Now it's time for the public to weigh in on a "blueprint" for the future of the central Wasatch Mountains.
People surely will have plenty to talk about when they scrutinize the concept developed by 20 or so government agencies, ski resorts and conservation groups involved in the Mountain Accord process.
• A tunnel through the mountain linking Alta and Brighton.
• Another tunnel or an aerial tram to connect Brighton to Park City.
• A train running up Little Cottonwood Canyon, or perhaps rapid transit buses in a dedicated lane protected from avalanches by snowsheds.
• Major land exchanges that allow more development at the bases of Wasatch Front ski resorts — plus an expansion of three of their boundaries. In exchange, sizable chunks of private land would be transferred into public ownership and receive some sort of additional status to protect their watershed and backcountry recreational values.
• A complete trail network interconnecting the Wasatch Front and Back.
• Express buses from Salt Lake City International Airport to Park City, maybe even a train down the line.
To be released Wednesday on the website mountainaccord.com, the concept will be the subject of a question-and-answer session Feb. 11 at Cottonwood High School.
Public comments may be submitted online or at two meetings — Feb. 24 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts in Park City and Feb. 25 at Skyline High School in Millcreek. All three meetings start at 6 p.m.
"We want as many people to comment as possible," said Laynee Jones, the independent consultant who coordinated the planning the past two years.
"We're looking at taking actions today to determine the future we want to see 100 years from now," she added. "We don't want development of the central Wasatch Mountains incrementalized — death by 1,000 cuts."
That's why it's important, Jones said, for the movers and shakers in Mountain Accord to find out what people think about the blueprint's more controversial aspects before the next planning round.
It would entail the lengthy and expensive preparation of environmental impact statements, plus congressional action on land exchanges and the designation of extra protections for parcels entering the public domain.
"We will listen and revise the concept as we move forward," pledged Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a member of Mountain Accord's executive committee.
While there still is likely to be dissent over details, McAdams said Mountain Accord meetings made it clear to all involved that "doing nothing and fighting tooth and nail for complete victory will result in a loss for everyone. We need a consensus to protect what people want most."
Even Save Our Canyons and the ski industry — traditional foes — have bought into the goal of consensus, although there's no certainty either side won't back away from the plan that ultimately emerges.
Original Article from the sltrib.com