Environews: More Wasatch Mountains ski development?

By Amy Brunvand

Under a pretense of providing recreation for military personnel, a massive new high-end ski resort development has been announced by Deer Valley near Jordanelle Reservoir.

The “Mayflower Mountain” project is a partnership between the Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA) created by the Utah State Legislature in 2007 and Extell Development, a New York City company famous for building “poor doors” to keep rich and poor tenants separated.

The project has its origins in privatization of public lands engineered by former U.S. Congressman James Hansen. Prior to the 2002 Olympics, Hansen arranged a controversial sale of Forest Service lands to Snow Basin Ski Resort. This privatized property included a cabin owned by Hill Air Force Base that had been used by military personnel for R & R. As a replacement for the cabin, Hansen sneaked another land trade into the 2001 Defense Authorization Act—the 26.5 acre “Red Maple Parcel” in Summit County was transferred to the U.S. Air Force from the Bureau of Land Management, apparently out of spite since Park City wanted to protect the land as open space.

As a federal agency, the Air Force is exempt from local zoning laws so the Red Maple Parcel provided a foot in the door for resort development on adjacent private lands.

The Summit County land-grab has similarities to the Inland Port debacle in Salt Lake City. The MIDA board is entirely appointed by the Utah Legislature with accountability to voters in Wasatch County.

It’s not even clear that military personnel will be able to use the new hotels. Although the developer has promised discounted military room rates, no deal has been arranged for military discounts on Deer Valley lift tickets, currently priced at $209/day.

This article is a snippet from the larger column: Environews, that appeared in the September 2019 print issue. Read the full article here.

This article was originally published on September 4, 2019.