Time running out for residents to raise millions to save Bonanza Flats

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PARK CITY — Not far from Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Creek Reservoir are 1,350 acres of alpine meadows and lakes known as the “Heart of the Wasatch.”

Even though the land is privately held, it is an area residents along the Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back have used for recreation for years.

The land was set to be part of a development, but a bank foreclosed on the property. That's when Park City Mayor Jack Thomas said people saw an opportunity to keep this area as is.

“We thought as a community that it would be wise to be ready,” Thomas said.

Utah Open Lands, a nonprofit land trust conservation association, said if successful, the purchase of Bonanza Flats will ensure that spruce trees instead of development will top the 1,350-acre mountain pass. The area is located south of the Park City limits, sandwiched between Deer Valley, Brighton and Park City ski areas.

The bank said a $38 million offer would be competitive. Voters approved a $25 million bond in November in hopes that the area could be purchased and preserved as open space. That leaves $13 million that has to come from somewhere else.

Utah Open Lands executive director Wendy Fisher said people all over have pitched in.

“I have been blown away by the people who have reached out to support this,” Fisher said. “We have an artist who lives in Wasatch County who donated her artwork and ended up raising $23,000.”

The Park City Council will vote on whether or not to commit to a second option payment on March 15. They must be confident the community can help make up the difference. They're hoping for $10 million from public entities and $3 million in private donations.

Thomas is confident. “We’ll get there,” he said.

Fisher hopes he's right. “When I look at this, I envision what this is going to mean to kids of all ages, 2 to 82,” Fisher said.

People who wish to help conserve this land can make a donation by going to utahopenlands.org/save-bonanza-flats.

Fisher said this could be a "bonanza for a very few" but she hopes it becomes a "bonanza for all."

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc


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