We find ourselves in the best of times and the worst of times in Utah. Droves of people are moving here and want to experience the same quality of life we have enjoyed here for decades: mountain access, diverse ecosystems still intact, and peace and tranquility with many access points to direct connections with nature.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. For every measure our political leaders take to accommodate more people they sacrifice the very quality that makes these places special. And for every political decision that is made to “reduce traffic” or “expand economic opportunity,” the unintended consequences further deteriorate the uniqueness of our wilderness and ecosystems.
Two clear examples are the Inland Port, which in its current form will undoubtedly cause extreme harm to the ecology of the Great Salt Lake and further pollute our airshed. And the widening of Little Cottonwood Canyon, which will accommodate hundreds of additional cars in the canyon by building a mini-freeway.
This canyon road leads to arguably the steepest and deepest terrain and powder on earth. It’s one of the most special places in the Western United States, and UDOT is handling the problem as if this canyon road leads to a Walmart. They want to solve the problem by widening the road and adding additional parking. At best there is a clear absence of public discussion, but it seems more likely there are deliberate forces driving these idiotic solutions–special interests and greed. These are clearly the wrong “solutions”. But it seems there aren’t enough people even paying attention.
The greater problem we face is general apathy. The local media is not getting the word out and not enough people are paying attention. The “big stories” are about Trump, “collusion” “quid pro quo” car crashes and celebrities, really? No, the big story is that in the next five to ten years we might see the Wasatch Front morph into something that resembles Los Angeles. How do we prevent this?
We need local journalism, we need to hold leaders accountable, we need to investigate the power of special interest, and we need to put the power back in the hands of the people. Easier said than done. Let’s Save our Canyons, Let’s Protect our wilderness. Let’s talk about and take action to preserve what we have here.
We can welcome growth and population increases along the Wasatch Front. If I lived in LA, I would want to move here too. But we need to prevent the Californication of Utah by finding smarter solutions. Listen to Carl Fisher from Save our Canyons and Brian Moench from Physicians for a Healthy Environment on the Utah Stories podcast to learn more.