MILLCREEK — Around 70 people showed up to a public hearing at the Millcreek Community Center on Thursday to give Salt Lake County one message: Leave the canyons alone.

Community members at the first hearing for the Wasatch Canyons plan for the future of Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood and Parleys made it clear they want those canyons to remain in a natural state.

In the past, the county has developed master plans covering 10 to 20 years to guide use, development and transportation decisions in the canyons. Now, long-range master plans have been replaced with "general plans" as guiding documents for future planning.

"Our goal with the general plans is to have them flexible and changeable while they look at a long-term horizon," said David Gellner, a Salt Lake County planner. "We want them be adaptable and flexible to be more reflective and relevant of changing conditions and current conditions."

Several residents at Thursday's meeting expressed concern about development on public lands. County officials clarified that the Wasatch Canyons plan would apply to private land only.

"The Forest Service is being invited to help us develop those lands, definitely," said Todd Draper, an urban planner with Salt Lake County, "because whatever happens there impacts that Forest Service trust land."

Residents also asked questions about who will be involved in making a decision about the general plan and expressed concerns about making sure public lands remain public. Others used the opportunity to oppose SkiLink, a proposal that could connect the Canyons and Solitude ski resorts with a gondola.

Comments on the Wasatch Canyons plan can be posted online at

Twitter: @FinleyJY