Watershed Protection and Wilderness

Effort launched to protect water, expand wilderness along the Wasatch Front

The first major Wasatch Front watershed protection effort since the Utah Wilderness Act of 1984 is now underway, with the introduction in the U.S. House of the Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act.

The bill being introduced (PDF) designates an additional 26,000 acres of wilderness and special management area protection.

You can view a map of the proposal here (4mb PDF)

For 25 years, many who value this natural area have sought these conservation measures. After months of collaborative discussions among a broad spectrum of stakeholders, we are ready to move on this issue.

Since 1984, the population of Salt Lake County has grown from 678,000 to 1.1 million people.  More than 500,000 people in the Salt Lake valley get most of their drinking water from these canyons.

In addition, millions of local residents and visitors spend time hiking, rock climbing, skiing, snowshoeing and enjoying the great outdoors.  These peaks and canyons form the stunning natural backdrop to our homes, our businesses and Utah’s state capitol.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Creation of a new 7,700-acre wilderness area on Grandeur Peak/Mt. Aire, to be called the Wayne Owens Grandeur Peak Wilderness Area.
  • Creation of special management areas totaling over 10,000 acres, to be managed for strict watershed protection while allowing for the permitted use by the helicopter skiing business under existing Forest Service rules and regulations.
  • Resolution of a long-standing conflict between backcountry skiers and Snowbird Ski Resort over a proposed expansion into White Pine Canyon.
  • Closure of an ATV trail
  • Maintenance of a popular mountain biking trail

Here is a more comprehensive outline of the legislation (PDF)

My bill is a compromise agreed to by a number of businesses, environmental groups, city and county entities, and others. Everyone united around the goal of protecting the watershed and preserving the outdoor experience.

Comments, questions for me on the bill? Click here