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Utah Considers Selling Off Public Land for Massive Ski Resort

December 12, 2012
Utah Considers Selling Off Public Land for Massive Ski Resort - 11

There must be something strange in Utah water.  The powers that be seem to have some problems with public land, especially land the public actually likes to use.

Case in point: There’s currently a proposal to link together seven ski resorts outside of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains called Skilink. The problem is; it’s public land, and it’s used pretty heavily by hunters, fisherman, hikers, bikers, and hippies. Only 30 acres would be given up in this deal, but it's a crucial 30 acres that would cut off access to a much larger area.

The U.S. Forest Service has limited development along this stretch of the Wasatch Front because it supplies drinking water to Salt Lake City. This area provides roughly 60 percent of the drinking water that the big city by the salt lick consumes.

But that’s not going to stop Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT). He’s sponsoring a bill to trade off all that land so the ski resorts can create an uber-resort. One where you are gently whisked away on a tram 40 feet in the air.

Skilink may seem like a small thing, but it’s part of a widening pattern of attempts to undermine one of America’s greatest treasures: Our public lands.

And those attempts are being led by Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), among others. Representative Bishop does not seem to be a big supporter of conservation or wise use. His goal, it seems, is to hand those lands over to whoever can bid the highest.

The effect of the sale of public lands will certainly curtail the number of folks who get to hunt, as with the less available land, you will have less opportunity to hunt or fish. Public Lands are the great equalizer when it comes to ensuring the founding father’s vision that all Americans would have a place to hunt and fish and provide for their families. They are democratic in their nature, and provide more important resources like drinking water and clean air. Selling these lands off at bargain basement prices will change America forever.

Public Lands generate over $300 billion annually to local communities, counties and small businesses (and big businesses too.). These lands create jobs in the oil and gas, mining, logging and livestock industries. Abundant wildlife populations create manufacturing jobs for companies like Remington and Federal as well as the local sporting goods stores and box stores that sell them.

We put all of that at risk for a few sheckels and a high-speed ski lift.

Comments (11)

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from John Dubock wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Talisker cares little about Utah outdoor people, its a land grab, and once they erect homes on the Solitude side, it includes a fence. I survey ski guests, they want more comfort within existing resorts, they can't even handle our huge resorts as it is. Ever been stuck on a lift in high winds? We aren't Europe,skiers don't want to be miles fr their starting point, nor will they want to pay for it. I also survey Utah locals and from 7th graders on up, they DO NOT WANT this idiotic proposal, no one asked for it. The Crest Trail is a world class mtn biking, running trail, yet another not so green lift line is a grand waste and public sentiment is starting to value open lands.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I wonder if the ski resort is going to be open to the public? Yeah, didn't think so...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Perrine Johnson... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Those of you who think this is just about snooty " black diamond skiers" are dreadfully mistaken. This is about a land grab. Talisker would love to get its hands on Solitude.. If this goes thru,it will facilitate that sale. The pitch that it's about transportation issues is a farce; It's rare that anyone drives from the Canyons to Big Cottonwood, or vice versa; they cater to two different demographic groups. The locals are hugely opposed to the "ski link", so our "congressional representatives" ( who represent big money and business) are doing an end run around local opposition by trying to get this thru on a national level, so it's out of local control. It's hypocrisy at its classic best; the same Tea Party crowd who oppose any Federal Interference In State Politics are trying to get a local decision moved to a federal level. PLEASE help us in opposing this proposal!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew McLean wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

As others mentioned, downplaying it as "only" 30 acres is a complete sham, given that the 30 acre plot is 150' wide by 2.5 miles long and completely bisects an existing block of cherished public lands. The object of this bill, H.R. 3452, is to force the Forest Service to sell land to a private Canadian real estate developer over the objections of the Forest Service, SL County Water, over 80 local businesses and 92% of the public who have state repeatedly that they don't want more resort expansion in the fragile Cottonwood Canyons.

If this were to happen, it would become private property, not leased. The same thing happened up in Snowbasin where a resort developer swindled 1,275 acres of prime acreage in a land swap deal with the Forest Service that came out to $3,000 per acre. But in the case of SkiStink, the Forest Service doesn't even want to sell it this time.

