Today the Cedar Hills city council will be considering a resolution written by council member Trent Augustus regarding the American For Canyon. In this post I will explain why I have prepared a substitute resolution that I believe better protects American Fork Canyon and provides a vision the entire council can embrace.
Preserving the American Fork Canyon wilderness area has emerged as a top priority for our residents in the last month. For background on this issue, please see my previous blog post on the American Fork Canyon Meeting I attended.
Utah County commissioners have been working to ensure Utah County has a voice in this process, and asked that cities prepare resolutions supporting this effort.
Original Draft Resolution
Council member Trent Augustus prepared a draft resolution that is modeled after the resolution passed by American Fork City, but with some important changes. I have several significant concerns with this draft resolution:
The resolution was only provided to the council the day before our council meeting, when we have set a policy that all agenda materials be available a week before the meeting. I think it sets bad precedent that an important resolution is not drafted in an open and transparent manner, when we have committed so strongly as a city to open and transparent communicatoin.
The resolution was immediately shared with Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon, before any council input was given. This appears to be an attempt to politicize the process, which is born out by some of the provisions in the resolution.
The resolution attempts to strip the mayor of his position on the AFC Vision ad hoc steering committee. Since this committee was formed by MAG and members were invited to it, the city of Cedar Hills has no power over its membership and no power to force the mayor to step down from his position.
The resolution attempts to change the powers and duties of the mayor by giving the council the power to appoint a representative, when committee appointments are made by the recommendation of the mayor with the consent and approval of the council.
The resolution halts the ski bus, a popular program in our city that takes kids to Snowbird to learn to ski. This program is well attended and provided to our residents at a much lower price than other resorts are offering.
In summary, this resolution has been drafted to try to score political points against the mayor and against Snowbird, instead of focusing on protecting and preserving the canyon for future generations. I believe that this kind of divisiveness should not have a place in city politics, and that we should act with a united voice to help protect the canyon.
Because of these distractions, the draft resolution is lacking several important items, which I have detailed in my substitute resolution.
Substitute Draft Resolution
To assist in obtaining our vision with the canyon, I have prepared a substitute resolution that focuses on protecting and preserving the American Fork Canyon wilderness. Our goals with this resolution are to (1) express opposition to the proposed Snowbird land swap, (2) request that the city be involved in current and future discussions regarding American Fork Canyon, (3) request that all related meetings be held as open and public meetings, and (4) ask that the commissioners use tools at their disposal to protect public lands.
I have taken the liberty of revising the original resolution to clean up grammar and references and to provide clear and plain language with a minimum of rhetoric.
I will be offering this resolution tonight. Please leave comments below. I appreciate your input.
Text of Substitute Resolution
CITY OF CEDAR HILLS
RESOLUTION NO. ____
A RESOLUTION AFFIRMING THE CITY’S COMMITMENT TO EXERCISING ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP OF AMERICAN FORK CANYON AND STATING THE CITY’S COMMITMENT TO PRESERVING THE CANYON’S PRISTINE NATURE, PROTECTING THE WATERSHED AND BALANCING RECREATIONAL INTERESTS
WHEREAS the American Fork Canyon is a beautiful wilderness area, preserved as public land for all to use, and enjoyed by our residents and others living along the Wasatch Front; and
WHEREAS, the City of Cedar Hills has environmental, economic, social and historical interests in American Fork Canyon; and
WHEREAS, the City of Cedar Hills desires to establish best practices and policies regarding the management and use of such public property, recreational property, watershed land and other environmentally sensitive areas; and
WHEREAS, the City of Cedar Hills desires to reasonably preserve historic sites, recreational access, and public uses; and
WHEREAS, the City of Cedar Hills desires to create safe, environmentally friendly and efficient rights-of-way for recreation and travel; and
WHEREAS, there are economic forces that will attempt to utilize public lands or privatize public lands for economic gain to the detriment of the environment, watershed, and public interest; and
