It was just over four years ago that we found ourselves in crunch time to raise money for Bonanza Flat Conservation Area. Over 1,500 acres of pristine, undeveloped Wasatch backcountry makes up BFCA. In 2017, as development was threatening this treasured area, the community managed to save this land forever. Three cities, three counties, nonprofits, businesses and thousands of donations filled the $13 million gap between the $25 million bond Park City voted on and the $38 million price tag for the land.
Now, we are all able to reap the amazing natural benefits of having designated public access to this land for uses such as single-track biking, hiking, wildlife viewing and other non-motorized activities. In the winter, there is a locked gate just above The Montage, but last year it didn’t stop Nordic skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers from making their way to the area. (If you head up to this area in the winter, please be aware that there are cars and snowmobiles on the road, and it can be nerve-wracking to drive in those conditions.)
At the same time, we can rest assured that care is being taken to protect the soil, vegetation and wildlife of the area, through three distinct zones: Headwaters, Backcountry and Frontcountry. The list of uses that are prohibited in the area includes snowmobiling (except with prior landowner permission), fires, shooting, camping and motorized vehicles.
There are three parking areas in Bonanza Flat, one of which is improved and two of which are brand new: Empire Pass, Bonanza Flat and Bloods Lake. If you haven’t been in the area for some years, you’ll notice that the parking area that used to serve as the trailhead for the Wasatch Crest Trail and Blood’s Lake has been changed to a drop-off-only area. The old washboard road was improved a while back as well. I’ve hiked both Wasatch Crest and Blood’s Lake. Wasatch Crest tends to have a lot of mountain bikers, while Blood’s Lake is a great “beginner” hike and very beautiful.
So, isn’t it amazing to see what we can do when we come together? I recall how the energy of the effort to protect this space was palpable throughout all of Northern Utah. Now, as town changes and new folks move to town — many of them my clients and new friends — I hope this show of community and conservation continues.