If you were to look up the term pollution in the dictionary, prominently displayed next to the definition of the noun would be a picture of bumper-to-bumper traffic draining down Little Cottonwood Canyon and into the smoggy abyss that is the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.
Stretching from Ogden down through the southern reaches of Salt Lake City’s metropolitan area, the Wasatch Front is known for having one of the poorest air qualities in the entire country– a fact the Utah Tourism Board would rather not highlight in their brochures of snow-capped mountain peaks and inspiring desert landscapes. In fact, a new study by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality shows that a wide variety of cancer causing toxins exist in the air along the Wasatch Front. Those toxins include lead, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and carcinogenic methylene chloride.
That said, there is one positive emerging from all that pollution– democrats and republicans are finally coming together.
But why? Because something has to be done to preserve Utah’s environmental legacy and booming tourism industry. Thankfully, a new bill backed by The Mountain Accord is that something.
Introduced by Republican Congressman, Jason Chaffetz on Monday and with the help of the Mountain Accord, The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act is a forward thinking plan that seeks to provide solutions to the growing problems of pollution, traffic, and environmental degradation surrounding the Wasatch. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, The basic plan includes protecting over 80,000 acres of US Forest Service Land, adding 8,000 acres of designated wilderness, as well as limiting resort expansion in the Wasatch. which could spell an end to the “One Wasatch” concept.
“We have proposed a balance that is good for the environment. That is good for recreation. That is good for the ski industry and transportation access and protects our watershed.” – Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County Mayor
The bill, which is a rare form of bipartisan leadership is a great sign for implementing Mountain Accord policy down the road. Skiers are hoping those polices will start placing a heavy emphasis on transportation issues. In the past, trains, busses, and carpooling have been discussed and implemented with very limited success.
The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act Key Points:
- Natural resources and watersheds will be protected
- Existing Wilderness Area boundaries will be adjusted for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail alignment and for transportation improvements
- Approximately 8,000 acres of wilderness will be added
- The U.S. Forest Service will maintain ownership and management of the lands
- Land exchanges between the U.S. Forest Service and the four Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts are authorized
- Ski resort permit boundaries on U.S. Forest Service land will be fixed permanently after some adjustments through the existing permitting process
- New roads for automobiles will be prohibited on U.S. Forest Service land
- No restrictions will be placed on U.S. Forest Service management for fire suppression, vegetation maintenance, avalanche control or other emergency measures
- Private land within the area or adjacent to the area being designated will not be affected
- Future transportation improvements are anticipated. The legislation enables transportation improvements to meet growing demand
Find the entire Salt Lake Tribune article here: Utah’s Mountain Accord has new hill to climb — Capitol Hill — as Chaffetz unveils bill