Stepping Up for Open Space
Photography: Don Weller
In Park City, we sometimes pride ourselves on being out of step with our fellow Utahns. For example, while voters statewide turned down an open space initiative last November, residents of the Snyderville Basin passed a $10-million bond to purchase local open lands.
Voters within the city limits have anted up for two $10-million open space bond initiatives: the first in 1998 passed by a 78 percent majority, the second in 2002 passed by an even more overwhelming 81 percent. The Park City government is currently considering asking the voters for yet another $10 million in November, 2005.
Here is what local open space organizations are doing to further open land protection in Summit County: Park City’s Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee (COSAC): To date, COSAC has spent nearly $17 million and preserved 841 acres on 11 different parcels. Park City now owns 1,375 acres in Round Valley (not all of it was purchased with bond funds), which is twice the size of New York’s Central Park.
Basin Open Space Advisory Committee (BOSAC): In December of 2004, BOSAC completed the purchase of 219 acres above Jeremy Ranch for about $1.4 million. BOSAC also used bond funds to help Utah Open Lands finish its preservation of 200 acres of the beautiful Hi Ute Ranch.
Swaner Nature Preserve: Currently encompassing over 1,200 acres, the Swaner Nature Preserve at Kimball Junction is home to sandhill cranes, raptors, fox, elk, moose, mule deer, herons, and a variety of other creatures. Last summer, over 1,000 Columbian Spotted Frogs were reintroduced to the wetlands, after an absence of 50 years. In the future, the Preserve plans to build an educational center, a nature center, and boardwalks onto the property.
Utah Open Lands (UOL): Originally founded in Summit County in 1990, Utah Open Lands now works to protect open lands throughout the state. In 2004, UOL announced the preservation of 200 acres of the Hi Ute Ranch, one of the most significant properties in western Summit County. The organization is working to protect 500 acres in western Summit County and 4,000 acres in the eastern part of the county.
The Summit Land Conservancy (SLC): Founded in 1998 as Conserving Our Open Lands (or COOL), the Summit Land Conservancy became Summit County’s local independent land trust in 2002. In addition to 945 acres of easement land in Empire Canyon, SLC holds easements on the 841 acres of open space that Park City purchased with COSAC funds, ensuring that future governments will adhere to the terms of the easements. SLC is also working to protect a 4,500-acre ranch near Coalville.