“Elk Meadows is a priceless pedestal on which rests one of Utah’s most powerful peaks, Mount Timpanogos. To walk those meadows in the summer, or snowshoe and cross-country ski there in the winter is to enter a sanctuary, a place of safety, peace, and contemplation.”– Jamie Redford, Son of Robert Redford.
In spite of a new expansion announced this Spring, Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah remains committed to protecting its environment. Since its opening in 1969, famous filmmaker and actor Robert Redford has done his part to protect one of the most stunning natural destinations in all of Utah, which was encapsulated by a conservation easement last week.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Redford family held a ceremony last Thursday to celebrate the conservation easement of 316 acres known as Elk Meadows, which is at the base of Mount Timpanogos. The ceremony renamed the land the Redford Family Elk Meadows Preserve, which will help protect it from putting ski lifts or other commercial developments there.
Some parts of the ceremony included a musical performance by the Utah Symphony, a prayer from Larry Cesspooch, who is the spiritual leader of the Ute tribe, various speeches by members of the Redford family, a champagne toast, and a picnic lunch. The ceremony was held in honor of Jamie Redford, who tragically died in 2020 at the age of fifty-eight.
According to Utah Open Lands, protecting Elk Meadows is important due to its “vital year-round moose habitat, crucial spring through fall elk habitat, sensitive wetland meadows, and seeps, black bear, cougar and coyote use areas and the continued availability to the public of the Stewart Falls hiking trail.”
Author Mark Spragg described Elk Meadows as a “place of silence, these acres of undisturbed land, where if we listen carefully enough, quiet ourselves sufficiently, we might hear the stories the earth whispers, and we might recognize ourselves in these stories, understand that regardless of our differences, we all belong to the same narrative of love and longing, desperate to be understood and valued.”
Robert Redford opened the ski resort in 1969 and sold the ski resort to Broadreach Capital Partners and Cedar Capital Partners in 2020. When the deal was announced, the two new partners agreed to the Elk Meadows conservation plan but didn’t hold a ceremony until last week due to the global pandemic. This isn’t the Redford family’s first rodeo in land conservation, as they protected almost 900 acres of land around the Mount Timpanogos Wilderness in 1997. Out of the 2600 acres owned by Broadreach and Cedar Capital Partners, 1845 acres are protected via conservation easements or protective covenants.
The Redfords have been generally happy with the ownership group. They have spent millions of dollars on major on-mountain improvements, are working on a terrain expansion this off-season, and have kept their word on protecting Elk Meadows. The Redfords just have one request for the new owernship: bring back the fried pickles. Image Credits: Sundance Resort, Utah Open Lands