Mountain Accord says it will respect county jurisdiction

Moose cow and her calf wade in the water July 2013 at Tibble Fork Reservoir located in the left leg of American Fork Canyon southeast of Mineral Basin, lands under scrutiny for Snowbird Resort as part of Mountain Accord. 

UTAH COUNTY – The anticipated Mountain Accord meeting is at 2:30 p.m. Monday and some Utah County proponents are predicting that the executive board won’t keep its word and leave Snowbird’s Utah County plans out of its study process.

As if to rebut those assertions, Mountain Accord posted its position at 7:22 p.m. Friday at mountainaccord.com/blog under the headline “Utah County: Mountain Accord’s Official Position.”

“We have respected Utah County’s wishes and have updated the Accord to indicate that the American Fork Canyon proposal is out of our hands,” the Mountain Accord declaration states. “We support Utah County and their intent to continue the public discussion and negotiations. We do not intend to take further action on American Fork Canyon issues.”

Mountain Accord board members will meet at Sandy City Hall, located at 10000 Centennial Parkway. The three agenda items include accord discussion and approval, a ceremonial signing event and presentation of what the expected steps are for the next phase.

“I am happy that you are acknowledging Utah County’s desire to have any lands in the county removed from the Accord,” replied Jeff Johnson, PPAFC co-founder. “Please step the next take (sic) and remove references to Utah County from the draft accord before your July 13th vote as requested by our county commissioners and several cities.”

The blog page administrator’s response was that the proposal in American Fork Canyon is matter of public record and included in the Accord.

“Because the AFC proposal goes across the county line, the Accord indicates support for the part of the proposal on the north side of the line while clearly stating that Utah County leaders and their constituents will carry forward any further negotiations, discussions and public engagements on the Utah County side,” the response read.

Contending there will be no majority vote at the slated 3-hour meeting, there will be a consensus-based process instead.

“The Executive Board will approve the Accord as whole which, as stated above, includes clear language that defers to Utah County leadership on matters in [American Fork Canyon,” the commentator said.

Mountain Accord’s study has caught the attention of media statewide and was designed by a consortium begun in 2012 of three counties -- Salt Lake, Summit and Wasatch counties -- to draft an accord or agreement for future planning, protection and development in the Wasatch Mountain Range.

There was no ire raised until Snowbird and the Forest Service announced in February a proposed land swap in Little Cottonwood of more than 1,500 private acres; and American Fork Canyon of 415 acres of public lands that was included in the Accord study plans.

“With all the hard work and efforts of Utah county residents and politicians the Mountain Accord is moving forward with a vote on Monday with total disregard of the request from Utah County to remove American Fork Canyon from the Accord,” said American Fork City Councilman Brad Frost.

Crossing over the border into another county with its plans -- a county with no representation on the Accord board -- was discovered by Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon founders who acted on what they knew to get representation and planning done for Utah County.

Snowbird, too, has been caught in the maelstrom; several Utah County residents are angry and worried that the ski resort will close Mineral Basin and Mary Ellen Gulch in American Fork Canyon to the public. In response and to clarify, it has posted more information at www.snowbird.com/utahcounty.

The land swap appears much more complicated than approximately 2,000 acres exchanging hands. Snowbird would give up more than 1,000 acres of private land in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon and American Fork Canyon including a large portion of Mt. Superior, Little Superior, Flagstaff, Cardiff and parcels in the White Pine/Red Pine area as well as parcels in American Fork Canyon around Silver Lake and Pittsburgh Lake.

Snowbird would receive approximately 400 acres of U.S. Forest Service land for ski operations at the base of the resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, land in upper Mary Ellen Gulch and land that would connect existing private property parcels in Mineral Basin and Mary Ellen Gulch.

The corporation is also having its own open house meetings to inform the public. The first meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on July 27 at the Utah Valley Convention Center, 220 W. Center St., Provo; and the same time on Aug. 5 at the Cedar Hills Community Center, 10640 N. Clubhouse Drive.

The confusion in communication centered around Mountain Accord and its plans for Utah County now include National Monument discussions for another National Monument in the county.

“The Mountain Accord processes, the National Monument discussions that are now surfacing, have a common theme, that is leaving Utah County out of the dialogue,” said PPAFC co-founder Mark Allen.

Cathy Allred is north Utah County reporter for the Daily Herald and can be reached at heraldextra.ca@gmail.com and followed on Facebook: North County News.