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Cottonwood Heights Leaders Plan For Future Of The Mountains

Nov 28, 2014 06:05PM ● Published by Sherry Sorensen

The Wasatch Mountains are home to some of Utah’s most well-known ski and recreation destinations. To preserve the integrity of the mountain range, Cottonwood Heights is involved in the Mountain Accord process to generate a 40-year plan for the area.

When it comes to decisions that affect the Central Wasatch Mountains, Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said Cottonwood Heights is “ground zero.” 

On Nov. 12, the city hosted a community outreach meeting to educate residents about Mountain Accord, a collaboration of more than 20 public and private stakeholders, including Cottonwood Heights, which have a vested interest in the future of these mountains.

Cullimore said it’s critical for residents to be involved and provide feedback on decisions in the study area.

“The plans being formulated by Mountain Accord have a very personal impact on our community,” he said. “If there’s going to be a million more people coming through our community in the coming years to get to the canyons, how are we going to accommodate them? We may be talking 20 to 30 years down the road, but we need to plan now for when that happens.”

Earlier this year, Mountain Accord began gathering public input through local and online scoping meetings on critical decisions that will shape the future of the mountain range and its canyons.

Using that input, along with data from past and present studies of the area, committees began meeting to formulate potential plans that will guide usage of the canyons over the next 40 years. Committee members focused on creating idealized options in four categories: environment, recreation, economy and transportation.

These idealized systems were released by Mountain Accord earlier this fall. Copies of the idealized systems and study data are available at mountainaccord.com.

“Hopefully, these become the guiding principles and the guiding light over the next 40 years on how we deal with all of these aspects,” Mountain Accord Executive Director Lanee Jones, said. “We are in the process right now of melding these options together and seeing where they overlap and where trade-offs can be made.”

The end goal is to generate a “preferred option” for how transportation, economy, environment and recreation in the mountains are addressed. Jones said that the focus is to look at the four categories holistically, understanding that any action taken in one category has an impact on all of the others.

Public comment is welcome throughout the process as Mountain Accord moves toward the end of phase one in January.

Phase two will take a minimum of two years and consists of advancing the preferred option through federal, state and local agencies and completing any necessary environmental impact studies.          
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