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Crowd-Funding Conservation Comes To The Wasatch

Imagine helping to preserve a little plot in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s an old mining claim not far from where moose like to loiter in the shade and mountain goats hang out.

This high-mountain bowl is the target of a new crowd-funding campaign called “Save-A-Spot.”

“We’re really excited about it,” says John Bennett, president of the Wasatch Canyons Foundation, the non-profit behind the project.

“We think it’s an opportunity for crowd-funding of  conservation that’s never been done anywhere that I know of.”

The idea’s been under development for a few years. Several businesses have already pledged half the purchase price of a 14-acre parcel at the bottom of Cardiff Bowl.

And now the Save-A-Spotweb site allows armchair conservationists to select a 300-square-foot spot. Then each $25 donation becomes a sponsorship for conserving that spot.

The plan is to match this local funding with grants from large land foundations, according to Sally Elliott, a longtime preservation advocate and member of the Wasatch Canyons Foundation board.

“It’s very, very important,” she says “to pull the development approvals off of this land to save it with a public easement through a land conservation organization.”

Contributors will receive certificates that identify their spots with GPS coordinates.

Meanwhile, the foundation says willing sellers have another 2,000 acres of in-holdings in the Wasatch that could be purchased through the program.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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