September 1, 2012

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An examination of four divisive issues. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Di Lewis, Heather Stewart, Sarah Ryther Francom

September 1, 2012

Fisher worries that SkiLink is a short-term marketing ploy to attract tourists to the state by touting a European-like skiing experience, but will have no long-term benefits for the state or the skiing industry. Moreover, he believes SkiLink would come at a great cost to Utah’s environment, as well as decrease the outdoor experience for non-skiers.

“The nationwide trend is that the ski industry has grown less than 1 percent during past 30 years. SkiLink might be the cool new thing that attracts people here, but if the growth rate is only 1 percent, there’s a fairly small capture rate. People will come for a couple years, then it will die off because it’s not new or cool anymore,” he says. “And SkiLink would harm other recreation opportunities, especially backcountry recreation.”

While Fisher is not opposed to all inter-connect plans, he believes SkiLink is not the best option. “Other connections make more sense. This should be about what’s best for the local economy and environment,” he says. “I don’t think locals will use it at all. The only people who will use it are people who have homes there or people who are staying at Canyons.”           

Fisher also argues that there are serious environmental implications that need to be considered. “These are some of the most heavily used public lands in the United States and our own use is one of the biggest threats to the land,” he says. “This will develop the upper portions of our watershed. If we ruin it, who’s going to be the one who has to clean the degraded water quality?”

And while some argue that SkiLink will help reduce traffic, Fisher disagrees. “We realize that we have an issue getting people from the valley to the mouth of the canyon, rather than an inter-canyon transportation issue,” he says. “SkiLink won’t help the traffic issue because everyone is trying to get to two points—mouth of Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood—where there’s an excess of people. Regardless of what we do, the meeting point is the mouth of those two canyons.”

Fisher believes the land should have wilderness protection for all to enjoy. “SkiLink takes public lands that have wilderness protection and we’re flipping it and developing it. It’s contrary to what Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City and what we’ve been trying to do. Wilderness is a good solution—it allows people to use the area, but it encourages responsible use.” 

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