WHEREAS, we support Utah County Commission ordinances, statutes and staff recommendations that have protected American Fork Canyon by reasonably limiting access by commercial entities who have other access points, namely from Salt Lake County; and
WHEREAS, the splendor of the wilderness, the unfettered views, and the breathtaking landscapes must be maintained in its current state because once the natural landscape is developed and commercialized it can never be reversed; and
WHEREAS, the City of Cedar Hills wants to protect the open wilderness of American Fork Canyon for our children so that they can continue to use, enjoy, and see the wonderment of the Canyon which we are currently able to behold; and
WHEREAS, we are fighting for independence from processes in Salt Lake, Wasatch and Summit Counties that seem, at present, to potentially compromise our natural resources; and
WHEREAS, we look forward to building healthy relationships with those in Mountain Accord, but we need to stand on our own merit to protect that which is of vital importance to our economy and way of life; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City of Cedar Hills City Council that it has developed and now hereby formally adopts and approves an Environmental Stewardship of American Fork Canyon Policy in the form and substance attached hereto as Exhibit A.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Cedar Hills requests that the proposed agreement drafted by Mountain Accord, known as the “Draft Accord”, and the related attachments, and any subsequent version thereof, be amended to delete all provisions dealing with land located within Utah County, and that the Draft Accord be specifically amended to delete all provisions related to the proposed change of ownership of land located in American Fork Canyon from public ownership to ownership by Snowbird Ski Resort, including any property exchanges involving land located in Utah County.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Cedar Hills requests to fully participate in any and all current and future discussions and processes regarding the American Fork Canyon area, so that the City may assist with the research, planning, and goals for the American Fork Canyon area.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the city of Cedar Hills requests that all meetings regarding the American Fork Canyon Area be conducted as open and public meetings.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we ask our County Commissioners to use reasonable tools including zoning, legal actions and injunctions to protect our public lands.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we call upon our County Commissioners to engage with open public meetings beginning on July 8th 2015 in the City of Cedar Hills, to begin critical discussions regarding our public lands. We call upon the U.S. Forest Service, Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) and other interested groups to join with us in the democratic process.
PASSED AND APPROVED by the City Council of the City of Cedar Hills, Utah on this 7th day of July, 2015.
Gary Gygi, Mayor
Colleen Mulvey, City Recorder
CITY OF CEDAR HILLS
ENVIRONMENTAL STWERDSHIP OF AMERICAN FORK CANYON POLICY
The City of Cedar Hills is committed to creating policies and best practices that preserve natural resources and the watershed in American Fork Canyon while allowing public access for recreation by:
- Establishing and utilizing best practices for watershed protections with other cities in our area.
- Promoting and fostering environmental awareness and stewardship opportunities for citizens to help the U.S. Forest Service in maintaining and protecting resources.
- Fostering outreach education efforts in Cedar Hills schools to encourage land preservation, environmental responsibility, and civic consciousness.
- Fostering awareness among residents, businesses, and business partners through public education and participation as to the economic value American Fork Canyon provides.
- Working to protect the lands bearing Cedar Hill’s name that are gateways to the canyon.
- Supporting public meetings and building relationships with Mountainland Association of Governments, the U.S. Forest Service, and other interested groups as those meetings become available and are scheduled.
- Promoting discussion of options that may include watershed protections, procurement of water for future developments, land acquisitions for conservation easements, and fostering the public discourse regarding uses in the Utah County Critical Environment 1 and Critical Environment 2 zones and possible tax ramifications for citizens and local governments.
- Pursuing measures, resolutions, and meetings that encourage the cooperation of civic leaders and cities including possible legal actions where necessary to secure our city and or county borders from forces that may diminish the quality of life for our citizens.
- Ensuring that the canyon will continue to be an asset for the public and not overrun by commercial interests that would reduce access for those who enjoy this pristine and remarkable wilderness.