PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) - A land swap deal between Snowbird Ski Resort and Mountain Accord sits in the middle of a heated debate. Snowbird wants to expand, but it'll need public lands in Utah County and American Fork Canyon, to do it. Some residents believe the entire process of a land swap and Snowbird's expansion has been kept under wraps from the public. They argue snowbird hasn't been forthright about their plans and some government entities are only thinking about dollar signs.
Dozens of Utah County residents want to save American Fork Canyon. They don't want the pristine natural beauty turned into a commercial area with trams and parking. Snowbird wants to swap 1,100 private acres for 416 acres of Utah County land. The expansion areas would likely go into Mineral Basin. There could be a possible gondola at Tibble Fork and residential properties. Ski lifts and ski runs could cover the areas in between.
"We generally issue special use permits for any kind of development or activities. We consider any activity as people present them to us. We try to preserve and maintain the experience for users on national forests as much as possible whether that be in a developed ski area or a back country area," said Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests Forest Supervisor Dave Whittekiend.
Snowbird representatives argue they'll preserve the lands along with providing recreation for the growing demand as Utah's population increases and more tourists make snowbird a destination. They also say they want to hear from the public. They also added they've gone through all the proper channels and the democratic process.
Another public meeting about the proposal is slated for August. That's after a July 13th vote by the Utah County Commissioners to potentially approve the land swap agreement.
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