Wilderness Expansion Blocks Ski Resort Development


Some Utah ski hubs are not too happy with congressman Jim Matheson's plan to extend the Wasatch wilderness by 26,000 acres, thereby blocking potential expansion plans. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Snowbird would have to relinquish plans to develop White Pine Canyon and Alta would have to give up a chairlift up Flagstaff Peak.

According to a release from Matheson's office, the “bill creates a new 7,759-acre wilderness area and an additional 7,782 acres to the existing wilderness areas of Mt. Olympus, Twin Peaks and Lone Peak; sets aside 10,480 acres within “special management areas” to strengthen watershed protection while continuing permitted use by helicopter skiing; and resolves a conflict between backcountry skiers and Snowbird ski resort’s proposed expansion into White Pine Canyon.”

In exchange, Snowbird would get a parcel of land in American Fork Canyon, according to

Alta Mayor Tom Pollard and Alta Ski Area officials are concerned that blocking the chairlift would undo new avalanche control plans and hamper public safety, which Alyson Heyrend, Matheson's spokesperson, speculated is only an excuse to keep the area open for expansion, according to the Tribune.

— Jennifer L. Schwartz