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.
The Central Wasatch Commission provides funding for Short Term Projects (STP) in the CWC project area, which includes Parley’s Canyon, the Wasatch Back, Millcreek Canyon, and the Cottonwood Canyons. Selected projects go through the STP Grant process illustrates by the flow chart below each spring and selected projects are funded by the Commission in April.
2022 Short-Term Projects
The Commission approved funding for nine project proposals that resulted from the Call for Ideas opened to the public in March 2022. The goal of the Call for Ideas was to identify projects for possible funding that implement transportation and transit solutions and protect the ecosystems and watershed that originate in the Central Wasatch, steward recreational access, and sustain the economic viability of the Cottonwood Canyons.
In May 2022, the CWC partnered on the following projects and allocated a total of $51,250 in funding:
- The Cottonwood Canyons Foundation has a mission of stewardship within the tri-canyon area and leads trail maintenance and invasive species management. In 2021 CCF maintained or improved 108 miles of trails and removed 6,511 lbs of invasive weeds and this year the CWC is providing needed funding to support deferred maintenance, repair, and sustainability of trails in the area.
- The Commission is continuing to support Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance in rerouting the Jacob’s Ladder trail to the Lone Peak Cirque. This project began in 2021 during which almost half a mile of trail was rerouted and the final 2.5 miles are planned to be completed this year. Due to the steep terrain of the trail and its backcountry location the trail needs to be hand built.
- The Commission is partially funding the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance’s weekly shuttle program intended to improve access to areas in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon for backcountry use during the ski season. Learn more about the program here.
- The CWC is continuing to support the Beaver Dam Analog Project’s completion. This project involves building structures that will re-attract beavers to the Willow Heights area and improve the health of the surrounding environment, especially the water-retaining capacity of the watershed.
- The Central Wasatch Commission built upon its existing relationship with Trails Utah to partially fund the completion of the final 1,000 feet of the Bonneville Shoreline trail section running from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Ferguson Canyon. Completion of this section of the trail will improve access to Ferguson Canyon and will give access to the canyon from the lowest part of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
- Last year the Commission partially funded Utah Open Lands’ transit to Bonanza Flat trails program and it is continuing its support of the program in 2022. Transit to Trails provides shuttle service from Park City to the highest use trails on Bonanza Flat and runs during the summer months to reduce parking issues in the area.
- Junior Ranger Activity Books provided by Friends of Alta. These books are intended for children ages 5 and older to complete and learn about the importance of the watershed and the town of Alta.
- The Commission worked with a private citizen to fund a bike rack at the base of Rattlesnake Gulch Trailhead. This bike parking allows hikers and runners to ride to the trailhead and reduce the number of vehicles in Millcreek Canyon.
- Save Our Canyons’ Wilderness Stewardship Project works to maintain wilderness characteristics in the Wasatch Wilderness areas and educate children through their Kids Program. The Commission is supporting this effort to provide necessary educational materials.
2021 Short-Term Projects
The Commission moved to enter into partnerships on seven projects that address the tenets laid out in Mountain Accord and focus on projects in both the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back. The funding for the six approved projects was allocated from the Central Wasatch Commission’s 2020/2021 fiscal year budget with $13,500 coming out of reserve funding.
In June 2021, the CWC partnered on the following projects:
- The development and installation of new interpretive signs along the Cecret Lake Trail in Alta’s Albion Basin. Currently, a series of five interpretive signs are located along the trail, although these signs are a few decades old and are badly in need of physical replacement and updated content. The intention is to replace signs along with information about the natural resources and general environment and ecology in Alta. Through funding this signage project, the Central Wasatch Commission embarked on a partnership with Alta Ski Area to update the signage.
- The Central Wasatch Commission partially funded the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation 2021 Cottonwood Canyons Preservation and Sustainability Initiative to help address the trail maintenance backlog across the Tri Canyons. Using a five-person trail crew, and two-person invasive weeds crew, CCF hosted hundreds of volunteers to fulfill the trail maintenance and invasive weed mitigation needs in Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, and Millcreek Canyons. Projects included installing 250 erosion control devices, assessment and maintenance of 70 miles of trail, and weed monitoring of more than 150 acres.
- The Central Wasatch Commission built upon its existing partnership with Utah Open Lands to partially fund two Utah Open Lands projects for the 2021 work season: The Bonanza Flat Trailhead Transit program, or Transit to Trails, and the Cottonwood Canyon Stewardship program. The Transit to Trails program is a shuttle service from Park City to some of the highest use trailheads in the Wasatch Back. This shuttle provided a direct public transit option from the Park City Old Town area to the following trailheads along SR-224 and Guardsman Pass Road: Mid-Mountain Trailhead, Bonanza Flat Trailhead, and Bloods Lake Trailhead. This shuttle ran all summer until the first snowfall in October.
