Utah Democrat Jim Matheson introduced legislation in Congress today to protect wilderness and watershed areas along the Wasatch Front.
Matheson wants to protect water resources in the Salt Lake Valley and extend federal safeguards to nearly twenty-five thousand additional acres of Wasatch front canyons. Recently, Republican lawmakers in the Utah delegation abandoned efforts that would allow construction of ski lift system linking resorts in Park City to those in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Matheson says the introduction of his bill has little with what appears to be the end of SkiLink.
“This doesn’t really have anything to do with whether a SkiLink bill is introduced or not as much as it’s important for us to secure this watershed in the face of what we all know is going to be huge population growth over the next several decades,” says Matheson.
Matheson introduced a similar bill in the last Congress and it did receive a hearing in the House Resources sub-committee on environmental regulations and public lands. The current version of the bill will likely have to move through that committee on its path to the House floor and the sub-committee chairman is Utah Republican Rob Bishop. Matheson knows the odds of the bill progressing are slim.
“Even if it doesn’t move through Congress right away, I think it’s an important piece of information if you will to how discussions about the future of the Wasatch are going to take place,” says Matheson.
The previous version of the bill was introduced nine months before the congressional session ended. The current legislation must be considered before the 113th Congress ends at the end of 2014.