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Mid-winter Update, 2019

Hello Wasatch Backcountry Alliance members and supporters! 

It’s been a while since we’ve sent out an update; not because nothing’s been happening, but because it’s been snowing so much that we’ve been busy lapping up powder!  What a great snow year we’ve had, especially after suffering through last year. 

Town of Alta staffer Chris Cawley on his lunch break. Photo by Andy Dorais


As always, whether it snows or not there is a lot going on in the busy Wasatch.  Below is a summary:

Federal Legislation
As you may remember, in November, the Central Wasatch Commission (CWC) decided unanimously to not include Alta Ski Lifts (ASL) in the proposed federal legislation to create the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area (CWNCRA) based on ASL’s intention to develop  Grizzly Gulch.  By association, and much to the chagrin of the mayor, the Town of Alta was excluded as well.  Since that time the CWC has been refining the bill accordingly and most people are optimistic that it will be brought in front of Congress this year. 

Alta Ski Lifts/Central Wasatch Commission/State Legislature
ASL has made it clear that they want chairlifts in Grizzly Gulch, to the top of Patsy Marley or both, plus want some sort of connection to Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Recently state Senator Kirk Cullimore (R-Cottonwood Heights) called together ASL, the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance, the CWC executive committee, and others stakeholders in order for him to gain a better understanding of the issue. Sen. Cullimore has put forth Resolution 10, which according to the CWC, “recognizes [that] the Wasatch Mountains have enormous economic, watershed, natural, and recreational value for the state of Utah, and acknowledges the work of the Central Wasatch Commission to develop solutions that address the significant transportation and land management issues that affect the area.”

S.C.R. 10 calls for the President, Congress, and Utah’s congressional delegation to propose and secure passage of legislation that implements the Central Wasatch Commission’s recommendations.

This is a counter-measure to House Bill 78 that Rep Carl Albrecht, (R: Emery/Sevier/Grand/Sanpete counties) has created that would require the entire state legislature AND the Governor to approve any/all findings from the CWC.  This is an interesting attempt by a rural legislator to influence what happens here in the Wasatch and circumvent the very difficult work that local stakeholders have done to find common ground. 

The state legislature is in session for another couple of weeks.  Now is the time to reach out to your representative and senators to tell them to support Sen. Cullimore’s resolution and reject Rep. Albrecht’s bill!  Here is a link to finding out who your rep and senator are.  

Central Wasatch Commission Stakeholder Group
Last fall, the CWC created a 35-member stakeholder advisory group with members ranging from UDOT to the ski resorts to the Utah Avalanche Center to community councils to other advocacy groups. The Wasatch Backcountry Alliance is also part of this group.  The 2nd meeting was held last week and we are optimistic that this group will help guide the efforts of the CWC in a balanced way. 

Roadless Rule run-around
Governor Herbert and the legislature are attempting to do a precedent-setting end-run around the 2001 Roadless Rule which has kept many higher-elevation forested areas in the state free from new road building for the last 18 years.  They are using fire management as a guise for opening up a lot of skiable land in the state to development. Watch for another Call To Action on this very soon; we have heard that the Governor’s petition to the Fed may drop this week, and we will need to raise some rabble. 

Upcoming events:
Our annual Wasatch Backcountry Alliance Shuttle day is coming up Saturday, March 9. Let’s lead by example! Ride sharing is all the rage. As dispersed users in the Wasatch, please join us in demonstrating solutions that exist today that can reduce traffic congestion in the Cottonwood Canyons.

We’ve partnered with Utah Mountain Shuttle to provide multiple 12-passenger Sprinter vans to bring you & your crew to your favorite Canyon destination, and deliver you safely back to the valley, after a day of winter recreation in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Shuttles will run every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. until about 5 p.m., and hitting popular trailheads.

Rides are Free but you MUST RESERVE A SEAT. Make your reservations today here: https://sites.google.com/site/utahmountianbikeshuttle/

Utah Adventure Journal speaker Savannah Cummins

There is only one more Utah Adventure Journal speaker series presentations at Snowbird, where the raffle (for killer gear) proceeds benefit the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance.  Recently on February 28th, WBA board member Tom Diegel shared his Bikepacking adventures from around the world – hope you were able to make it out. The last presentation will be held on on March 7th as Savannah Cummins shares her perspective from behind the lens on adventures to Antarctica, Denali, and the Indian Himalaya. Savannah’s show start at 6pm at Snowbird’s Wildflower lounge in the Iron Blosam lodge (entry 2), 21 and over. Do a dusk patrol and swing by. 


Traffic!  
The elephant in the room this season has been the traffic in the Cotttonwood Canyons and the parking at the trailheads.  We have been talking to UDOT and the resorts a bit about this and will follow up soon with another traffic-specific message. 

Thanks for your support, pray for even more snow, and see you in the Wasatch! 

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