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Matt Crawley,
FILE — An employee shovels snow on Hidden Peak at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. After months of contentious debate, the controversy over potential land swaps in American Fork Canyon may be over for the time being. Snowbird Resort Thursday committed to forego any development in the canyon for the foreseeable future.

SALT LAKE CITY — After months of contentious debate, the controversy over land swaps in American Fork Canyon and the future of Snowbird Resort received a commitment from the head of the mountain resort.

“We are not planning on connecting the resort to American Fork Canyon at Tibble Fork or anywhere else, or building hotels or condominiums in Utah County or American Fork Canyon,” Bob Bonar, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort president said.

Utah County commissioners met individually with Bonar on Thursday to address some of the questions related to potential recreation opportunities in the canyon. Bonar said the conversations were more about what the resort was not going to do rather than any imminent development plans.

Snowbird also committed to not include any of the resort’s private property located in Utah County in the Mountain Accord land exchange process and to continue to work with the Utah four-wheel drive community to provide responsible access to Snowbird’s land in American Fork Canyon.

"I was happy that he was willing to move forward with us on the process of not just looking at the Snowbird property, but also looking at all of American Fork Canyon,” said Utah County commissioner Bill Lee.

He said citizens in Utah County would be relieved to know that one of their favorite recreation areas will remain available to the public for years to come.

Snowbird currently operates on 500 acres of land called Mineral Basin that falls within Utah County boundaries. The property is located on the backside of the resort.

While Bonar said the resort would not pursue any development in the lower canyon areas, he said there may be some possibilities for the upper areas.

“We are interested in utilizing some of our private property in upper American Fork Canyon and have been listening to the myriad voices in the community who care about this special place,” he said. He would not specify, however, what that use would be for the property, or elaborate on any possibilities.

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“Whatever path Snowbird pursues with its property, it will be done with the same commitment to stewardship, sustainability and inclusiveness that has been a mainstay of our operation for 44 years.”

Earlier this year, area residents raised concerns about potential disruption of recreation if the resort was able to strike a deal to trade parcels of land in lower American Fork Canyon.

Those residents voiced strong opposition to a particular proposal that would swap 416 acres of U.S. Forest Service land for more than 1,000 acres in Salt Lake County. The exchange would have allowed Snowbird to have a contiguous connector to land it already owned in the canyon area.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1