Salt Lake City to Commit $1.5 Million to Protect Bonanza Flat – $3.8 Million Still Needed

Funds are needed to preserve Bonanza Flat between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. Photo by Charlie Sturgis
Funds are needed to preserve Bonanza Flat between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. Photo by Charlie Sturgis

March 21, 2017 – Salt Lake City today announced that they intend to commit $1.5 million to protect Bonanza Flat, an open space area between Salt Lake County’s Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City, Utah. The funds appear to bring the total raised so far to $34.2 million of $38 million total needed to purchase the land.

Sign the petition to the Salt Lake County Council asking for funding for Bonanza Flat: http://crm.saveourcanyons.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=20728

Last week, the Salt Lake County Council voted to not commit any funds towards preserving the land in a 5-4 vote on party lines. The Wasatch Backcountry Alliance (WBA), a non-profit group in Salt Lake County, is hoping that some of the county council will change their minds. They sent out a statement today encouraging citizens to contact Salt Lake County council members Max Burdick, Richard Snelgrove, and Michael Jensen. 

The area is an invaluable piece of open space that is popular for bikers, hikers, skiers, and other backcountry enthusiasts. Tom Diegel wrote in a recent editorial in Cycling Utah: “According to Mountain Trails Foundations’ trail master Rick Fournier, Bonanza Flat represents a huge opportunity for new trails. Not only is the rolling terrain almost perfect for a mountain bike park, but it has the opportunity to put this park in as a connection from the Crest and Park City’s trails to the WOW trail, for an unprecedented connection from the Wasatch Front to the Back on killer singletrack.”

Additionally, the area includes the trail head for the spectacular Wasatch Crest Trail.

The purchase must be completed by June 15th, 2017. The WBA said in a statement, “We remain optimistic that this is absolutely achievable with continued effort by everyone.”

Salt Lake City’s Press Release is below:

Joint City resolution supports efforts to preserve and protect Wasatch County’s Bonanza Flat as open space

Through its Public Utilities dedicated watershed protection fund, Salt Lake City will contribute $1.5 million toward the purchase and preservation of Bonanza Flat – a 1,350-acre tract of popular recreation space and a critical source of Salt Lake City’s drinking water supply.

The City Council and Mayor Jackie Biskupski have also created a joint resolution in support of the efforts behind the purchase of the Wasatch County property, which would conserve the popular recreation spot and protect it from commercial development. The resolution is expected to be approved and signed by Mayor Biskupski and the City Council during the Formal Council Meeting tonight at 7:00pm.

“This joint resolution and the financial commitment we are making further underscore our City’s dedication to preserving open space and protecting our precious watershed,” Mayor Biskupski said. “Through recreation opportunities and most importantly, clean drinking water, Salt Lake City residents and countless other will benefit from the investment we are making today.”

Timing of the City’s support is of the essence, as a June 15th deadline looms for the property’s purchase.

“Salt Lake City leaders must act when possible to demonstrate our commitment to open space and the land that nurtures us, said Stan Penfold, Council Chair. “Bonanza Flat is an opportunity to preserve ecological systems in close proximity to our City. Its beauty as an open space is a bonus.”

Bonanza Flat lies at the point where Salt Lake, Summit, and Wasatch counties meet near Brighton, at the Wasatch Crest Trail. Public ownership would allow hiking, biking, picnicking, and other recreational activities for perpetuity, while protecting a source of the drinking water Salt Lake City supplies to more than 340,000 residents.

“The land in and around Bonanza Flats is within Salt Lake City’s watershed, a critical source of the water supply for Salt Lake City, and worthy of ongoing stewardship,” said Laura Briefer, Salt Lake City Public Utilities Director.  “The strong show of support from Park City, Summit County and the public significantly leverages our funding in permanently protecting this valuable watershed land.”

Park City residents committed $25 million in bonds toward the $38-million purchase and preservation price of Bonanza Flat. Summit County has pledged $5.7 million and non-profit conservation groups have raised $2 million to make up the $13 million shortfall between the bond and purchase price. The land will otherwise likely be developed into a luxury resort.

The Department of Public Utilities dedicated watershed protection fund is essential to the City’s water supply management and protection. The fund was established in 1989, and to date the fund has conserved more than 3,000 acres of land protecting the City’s watershed. The last large land purchase was 160 acres of land on City Creek Ridge, which is within the City Creek Watershed. The relatively undisturbed foothill space includes winter habitat for elk, year-round habit for mule deer, and hosts a wide variety of Utah wildflowers. Since the early 1900’s, the City has acquired more than 30,000 acres of watershed land.

To learn more, or to donate, see: https://www.savebonanzaflats.org/

Funds are needed to preserve Bonanza Flat between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. Photo by Charlie Sturgis
Funds are needed to preserve Bonanza Flat between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. Photo by Charlie Sturgis
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