The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area

The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act is a locally driven, consensus-based bill aimed at protecting the sources of our drinking water, preserving recreational opportunities for the future, and ensuring enjoyment of the Central Wasatch Mountains in the face of pressures from a growing population. The Central Wasatch Mountains are located between Salt Lake County and Summit County in Utah.

View Story Map of the Central Wasatch NCRA 

Representatives from local government, Utah Governor’s office and state legislature, private business, environmental organizations and recreation interests, and residents have worked together over the course of four years to reach consensus on a bill that will resolve decades of conflict over how these mountains are used and enjoyed.

This bill preserves approximately 80,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land including critical watershed, scenic ridgelines, treasured landscapes and recreation areas while facilitating ski resorts to own more land in their established base areas.

In this bill:

    • All existing recreational uses and permits will continue;
    • Natural resources and watersheds will be protected;
    • Existing Wilderness Area boundaries will be adjusted for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail alignment and for transportation improvements.
    • Approximately 8,000 acres of wilderness will be added;
    • The U.S. Forest Service will maintain ownership and management of the lands;
    • Land exchanges between the U.S. Forest Service and the four Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts are authorized;
    • Ski resort permit boundaries on U.S. Forest Service land will be fixed permanently after some adjustments through the existing permitting process;
    • New roads for automobiles will be prohibited on U.S. Forest Service land;
    • No restrictions will be placed on U.S. Forest Service management for fire suppression, vegetation maintenance, avalanche control or other emergency measures;
    • Private land within the area or adjacent to the area being designated will not be affected;
  • Future transportation improvements are anticipated. The legislation enables transportation improvements to meet growing demand.

View a map of the Central Wasatch NCRA

A National Conservation and Recreation Area is a new designation. The force of law directs the US Forest Service to manage the public lands contained within the designation in a certain way after careful review and public engagement. For instance, ski area projects (lifts, parking areas, roads, etc) would not be allowed outside the current boundaries of the resorts. Road building on public lands, would not be permitted. Existing trails system and uses will not be impacted. Through the consensus building efforts this new designation was the most widely supported and places conservation at the forefront.

Land Exchanges

Mountain Accord negotiated a land exchange among the U.S. Forest Service and the four Cottonwood Canyons ski resorts that benefits both the public and the ski resorts. These land exchanges would clean up landownership in the Central Wasatch and end decades of conflict. In exchange for land in established base areas, the public would receive important lands for watershed, environmental protection, and recreation. As part of the negotiation, ski resort boundaries on U.S. Forest Service lands will be fixed permanently.

View a map of proposed land exchanges

Signers of the Mountain Accord—representatives from local governments, Utah state government and legislature, private business, environmental, and recreation interests, and citizens—support this legislation and the proposed land exchanges as an important component of the solution to preserve the Central Wasatch and ensure its long-term vitality for all who use the mountains.

This Act is one outcome of the Mountain Accord – a local, public, and consensus-based process intended to influence regional planning and to enact meaningful conservation solutions for the Central Wasatch. It represents the effort of local citizens and elected officials who came together in the interest of preserving the experience for everyone who loves this spectacular Utah mountain area.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]