- The Cottonwood Canyon Stewardship program resulted in a user survey intended to inform land managers and stewards of the various uses and needs at three specific trailheads: the Cottonwood Heights Bonneville Shoreline Trail Preserve, Bonanza Flat Conservation Area, and Willow Heights. The program provided education to recreational users regarding appropriate outdoor etiquette and engaged with users in order to mitigate potential impacts on the land. In 2020, the Central Wasatch Commission supported Utah Open Lands’ effort to raise the necessary funding to purchase 26 acres of land at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The land acquisition protected vital viewshed and provide an opportunity to create a trailhead for access to adjacent trails and recreational areas as well as connect a portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
- Support of the re-route project at the Jacob’s Ladder trail to the Lone Peak Cirque initiated by Salt Lake Climbers Alliance. Trails crews and volunteers will construct a three-mile reroute resulting in a new segment of switchbacks across the trail slope rather than climbing directly up it, allowing for frequent drainage and decreased erosion. The new trail will average 12 percent grade rather than the current 32 percent grade. This project is still in progress because of fundraising needs. In 2020, the CWC partnered with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance to improve and define trails leading to rock climbing areas and replace aging fixed hardware on climbing routes using a combination of professional trail crews and volunteers in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The allocation of funds to the Jacob’s Ladder re-route project builds upon an existing partnership between the Climbers Alliance and the Central Wasatch Commission. More project information can be found here.
- The replacement of existing geological interpretive signage in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This project will facilitate a partnership between the Central Wasatch Commission, the Utah Geological Association, and the Town of Brighton to replace three existing signs, the Remnants of an Ancient Sea (mile 2.3), the Big Cottonwood Quartzites (mile 2.8), and the Mississippian Marble (mile 7.2) (miles from park and ride). The geologic interpretive signs are in pullouts adjacent to Hwy-190 and easily accessed by everyone regardless of age or mobility.
- The Beaver Dam Analog Project (human-made beaver dams) got underway on October, 27th 2021. Volunteers installed the logs, willow trees, and filler designed to attract beavers to Willow Lake by Summer 2022. Robby Edgel, Division of Wildlife Resources beaver expert, and his team conducted this project with support from the CWC.
2020 Short-Term Projects
The Commission approved funding for seven project proposals that resulted from the Call for Ideas opened to the public in March 2020. The goal of the Call for Ideas was to identify projects for possible funding that implement transportation and transit solutions and protect the ecosystems and watersheds that originate in the Central Wasatch, steward recreational access, and sustain the economic viability of the Cottonwood Canyons. The Commission moved to enter into partnerships on six projects that address the tenets laid out in Mountain Accord. The funding for the six approved projects will be allocated from the Central Wasatch Commission’s 2019/2020 fiscal year budget and will not call upon reserve funding.
In May 2020, the CWC partnered on the following projects:
- The maintenance of three United States Forest Service bathrooms at trailheads located at Donut Falls and Mill B in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Temple Quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon. These projects built upon a partnership among the Central Wasatch Commission, Salt Lake City Public Utilities, and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to service existing bathroom facilities at trailheads popular with the public. CWC funding will ensure that the USFS will continue to provide public access to these facilities as USFS funding sources have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Co-sponsored “Chipper Days” throughout Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, Millcreek Canyon, and Parley’s Corridor. This project facilitated a partnership among the CWC, local jurisdictions, and the State’s Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands to help mitigate potential fire risks throughout the project area by reducing fuels and educating the public on best fuels management practices.
- A land acquisition in Cottonwood Heights at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The Central Wasatch Commission contributed to Utah Open Lands’ effort to raise the necessary funding to purchase 26 acres of land at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The land acquisition was supported by Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake County, and other organizations. The acquisition protected vital viewshed and provided an opportunity to create a trailhead for access to adjacent trails and recreational areas as well as connect a portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Here is more information on the project.
- The construction of two significant bridges allow the rerouted Dog Lake trail to cross a ravine to the east side of Reynolds Peak. This project built upon a partnership among the CWC, Trails Utah, and the United States Forest Service to address erosion, protection of the watershed, and safety as the Dog Lake trail is a highly trafficked trail by various user groups. Without CWC funding, the project would otherwise not have been able to be completed in the 2020 work season.
- Support of the ongoing maintenance of the Lone Peak Wilderness Wag Bag Kiosk, sponsored by Save Our Canyons, the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, and the Gear Room SLC. The funding provided by the CWC enabled Save Our Canyons staff to continue the replenishment of wag bags at the Jacob’s Ladder trailhead, helping hikers to pack out human waste rather than leaving it in the wilderness and watershed areas. Without the funding provided by the CWC, the kiosk would not have been replenished through the 2020 summer season. Learn more here.
- The Graffiti Busters is a group of local residents who remove graffiti tags that appear throughout the tri-canyon area. The group estimated that they removed 300 graffiti tags that appeared on rock faces, bathroom doors, and trailhead signs per summer season. The CWC support helped the Graffiti Busters maintain their work by providing funding for the watershed-safe solvent used to remove tags and for the purchase of a power washer, making the abatement process easier and faster. Read more about this project here.
- Support of the stewardship project at the Gate Buttress trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon to improve and define trails leading to rock climbing areas and replace aging fixed hardware on climbing routes using a combination of professional trail crews and volunteers. Protection of land for public recreation promotes positive lifestyle choices that increase the quality of life for residents and visitors of Utah. By providing funding for this project, the CWC has partnered with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance.
“The Central Wasatch Commission is excited to enter into public/private partnerships with organizations working to steward recreational access, sustain the ecosystems, and protect the watershed that originate in the Central Wasatch,” said Christopher Robinson, Chair of the Central Wasatch Commission, and Summit County Council member. “These projects signify the ongoing commitment of the CWC and the broader community to the preservation of the Central Wasatch Mountain Range.”