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Are Mountain Accord Phase 2 Ambiguities Big Trouble Waiting to Happen?

The anonymous citizen who provided us with the Draft Mountain Accord document included a number of his/her concerns with the new agreement. I would summarize that person’s concerns in a few of statements:

  • The tunnel between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City is still on the table.
  • If “studies” done as part of the next phase of the Mountain Accord recommend a connection between Brighton and Park City, it will put intense pressure on the citizens of Summit County and Park City for a connection.
  • The environmental monitoring, adaptive management, restoration, and trails sections have barely 1 line each in the document. The citizen says it “probably reflects the reality of how minimal they have been all along, given the vast majority of the lands [Mountain Accord] seeks to cover are already federal wilderness and USFS roadless areas.”

One of the overall concerns is that the same plan that has always been in place, still appears to be in place. It appears that they will now “study” the tunnel between Brighton and Park City. If they really want that tunnel, what do you think the outcome of that study will be?

What has been changed is the messaging. It has been formalized in this document that the plan is allegedly first and foremost about the environment, with transportation used as a tool to achieve that. Yet, as one community member told me a few weeks ago, if they really wanted to limit the impact of humans and improve the “environment” in the Wasatch they would limit the number of people going up Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Instead, they are trying to make it easier to get as many people into the mountains as possible. Does that sound like an environmental plan?

Instead it looks like this plan has been built to be ambiguous and provide plausible responses to questions that the community has been asking. If you question the connection between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City, now the powers that be will say, “are you again studying it?” What are you going to say to that? Are you not a reasonable person?

Perhaps the answer is that you are against THEM studying it.



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