Understanding the Nature of Alta

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Friends of Alta partners with similarly driven organizations and learning institutions to better understand the environment of Alta and the Albion Basin.

Ongoing Projects

Alta Ecological Assessment

Friends of Alta alongside the Alta Environmental Center (Alta Ski Area Department) and Wild Utah Project have been working towards conducting an Ecological Assessment program for Alta. Several stakeholder meetings have been held to help guide and support the program’s development. More information will be provided as this program advances.

Research and Environmental Education Database Project

The Alta Environmental Center and Friends of Alta hold the similar goal of encouraging and supporting education and research on and in Alta’s environment.  We have joined efforts and created this “Research and Environmental Education Database Project.” The purpose of this project is to: collect basic information on environmental education and research performed in Alta or Little Cottonwood Canyon, offer our support for those interested, have a centralized location to store all information, and in time share past studies within the database via this website.

Sharing your information and feedback will guide us in serving future researchers and educators and help serve in the protection of Alta through continued awareness and research. This project is more than a collection of information but a collaborative array of partnerships, and with that we welcome your research to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Please take the time to fill out the Research Information form orEnvironmental Education Information form and send it to the Alta Environmental Center. Thank you for your participation!

For more information visit the Alta Environmental Center project page.

Bird Surveys

In support of our effort to assess the health of Alta’s ecosystem, Friends of Alta, in partnership with Tracy Aviary, Rocky Mountain Observatory and Alta Environmental Center, are conducting bird surveys. These studies will give us insight as to what bird species are present, something that has yet to be done in Alta. Starting in early Spring 2015, volunteers will be trained, so that baseline breeding bird surveys can start this summer. The protocol followed by volunteers calls for data to be collected at each point (a grid system was overlayed on the study area) at least once during the breeding season. In addition to the breeding bird surveys, monthly resident bird surveys are taking place throughout the winter. We have also put up bird feeders and a live streaming camera outside our office (first floor of the Town of Alta building) that are very popular with the local birds and birdwatchers. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please visit our volunteer page.

Phased Hydrological Studies of Albion Basin with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Dr. John Skalbeck of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UWP) began a background study in August 2005 on behalf of FOA for the development of phased hydrologic and ecogeographic investigations of Albion Basin. Initially students in the Fall 2005 UWP Geoscience Applications course reviewed existing documents, reports, maps, and publications and prepared summaries to serve as the background information for planning future investigations of the basin. Additionally, the students prepared a proposed phased research plan for characterizing water resources within the Albion Basin watershed.

Since 2006, the study has focused on the collection of water level data gathered from piezometers at three wetland areas in Albion Basin. The study also involves the measuring of field parameters of water quality at the wetland sites. The field parameters of water quality include: pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and turbidity. Standard field documentation, instrument calibration, and measurement protocols, are followed to maintain quality control.

Seedling Survival Study

This study was developed by the Alta Environmental Center to track and assess seedling planting efforts conducted by Friends of Alta and the Environmental Center. When planted, seedlings are marked with an identification number, flagging so they can easily be found in subsequent years, and a GPS point is collected. Each year, Friends of Alta staff revisit all the seedlings planted through this program and document if the seedling has survived. We expect to have some preliminary result in the summer of 2016.

Published Research

Albion Basin, Published Research

Plant Communities of Albion Basin Wetlands

A survey of plant communities in Albion Basin Wetlands

Located in the town of Alta, Salt Lake County, Little Cottonwood Canyons, Utah

Anne F. Crowley, Botanist, Research Assistant

June 25, 1992

Partially Funded by: Friends of Alta & Alta Municipal Corporation, Alta, Utah

Soil & Hydrology of Albion Basin Wetlands

Located in the town of Alta, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Performed for Region VIII Environmental Protection Agency and the Town of Alta

Steven F. Jensen, M.P.A., Water Resources Planning Coordinator, Salt Lake County Commission Staff

June 1993

Funded by Region VIII Environmental Protection Agency, Denver Colorado, Friends of Alta, and Alta Municipal Corporation, Alta, Utah

Ecological Characterization and Functional Evaluation of Subalpine and Lower Montane Wetlands in The Albion Basin Region of Utah

Performed for Region VIII Environmental Agency and the Town of Alta

Steven F. Jensen, M.P.A., Water Resources Planning Coordinator, Project Director

June 25, 1993

Funded by Region VIII Environmental Protection Agency, Denver Colorado and Friends of Alta, and Alta Municipal Corporation, Alta, Utah