'The growth wasn't organic'

  • Wendy Fisher

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Utah Open Lands is a statewide group that holds about 18,000 acres in conservation easements. In 10 years, it's grown far beyond the expectations of executive director Wendy Fisher, who helped start the group in Park City when she was finishing her senior year of college.

Wendy Fisher: "In 1990, Park City was one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. The growth wasn't organic. There was a rapid onslaught of development, and local planning and zoning wasn't keeping pace with what was happening.

"What I remember most about the early days was that a lot of our board members, maybe 85 percent, were real estate agents and developers.

"There wasn't any kind of ulterior motive; they were worried about killing the goose that laid the golden egg. I remember one of the public-relations people for Park City saying, "No one wants to leave the big city and recreate in the big city."

"In the beginning, it was very much thought of as a communist plot. People worried that it was an attack on private property rights. Our big pitch was that we were preserving agricultural lands. In our second deal, we were able to preserve 200 acres in the town of Oakley. The town fathers really latched on to that idea, and their support sent a shock wave to other rural communities that this was OK. After that, we found that as stories hit the papers, people would call us."

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