Rather than being a Texan who was accused of "raping" Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird owner Richard Bass believes he is making an important contribution to the Utah economy.

Bass spoke to the Board of Governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday asking for support for Snowbird's development plans when the Wasatch Canyons Master Plan Study is being considered.With Snowbird making a $15 million annual contribution to the local economy, Bass said he is attempting to turn Snowbird into a year-round destination resort by providing a variety of activities including educational classes, arts and conventions.

Bass said when he came to Utah to develop Snowbird in the early 1970s he was accused of "raping" the canyons and taking the money back to Texas. He said Snowbird already is a $150 million investment so he can hardly be classified as a land rapist since "I am still here and intend to be here for a long time."

Critical to Snowbird's development is opening of the White Pine area, which some people are opposing. Bass said the White Pine area will give Snowbird runs for novice and intermediate skiers. "Development can take place with proper planning," Bass said.

He said his resort was the principal builder of the sewer line down Little Cottonwood Canyon that replaced septic tanks and leach fields and recently Little Cottonwood Creek water was rated the best of the seven Wasatch Front creeks in a water quality study.