The executive committee of Utah’s Mountain Accord, an organization composed of ski industry professionals and conservation groups, unanimously approved a plan for the future development of the Wasatch Mountains at Sandy City Hall on Monday, according to Curbed Ski. Mountain Accord’s goals are to improve transportation, protect the environment, and boost recreation and the economy in the Central Wasatch through land swaps, tunnels, and other forms of redesign.
Mountain Accord is not legally binding at this point, but some ski resorts have already agreed to swap some of their land for federal acreage and other incentives. Right now, 2,417 acres will go to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in exchange for 760 acres. Resorts including Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton will also receive permits and approval to develop their base areas and more water for snowmaking. Curbed Ski reports that the land the resorts are getting is at the base of the mountains, since Mountain Accord wants to promote building up existing base areas rather than swallowing up more land.
A few big points remain undecided, such as whether a railroad will be built in Little Cottonwood Canyon and if a tunnel will be drilled to connect Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. What will happen to the One Wasatch plan to connect the seven ski areas in the range, and how that will play out with the land exchanges, is also unknown. Ski Utah president Nathan Rafferty told the Tribune that the idea is still alive.
After the land swap research, public comment period, and EIS, the USFS will look into the proposals and decide whether to sign off on them.