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A view of Bonanza Flats from Guardsman Pass in the autumn.

If you're a Park City local, chances are good that you've heard about the Save Bonanza Flats campaign, an effort to purchase a piece of coveted open space just outside of the Park City limits at Guardsman Pass. But maybe you're not sure exactly what Bonanza Flats is. Well, if you've skied or ridden the resorts here, you've definitely seen it. This 1,350-acre swath of undeveloped land is visible from the top of the Empire lift at Deer Valley or the McConkey's lift at Park City. Almost everyone stops to catch their breath (no matter how many times they've seen it) when they look out on this rich scenery, full of wildlife, Aspen groves, alpine lakes, and iconic peaks of the Central Wasatch Mountains.

Maybe you, like many others, thought it was already public land, owned by the Forest Service, because residents have used this area recreationally for many years. But the truth is, Bonanza Flats are privately held and the land has long been eye-candy to developers looking to enact the next multi-million dollar plans for a new resort and/or golf course, dicing this beautiful landscape into plots for gated neighborhoods available only for the ultra rich. However, Park City is attempting to purchase the land and preserve it as an open, public space forever for and they need your help NOW!

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Map of Bonanza Flats land (left) and proposed development plans for Bonanza Mountain Resort, one of the proposed development options if the Save Bonanza Flats campaign is not successful. 

The Campaign & Groups Working to Save Bonanza Flats

While Park City Municipal has pledged to put up $25 million to purchase Bonanza Flats--after residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of doing so last November--the balance of the $38 million purchase price is being raised by a coalition of 11 nonprofits: Save Our Canyons, Wasatch Backcountry Alliance, Utah Open Lands, Summit Land Conservancy, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Wasatch Mountain Club, Mountain Trails Foundation, Sierra Club, Friends of AltaTrails Utah, and Pure Midway

The benefits of saving Bonanza Flats is not just for those living in Park City; the area is also of critical importance to the Salt Lake City community. In addition to being a magnificent open space and refuge for wildlife, Bonanza Flats is also part of the watershed feeding into Salt Lake City and everyone should be involved with this historic fight to preserve the land. “Park City will only be able to make the second option payment if there is a significant show of support from the public and other entities that can bridge the gap,” said Park City Councilman Andy Beerman. "If the support isn’t there we will have to make the decision of whether we give up the option and allow the private, gated community development to move forward.”

On March 9, the Park City Council approved to move forward with a second option payment of $1.5 million for Bonanza Flats. This means that the deadline for payment in full for this piece of property is now June 15, 2017.  

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From hundreds of miles of hidden trails and alpine lakes, Bonanza Flats is a paradise for outdoor recreation. 

Image: Mark Maziarz

How You Can Help

In addition to $25 million pledged by Park City Municipal, Summit County has promised an additional $5.75 million, and the nonprofits have raised about $1.5 million. Salt Lake City has also agreed to pony up $1.5 million, with the primary intention of protecting the Big Cottonwood Canyon and Provo River watersheds, which provide about 50 percent of drinking water to its service area. That brings the grand total so far to around $34.5 million million, meaning that $3.5 million is still needed to save this pristine piece of land. Where will the rest of the money come from? The answer is, of course, from you! This is your opportunity to make a real difference at home, so what are you waiting for - make your voice heard by donating to Save Bonanza Flats by June 15! For details, visit wesaveland.org