Protesters hold rally against SkiLink project

Posted at 11:51 AM, Apr 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-24 22:08:07-04

A group of Utahns are protesting a plan to build a gondola ride between Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort on Tuesday.

Save Our Canyons organized the downtown rally to coincide with the announcement of the creation of a coalition to support the SkiLink project.  About 25 people participated.

"This is land that belongs to the American people and they're selling it off for private development," said Karl Fischer, one of the protesters.

The gondola could make the trip between the resorts in about 11 minutes. Although the initial stage is to connect Canyons and Solitude, the SkiLink developers hope to eventually connect all the resorts in the area.

The coalition said it is an economically and environmentally sound way to move people between ski areas and it would help bring more tourists to the area.

"The opportunity to connect the resorts has been talked about for over 30 years now," said Mike Goar of Canyons Resort.  "It is such an incredible opportunity to create a unique skiing and snowboarding experience.  It will boost winter tourism to our state."

Goar said SkiLink would be a "game changer" and would help set Utah apart from other ski destinations as well as bring jobs to the state.  He said it could be installed with the appropriate environmental sensitivities.  For example, helicopters could do most of the heavy lifting to install the gondola and posts, which reduces the impact on the mountainside.

Protesters say the project will not protect the environment and would be disruptive to both wildlife in the area and local businesses that provide services in the back country.  There are also questions about how the project could impact Utah's watershed.

The decision to build the gondola is up to city and county leaders, who will gather public comment as plans progress.