By now many have heard that we are facing possibly the biggest threat to flying the North Side of Point of the Mountain, in Draper UT. I would like to take a moment to share the facts and educate everyone on what is going on, and what we- and you all- can do about it.
I will do my best to keep this brief. As long as people have been flying Point of the Mountain, there have been nearby gravel mining operations. The neighboring gravel company has, for the most part, been a supportive neighbor to free flight. They have allowed us use of their roads and lands when they stood nothing to gain, and they have been very open to working with the state in performing a "land swap" to preserve the South Side flight park (which has worked out well for both parties). I will point out at this time that the SOUTH SIDE in not- at all- in jeopardy in this current threat. This thread affects flying on the North Side only.
We have been aware that the gravel company, Geneva Rock, has ownership of a large parcel of land, which includes a critical part of the Steep Mountain ridge, affectionately known as the "back bench" (the ridge behind the flight park), as well as the tip of that same ridge. In doing research several months ago, we discovered an already-approved (4 years ago) permit to mine "Phase I", which includes the tip of the ridge. And when I say "the tip", I do not mean to demean the size or importance of the area they are taking... it is just not AS major as the other area they own, behind the flight park.
As deconstruction began on the tip of the ridge, we were in contact with Geneva as well as Salt Lake county, exploring the possibility of a land swap to save that area. When our club representatives met with Geneva Rock executives, our hearts dropped when we received the most devastating news imaginable- Geneva WILL NOT cease mining in the Phase I area (the end of the ridge, red in attached image)... AND Geneva already has their permits approved for the much larger area of the ridge behind the flight park, or "Phase II" in the Geneva documentation. We've taken to calling it "The Purple Area" based on the included diagram.
THEY OWN IT, AND THEY HAVE ALL THE PERMITS TO MINE IT. So, what can we do?! Well, this is where it is CRITICAL that we maintain a positive relationship with Geneva Rock. This is just business for them, not personal. They have stressed that the material being taken now, from the tip of the ridge, is already sold and they have contracts to fill- therefore they will not stop mining in that area. The good news? Geneva is very interested in a land-swap for the purple area. Due to the slope of the ridge, the shape of the parcel, and the proximity of Salt Lake County Parks property, mining the face of the ridge in particular is a complicated and costly endeavor (but don't think they can't or won't!)
And that brings me to WHAT WE CAN DO... RIGHT NOW. Our best chance of getting in front of this is, hands down, a land-swap. Salt Lake County Parks department is all for it... however they don't own anything in the area that they could swap. So we need to go up the chain, and convince Salt Lake County government that enough people care about this area that they get involved to make the land-swap a reality. To this end we have started a petition addressed to the Salt Lake County government. We did have an earlier petition- two actually- but they were not addressed to the proper authorities, and were not entirely ideal in their wording. The NEW petition has been vetted and we need your support- your name and also a couple sentences or short paragraph about WHY this mountain is important to YOU. We'd urge everyone to think bigger than our small free-flight community- this is an iconic and historic land formation, this mining would drastically alter the Draper 'skyline', etc etc. The petition can be found at http://www.SaveSteepMountain.org/petition
After signing the petition, what you can do to help us is to educate others, and direct them toward our site (http://www.SaveSteepMountain.org) and to sign the petition themselves. If there is more that can be done, we will surely be asking for help just as I am now. I would like to respectfully request that people DO NOT take action beyond directing people toward the site/petition. We only get one shot at this, and we need all outward facing information and activities to be spot-on. Once people have heard about "those hang gliders and paragliders are losing their park" we've lost our audience, and we've lost potential allies and support. This is a bigger issue than our little slice of heave (flight park)... this is about a landmark, a community, a multi-use outdoor recreational space, and so on.
I would like to thank all for their concern and continued support as we fight to save this unique and world-class site.