Plan for Major Chairlift Network to Link Utah Resorts Raises Concerns

Big_little_cottonwood_signHeading toward the Wasatch resorts. Photo: Flickr/CountryLemonade

Vail Resorts this week announced that it is acquiring Northern California's Kirkwood Resort. Some of K-Wood's loyal fansare is dismayed, fearing that admission into Vail's empire could change Kirkwood's small-resort vibe. But that's nothing compared to the ire raised in Salt Lake City this week when Senator Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, introduced a resolution to support a plan that would link all seven ski resorts in Salt Lake County and Summit County by chairlift.

On its face, it seems as though the proposal could have environmental benefits, through reduced vehicle traffic into both Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon, parallel canyons that access Park City and its adjacent resort, and Alta and its adjacent resorts. But environmental groups, including Save Our Canyons and figures within the ski and snowboard communities, say that constructing and maintaining the chairlifts would threaten the canyon watersheds and outweight any benefits from reduced congestion. Plus, skiers and snowboarders would still need to get themselves into either canyon, and the resolution does not call for any city-based tram.

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