Draper City Council’s proposed sale of 55 mountainous acres in the East Hollows near Suncrest demonstrates that the 2,500 undeveloped acres acquired expressly for preservation in 2012 have no real protection. The city’s Open Space Master Plan proposes a conservation easement to permanently protect this land but also indicates that the city may sell some of it. These contradictory objectives leave important questions unanswered. How much land will be preserved? What dollar amount would sufficiently recoup Draper’s expenses? While today’s council members have shown they are serious about selling open space, their commitment to protecting it is less clear. In fact, nothing prevents them from eventually selling the entire 2,500 acres to developers.
The city should only sell open space as a last resort and not before providing a legally binding commitment to preserve the remaining land through a conservation easement. Draper must specifically define the protected portion by agreeing, for instance, to sell no more land than 5 percent of the total open space or $5 million maximum value. Even before another conservation easement can be secured, Draper can apply Corner Canyon’s easement protections to the additional land through a city ordinance. I have publicly called on council members to provide this pledge. If they fail to do so, Draper residents should assume that the city is not opposed to selling all of its remaining open space. The planned development of the state prison site will dramatically increase demand for housing. Local governments must act now to protect whatever pristine land they still have.