According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the Central Wasatch Commission, which governs protected wilderness areas east of Salt Lake City is set to finalize draft legislation that will expand protected wilderness areas while freezing ski area boundaries. Land exchanges would concentrate development activities around the base areas of resorts. The Alta Ski Area which was hoping to expand, may get left out in the cold.

These expansion plans made it necessary to remove the famed ski resort, which operates largely in a national forest, from the proposed conservation plan that is vital to tackling traffic congestion and other problems plaguing Little and Big Cottonwood canyons, according to Chris McCandless, the commission chairman

“It [the proposed legislation] gives added protection against degradation of the canyons as a result of population growth. It’s coming,” said McCandless, who also is a member of the Sandy City Council. “It gives us the potential to further transportation solutions in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. It gives us sanitary solutions, gives additional wilderness in areas that need to be protected.”

Critics have long complained that the process that produced the legislation was rigged from the beginning to favor ski areas over small landowners. What started as a process to fix transportation issues, they allege, has morphed into a “land grab.”

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