The redrock desert around the tourist town of Moab, Utah, has been colonized by motels and mountain bikers for over a decade. Still, some locals never thought they'd have to worry about ski lifts.
Now, less than six months after a
controversial chairlift opened for business on the west side of
Moab, the county planning commission has given the go-ahead for a
The new tram, to be built just north
of the town near the Colorado River, will lift passengers 400 feet
up along 1,000 feet of cable. At the top of the 10-minute ride,
developers plan to build a visitor center, a retail store and a
restaurant, all surrounded by a 14,000 square-foot viewing
At a recent county planning commission
meeting, Nevada ski-lift designer William Jewett said he understood
fears that his $3 million tram would draw more tourists than the
fragile desert environment could stand.
a spectacular place," said Jewett. "You really have to watch out
that you don't let people trample the natural beauty of the area."
He said immediate plans do not call for the tram
to serve as a connection to the Slickrock Bicycle Trail, which
passes within several hundred feet of the upper terminal. But he
added he would like to meet with Bureau of Land Management
officials in the future to discuss building a possible bike trail
between the tram and the Slickrock
Residents have raised concerns about light
pollution of the valley from the tram and its signs. Jewett and his
business partner, Chris Shellabarger of Arizona, say low-level and
recessed lighting will be used throughout the project, and no
lights will be placed on the cable line or gondola
One area resident says these reassurances
remind him of similar promises made by Emmett Mays, the developer
of the first Moab tram. "It's not true," says Joseph Lekarczyk.
"Lights up high and on the ridge are clearly visible all over the