Salt Lake County officials have discovered more than 100 trees that were cut down illegally in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The Stumps of freshly cut trees leave a scar in the forest in the Silver Hills subdivision near Solitude Ski Resort. Patrick Leary is the Salt Lake County Township executive. He says nearby residents and the developer of the property told them of the problem last week.
“When we were notified we took immediate action to put a stop to it and are now doing the work necessary to begin discussions about what’s next,” Leary says.
Silver Hills Development is developing four lots, but the county hadn’t issued any permits or given permission to cut down down trees.
Scott Carlson is the project engineer for the Silver Hills Development. He says a contractor was supposed to cut only a few trees to make way for an approved sewer pipeline project.
“Somewhere there’s a miscommunication that occurred and instead of just cutting the trees that were requested, he’s cut more than were needed for that sewer line to go in," Carlson says. "That’s what happened. It’s quite disappointing for all of the neighbors up there.”
Leary says the next step is to survey the damage and begin figuring out a remediation plan.
“We’re looking at the all the consequences, but how do you put a value on the consequence of some of these trees that have been felled without authorization,” he says.
The felled trees are located on the developer’s property, neighboring private property, and Forest Service land. The developer could be facing stiff fines and even criminal prosecution. County officials also worry the felled lost trees could have environmental impacts.