Opposition to Utah’s Skilink

, a proposal to connect Canyons Resort with Solitude Mountain Resort via a major gondola.

Among the petitioners opposing SkiLink are Patagonia, The Wilderness Society, Mountain Hardwear, Armada Skis, The Conservation Alliance, Eastern Mountain Sports, POC Sports, Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards. More local supporters of the petition include Save Our Canyons, Alta Lodge, Wasatch Touring, and Friends of Alta.

While the concept of a Utah interconnect is at least 30 years old, the current incarnation has drawn opposition in part because it would transfer ownership of the liftline, about 30 acres of land, from the Forest Service to a private company, Talisker, which owns Canyons. Several Republican members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are sponsoring a bill that would take control of the project away from the Forest Service and leave it to local and state officials, who presumably will be more pro-development.

Opponents claim that there are better ways to implement a transportation plan and to interconnect the resorts. In addition, they point out, SkiLink would diminish the backcountry skiing around the gondola; that terrain is currently among the most popular backcountry terrain in the state.

Supporters of the proposal argue SkiLink will, among other things, reduce auto traffic between the major resorts in the Wasatch. It would be possible in the future to interconnect all seven resorts—Deer Valley, Park City, Canyons, Solitude, Brighton, and Alta—and create a European-style “ski circus.” A study commissioned by Talisker predicts that this would increase visitation and thus boost the local economy.