Grassroots organization is fighting for Utah County representation over plans for American Fork Canyon development

A new Utah County grassroots organization is calling for Utah County residents and leaders to have a voice in plans for land development in American Fork Canyon.

Grassroots organization is fighting for Utah County representation over plans for American Fork Canyon development
post by Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon

Preserve and Protect American Fork Canyon wants leaders, citizens, and interest groups from Utah County to be included in an ongoing multi-year initiative called Mountain Accord, as well as a related effort in Utah County called AFCVision. Mountain Accord currently includes leaders from other counties, but not Utah County, where American Fork Canyon is located.

Willie Holdman, co-founder of Preserve and Protect, said, “Here in Utah County most citizens didn’t know the comment period for Mountain Accord’s proposals ended on May 1. Most mayors have no idea that land swaps have been discussed; most are in the dark. A step-child process called AFCVision, partially funded by Snowbird, seems to be repeating the process in Utah County, but citizen representation is missing. We believe every mayor in Utah County, as well as our organization, should be given a seat on the steering committees of both Mountain Accord and AFCVision.”

Preserve and Protect also insists on greater transparency in both organizations’ activities, so that the public and Utah County leaders are kept informed of proposed changes which could impact the county and its residents.

Mayor Don Watkins of Alpine, a small city near the mouth of American Fork Canyon, said, “As Mayor of Alpine I’ve heard very little about Mountain Accord. I’m just now learning about proposed land swaps in Mineral Basin, a watershed that’s important to my city and neighboring cities. I’d like to be involved in Mountain Accord as a representative of the citizens of Alpine, but I’ve not been contacted to participate.”

Grassroots organization is fighting for Utah County representation over plans for American Fork Canyon development
From Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon

Mountain Accord studies and recommends measures to preserve the Wasatch Mountains, as the region’s population continues to grow rapidly. It considers economic, environmental, recreation, transportation, and watershed issues. Its official web site declares, “Mountain Accord was established to make critical decisions and implement solutions to preserve the Central Wasatch and ensure its long term vitality.”

The Mountain Accord Executive Committee includes representatives of Salt Lake, Summit, and Wasatch Counties, as well as several cities within these counties and state and federal agencies. The absence of representatives from Utah County is a problem, say the leaders of Preserve and Protect, because Mountain Accord is attempting to facilitate development of Mineral Basin, which is in Utah County and is part of American Fork Canyon’s watershed.

American Fork City Councilman Brad Frost observed, “We need to be concerned with plans for the entire canyon, from the ridge line of Mineral Basin to the mouth of canyon. It’s a precious public resource, and the people of Utah County need to be involved in any discussions of its future.”

Dr. Jeffrey W. Johnson, co-founder of Preserve and Protect, says that the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, which already extends into Mineral Basin, wants to expand and is seeking access through American Fork Canyon, to be achieved by land swaps recommended and negotiated by Mountain Accord. “American Fork Canyon is unique and is visited by more than a million people each year. It is pristine and commerce-free. What a loss it would be,” he said. “There are seven ski resorts within an hour’s drive. Do we really need more?”

10423768_1598356853783360_4060237364717854318_nWatkins said, “Citizens and leaders in Utah County need to understand what’s at stake if the canyon is commercialized. I strongly encourage them to attend meetings and to make their concerns known.”

Preserve and Protect has invited a Snowbird representative to address a meeting of the group and other concerned citizens. The meeting will be Tuesday, June 16, at 5:00 p.m. at the Fox Hollow Golf Course, at 200 East 1400 North in American Fork. After the presentation, a panel will answer questions about the group and its aims. The public is invited to attend.

Preserve and Protect boasts a Facebook group that is growing by nearly 1000 residents per week, as well as the support of interest groups such as Save Our Canyons, Lone Peak 4 Wheelers, and the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance.

To learn more about the Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon movement:

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