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Cottonwood Heights Journal

$3 million community campaign to conserve 26 acres of open space

Mar 30, 2020 11:46AM ● By Cassie Goff

Community members hope to conserve this 26-acre piece of land. (Melissa Fields/Cottonwood Heights Parks, Trials, & Open Space Committee)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

A vacant piece of property at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon may be conserved as open space if $3 million can be raised. The 26-acre lot, located at 3801 North Little Cottonwood Road, is currently anticipating development. However, Utah Open Lands is working to purchase the property in order to conserve it as open space.

The 26-acre lot is a combination of two properties with different landowners. Both properties are zoned rural residential with conditions (RR-1-21) and have similar land use (residential rural density). Currently, the southern-most lot has a development plan that would consist of 11 different housing lots surrounding a cul-de-sac and is listed on Williams Reality for $1,750,000.

To prevent this land from being developed, Utah Open Lands will need to raise $3 million in a little over three months. As of publication, $1,518,375 has already been raised. Some of that money comes from a grant, some comes from Cottonwood Heights, and some comes from community donations.

Five hundred thousand of the already-raised $1,518,375 was secured by an approved grant coming from the state’s LeRay McAllister Critical Lands Fund.

Even with the grant, Utah Open Lands has been asking for help. “We will need cities along the Wasatch Front to aid in a solution that would keep this land as open space,” said Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher when she spoke to the Cottonwood Heights City Council on Feb. 18. 

Cottonwood Heights City Manager Tim Tingey confirmed that the funding of $1 million has already been set aside from the city. That money has been reserved from a $1.5 million grant provided by Salt Lake County for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in 2018.

“Open space and access to recreational opportunities is important to our community,” said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Peterson. “We have set aside funding for trail creation, trail heads and even land acquisition. This project fits into that source of funds and we will be cheering Utah Open Lands on to get this across the finish line.”

In addition, $5,000 of the already-raised funds has come from the community. Anyone from the community can make a donation on the Utah Open Lands website.

“One hundred percent of all donations will go towards the purchase of the land,” said Fisher. “Every dollar will demonstrate to city, county and agency officials that protection of this land is a priority. Support from the community will be critical in demonstrating the public support for this project.”

If Utah Open Lands is able to raise enough money to purchase the property, they will “maintain a protective easement in perpetuity,” said Fisher.

In other words, Utah Open Lands would deed the land to the city of Cottonwood Heights to steward. But, Utah Open Lands would retain the conservation easement on the land to protect it as undevelopable open space.

“This is a huge deal for Cottonwood Heights, as well for people from across the Wasatch Front who love getting out into the mountains,” said Cottonwood Heights Parks, Trials and Open Space Chair Melissa Fields.

She envisions the public benefit of this land including regional access points to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Alpenbock Loop. In addition, there is potential to reopen access to foothill canyons that is currently blocked by private property, including Deaf Smith Canyon.

The remainder of the $3 million fundraising goal must be raised by June 1 for this campaign to be successful.

Utah Open Lands is a 501c(3) nonprofit land trust conservation association whose mission is “to preserve and protect open space in order to maintain Utah’s natural heritage and quality of life for present and future generations.” They achieve their mission by assisting private landowners, government agencies and communities in voluntary preservation of the agricultural, science, recreational, historic and wildlife values of open land.

To learn more about this campaign, visit the Utah Open Lands website at