The so-called Ski Interconnect proposal to link Park City with Big and Little Cottonwood canyon ski areas needs further study, and it won't be part of Salt Lake County's Wasatch Canyon Master Plan anytime soon.
But a preliminary version of the master plan leaves the door open for the possible staging of Winter Olympic events at canyon ski resorts and may lead to restrictions on private vehicles in the canyons.The preliminary plan released this week encourages the county and other government entities with canyon jurisdiction to jointly study Interconnect in the much broader context of a complete mountain transportation system.
But the plan clearly indicates that provision for the system - which, if it is ever developed, may or may not include Interconnect - will have to be amended to the master plan later.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan, the subject of 18 months of work by county planners, private consultants, technical advisors and a citizens review committee, during a 7 p.m. hearing Nov. 22 at the Olympus High School auditorium, 4005 S. 23rd East.
Copies of the plan and further information are available at the county Planning Division office, Room N3700, Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State, phone number 468-2061. Written comments on the plan are encouraged and may be submitted until Dec. 10.
As envisioned by master planners, the mountain transportation system would employ mass transit to move people into and out of the canyons efficiently even during peak use periods while providing protection to the environment.
But the preliminary plan makes no recommendations on the method of transportation the system should employ. However, it firmly opposes a system of chairlifts that could provide skiers a link between Park City and the canyon ski areas.
The plan encourages the establishment of a Wasatch Canyon Coordinating Committee, composed of the county, Salt Lake City, the state, the town of Alta, the City-County Health Department and the U.S. Forest Service, to spearhead the transportation study and coordinate other interjurisdictional canyon issues.
It also encourages local governments and ski resorts to examine the use of disincentives for drivers of private vehicles, including the possible charging of fees, to encourage skiers to ride the bus.
The plan says the holding of Olympics events in the canyons is contingent upon the individual event, its potential temporary and longterm impacts and the establishment of criteria to mitigate those impacts.
The master plan is intended as a guide for allocating future land uses in seven Wasatch Canyons between the years 1989 and 2010, particularly the use of privately owned land, which comprises 20 percent of canyon property. The plan is to be reviewed at five-year intervals and amended as needed.
It focuses primarily on Big and Little Cottonwood canyons but also covers City Creek, Red Butte, Emigration, Parleys and Mill Creek canyons.
The plan states that the canyons "if developed and used sensitively with the interest of all facets of the population in mind, . . . will sustain the residents of the state in perpetuity."
The primary goal of the plan is to designate appropriate areas for the two types of canyon recreation - alpine skiing and so-called dispersed activities like hiking, bicycling, back county skiing, picnicking, camping and others - and to protect the designated areas from encroachment by other activities.
Following the Nov. 22 hearing, a final plan will be drafted to reflect any changes made by the county Planning Commission based on public comment. Another public hearing will be held on the final plan, and following any further changes, the final plan will go to the county commission for adoption.