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Vail plans six-figure donation to Wasatch Back trails

South Summit Trails Foundation

Wasatch back trails are getting a larger-than-usual cash infusion this year from Vail Resorts Epic Promise grant funds.

Vail’s charitable giving arm announced it’s committed to spending about $200,000 to expand and improve trails where its employees live.

Lora Smith is the executive director of Park City’s Mountain Trails Foundation. She says since 2016, Vail Resorts has donated $1 through its Epic Promise foundation for every online Park City Mountain transaction.

The foundation has used the money for operating budgets and trail maintenance.

She says donations have increased over the last couple of years. As a result, Smith’s organization is now sharing the windfall, which should come by September, with other non-profits.

“And so we started out at you know, tens of thousands. And now we're up into hundreds of thousands," Smith said. "So the money has increased significantly. And so we feel like it's just the right thing to do to spread that into the outlying areas, where the people who work in the resorts often live.”

According to Smith, about half of the $200,000 donated last year will be distributed to Wasatch Trails Foundation and South Summit Trails Foundation. She said that benefits Vail employees in their home neighborhoods.

“As we know, there are a lot of resort employees who don't live right in Park City," she said. "So living out in, you know, in Heber, or the Kamas Valley, sort of becomes the focus of, of where this money is going to go and how we support them. So whether or not they actually connect to the Park City trails, of course, that's great when it can, we like, you know, the connectivity really helps with dispersing trail use.”

Scott House is the executive director of Wasatch Trails Foundation. His foundation is focused on soft surface, or recreational, trails – he says while the money hasn’t been allocated yet, priorities are coming to the surface.

“And I think the priority right now is getting a really solid link in to Park City so that those two trail systems are connected in that back country sense," House said. "And so can we develop directional trail systems, user-segregated trails to help ease that user conflict as the valley grows and get ahead of that curve, before it becomes an issue.”

According to South Summit Trails Foundation Executive Director Corey Dutton, the money will be used to build more hard surfaced transportation connections in the area.

“So you know, that the kids can ride their bikes to school, people can get from one side of the valley to the other without having to get into a motorized vehicle," Dutton said. "So that's kind of going to be our focus, especially with this money.”

The grant funds will be distributed each year depending on the needs of each foundation and the communities.

Corrected: July 21, 2022 at 5:01 PM MDT
An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified Wasatch Trails Foundation and South Summit Trails Foundation.