About 100 trees illegally cut down in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Posted at 1:04 PM, Jul 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-24 00:04:03-04

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah - The sight left Barbara Cameron shaking her head.

"You just didn't know whether to cry or scream; it was a real surprise," said Cameron, who chairs the Big Cottonwood Canyon Community Council.

She was looking at the sight of more than 100 trees clear-cut at the site of a proposed development near Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

"I wish I could turn back the clock," said Patrick Leary, who is in charge of Township Operations for Salt Lake County.

Leary said the developer of the site, Silver Hills Developers, went farther than the county expected.

"What you see here is far beyond what was anticipated in the development," Leary said.

County workers counted 99 trees at least six inches in diameter that were cut down by a contractor. Some of the trees were several feet wide at the base, a hundred years old or more.

And several of the trees were not on property owned by the developer, Silver Hills Development.

The developer's representative, Scott Carlson, said what happened next was the result of "a serious miscommunication," and that the contractor, "cut far more trees than needed."

"Trees were removed that were both on the developer property, neighboring cabin property, and on Forest Service property," said Rolen Yoshinaga, planning and development services director for Salt Lake County Township Services.

Township services staff told FOX 13 News some of the trees on site were marked by the developer with X's meaning they would be cut down while others were marked with dots by residents, showing they were to be preserved.

They said the contractor misunderstood and cut down all of the marked trees.

Either way, Leary said, Silver Hills did not have permission to do any work on the site, though they were close to getting the go-ahead.