Now, two competing bills in Congress are setting up a new skirmish in the West’s perennial battle between conservation and development.
One bill, involving an ambitious project known as SkiLink, was filed by Representative Rob Bishop, a Republican from northern Utah. It would allow developers to bypass some jurisdictional and environmental protections to build a gondola linking the base of the Solitude ski area in Salt Lake County and the upper part of the Canyons ski area in Summit County.
The bill would override some federal and local restrictions on ski areas in the Wasatch Range and would require the United States Forest Service to sell 30 acres of public land to accommodate SkiLink.
The competing bill, the Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act, was created after two years of public meetings and was introduced by Representative Jim Matheson, a Democrat who represents the area. It would preserve the same tract of Forest Service land for its “wilderness quality” and watershed.