“It seems premature to create a conservation and recreation area before developing transportation solutions that reduce congestion and address parking issues in the Cottonwood Canyons” stated Michael Maughan, the president and general manager of Alta Ski Area, in reference to the newly proposed federal designation for the Wasatch canyons. The bill is proposed to give 80,000 acres of land to the Central Wasatch Conservation and Recreation Area–with 1/10th to be negotiated between ski resorts and the US Forest Service. However, the Central Wasatch Commission–whom unanimously endorsed the bill–hasn’t been scared to fight back.
Lindsey Nielson, spokeswoman for the Central Wasatch Commission stated that the bill was a “lands bill, not a transportation bill” in response to outcry from Maughan and his associates. Nielson also added that the commission isn’t simply ignoring the known traffic issues surrounding ski resorts like Alta, but rather actively working with UTA and performing a separate analysis around parking structures.
Maughan, however, believes not enough attention is being put towards the long-standing parking issue surrounding the Utah ski industry–citing a 2003 Forest Service management plan which prevents ski areas from creating additional parking. A plan, which has yet to be updated to account for the 25% increase in skiers since the year 2000.