Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SOC wilderness Proposal

Save Our Canyons is proposing to add almost 30,000 acres to the existing wilderness areas in the Wasatch Mountains east of SLC. Normally I support the efforts of SOC to limit the abuse of the Wasatch but in this case I think they have gone too far. One of the main thrusts of the wilderness proposal is to protect the Mill D basin from further development. Apparently a developer has bought a large tract of land in the basin and is pushing for development of some Aspen, Colorado type trophy homes in the area. Currently there are various restrictions in place in the canyon that limit further development but SOC is worried that these restrictions can be rolled back by the deep pockets of the developers. SOC believes the only way to ensure future protection of the Mill D basin is to designate it a Federal Wilderness Area. As Mill D basin is too small of an area to designate it as a separate wilderness area it would need to be an added on to an existing wilderness area. This is where the problems arise. To connect Mill D basin to the existing Mt Olympus wilderness area they would need to stretch it across the existing Mill D hiking/MTB trail thereby closing it to MTB's. I don't think protecting Mill D basin from a possible development threat is worth closing Mill D trail to MTB's.

Mill D is a longstanding and well-used bike route linking the middle of Big Cottonwood to the top of the Wasatch Crest Trail. It allows riders to make a loop ride of the Wasatch Crest, returning either via Dog Lake from Mill Creek, or descending directly from Desolation Lake. Without this loop option, a lot of riders are forced to shuttle: A car drives to the top of the canyon, then after the ride, another car drives to the top and two cars drive out. To exit Mill Creek (the only option if Mill D is closed), cyclists must dodge auto traffic riding out of Mill Creek or use another car to shuttle riders down that canyon. The result is more traffic and exhaust in BOTH canyons. Also since upper Mill Creek is only open to bikes on even days bike traffic that is normally spread out over both weekend days on Mill D would be compressed into one riding day in Mill Creek. This would result in even more trail congestion and hiker/biker conflicts. Closing the Mill D trail could also have a ripple effect of more bike restrictions in Mill Creek possibly ruining what is the best mid summer riding in the entire state. There are other plenty of other areas included in the wilderness proposal that I believe in protecting (such as keeping White Pine away from Dick Bass's grubby mitts) but as long as the proposal includes Mill D I, and I believe most other MTB'ers can't support it.


UtRider said...

The last time I rode the Wasatch Crest as a loop I parked at Dan's, rode up Millcreek (pavement), jumped on Big Water to Great Western to the Crest over to Guardsman then down Big Cottonwood (pavement) and back to Dan's via Wasatch (pavement). Even with all the pavement that was a sweet ride.

This year I plan to do the loop by riding Mid-Mountain to the Ridge Connector to Wasatch Crest to Guardsman and back down to Park City.

This is my third year riding a mountain bike and I have yet to ride all of Mill D. So far I've only gone as far as the junction to Dog Lake (that was a fun loop too: Big Water to Great Western to the Crest then down Mill D, up to Dog Lake and back down Little Water).

Sounds like I need to ride Mill D this summer while I can!

Andy H. said...

The best way to do Crest from the SLC side is to ride up MillCreek, take Big Water to the top, drop down to Canyons, take Mid Mountain across to Spiro, climb Powerline/Spiro to Scotts pass, pick up Crest at the top of Scotts pass/bottom of puke hill and ride Crest all the way back down into to Millcreek. Crazy fun! I actually never ride down Mill D from Crest but if all the people who did had to start coming out at Mill Creek and shuttling back things would get ugly.

StupidBike said...

i'm down with the proposal, if...

on the boundries of the 'wilderness' they build me a 2,000 square foot 'cabin' with 3br, 3bath, solar shingles and wind power, a bio diesel powered people mover to the Mill D parking lot, so there is not need for a road, and a sweet single track to the crest from my front door.