SALT LAKE CITY — Conservation groups are worried that Snowbird Ski Resort’s plan for new lifts in American Fork Canyon could trigger a hazardous waste spill from abandoned mines.
They met with resort and government officials this week at the site to discuss construction plans.
The ski lifts would be built near the Yankee Mine.
Protect and Preserve American Fork Canyon founder Mark Allen organized the meeting at the site and said he worries about an event similar to the Gold King Mine spill.
“They’re proposing bringing tens of thousands of people to the area,” Allen said. “I think the best thing they could do is walk out of here and give the Forest Service this land and let the Forest Service figure out what to do with it because they have a good track record over in Mineral Basin in cleaning up.”
Snowbird President Bob Bonar said the resort has the opportunity to complete construction in the right way.
“So far we’ve had a great discussion on a lot of the issues and cleared up a lot of misconceptions,” Bonar said. “We had some really good discussions we hope will lead to better understanding.”
The Utah County Board of Adjustment required water testing as a condition of building the ski lifts.
“Results of the first quarter of sampling show negligible water quality impacts to American Fork River from Mary Ellen Gulch,” the press release said. “With the exception of zinc, all metal results meet state-assigned standards, except for three locations on two of the sampling dates recorded in the upper portion of Mary Ellen Gulch.”
Allen said he hopes groups can work together to protect the canyon and water resources.
The Utah Division of Water Quality and Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining are trying to map abandoned mines and determine whether flows stemming from them are cause for concern.