Utah County residents want out of the Mountain Accord
(KUTV) The Mountain Accord, a plan for Utah's Central Wasatch Mountains has been hammered out and promises to protect the mountains and the watershed while allowing the people to enjoy the mountains for years to come.
Recently many residents in Utah County joined to say they want out of the accord.
"I would respectfully as to delete, with a capital "D", all reference of Utah County lands from the Mountain Accord," said Brad Frost, councilman with American Fork City.
Frost says he is part of a group that has grown to include thousands of people, who don't want the Utah County land in the accord document because they feel they were never included in the discussions in the first place.
At the center of the controversy are 400 acres of public land in American Fork Canyon that are proposed for trade with Snowbird Ski Resort. As part of the accord, Snowbird would give up thousands of acres of its private land to the U.S. Forest Service.
"They wanted Utah County to take one for the team. A team we were never asked to be part of," said Frost who feels like the American Fork Canyon land was used as a bargaining tool to get Snowbird to give up some of its land in Salt Lake County for public use.
The group known as Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon said the small parcel of land is valuable to Snowbird because it allows it to connect with the other land it already owns in American Fork Canyon. People fear the canyon will become an extension of the ski resort .
Laynee Jones, Program Manager for said the accord is a thoughtful compromise that will benefit Utahns by putting more private land in public ownership. The accord is not a binding agreement. The Mountain Accord Committee, made up of mayors, forest service officials, ski resort owners and environmentalists, has no authority. Jones said the Mountain Accord is a good way for everyone to agree on how to protect the mountains while still skiing, fishing, hunting and hiking there.
"Before we started the Mountain Accord effort, we were duking it out in the headlines half acre by half acre. We all agree that's no way to plan the future of the mountains," she said.
Jones disagrees with Frost and others who say Utah County was left out of the loop as far as the land swap in the canyon. She said some Utah county leaders knew about the plan years ago.
"They were supportive of the land trade but now we have a new group that's come forward and is concerned about it. I think we need to take a step back and re-evaluate," she said.
Frost said he will not be satisfied until Utah County is deleted from the document. He said Utah County will have its own talks with the Forest Service and Snowbird.
The Mountain Accord will be open to public discussion on Monday, July 13 at 2:30 at Sandy City Hall.
Jones said it's the start of many discussions to come about the accord recommendations.