Most people think Bonanza Flats, the alpine area at the top of Guardsman Pass in the Wasatch Mountains, is part of the National Forest, but it’s actually an old mining claim—and it’s for sale. In November negotiations lapsed between owner Wells Fargo and a developer, setting off a race by surrounding local governments and conservation groups to raise the $38 million required to preserve the 1,350 acres as open space. The area is home to abundant wildlife and is an important water resource.
The deadline has been extended to June 15. As of this writing, Park City has committed $25 million ; Summit County $5.75 million; Salt Lake City $1.5 million; Midway (pop. 4,261) $10,000; and another $2 million-plus has been raised from nonprofits and individual donors.
Salt Lake County could have put the effort over the top, but in March the Salt Lake County Council refused (5 to 4) to approve a request for $3 million on the grounds that the property is located in Wasatch County (it’s on the boundary of Wasatch, Summit and Salt Lake Counties). This reason for refusal seems particularly ill-considered since the whole point of the recent Mountain Accord agreement was to move toward landscape-level management of the Wasatch Mountains despite political boundaries.
Those of us living in Salt Lake County should urge the County Council to re-consider. In the meantime, a nonprofit coalition led by Utah Open Lands is scrambling to find another source of funds.
Contributions of any size are welcome. Contribute online here.