Little Cottonwood Canyon Land Acquisition with Utah Open Lands

Photo of the plot of land that Utah Open Lands is working to purchase at the base of LCC. Taken by Quinn Graves.

Earlier this year, the Central Wasatch Commission provided Utah Open Lands with $20,000 to assist with their land acquisition project at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Utah Open Lands is currently fundraising to purchase a $3 million, 26 acre plot of land at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Utah Open Lands views this chance to purchase the land as an opportunity to safeguard ecological values, the viewshed at the base of the canyon, trail access and parking, and trail connections. Other organizations involved in this land acquisition include the City of Cottonwood Heights, which is a member of the Central Wasatch Commission, the Wasatch Mountain Club, Friends of Alta, the Leary Mcallister Fund, Salt Lake County, the AHE/CI Trustchallenge Grant, and numerous community and anonymous contributors. If purchased, the land will be owned by the city of Cottonwood Heights, a jurisdictional member of the Central Wasatch Commission and will be put into a conservation easement so it is protected forever. Wendy Fisher, the Executive Director of Utah Open Lands, explained that the Commission’s donation of $20,00 was pivotal in getting the organization closer to reaching $200,000 in donations by September 10th so they can receive a matching grant from the AHE/CI Trustchallenge Grant.


Map of the 26 acre plot of land at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon that Utah Open Lands is working to purchase.

Fisher explained that, “When Utah Open Lands takes on a project, we look at all the conservation values, and a piece of property like this has many ecological values such as deer habitat, recreational access, and scenic value. And then we say how do we provide for these values while also protecting them?”. In this case, if Utah Open Lands is able to fundraise $3 million to buy the land and turn it into a conservation easement, they will protect the ecological value of the land while also incorporating recreational access for residents and visitors in the form of trail connections and parking. The goal is for Utah Open Lands and partners to connect the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and potentially the Alpenbock Loop Trail to this plot of land. The purchase will prevent the land from being developed into an 11 to 13 lot subdivision. Fisher wanted to point out that this project would be totally impossible if it were not for the support from the current landowner to make this landscape a conservation easement.


Why does this matter to the Central Wasatch?

Photo of the plot of the land that Utah Open Lands is working to purchase. Provided by Utah Open Lands

The purchase of the 26 acres at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon will ensure that the scenic mountain-scape of Little Cottonwood Canyon is preserved in perpetuity. The preservation of the uniqueness and majesty of this landscape will not only ensure recreational access, but will support the economic future of the area by preserving the experience of what remains of this  landscape.   Another key feature of this project is watershed protection. The conservation of this land along with trail connections will allow recreationists to sustainably enjoy the area on trails while preventing erosion to protect the watershed that Salt Lake Valley residents rely on. This project will ensure high quality recreational experiences, while protecting the environment and natural resources; two primary pillars of the Mountain Accord. With the attraction of a more complete regional trail and protected viewshed, the economy and attractiveness of Little Cottonwood Canyon could positively impact the economy. 


This project will connect portions of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and will create a trailhead to access the new connection, as well as other adjacent trails. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is an incredible regional asset. Once completed, it will span from the Utah-Idaho border to Nephi, Utah. Regionally spanning trails are difficult to complete due to land-ownership complexities, as well as a lack of resources to fund the development of the trail. The acquisition of this land will help move the needle towards completing a contiguous Bonneville Shoreline Trail. 


Read more about this project here


Written by Quinn Graves

Edited by Lindsey Nielsen

Information from Wendy Fisher

Header photo by Jake Nackos from Unsplash

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