Saving some of Utah

  In early June, a coalition of environmental groups completed a three-year, $2.5 million fund-raising effort to protect a historic ranch tucked deep in northern Utah's Wasatch Mountains. The privately owned ranch provides habitat for elk, mule deer, moose and sandhill cranes, and several historic trails traverse the ranch's 7,300 acres. But the property is only a golf ball's throw from sprawling development in Park City and the surrounding Snyderville Basin, one of the fastest-growing places in the United States during the last decade.

The $2.5 million war chest will help Utah Open Lands and the Trust for Public Land protect the land with conservation easements, which will restrict future development but allow the owners to continue ranching (HCN, 2/28/00: Acre by acre: Can land trusts save the West's disappearing open space?). The foundations hope their successful fund-raising drive will also send a message to lawmakers that Utah citizens support open space.

The show of financial support "demonstrates what is possible in preserving open space in Utah," says Wendy Fisher, executive director of Utah Open Lands. Though the state contributed $750,000 to the drive through the fledgling Utah Quality Growth Commission's open space conservation fund, lawmakers came close to slashing the fund altogether during the last legislative session.

For more information, contact Utah Open Lands at 801/463-6156, or [email protected]

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Tim Westby

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