This is shady Utah good ol' boys politics at its worst and I hope it dies a quick death. If not, perhaps they could paints ducks and animals on the tram cars and use them for skeet practice as the rumbled by.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doc Sarvis wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

This is only the first proposed lift, linking two resorts. The long term plan is to link 7 resorts. And ultimately this is a test case by the state of Utah to sell off more federal lands. While it is "only" 30 acres, it is a very long and narrow 30 acres. This strip of land will bisect a larger peice of public property, cutting off hundreds of acres of public land. This area has amazing deer and elk hunting, with extended archery seasons for both. I dont know about the Black Diamond crowd, but there are lots of Utah hunters, and hunting groups, that are opposed to this. The minority that are for it, are a few Utah politicians trying to sell public resources to a Canadian company. I wonder whats in it for them?

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from poslusny wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

utahman-
Sounds like you really hate backcountry skiers! However public lands are open to lots of uses: hunters, anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, stock users, etc. However, if this land is sold, then it'll only be available to millionaire condo owners and those willing to pay $100 for a lift ticket.

Also the majority of Utahns are against further development of the Wasatch. Over 90% said so in this report: www.envisionutah.org/WasatchCanyonsTomorrow_FullReport_LowRes.pdf

Skilink is supported by many politicians and their millionaire donors; however, the Salt Lake City Mayor, Salt Lake County Mayor, Forest Service, Salt Lake Water Utilities, and the majority of the residents of Salt Lake and Summit counties are against selling our public land to a Canadian real estate developer. The mayor of Salt Lake City is spearheading a effort for a regional plan to deal with the Wasatch Front and Backs many land issues.

Lastly, as you said there is lots of private land in Big Cottonwood. Also, a state highway that connect Brighton with Park City and Deer Valley. If Skilink truly was about solving the Wasatch's transportation problems plowing Guardsmen road or building a tram there would be the logical solution. However, then Talisker (a Canadian real estate developer) wouldn't be able to sell more million dollar condos and post no trespassing signs so riff raff doesn't bother their customers.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahman wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Skilink connects only 2 resorts not 7 as the article suggests. Skilink needs only 30 acres of public land for a ski lift from one resort to another.

Skilink is promoted by the Governor's Office, the Utah Legislature, and others. The majority of the state want it. The vocal minority - REI and Black Diamond customers are against it, because they want the canyons all to themselves. Basically, its save our canyons for Black Diamond customers. A collaborative approach is needed, but there is no leadership on the canyon issues.

In Big Cottonwood Canyon, there are 6,000 acres of private land. Hundreds of private acres have been purchased by the government and are now public lands.

There is more public land in Big Cottonwood Canyon than ever before. The 30 acre purchase is really insignificant.

Some feel the canyon is the exclusive playground for Black Diamond customers to use their expensive Black Diamond backcountry gear. 95% of Big Cottonwood Canyon is non-ski resort land. Skilink will not increase skiable land in Big Cottonwood canyon.

Skilink is just another ski lift like the many other ski lifts already in the canyons.

Skilink is really a none issue, but makes good press and raises funds for the canyon drama which is a life for some, a hobby for others, and a living for many who stir the pot.

-8 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahman wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Skilink connects only 2 resorts not 7 as the article suggests. Skilink needs only 30 acres of public land for a ski lift from one resort to another.

Skilink is promoted by the Governor's Office, the Utah Legislature, and others. The majority of the state want it. The vocal minority - REI and Black Diamond customers are against it, because they want the canyons all to themselves. Basically, its save our canyons for Black Diamond customers. A collaborative approach is needed, but there is no leadership on the canyon issues.

In Big Cottonwood Canyon, there are 6,000 acres of private land. Hundreds of private acres have been purchased by the government and are now public lands.

There is more public land in Big Cottonwood Canyon than ever before. The 30 acre purchase is really insignificant.

Some feel the canyon is the exclusive playground for Black Diamond customers to use their expensive Black Diamond backcountry gear. 95% of Big Cottonwood Canyon is non-ski resort land. Skilink will not increase skiable land in Big Cottonwood canyon.

