The Central Wasatch Commission
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, the Visitor Use Study, and canyon transportation improvements.
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.
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 nine-jurisdiction Commission, including the Town of Alta, Town of Brighton, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Sandy City, Summit County, and the Utah Transit Authority as an ex-officio member. 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 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 support staff in August 2018. The CWC has since initiated an internship program. Its offices are located at The Gateway in Salt Lake City.
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, 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 community members, representing many of the diverse interests in the Central Wasatch Mountains.
Central Wasatch Commission Board Committees
Following the 2019 retreat of the Central Wasatch Commission Board, the Commission moved to create three committees that would focus on issues pertaining to the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act and land tenure issues in the Central Wasatch, transportation issues to consider a model for a broader mountain transportation system, and short-term projects that would help further the goals of the Central Wasatch Commission by identifying projects that implement transportation and transit solutions, protect the ecosystems that originate in the Central Wasatch, steward recreational access, and sustain the economic viability of the Cottonwood Canyons. These committees meet publicly as needed.
Executive/Budget/Finance/Audit Committee – This committee meets to set the scope and goals for the broader commission.
- Chair: Jeff Silvestrini
- Co-Chair: Erin Mendenhall
- Treasurer and Secretary: Chris Robinson
This committee meets publicly on the third Monday of each month at 3:30 p.m.
Legislative and Land Tenure Committee – This committee meets to strategize around the CWC’s lands bill, the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act.
- Chair: Erin Mendenhall
- Members: Jeff Silvestrini, Chris Robinson, Annalee Munsey
This committee meets on an as-needed basis.
Short-Term Projects Committee – This committee makes decisions about how funding is dispersed to short-term, achievable, and tangible projects in the Cottonwood Canyons.
- Chair: Michael Weichers
- Members: Annalee Munsey, Roger Bourke, Dave Whittekiend
This committee meets on an as-needed basis.
Transportation Committee – This committee makes decisions about transportation issues in the CWC’s project area.
- Chair: Dann Knopp
- Members: Carlton Christensen, Monica Zoltanski, Michael Weichers
This committee meets on an as-needed basis.
Stakeholders Council Committees
Millcreek Canyon Committee – This committee meets to discuss matters pertinent to Millcreek Canyon.
- Chair: Del Draper
- Co-Chair: Tom Diegel
- Stakeholder membership: John Knoblock, Ed Marshall, Maura Hahnenberger, Bri Sullivan, Dan Zalles, Adam Lenkowski.
Meets publicly on the 3rd Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m.
Environment Systems Committee – This committee meets to discuss matters regarding environmental protection throughout the Central Wasatch Range.
- Chair: Kelly Boardman
- Co-Chair: Dan Zalles
- Stakeholder membership: Maura Hahnenberger, Kirk Nichols, Megan Nelson, Caitlin Curry, Adam Lenkowski, Grace Tyler, Joanna Wheelton.
Meets publicly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m.
Recreation Systems Committee – This committee meets to discuss recreation improvements throughout the Central Wasatch Mountains.
- Chair: Sarah Bennett
- Co-Chair: Barbara Cameron
- Stakeholder membership: Stuart Derman, Dennis Goreham, Ian Hartley, John Knoblock, Tom Diegel, Hilary Lambert, Joanna Wheelton, Serena Yau, Bri Sullivan.
Meets publicly on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 2:00 p.m.
Transportation Systems Committee – This committee meets to discuss transportation issues and improvements to the canyons.
- Chair: Danny Richardson
- Co-Chair: Amber Broadaway
- Stakeholder membership: Roger Borgenicht, Kurt Hegmann, Linda Johnson, Tom Diegel, Michael Marker, Pat Shea, Grace Tyler.
Meets publicly on the 2nd Monday of each month at 3:30 p.m.
Economy Systems Committee – This committee meets to discuss the economic matters pertinent the canyons in the Central Wasatch.
- Chair: Dave Fields
- Co-Chair: Morgan Mingle
- Stakeholder membership: Ed Marshall, Mike Doyle, Nathan Rafferty, Pat Shea.
Meets publicly on the last Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m.
Decision Making Chart
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.
Here’s what the Central Wasatch Commission can do:
- Powers granted by the Interlocal Agreement that formed the Central Wasatch Commission
- The Central Wasatch Commission may enter into contracts
- The Central Wasatch Commission may hire staff
- The Central Wasatch Commission may seek, hold, and distribute funds
Here’s what the Central Wasatch Commission canNOT do:
- The Central Wasatch Commission is not a regulatory authority.
- The Central Wasatch Commission has no authority over local land use/zoning.
- The Central Wasatch Commission has no authority to levy tax.
- The Central Wasatch Commission has no condemnation authority.