PARK CITY, Utah -- Park City is a world class resort town, but for its first century it was a mining town, and, now, something the original miners brought with them is helping save open space in Park City and Summit County.
Park City has been attracting beer drinkers since the mining boom in the 1860s. In fact, wild hops grow all around the town.
"So they're not native to Utah, we think they were brought over from Europe by German mining immigrants during like the silver mining boom,” said McKenzie Schwartz, an intern with Americorp. “The immigrants would bring their own hops species with them and plant them near their homes, near their buildings, and they'd use those hops to brew beer and kind of bring their culture with them to Utah."
Schwartz and a team of volunteers spent the summer finding those hops. And, as a culmination of a season of work, they harvested the plants and picked the hops off of the vines. Wasatch Brewery will make a special beer from the hops, with proceeds going to the Summit Land Conservancy.
Cheryl Fox, Executive Director of Summit Land Conservancy, spoke about group’s purpose.
"We got started here when Park City was experiencing one of its earlier growth booms, development booms, and people thought 'Wow, you know, we all came to Park City for the open space,’” Fox said. “So we got started to raise money here to save open space here, and that's what we do."
The group works with landowners who want to pass on their farms and ranches to their families. It buys the development rights and puts protective conservation easements on the land and stewards the properties.
The families can keep their land, get some money, and pass their legacy on to their heirs. They can also sell the land, but it will always be maintained as a farm or ranch.
The land conservancy and Wasatch Brewery have partnered on this project for three years, and they said it is a good fundraiser. But it plays another important role as well.
“Making people aware of the work that we do here and the open spaces that we protect, and when you get out and you walk on these properties, they're so beautiful and so varied that people really come to realize that, come to realize how much they value these places and get involved,” Fox said. “So this is, you know, kind of a fun way to go and save land, drink beer. Drink beer; save land."
There will be a big party in park city on October 14. Wasatch Brewery will roll out its "Clothing Hoptional Wild Hops Ale", and all of the money raised will go to the Summit Land Conservancy.