Respecting the Outdoors

We can’t say that undoubtedly this applies to every single person, but it’s fair to assume with very few exceptions that outdoor recreation and enjoyment is a very important part of living in Park City. For many residents, our family included, it is a top reason of why we live here. Be it hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, enjoying parks, concerts, we greatly value being outdoors as a community. We also live in a natural habitat for wildlife, which is part of the charm and ecosystem of Park City. I can’t count how many times we’ve had visitors who just want to see a moose during their vacation.

As we look at how current things are playing out around Park City, it is hard to ignore the possibility of cutting into open space and/or green space. We can’t just keep chipping away at nature for the sake of growth and development as small as some of these solutions may seem. Over the past few years there have been a number of public and private fundraising efforts to protect open space around Park City and the greater Summit County area. Hopefully that possibility never runs out, but we don’t know that as a fact. Another very important topic (I’ve been told it is being worked on by PCMC) are revisions to what is permissible from a building perspective to protect view corridors and ridgelines. I am a proponent of updates to the Municipal Code that protect our surroundings.

Park City has one of the best trail systems out there. We need to address the topic of trailhead overcrowding, littering, and making sure our trails are protected as development projects proceed. If there is an issue and it is not the direct control of Park City we can work with the responsible organization. Given the following example is not in Park City, and I hope it never happens, but just look at what has happened on the Canyons side of Park City Mountain. Mega mansions have permanently closed ski runs. Avalanche fences have gone up and more are proposed. Is this good for the wildlife? The views? A casual hike or mountain bike ride that is now diverted? These issues are not all or nothing, they require a thoughtful approach and strong negotiation skills to come to the right answers.

As we move forward we need to take a critical view of any impact to the outdoors. This may means that Park City has to take a hard line (as it’s happened in the past) and put a stop to plans that are deemed to have an unreasonable impact. To stay safe development should put wildfire prevention right at the top of their priority areas. Could you imagine the blow to our local economy if we had a Yosemite type fire event and it took years for tourism to recover, as is what happened there? In terms of pollution and emissions, we don’t want an inversion layer in Park City, we need to do everything we can to keep that from happening. This ties back to responsible growth, fiscal responsibility, and livability; everything is interrelated.