Mountain Accord is a public process, bringing together more than 20 organizations and nearly 200 stakeholders to create a blueprint for the future that preserves the legacy of the Wasatch. Mountain Accord was established to make critical decisions and implement solutions to preserve the Central Wasatch and ensure its long-term vitality. An Executive Committee was formed to provide consensus-based oversight, solicit funding, resolve disputes, approve recommendations, and set the overall program direction and policy. Committee membership is comprised of elected officials as well as representatives from governmental agencies, the business community, and non-profit organizations. Laynee Jones in the Project Manager for Mountain Accord, she lives in Salt Lake City.
-What is your background?
I grew up in the urban jungle of Fort Worth Texas and moved to Utah in 1997 to realize my life long dream of living in the mountains. I have a varied background – consulting, environmental, transportation, planning, and some event operations. I have a degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M (Gig ‘em Ags!). Since I don’t look at my shoes when I talk to people (no offence engineers), my career has taken less of a design path. Instead I have focused more on leading people to solve complex problems together. (I am still just a nerd underneath it all)
-What are some of your outdoor pursuits and passions?
I enjoy mountain biking, backcountry skiing, fly-fishing. Does drinking beer when I am outside count as an outdoor pursuit?
-Favorite things to do in Utah? Elsewhere?
I like to take trips to the desert to mountain bike, head to Idaho for yurt trips and fishing. I have quite an adventurous spirit when it comes to travel, and like to get out of the country once a year to get some perspective – Uganda, Colombia, Mongolia. My problems always seem petty after a trip like that.
-What do you do in your downtime?
I like to do outdoor stuff, read, watch Brooklyn99. I forgot to mention I have a husband so I’ll get that in here now. I love him because he makes me laugh.
-How did the Mountain Accord come about? How did you come to be involved?
The Executive Board convened in summer of 2013 and hired me shortly thereafter. I had to put everything on the line to get the job and I was happy to do it. Maybe I won the job on passion:) It’s a full time job and then some. Ask my husband.
-What have been some of the biggest challenges with the Mountain Accord?
There really haven’t been any, its smooth sailing and everyone agrees. Easy! With a few rainbows and butterflies in there. Seriously, I knew I was in trouble when choosing the name of the program caused WWIII. So, getting everyone to agree is the biggest challenge.
-Have any unanticipated issues emerged since the discussions have begun?
The other day someone asked if we were addressing horse issues. That was unanticipated.
-What are some of the challenges in dealing with so many user entities?
My biggest challenge is maintaining communications with so many stakeholders. Once we sit down and talk we can generally figure out a path forward. (note that “figure out a path forward” is not the same as “resolve everything”).
-Through the process so far, what topics or issues have emerged as the most important?
I couldn’t seriously answer that question could I? If one of the stakeholder’s issues weren’t on the list I would be in hot water. I will take a stab: the hottest issue is growth and how to deal with it. Even though most of us moved here from somewhere else, we don’t want to see others move here and marf our powder lines. We all struggle with seeing things from others point of view also, and looking at the big picture. Each interest group is very focused on their needs. Our Executive Board has taken a pledge to take the long view, take a big picture approach, and look for solutions that balance everyone’s needs. I have been very impressed with both Carl Fisher and Nathan Rafferty in their sincerity in doing this.
-What have been some of the “hotter” topics (IE- OneWasatch, tunnels, trains, trails, etc.).
-Have any groups involved in the coalition emerged as bigger stakeholders?
We gotta balance them all! But we all agree water is #1. I like to drink it, do you? (When I am not drinking beer)
-How has the comment period been received so far?
There have been lots of different views. Each interest group likes to think that the public agrees with their standpoint, but in reality we see a real variety of viewpoints on the Blueprint. We hear support and concerns for just about all of the actions in the Blueprint. (not even the trail network is supported entirely)
-What, if any, are the obligations of the user groups involved moving forward?
To Listen! … to others…..with a capital L.
-Any surprises so far from the comment period? Disappointments?
I am pleased with how effective the town hall meeting format has been, and hope to conduct more of those in the future. I want to see more dialogue and common understanding.
-What- if any, political support is the Mountain Accord getting nationally? Locally?
We have support from our state legislature (financially and on our Executive Board). Our congressional delegation is also attending meetings, staying informed, and supportive.
-How do you keep the debate civil and productive?
Yeah, how do you? Most of the time just by asking people to be civil and productive:) (most of the time)
-What’s in it for you? For us? For the Wasatch?
Everything is on the line. If we don’t come to resolution, we have everything to lose. It will be decades before an effort like this is conducted again. We have one shot to get it right. So stay in the game. If you don’t like what’s being proposed, get involved, roll up your sleeves and help us out. Or just sit on the sidelines and throw arrows and see if that gets anything done…..
-How can someone concerned get involved?
First, hop on the website www.mountainaccord.com and tell us what you think. Second, call an executive board member that represents your community or your interest. Last, if you really want to get involved send an email to comment at www.mountainaccord.com with the word volunteer in the headline. We’ll get you on a committee or in a workshop!