Opportunities and Unknowns for Climbers
From brake and exhaust fumes from the many vehicles using Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon on a beautiful spring day to the traffic jams that a powder day generate in the Central Wasatch, it is clear to anyone who ventures into our backyard that these canyons are heavily used and need to be better managed – especially in light of projected population doubling.
Mountain Accord is a public process designed to do just that. The process has already brought together more than 20 organizations and nearly 200 stakeholders to create a Proposed Blueprint for the future that preserves the legacy of the Wasatch. Mountain Accord is our chance to maintain the precious balance that exists within the Wasatch. We have the opportunity to address problems facing us today and to plan our future. We need to take this opportunity seriously and continue to engage in this public process.
While the impacts to climbing from potential proposed actions identified in the Mountain Accord Proposed Blueprint will remain uncertain until site-specific environmental analyses are performed, the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance has identified several potential opportunities and benefits for climbers in the Mountain Accord Blueprint listed below. When thinking about the Mountain Accord process, we ask you to consider these opportunities and potential benefits, as well as the unknowns and please submit your comments to Mountain Accord by May 1st.
OPPORTUNITIES & POTENTIAL BENEFITS
- Through Mountain Accord, we have the opportunity to be forward thinking regarding the predicted population doubling in the Wasatch and plan accordingly.
- Climbers have a seat at the table as a stakeholder in Mountain Accord and a voice in the planning process now and into the future.
- The SLCA aims to protect and enhance climbing areas and the surrounding environments. The Mountain Accord interest in federal land designations surrounding ski resorts will stop ski resort expansion and protect the Wasatch, permanently ending the battle over ski area expansion. The SLCA sees opportunity with a National Recreation Area or National Conservation Area federal land designation to protect climbing resources into the future.
- The SLCA recognizes that a mass transit system and trail network systems will cost a great deal of money and supports Mountain Accord seeking federal funding to implement these systems through federal legislation.
- Currently, the SLCA works with land managers and private landowners to protect access to climbing areas, and we support the Mountain Accord process to examine and carry out land swaps to better ensure access to climbing that is on private land. The Gate Buttress owned by the LDS Church in Little Cottonwood Canyon is one property the SLCA recommends for the Mountain Accord Cottonwood Canyon Taskforce to explore as a highly valuable recreation site.
- The SLCA promotes better climbers’ access trails, therefore we are excited about the inclusion of a trail connectivity component in Mountain Accord. We recommend the inclusion of a climbing ranger and climbing management plan as part of a greater trails plan for the Wasatch.
- Mountain Accord is interested in projects that are shovel-ready and the SLCA is encouraged by the support for the Grit Mill & Climbing Master Plan Project– this climber access trail network will set the precedent for better climbing access trails throughout the Wasatch.
- The SLCA recognizes the need for funding to maintain and develop recreation areas in the Wasatch and is open to fees that directly support and improve recreational sites within the canyons.
- The SLCA is interested in getting more cars off the canyon roads and is interested in mass transportation ideas that serve dispersed recreation users as well as the resorts. The SLCA sees opportunity for better trailhead parking throughout the canyons because of Mountain Accord.
- The SLCA recognizes a need for an environmental monitoring system in the canyons and is in support of Mountain Accord’s efforts to create this promptly to advise future National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) work.
- As a member of the Wasatch Legacy Project (WLP), the SLCA recognizes the need for a steering body for the Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back and recommends that Mountain Accord consider the WLP to fill this role.
- Impacts to the watershed from new infrastructure for mass transit
- Ski area interests in 416 acres in American Forkand how this will impact American Fork Canyon
- Mass transit with different possible routes in Little Cottonwood Canyon impacting climbing sites
- A wilderness federal land designation could prohibit the use of power drills for re-bolting work on routes and make working on trails prohibitive
Your input will shape what Mountain Accord proposes for the future of the Central Wasatch.