Alta Trivia & the Proposed Flagstaff Lift – Part 1

| May 1, 2009

Although they share a common name and many of the same interests, the town of Alta and the Alta Ski Area (ASA) are different entities.  ASA runs the lifts & facilities of the ski resort and the township of Alta governs things like planning, the library, public safety, transportation and the budget for the booming (as in howitzer shells) 370 person high-altitude metropolis. As a township, Alta is tiny and starts just below the Peruvian Lodge near the By-Pass road and goes uphill to the crest dividing Little from Big Cottonwood canyons.  You can ride a bike from Alta’s stem to stern in about five minutes, and even though you can get an Alta/Bird seasons pass and easily ski between the areas, Snowbird is not part of the Alta township, which explains why it has all those eco-lovin’ concrete sky-scrappers.

Doug Brockmeyer perched above 20% of SLC's drinking water - LCC Creek.

What makes the township of Alta so important is that it sits at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is the headwaters for 20% of Salt Lake City’s fresh water supply (this is why dogs aren’t allowed – SLC’ers don’t like dog-poo flavored water).  Building is VERY restricted up there, and although there are undeveloped lots for sale, you almost need to file an Environmental Impact Statement to blow your nose on them, let alone build anything.  This makes developers cringe, but is part of what makes Alta so great – there’s a lot of beautiful open space and minimal development.  For comparison, without the guidance of the Alta Township, the Forest Service and the water issues, Alta could easily look like Park City with roads, condos and McMansions plugged in virtually all over.  For an interesting history of the town of Alta, click here.

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About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (2)

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  1. dongshow says:

    The city of SLC really needs to increase the price people pay for water. It’s absurd that despite the scarcity of fresh water in the region, most of the valley still insists on having green manicured lawns. Taxing that practice out of existence should be the first priority in any watershed preservation movement. Increasing fees on excessive water usage could help provide the revenue needed to protect the watershed in the face of massive growth, both in the canyons and in the valley.

  2. DKRip3 says:

    Rumors have abounded for many years but changes have come like a late afternoon wet slide. Hiking up Baldy with the masses last year I overheard that ASA was going to build a Coors- light- can gondola to the top of Baldy. The most vocal perpetrators of this rumor were so convincing…”oh, it’s been approved, they start building this fall….” it was surprising not to see said gondola this fall. Everyone go, as Andrew directs, to and specifically to the link Re-Thinking Alta.
    There are many points to ponder. I find it hard not to rebuke or puke when I read the year round Alta resident say “the people who live here year round don’t want a TON of change but would not mind some year round amenities (like a cup of coffee) and opportunities” The topper… “A lift across the road would also help so we could have skiing on the other side”. I cannot wait to read Andrew’s part II. In fact, “I cannot wait to read Andrew’s next entry” has been a given all season. …Thanks Andrew !!!!!
    To dongshow’s point, it is utterly absurd the water usage directed to manicured lawns. Certainly taxation by usage is in order but waiting on the government may be fruitless. “You may ask the government for help but you can’t even help yourself” is applicable. Take yourself off the grid! We rock-scaped our previous Sandy home when amidst the 7 year drought I had read that 60% of all SLC valley water goes toward manicured lawns and we are drawing up the same plan for our new home.

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