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Summit Land Conservancy to celebrate 21 years of preserving open land at annual conservation breakfast

Summit Land Conservancy is on on the brink of its 50th conservation easement and celebrated multiple victories last month.

First came news of a federal grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to preserve a 4,500-acre ranch in Echo Canyon. Then in mid-April the land trust formally completed its 49th easement, with the expansion of Muirfield Park open space adjacent to the Heber Valley North Fields.

Looking ahead, Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox hinted that number 50 could be right in the heart of Park City.

“We have several very exciting ones in progress right now, one of them being Iron Mountain, which is in the final phases of review with the City."

Fox noted Summit Lands has helped bring about a partnership between Iron Mountain Associates, the developer of The Colony, and Park City Municipal to preserve the open land.

“That’s 475 acres, so if you look out at Iron Mountain and look up the hill behind the McPolin Farm, it’s really everything that you see above the houses.”

Summit Land Conservancy was first established in 2002 and preservation efforts in the early years focused on areas including Empire Pass, Round Valley and Richard’s Ranch along SR-224. With strong local support, the organization has grown and evolved.

“We’ve learned how to work with our federal partners and bring a lot of money in for what I call spectacular conservation efforts, but really all of it is made possible by support from individuals," said Fox.

In reflecting on the 49 conservation easements that Summit Land Conservancy has completed over the years, Fox said that the landowners deserve the praise.

“Every single one is individual, and in every case, the landowner really is the hero," she said. "Whether that’s the city, the county, the town of Oakley, Heber City, or individuals like the Osguthorpe family, who have done two conservation easements over the years with the Summit Land Conservancy, as have several other landowners. That’s kind of a vote of confidence, if someone does one transaction with us and says, ‘OK, that was long and hard, but we’ll do it again,’ we really are honored to be a part of that.”

Summit Land Conservancy will host its annual conservation breakfast on Tuesday, May 16, at Deer Valley Resort. Featured speakers include Darren Parry, former chairman of the Shoshone Nation and professor at the University of Utah’s College of Environmental Humanities, and Andrew Bowman, president and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance, a national organization that empowers groups like Summit Land Conservancy in their preservation efforts.

“We’re excited because we feel like it’s time to really step up our game,” Fox said. “There are a lot of issues facing us in the world right now from climate change to mass extinctions to what’s happening at the Great Salt Lake, and land conservation has a role to play in solving these problems.”

Those interested in attending the Summit Land Conservancy’s breakfast on May 16 can purchase tickets for $15 at WeSaveLand.org.