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Bonanza Flat and upcoming events

Hello Wasatch Backcountry Alliance Enthusiasts!

It’s been too long since we’ve sent out an email newsletter. Between the holidays and the great skiing – which you’ve hopefully been lapping up as much as possible – we have not had a chance to send out an email. But that’s not to say that there is not much going on, because there’s plenty happening these days!

First and foremost: Bonanza Flats. “What’s this,” you ask? “I ride steeps, not flats! And I’ve never heard of it!” Bonanza Flats is a 1350-acre area at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and on the west side of Guardsman Pass. Most notably, it is the area where many people park to ride the Wasatch Crest Trail and hike to Blood Lake. It also encompasses Peak 10,420, which has some great skiing terrain. It’s a bit of a complicated deal that we’ll explain in more detail in a follow up message, but basically in order to keep this area from being developed, the community now has the opportunity to buy it from the tattered remains of Talisker (the old Canyons/SkiLink guys) and create a conservation easement for the land. Park City (the city, not PCMR/Vail) has already mounted up for a $25M bond that was approved by its voters in November, and the rest of the community needs to come up with $13M more for a valued purchase. The environmental community – which includes Mountain Trails, Friends of Alta, Summit Land Conservancy, Save Our Canyons, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the org spearheading this effort: Utah Open Lands, and of course the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance – has been tasked with raising $3M in the next 6 weeks to help secure this opportunity.

Why is this important to backcountry riders, since it’s not necessarily a BC destination? Two very important aspects:

1) It’s a large swath of land that – if protected – provides a big impediment to the execution of Ski Utah’s One Wasatch idea (which they are still planning). This is an area that Deer Valley/PCMR could/would use to connect the upper reaches of Big Cottonwood canyon with the Wasatch Back. It’s especially important because it’s adjacent to a 420-acre section that has been agreed to by all the Mountain Accord players as land to be preserved in the land exchanges (regardless of Mountain Accord, the Forest Service is continuing with this program). If Bonanza Flats is put into conservation, there cannot be lifts placed on it, thereby blocking that path for One Wasatch.

2) It’s a strong statement and precedent that shows that the community is willing to put its money where its mouth is to preserve backcountry terrain when the opportunity arises. In a new era where many of us feel hopeless in the face of economic interests possibly always Trumping preservation, this is something that We Can Do.

Again, we will be sharing more details on this soon, but for now, you can go HERE to learn more and to make a donation specifically to help save Bonanza Flats!

There are three upcoming events that you should know about. First, you can go to next week’s WBA/Bonanza Flats fundraiser in Park City! Yes, our annual Winter Wildlands-sponsored Backcountry Film Festival kicks off next Thursday, February 9th at 6:30p the Santy Auditorium in downtown PC. The first 100 people who purchase tickets online get free beer at a pre-function at nearby-sponsors Red Rock Brewing that starts at 5:30p.

Second, a week later – Thursday, February 16th at 7p – our friends at Brewvies will repeat the Film Fest in Salt Lake. The “doors” open at 6:30p (that’s when we’ll have our table up, but come earlier to support Brewvies by starting out with a pint!) and the show is at 7p. As always, our great sponsors Black Diamond Equipment, Voile, Patagonia, and others have donated some great prizes – including some sweet skis – for the raffle. Bohemian Brewery will be giving away free pint glasses (til they run out) and selling beer at a discount to all filmgoers. Brewvies is also hosting the Tahoe Adventure Film Festival on Saturday, February 11th, with all proceeds from the raffle going to WBA! Tickets for this event are available at Brewvies.

Tickets for both BC film festivals can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com.

And lastly, save the date: Saturday, March 4, 2017 is going to be our 2nd annual Free Shuttle Day Event. WBA and our partners will be supplying vans that will be picking up folks and dropping them…at whatever trailhead you want! There will be convenient starting place(s) and we are hoping to service both Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyons (TBD) this year. We understand that canyon transportation and trailhead parking issues are becoming acute and once again we want to bring awareness to traffic solutions and we want our community to be part of the solution to the problem instead of adding to it. This event’s success is somewhat predicated on people pre-registering, so if you have any interest it will be super helpful if you register online (this is not available yet; we will advise when you are able to go online to save your spot in the van).

We also need to give you an update on the status of Mountain Accord, it’s possible-new-iteration the Central Wasatch Commission, new mountain zoning via FCOZ, the status of the bill that Rep. Chaffetz introduced in the last session to create the Central Wasatch Conservation and Recreation Area, Snowbird’s expansion plans, the aforementioned land trades, Solitude’s Honeycomb lift reconfiguration… Whew! We’ll be in touch.

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