Skilink is just another ski lift like the many other ski lifts already in the canyons.

Skilink is really a none issue, but makes good press and raises funds for the canyon drama which is a life for some, a hobby for others, and a living for many who stir the pot.

-5 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

If that particular tract of land is leased to an industry then it is generating money for the state. Even if it is not, the recreational uses of that land such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping etc. are also generating sales and taxes for the state.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Why does the goverment (state and federal) need to own 60-80% of the land in Utah (and out west). It's not like they have the resources or desire to manage that much. Most of it is already leased to some sort on industry. Let someone generate tax dollars for the state.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Ben, well written article. I live in Central Illinois where there is little if any public land, however I would like to retire in southern Illinois where there is a lot of it. Correct my numbers if they are wrong, but I am reading that the hunting and fishing industry is an over 700 billion a year industry and skiing is an over 12 billion a year industry. Not that money matters. It's not his to sell, it's ours. Please leave it alone.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Doc Sarvis wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

This is only the first proposed lift, linking two resorts. The long term plan is to link 7 resorts. And ultimately this is a test case by the state of Utah to sell off more federal lands. While it is "only" 30 acres, it is a very long and narrow 30 acres. This strip of land will bisect a larger peice of public property, cutting off hundreds of acres of public land. This area has amazing deer and elk hunting, with extended archery seasons for both. I dont know about the Black Diamond crowd, but there are lots of Utah hunters, and hunting groups, that are opposed to this. The minority that are for it, are a few Utah politicians trying to sell public resources to a Canadian company. I wonder whats in it for them?

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew McLean wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

As others mentioned, downplaying it as "only" 30 acres is a complete sham, given that the 30 acre plot is 150' wide by 2.5 miles long and completely bisects an existing block of cherished public lands. The object of this bill, H.R. 3452, is to force the Forest Service to sell land to a private Canadian real estate developer over the objections of the Forest Service, SL County Water, over 80 local businesses and 92% of the public who have state repeatedly that they don't want more resort expansion in the fragile Cottonwood Canyons.

If this were to happen, it would become private property, not leased. The same thing happened up in Snowbasin where a resort developer swindled 1,275 acres of prime acreage in a land swap deal with the Forest Service that came out to $3,000 per acre. But in the case of SkiStink, the Forest Service doesn't even want to sell it this time.

This is shady Utah good ol' boys politics at its worst and I hope it dies a quick death. If not, perhaps they could paints ducks and animals on the tram cars and use them for skeet practice as the rumbled by.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from poslusny wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

utahman-
Sounds like you really hate backcountry skiers! However public lands are open to lots of uses: hunters, anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, stock users, etc. However, if this land is sold, then it'll only be available to millionaire condo owners and those willing to pay $100 for a lift ticket.

Also the majority of Utahns are against further development of the Wasatch. Over 90% said so in this report: www.envisionutah.org/WasatchCanyonsTomorrow_FullReport_LowRes.pdf

Skilink is supported by many politicians and their millionaire donors; however, the Salt Lake City Mayor, Salt Lake County Mayor, Forest Service, Salt Lake Water Utilities, and the majority of the residents of Salt Lake and Summit counties are against selling our public land to a Canadian real estate developer. The mayor of Salt Lake City is spearheading a effort for a regional plan to deal with the Wasatch Front and Backs many land issues.

