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PCSkiGal: Ski Areas In Utah Not Immune to Politics

SkiLink map

This election is not just about healthcare and the economy in Utah. SkiLink and the wildly successful Outdoor Retailer Show (OR) are both in the crosshairs. 

OR representatives caused an uproar this summer by threatening to take their business elsewhere when the convention’s contract expires in 2014. The hubbub surrounded Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s land-use policies (but underneath the politics there were also issues of floor space) with Utah-based Black Diamond Equipment CEO Peter Metcalf dishing him an ultimatum: change his tune about public lands or face the consequence of losing the single-most profitable event in the state. 

Perhaps OR heads would prefer things if Dem. Peter Cooke were to unseat Herbert as governor? The former Parkite made an impromptu stop at Wasatch Bagel last week and spoke out against SkiLink under the banner of protecting public lands. Cooke told the small audience that he’s not down with connecting the Canyons (owned by Talisker Corp.) and Solitude Resort via an aerial tram or gondola until there was more open discussion. 

He said the environmental impact has not been properly studied nor have there been appropriate public hearings on the matter. Therefore, he can’t support Talisker’s campaign to purchase the 30 acres of forest service land they need to instigate SkiLink.

Utah’s Republicans, however, are all over the idea like a napkin on a lap. They say SkiLink would boost Utah’s economy and the ski industry as a whole. Opponents, BTW, champion for clean water and backcountry terrain, which they say will suffer if SkiLink happens.

It’s unclear how much pull the Governor actually has on these two issues but who Utahns vote for this week speaks volumes for how they feel about our public lands. 

A little bit of trivia: Cooke Drive in Park City’s Prospector neighborhood was named after Peter Cooke.

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