SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski were among Utah officials in the nation's capital Tuesday promoting the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act.
The bill, sponsored by Chaffetz, "seeks to balance the need to protect drinking water, preserve recreational opportunities, enhance access and accommodate future population growth," said MJ Henshaw, the congressman's spokeswoman.
The proposed measure includes input from the Mountain Accord, a collaborative project made up of about 20 private and public bodies in Utah, and formed in early 2015 to balance economic, environmental, recreational and transportation obligations in the central Wasatch Mountains.
Biskupski submitted written testimony that the proposed act would help protect the watershed areas that provide drinking water to much of the Salt Lake Valley, the mayor's office said Tuesday.
“Salt Lake City has been the finest possible guardian of our critical watershed areas, and has provided residents and visitors with clean and reliable drinking water for generations,” Biskupski said. “This is a legacy we take seriously, and the (Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act) ensures our children and grandchildren will have access to the same quality of water and environmental wonder we enjoy today.”
Biskupski's spokesman, Matthew Rojas, outlined a few of the bill's objectives in a statement Tuesday.
"The (act) will designate approximately 80,000 acres of land as a national conservation and recreation area, including areas that are within current and future planned sources of the Salt Lake Valley’s drinking water supply," Rojas wrote. "The act also facilitates land exchanges between the U.S. Forest Service and the four Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts, protecting delicate areas for year-round backcountry, watershed, and environmental use, while providing the ski resorts land for base area development."
Chaffetz also touted the bill Tuesday, testifying before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands.
"We love these mountains. We cherish them, (and) we want to preserve them," he said. "We want to make sure they are there and viable and just as beautiful as ever for generations to come."
Reps. Mia Love and Chris Stewart, both R-Utah, have co-sponsored the bill.
Rojas said Biskupski was joined in Washington, D.C., by Mountain Accord program manager Laynee Jones, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben Adams and Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, as well as other elected and private officials and a representative from the Utah Transit Authority.
McAdams' role with Mountain Accord came under fire last month when Salt Lake County Republican Party officials alleged he violated procurement laws in awarding no-bid contracts related to the Accord by hiring a firm whose consultants contributed to his mayoral campaign.
McAdams, chairman of the Mountain Accord's executive committee, dismissed the accusations as "absurd."
Also last month, the Cardiff Canyon Owners Association filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court claiming the Mountain Accord violated the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act. The lawsuit asks the court to void any of the Accord's resolutions made during improperly held meetings.