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Wasatch County pledges $2 million to preserve Midway farm as open space

Lundin property.PNG
Wasatch County
The Lundin property, which will be placed under a conservation easement if $6.5 million in funding is secured, is located on the western edge of Midway near the Zermatt Resort.

The Wasatch County Council unanimously approved $2 million to help conserve land near Midway as open space.

Just west of the Zermatt Resort, the nearly-120-acre Lundin property is known for its wildlife, as well as the agricultural and historic value it adds to a very visible area in Midway.

“I've traveled all around the world, all around the United States,” said Midway resident Heather Schultz at Wednesday’s public hearing. “I've never seen anything quite as beautiful. I always tell the Lundins they have one of the most beautiful properties in Utah, period. And we all know it.”

Wasatch County apparently agreed, pledging $2 million to partly fund a conservation easement on that land through Utah Open Lands. That money comes from the 2018 $10 million voter-approved open-space bond.

The county’s contribution is contingent on other funding sources coming through to cover the rest of the $6.5 million easement price tag.

Midway City Open Space Advisory Board member Steve Stevens said that board recommended Midway spend $1 million from the city’s $5 million open space bond, also passed in 2018. That’s subject to city council approval.

Utah Open Lands hopes to get more funding from the National Resources Conservation Service.

Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher said she feels optimistic about the deal coming together. That’s partly because the owners are accepting less money for the property than it’s estimated to be worth.

“This is a community effort from the family's perspective,” Fisher said. “The reason they're doing this is not because of the dollars in any way, shape or form. They're doing this because they care about their community, and that's the kind of partner that we love to have.”

Fisher said there are multiple buildings there that she believes are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The only development the conservation easement terms will allow on the land is renovations on historic structures. If the land isn’t preserved, 60 acres of it would be eligible for building up to two homes per acre.

Chair of the Wasatch County Open Lands Board Heidi Franco, who’s also Heber City Mayor, recommended the county council approve the funding. She said it’s a similar arrangement to the conservation easement Wasatch County and Midway supported on the Kohler Legacy Farm last year.

Midway resident Marie Dalgliesh said the land meant more to her personally because the state condemned her family’s land for Wasatch Mountain State Park when she was a teenager.

“In spite of the fact that there may be a tiny bit of something historic that's built there, the whole piece of the Lundin land is historic, just as was the Hoover land,” Dalgliesh said. “Every day of my life is spent trying to right the wrongs that have happened to my family and to my treasured place. If you spend some time at Zermatt and watch where the people stand, they stand in the fence and look over to the lending land to see the cows and horses. It's part of the iconic place that Midway is.”

Franco said that after the county contributes, it will have about $5.5 million left of the existing open space bond money.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.