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Murray Journal

Ski & Snowboard News / Snowbird's expansion approved

Apr 09, 2016 08:59AM ● By Harriet Wallis

photo: Harriet Wallis

Snowbird recently earned approval to expand into American Fork Canyon and build two new chairlifts, a gondola and a zipline. Construction will not begin for at least two years until detailed water quality studies are completed.

In a unanimous vote, the Utah County Board of Adjustment gave Snowbird two conditional use permits. It follows Snowbird's successful negotiations with the City of American Fork and garnering community support for the project.

 "All environmental conditions required under Utah County code were met or exceeded by Snowbird’s plan for operational expansion into upper American Fork Canyon," a statement from Snowbird said. 

Over the years, Snowbird has taken on environmental clean up projects. It cleaned up old mine tailings in Mary Ellen Gulch in American Fork Canyon. And more recently it demolished the old concrete structure eyesore near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“We’re very excited about the permit approval from the Utah County Board of Adjustment, the new lifts planned for Mineral Basin and Mary Ellen Gulch will greatly expand the year-round recreational opportunities at Snowbird,” said Bob Bonar, President and CEO of Snowbird. Bonar further added “We have over 45 years of proven stewardship in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the same balance, protection and in some cases recovery of the environment will be practiced in Mary Ellen Gulch.”

 Meanwhile, detailed water analysis is to be performed in key areas of Mary Ellen Gulch to determine baseline water quality standards. Standards must be drawn in order to compare future water quality against current measurements.  Water quality measuring is to be performed monthly, with quarterly reports submitted to Utah County agencies for independent review.

Plans include installing two new chailifts on private property along Snowbird's current southern terrain. A new lift in Mary Ellen Gulch will provide  access to Sunday Saddle, which borders both Mary Ellen Gulch and Mineral Basin. The Mineral Basin Express will be upgraded to increase rider capacity.

A gondola spanning from Hidden Peak to Mary Ellen Gulch will be built. The gondola will also support a zip line system which will allow guests to experience one of the highest elevated zip lines and unparalleled scenic views in North America.

The new lifts and gondola will provide an additional 500 acres, bringing Snowbird’s total to 3,000 acres of skiable terrain.