UDOT’s EIS comment period is about to end.

Understanding the Environmental Impact Statement

In the early 1970s, the National Environmental Policy Act was created with the intent to make sure that the expenditure of federal dollars would not have adverse effects on the environment. This act is still in effect but, on current issues, the definitions have changed.

Utah Lawyer Pat Shea explained how the Utah Department of Transportation has narrowed the definition of an Environmental Impact Statement, so they say they really only have to study the effects around the road itself. This, he says, does not account for the overall ecosystem of Little Cottonwood Canyon. And it leaves out the watershed, which accounts for all of Alta and Snowbird’s water, more than one-quarter of Sandy City’s water and nearly a quarter of Salt Lake City’s culinary water.

Comment can be made here.

Friends of Alta’s take:

Friends of Alta has openly objected to this narrow definition of an EIS and insist that it really has to look at the impact of the environment overall. And, also importantly, we have to understand the impact that an increase in population would have on Alta and the watershed due to an improved transportation system.

We have stated that we would require a visitor capacity study that would see how many people visiting Alta and the environment of Alta could be reached throughout the year before there was an adverse effect on the flora, the fauna or the watershed. Friends of Alta feels that improving the bus system is the most attainable means of transportation that will have the least amount of impact on Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta, and the Albion Basin. And, Friends of Alta supports using a toll to incentivize public transportation use, so long as there is an affordable option for all to get up the canyon.