Lastly, as you said there is lots of private land in Big Cottonwood. Also, a state highway that connect Brighton with Park City and Deer Valley. If Skilink truly was about solving the Wasatch's transportation problems plowing Guardsmen road or building a tram there would be the logical solution. However, then Talisker (a Canadian real estate developer) wouldn't be able to sell more million dollar condos and post no trespassing signs so riff raff doesn't bother their customers.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Perrine Johnson... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Those of you who think this is just about snooty " black diamond skiers" are dreadfully mistaken. This is about a land grab. Talisker would love to get its hands on Solitude.. If this goes thru,it will facilitate that sale. The pitch that it's about transportation issues is a farce; It's rare that anyone drives from the Canyons to Big Cottonwood, or vice versa; they cater to two different demographic groups. The locals are hugely opposed to the "ski link", so our "congressional representatives" ( who represent big money and business) are doing an end run around local opposition by trying to get this thru on a national level, so it's out of local control. It's hypocrisy at its classic best; the same Tea Party crowd who oppose any Federal Interference In State Politics are trying to get a local decision moved to a federal level. PLEASE help us in opposing this proposal!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Ben, well written article. I live in Central Illinois where there is little if any public land, however I would like to retire in southern Illinois where there is a lot of it. Correct my numbers if they are wrong, but I am reading that the hunting and fishing industry is an over 700 billion a year industry and skiing is an over 12 billion a year industry. Not that money matters. It's not his to sell, it's ours. Please leave it alone.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

If that particular tract of land is leased to an industry then it is generating money for the state. Even if it is not, the recreational uses of that land such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping etc. are also generating sales and taxes for the state.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I wonder if the ski resort is going to be open to the public? Yeah, didn't think so...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Dubock wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Talisker cares little about Utah outdoor people, its a land grab, and once they erect homes on the Solitude side, it includes a fence. I survey ski guests, they want more comfort within existing resorts, they can't even handle our huge resorts as it is. Ever been stuck on a lift in high winds? We aren't Europe,skiers don't want to be miles fr their starting point, nor will they want to pay for it. I also survey Utah locals and from 7th graders on up, they DO NOT WANT this idiotic proposal, no one asked for it. The Crest Trail is a world class mtn biking, running trail, yet another not so green lift line is a grand waste and public sentiment is starting to value open lands.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Why does the goverment (state and federal) need to own 60-80% of the land in Utah (and out west). It's not like they have the resources or desire to manage that much. Most of it is already leased to some sort on industry. Let someone generate tax dollars for the state.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahman wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Skilink connects only 2 resorts not 7 as the article suggests. Skilink needs only 30 acres of public land for a ski lift from one resort to another.

Skilink is promoted by the Governor's Office, the Utah Legislature, and others. The majority of the state want it. The vocal minority - REI and Black Diamond customers are against it, because they want the canyons all to themselves. Basically, its save our canyons for Black Diamond customers. A collaborative approach is needed, but there is no leadership on the canyon issues.

In Big Cottonwood Canyon, there are 6,000 acres of private land. Hundreds of private acres have been purchased by the government and are now public lands.

There is more public land in Big Cottonwood Canyon than ever before. The 30 acre purchase is really insignificant.

Some feel the canyon is the exclusive playground for Black Diamond customers to use their expensive Black Diamond backcountry gear. 95% of Big Cottonwood Canyon is non-ski resort land. Skilink will not increase skiable land in Big Cottonwood canyon.

Skilink is just another ski lift like the many other ski lifts already in the canyons.

Skilink is really a none issue, but makes good press and raises funds for the canyon drama which is a life for some, a hobby for others, and a living for many who stir the pot.

-5 Good Comment? | | Report
from utahman wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Skilink connects only 2 resorts not 7 as the article suggests. Skilink needs only 30 acres of public land for a ski lift from one resort to another.

Skilink is promoted by the Governor's Office, the Utah Legislature, and others. The majority of the state want it. The vocal minority - REI and Black Diamond customers are against it, because they want the canyons all to themselves. Basically, its save our canyons for Black Diamond customers. A collaborative approach is needed, but there is no leadership on the canyon issues.

In Big Cottonwood Canyon, there are 6,000 acres of private land. Hundreds of private acres have been purchased by the government and are now public lands.

There is more public land in Big Cottonwood Canyon than ever before. The 30 acre purchase is really insignificant.

Some feel the canyon is the exclusive playground for Black Diamond customers to use their expensive Black Diamond backcountry gear. 95% of Big Cottonwood Canyon is non-ski resort land. Skilink will not increase skiable land in Big Cottonwood canyon.

Skilink is just another ski lift like the many other ski lifts already in the canyons.

Skilink is really a none issue, but makes good press and raises funds for the canyon drama which is a life for some, a hobby for others, and a living for many who stir the pot.

-8 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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