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Whooping it up for the Mountain Accord

Working on western water and climate can be a bit … depressing at times. But some days we get to whoop and holler it up.

A lot of whooping in this case: This week, the Mountain Accord for the Wasatch Range (and watersheds and water supply) made a huge step forward. After two years of public feedback, stakeholder engagement (i.e. lots and lots and lots of talking and meetings) and local leaders making decisions (really!), the Accord has developed a consensus that these watersheds are important and recommendations on practical steps to protect them.

Why should we care about this milestone? Heck, they’ve still got a two-year NEPA process ahead of them, involving not one but two federal agencies (the Forest Service and the Department of Transportation), and they need their Congressional delegation (yes that delegation) to be champions for new federal lands designations.

Here’s why: the Mountain Accord process knitted together historically contentious piecemeal land use decisions, ski area expansion proposals, and the imperative to protect the source of their clean, pure water supply – and created a new cloth.

As the federal agencies start the formal NEPA process this fall, they’ve got a clear message from a high-level stakeholder group: look at the whole landscape, not just bits and pieces. Make sure as you’re doing the transportation and ski expansion scenarios that our precious watersheds are protected. Make sure that the federal planning and land use decisions ensure that our grandkids get to play in these beautiful mountains and that the water they drink down in the valley is cold and clean from those high places.

 

Kimery Wiltshire

Kimery Wiltshire
July 15, 2015

Photo: American Spirit / Shutterstock.com

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