The Central Wasatch Commission
In 2013, local elected leaders, transportation officials, the general managers of the Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts, private property owners, representatives from the environmental and recreational communities, and others organized to develop a plan to sustain the Central Wasatch Mountain Range for generations to come, and to plan for increased visitation and use of the mountains. Over two years, stakeholders identified four major issues affecting the longevity of the mountains: transportation, economy, recreation and environment. The two-year process, named the Mountain Accord, culminated in the Mountain Accord charter, which proposed plans to address the four major issues: transportation, economy, recreation, and environment. The Mountain Accord charter also called for the creation of a governmental entity to coordinate among the many stakeholders in the Central Wasatch Mountains, and to carry out the plans for each of the four issue areas, identified in the Mountain Accord charter.
The Central Wasatch Commission is the governmental entity that the Mountain Accord charter called to create. Upon its creation, the Central Wasatch Commission was tasked with carrying out projects initiated during the Mountain Accord process including federal legislation, the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act, the Environmental Dashboard, and canyon transportation improvements.
In 2017, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights, and Sandy City signed an interlocal agreement creating the Central Wasatch Commission. Since its formation, the Central Wasatch Commission has grown to an eight-jurisdiction Commission, including the Town of Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sandy City, and Summit County. The area of focus is between I-80 and the Salt Lake County line south of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
In accordance with the Open and Public Meetings Act, the Central Wasatch Commission Board, and its associated public bodies including the Stakeholders Council, meets regularly for public meetings that are noticed, recorded, and posted to the Utah Public Notice site. The meetings are also live-streamed via the Central Wasatch Commission website.
The Central Wasatch Commission hired its first staff person, Ralph Becker, who was instrumental in the Mountain Accord process during his tenure as Mayor of Salt Lake City (2008 — 2015), as Executive Director in June 2018, followed by a Deputy Director and Communications Director in August 2018. The CWC has since hired an Office Administrator and initiated an internship program. Its offices are located at The Gateway in Salt Lake City.
At its core, the mission of the Central Wasatch Commission is to implement the Mountain Accord charter, which laid out proposals for addressing four major issue areas specific to the Central Wasatch Mountains: transportation, economic viability, environmental sustainability, and recreation stewardship. The Central Wasatch Commission carries out that objective through its work on the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act, partnerships with UDOT, UTA and other transportation agencies to find canyon transportation solutions, and the Environmental Dashboard.
The Central Wasatch Commission is also tasked with coordinating among the many stakeholders and varied interests in the Central Wasatch Mountains including private property owners, ski resorts, representatives from the environmental and recreation communities, elected leaders at the federal, state, and local levels, and the Utah residents who enjoy the natural wonder the Central Wasatch Mountains offer.
The Central Wasatch Commission, by definition as an intergovernmental entity, is a collaborative body. In addition to working with the leaders from each of the CWC member jurisdictions (Town of Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek City, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sandy City, and Summit County), the Central Wasatch Commission formed a Stakeholders Council, which serves as a citizens advisory council for the Central Wasatch Commission staff and Board. The Stakeholders Council is comprised of 33 community members, representing many of the diverse interests in the Central Wasatch Mountains.
While the Central Wasatch Commission is a governmental body, it does not have the same authorities that other governmental entities like cities or counties. Here are the highlights for what the Central Wasatch Commission can and cannot do.