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 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 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.

 

Mission


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.

 

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 Committee This committee meets to set the scope and goals for the broader commission.

  • Chair: Chris Robinson
  • Co-Chair: Jenny Wilson
  • Treasurer: Erin Mendenhall
  • Secretary: Mike Peterson
  • Staff lead: Ralph Becker

This committee meets publicly on the third Monday of each month at 3:30 p.m.

Budget/Finance Committee – This committee reviews budget amendments and requests as well as builds and sets each fiscal year for the Commission.

  • Chair: Jeff Silvestrini
  • Co-chair: Jim Bradley
  • Treasurer: Erin Mendenhall
  • Member: Harris Sondak
  • Point staff lead: Kaye Mickelson

This committee meets on an as-needed basis.

Legislative and Land Tenure Committee – The Legislative/Land Tenure Committee meets to work towards rebuilding consensus around the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area act (CWCNRA) that Mountain Accord ended with. The ultimate goal isto reintroduce a bill in afuture Congress. All four Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts, private property owners, the environmental community, and recreation groups are all present with the committee meets.

  • Chair: Jenny Wilson
  • Co-Chair: Jeff Silvestrini
  • Member: Harris Sondak
  • Point lead: Ralph Becker

This committee meets on an as-needed basis.

Transportation Committee – The committee through which commissioners and staff evaluate concepts, goals, and timeline for the Mountain Transportation System project.

  • Chair: Dan Knopp
  • Co-Chair: Andy Beerman
  • Member: Mike Peterson
  • Member: Carlton Christensen
  • Staff lead: Blake Perez

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: Jim Bradley
  • Co-Chair: Marci Houseman
  • Member: Erin Mendenhall
  • Staff lead: Lindsey Nielsen

This committee meets on an as-needed basis.

 

Stakeholders Council Committees


Trails Committee – The goal of this committee is to explore potential ways that the CWC can address trails needs within the CWC project area.

  • Chair: John Knoblock
  • Co-Chair: Sarah Bennett
  • Staff lead: Lindsey Nielsen

This committee meets on an as-needed basis.

Millcreek Canyon Committee – This committee meets to discuss matters pertinent to Millcreek Canyon.

  • Chair: Ed Marshall
  • Co-Chair: Del Draper
  • Staff lead: Lindsey Nielsen

Meets publicly on the 3rd Monday of each month at 1:00 p.m.

Visitor Use Committee – Meets as needed to discuss visitor use throughout the CWC project area. Stakeholders Council co-chair, Dr. Kelly Bricker developed a prospectus for a visitor use study in the CWC project area, and that has been the basis of the discussion for this committee.

  • Chair: Annalee Munsey
  • Co-Chair: Will McCarvill
  • Staff lead: Blake Perez

This committee meets on an as-needed basis.

Authorities


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

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Here’s what the Central Wasatch Commission cannot do:
  • The Central Wasatch Commission may not supplant the authority of partner entities or member jurisdictions
  • The Central Wasatch Commission may not tax
  • The Central Wasatch Commission has no authority over local land use/zoning processes
  • The Central Wasatch Commission may not regulate nor condemn