Mayflower developer donates land for conservation
On Aug. 4, Extell announced it would donate a conservation easement on 3,100 acres it owns west of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
The easement accounts for roughly half of the land Extell owns in Summit and Wasatch Counties, according to Brooke Hontz, the company's vice president of development.
Utah Open Lands will hold the easement, now known as the Forty-Fifth Star Conservation Preserve. Extell will still own the land, but won’t have the rights to build homes, condos, hotels or anything else there.
Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher said the group is grateful for the donation.
"Utah Open Lands knows how vital these open landscapes are," she said. "We're not making more land. So when we lose land, it's a big deal. So being able to preserve 3,100 acres is absolutely outstanding."
According to a press release, the space will have trails accessible to the public, and will connect to larger regional trail networks. Fisher said motorized vehicles will not be allowed. And the land vital to wildlife habitats will be off-limits for any type of recreation.
"There are elk, moose, bear, deer, raptors, all sorts of wildlife that utilize this area," she said. Adding the new conservation area to Wasatch Mountain State Park, Bonanza Flat, and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons "just increases the area that animals have to roam."
Hontz said Extell founder Gary Barnett does get a tax break from the donation, but she said the deal has another benefit.
"I think what's in it for us — the number one thing is what's in it for everyone," she said. A trail system on the preserve that connects with others in the region "is the biggest win for Extell and the state of Utah."
According to the press release, the Forty-Fifth Star Preserve is the 111th land protection project for Utah Open Lands since its founding in 1990.