
- The BRT, while no costs have been estimated, will surely be less costly than the train up LLC.
- The BRT solution is more flexible and can be easily altered as circumstances require. Not so with the train.
- The train is an acknowledged marketing effort. Those dollars should be used to support BRT.
- The BRT will meld well with the proposed Town of Alta base facility plan.
- The BRT will be much less disruptive to the watershed than the train would be.
- The BRT makes use of an existing roadway to provide a viable transportation solution while mitigating environmental and character impacts to our canyon.
Mountain Accord Overview
The Mountain Accord proposed Blueprint sets the framework for land preservation, a regional trail network, and transit improvements in the canyons, including mountain rail and improved bus service to connect economic and recreation destinations in the mountains with the urban centers of the Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back. The Blueprint is the product of an unprecedented collaboration between more than 20 diverse groups working together to make critical decisions and implement solutions for a modern, environmentally sustainable transportation system, responsible stewardship of watersheds and natural resources, quality recreation experiences, and a vibrant economy.
The Blueprint’s proposed actions include:
- Monitor, protect, and restore environmental health.
- Preserve land and protect watershed and water resources.
- Encourage development patterns that preserve community character and quality of life.
- Generate sustainable economic growth to reinvest in the Central Wasatch Mountains.
- Ensure the tourism market is competitive now and into the future.
- Improve and connect the regional trail network.
- Preserve key backcountry terrain.
- Expand transit service to recreation areas (e.g., expanding local bus service, mountain rail,bus rapid transit, and private shuttle).
- Expand transit service to mountain destinations (e.g., mountain rail or bus rapid transit).
- Improve bicycle and pedestrian access.
- Connect residents and visitors to urban centers and recreation hubs in the mountains