IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
November 17, 2011
Mr. Hatch (for himself and Mr. Lee) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To provide for the sale of approximately 30 acres of
Federal land in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Salt Lake County, Utah,
to permit the establishment of a minimally invasive transportation alternative
SkiLink to connect 2 ski resorts in the Wasatch
Mountains, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Wasatch Range Recreation Access
Congress finds that—
there is interest in providing direct public access between the Wasatch Range front and back in the State of Utah by linking ski resorts in the area by means of a skier transport, lift, or tramway;
the primary ski resorts in the Wasatch Range in Utah are situated within a 5 mile radius, but currently there is no convenient transportation link between the resorts;
The Canyons Ski Resort and Solitude
Mountain Resort have proposed a public access transportation connection through
construction of a minimally invasive transportation alternative, called
SkiLink, which would cross approximately 30 acres of the
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest from private land at The Canyons Ski Resort
in Summit County, Utah, to private land at Solitude Mountain Resort in Big
Cottonwood Canyon, Utah;
the land and resource management plan for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest prohibits new alpine ski lifts on National Forest System land;
despite efforts by the Utah Department of Transportation, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, and the Utah Transit Authority to increase transit and carpool access in Big Cottonwood Canyon, daily traffic on winter weekends ranges between 8,000 and 9,000 vehicles per day;
studies show that the establishment of the SkiLink would reduce ski season vehicle traffic between The Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort by as many as 18,000 cars per year or 1,000,000 fewer miles driven per year, and the amount of the reduction is expected to increase over time;
SkiLink would produce immediate traffic benefits, including a reduction in PM 2.5 and other emissions in Parley’s Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyons;
a preliminary environmental review of the proposed SkiLink corridor assessed the potential impact of SkiLink on special status species, water quality and watershed resources, and visual resources and found that no federally listed species or critical habitat would be affected and that any water, plant, and wildlife issues could be addressed through mitigation;
minimally invasive, environmentally sound construction techniques would be used to construct SkiLink, including the use of helicopters for concrete placement and tower installations;
the winter sport industry in Utah is a significant contributor to the economy of Utah, with the ski/snowboarding industry bringing $1,260,000,000 to Utah during the 2009/2010 ski season and resulting in 20,000 jobs; and
economic analysis of SkiLink shows it would infuse another $50,000,000 a year into Utah's economy and create 500 new jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries by creating the largest interconnected ski network in the United States and providing access to more than 6,000 acres of ski terrain.
Conveyance of National Forest System land, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Salt Lake County, Utah
Conveyance required; purpose
subsection (e), the Secretary of Agriculture shall convey, by sale, to
Canyons-SkiLink, LLC, all right, title, and interest of the United States in
and to a parcel of National Forest System Land in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache
National Forest in Salt Lake County, Utah, consisting of approximately 30
acres, as identified on the map entitled
SkiLink parcels, November
2011, for the purpose of permitting Canyons-SkiLink, LLC, to construct
a ski-lift, gondola, or tramway to serve as a public-access transportation
interconnection of the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back Mountains.
As consideration for the conveyance of the National Forest System land under subsection (a), Canyons-SkiLink, LLC, shall pay to the Secretary of Agriculture an amount equal to at least the fair market value of the Federal land as of the date of enactment of this Act.
Determination of fair market value
The fair market value of the National Forest System land to be conveyed under subsection (a) shall be based on an appraisal acceptable to the Secretary of Agriculture.
The appraisal shall be completed not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
If the Secretary of Agriculture determines at any time that the National Forest System land conveyed under subsection (a) has not been used for a period of 10 years or longer in accordance with the purpose of the conveyance all right, title, and interest in and to the conveyed land, including any improvements thereto shall, at the option of the Secretary of Agriculture, revert to and become the property of the United States, the United States shall have the right of immediate entry onto the land.
A determination by the Secretary of Agriculture under this subsection shall be made on the record after an opportunity for a hearing.
In making the conveyance under this section, the Secretary of Agriculture shall complete all actions that may be required under—
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.);
the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and
any other applicable laws.