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No winter playtime in the Land of Oz this season

Land of Oz.jpg
Carolyn Murray KPCW
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Land of Oz in the distance.

The area in Round Valley called the Land of Oz probably will not open for cross-country skiing this winter.

The Land of Oz (Oz is short for Osguthorpe) is a 120-acre protected agricultural open space adjacent to the Park City Round Valley open space. Since 2011, the landowner has allowed x-country skiing on the farmland during the winter months.

Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox said the summer's drought conditions forced landowner Steve Osguthorpe to till the entire field. This year, the Land of Oz won't be groomed for skiing unless the area receives more than three feet of snow.   

"That makes it difficult for the grooming to happen. So, if there's a lot of snow--enough snow-- then grooming can still happen out there. The family hasn't said no, you may not do it. It's just a matter of the conditions that are in place this year. When we did the conservation easement with the Osguthorpe's, the primary value that we were seeking to protect really was the agricultural purpose of the property."

She said the agricultural preservation under the easement had prevented development allowing for seasonal recreation and year-round open space.

"We were able to protect the land of Oz by working with the Osguthorpe family back in 2010. At that time, that land could have seen at least 120 houses and possibly a lot more very intense development. Because we were able to work with the Osguthorpe family towards the conservation of that property, we were able to save essentially the farm for a lot less money than if we had had to buy the land outright. So, by forming this partnership, we were able to save that land and continue to see it as a green farm in the summer. They have their livestock out there in the fall, and in the wintertime, we get to have access for cross country skiing."

Fox said Summit Land Conservancy, Basin Recreation, and Mountain Trails Foundation are working with the Osguthorpe family to groom the 160-acre farm on Old Ranch Road this winter for x-country skiing. In 2019, the property was placed under an easement preserving the land for agricultural uses forever. Fox said donations from the Promontory Foundation and another anonymous donor would fund the grooming effort. Once there is enough snow, she said the Green Heart trails on the Osguthorpe acreage would link to the Willow Creek trails. Fox said more information on the grooming schedule would be available soon.

The Green Heart trails are for x-country skiing only. Dogs, horses, fat bikes, and motorized vehicles are not permitted.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.