Summit Land Conservancy works to keep open lands public, but those goals can be expensive.
In Western Summit County most of the land is privately owned, according to Cheryl Fox, the executive director of Summit Land Conservancy.
“So when people move to a place like Park City, and they look around, and they see all this beautiful open space, it's easy to think, ‘Oh, this is federal land, it's Forest Service or BLM,’” Fox said. “The fact is, it's not. It's private land, which means it's private landowners who are paying property taxes, and they have rights to develop.”
Fox said the conservancy was founded because they wanted to protect open areas and keep them accessible.
“So I know there are a lot of new people who have been moving into the community, and many of them are coming because we do have these terrific open spaces,” she said. “We've been fortunate to have this organization mountain trails, who can put trails on the open space so we can access it. But this land wasn't protected by accident. And it wasn't protected for free.”
Right now the organization has two ongoing projects on the Weber River, working to give the community public access to the body of water.
Fox said the first project, Riverbend Park, is in Oakley near the rodeo grounds.
“So there's this nice little campground there, but it had no access to the river,” she said. “There was a chain link fence and you could look across and you could see the river, but you couldn't actually get to it.”
She said they need $20-30,000 to buy the land.
The conservancy is also working to secure 106 acres of land in Peoa on the river.
“This is an incredibly iconic and beautiful piece of property. Anybody who rides a bike out on Wooden Shoe Lane goes past this property. It's sand full of Sandhill Cranes, there's a Heron rookery, there are two branches of the Weber River that run across this property,” she said. “We've been actually trying to figure out how to save it for a number of years”
She said the only thing stopping them from acquiring the land is funding. The conservancy is about $50,000 short of their goal, and they only have until the end of the month to get the rest of the funds.
And in Wasatch County, Fox said they have an ongoing project in Midway at the old mountain spa property.
“The community in Midway was very interested in keeping those open spaces,” Fox said. “It's the views across the fields towards Timpanogos. It's the rural character of the community and Midway.”
She said they were able to secure the bulk of funding for the project, but still need another $250,000.
You can find more information at their website wesaveland.org.