Robert Redford didn't show up to the local world premiere of his newest movie, "The Horse Whisperer," but he did send some of his working wardrobe, his best wishes and his endorsement of two nonprofit groups dedicated to preserving Utah's scenic lands.
His "slightly used" denim lined jacket and leather boots were among the hottest of hot items at the silent auction held at Clementine Farms in Lehi Saturday prior to the movie's screening in Orem.The jacket and boots, along with a silver belt buckle and a $11,000 saddle designed to match that used by Redford in the movie, were collecting a long list of bids from the crowd. Proceeds from the barbecue dinner - reservations sold for $150 a plate - and from the auction will go toward funding Utah Open Lands and the North Fork Preservation Alli-ance.
Redford's clothing competed for bids with laser eye surgery, tickets to a Janet Jackson or Backstreet Boys concert, a basketball autographed by John Stockton, a football signed by Steve Young and a tooth cleaning for a horse.
"We had people donate a whole lot of amazing stuff. Just everyone responded," said Julie Mack, spokesman for the Sundance Resort and chairman of the North Fork Preservation Alliance.
Seven hundred guests, including a number of local dignitaries - former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson, Lt. Governor Olene Walker and Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert - attended the event organized as a forerunner to the screening held later at the SCERA Showhouse for the Touchstone Picture release, inspired by horse training technique like that used at Clementine Farms.
Founders of Clementine Farms believe there are startling parallels between techniques and principles that work effectively with both horses and headstrong youngsters.
Redford was originally scheduled to attend. His son, Jamie Redford, was later scheduled to take his father's place as speech maker.
But only the Redford memorabilia made it to the farm.
"It was beyond his control," said Mack.
Wendy Fisher, chairman of Utah Open Lands land trust, said Redford proved his allegiance to land preservation when he turned over the largest piece of acreage yet given to the open lands group.
Redford recently donated 850 acres of critical wildlife habitat, vital watershed and undisturbed Alpine meadows - dramatic North Fork canyon property visible from Utah's Alpine Scenic Byway above the Sundance Canyon - under a permanent conservation easement.
The acreage will be placed in a protected status although the Redford family will retain ownership. Utah Open Lands acts as the conservator of the land.
"With the donation of this conservation easement, the Redford family has made a commitment to safeguarding forever the canyon's scenic views, critical wildlife habitat and watershed values," said Fisher. "Without the conscientious stewardship of landowning families like the Redfords, large-scale preservation of Utah's treasured landscapes would be virtually impossible."
Redford earlier said the donation was motivated simply by a desire to ensure the land would never be jeopardized by development.
"Utah's natural magnificence is what drew me here in the first place and it is what has so profoundly enriched our family's lives since then. It is our hope that the permanent protection of this land in its natural state allows the spiritual enrichment to continue, for generations to come, for our family and all families who experience it," he said.