Cherish our Public Lands

Ross HagerThis week, we are pleased to feature a guest blog post from Ross Hager. A native of Streator, Illinois, graduate of the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, Ross works in the Healthcare Industry and is a married father of two.

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I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago with almost no public lands. My parents were teachers and every summer we would load up the van and drive west. I fell in love with the mountains in my youth and finally made my way to Salt Lake in 1998, leaving my family, friends and the midwest behind. I am still falling in love with the mountains, with every skin track I climb, flowing single track I descend or snowcapped peak I stare at. I sometimes feel a bit jealous of my children, they get to grow up here in Utah, so close to all of our wonderful public lands. But what we have today is no guarantee for tomorrow. Skilink legislation and the precedent it sets threatens our access to our public lands and we must do everything we can to stop it.

I have seen mostly empty National Forest campgrounds as a kid to now needing reservations , mostly empty mountain bike trails 10 years ago to very busy trails now, hardly seeing anyone backcountry skiing to now 5 foot wide skin tracks and tracked out bowls in one day. Full parking lots at trailheads are the norm in our Wasatch, especially on the weekends. My point is with our growing population and growing outdoor recreation industry we should be protecting our public lands, not selling them to developers.


Selling a piece of public land to a private company, whether it be 30 acres or 300 square miles cannot be undone. A piece of private property can be made off limits to the public, No Trespassing signs can be put up. The precedent that would be set by selling this land in the manner that has been be presented is a danger to public lands everywhere, not just here in Utah. Once land developers find out all it takes is congressional legislation with a fancy misdirected name to get their hands on our land who knows what will come next, a brand new lodge at Willow Lake with a gondola stop?

I call on all of us that use and love our mountains and public land to fight for what is right. Congressional legislation directing the sale of our beloved public lands to a real estate developer is just plain wrong, sets a terrible and very scary precedent. Let your elected officials know how you feel, write letters, donate to organizations like Save Our Canyons and The Winter Wildlands Alliance. Let our federal elected officials know you do not want them introducing or supporting bills such as the now expired Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act. Ask them to introduce legislation that will protect our Wasatch mountains from future development. A few thousand phone calls in the span of a couple of weeks will be pretty hard to ignore!

Let’s all cherish our public lands and Stop SkiLink!

Ross Hager

One of the quickest—and most effective—things you can do to help stop SkiLink is to give your representative a quick call.

Congressman Rob Bishop
(202) 225-0453

Congressman Jason Chaffetz
(202) 225-7751

Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Mike Lee
(202) 224-5444

Congressman Jim Matheson

And be sure to let Governor Herbert know that you oppose this project and the detrimental effects it will have on Utah’s great wilderness.