Mountain Policy: Utah’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz makes moves to protect the Wasatch


A view of the Wasatch Mountains. [Photo] Carlos Scheidegger

WASHINGTON, D.C., Federal legislation was presented by Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Monday, July 11 with the goal of setting aside 80,000 acres of Forest Service land dubbed The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area. The goal of the legislation is to protect scenic vistas in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

This bill, born from the Mountain Accord planning process, is touted as a bipartisan endeavor. The Mountain Accord, a Wasatch based organization, has the mission to create a “public process committed to preserving the mountains for future generations, to addressing immediate concerns and to realizing a long-term vision for the future.”

“Utah once again leads the way in demonstrating the power of a collaborative approach to local problems,” Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Tribune in reference to his work with the Mountain Accord.

The hope is that this conservation project will have the potential to protect the natural resources of the Wasatch while providing additional room for population growth.

The Salt Lake Tribune explains that the main goals of the bill include:

  • “Continuing all existing recreational uses and permits in the area.”
  • “Adjusting existing Wilderness Area boundaries of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to accommodate transportation upgrades.”
  • “Adding about 8,000 acres of new wilderness.”
  • “Authorizing land exchanges between the Forest Service and ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.”
  • “Barring new roads for vehicles on Forest Service land.”

The lead-up to the bill spanned four years and represents the start of ongoing process to advance recreational access in the Wasatch.

To read the bill, visit the Mountain Accord website.

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