Efforts to stop excavation at Point of the Mountain at a standstill

Published: Monday, June 17 2013 2:49 p.m. MDT

A hang glider at Point of the Mountain in Salt Lake County, Friday, June 14, 2013.

Mike Radice, Deseret News

DRAPER — Point of the Mountain is home to some of the best wind in the world, but efforts to preserve this recreational haven for paragliding and hang gliding have reached a stalemate with state and local officials.

Geneva Rock owns and mines the land, and it has the rights and the permits. What the paragliders and hang gliders want is for the land to remain untouched. They say construction will change the ridgeline, which is critical to helping paragliders catch the wind currents.

More than 10,000 people come here every year from around the world to jump off the side of a perfectly good mountain.

"For us, it is just life," said paraglider Sarah Child. "You know, we don't really remember life before flying, and we have a hard time thinking about life after flying.”

Life after flying could happen quickly for everyone. Geneva Rock is shearing away parts of the area in phases for mining operations, which, if it goes much further, could kill the windy mecca for flying.

"Land swap or purchase would be the only way Geneva would want to leave because they are well established here, they're settled in here, they own the land," said Chris Hunlow, writer from savesteepmountain.org.

The group from Save Steep Mountain first went to city leaders in Draper.

"But you go to the city and you ask them for help, they say, ‘We can't. You need to go to the state.' So, we asked the state for help, they say we need to go to the feds. We go to the federal government for help, they say we need to get it controlled by the state," Hunlow said.

Flight Park North is a Salt Lake County park, but until it has historic value recognized by the state, Geneva can keep mining away.

To its credit, the rock company has been more than willing to take less than what the land is worth to keep these flyers happy.

"It has been used since World War II. We're still using it today. Again, it's something that's rare around the world. So if we protect this and make it a historic spot, the state could adopt it as a park and we could turn this into a conservation effort, rather than a destruction," Hunlow said.

The flyers note a similar process occurred on the south side of Point of the Mountain, which has been designated as a state park and cannot be infringed upon by Geneva Rock.

Email: vvo-duc@deseretnews.com

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