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Americans’ reliance on personal automobiles poses a paradox that plays out most acutely in places like Utah’s Big and Little Cottonwood canyons — rugged, scenic and natural settings that have become powerful magnets of recreation and drivers of economic development. The Cottonwoods are now plagued with traffic year-round but particularly on powdery winter days, when thousands of skiers stream up the canyons in hopes of being first on the chairlifts. But anyone with eyes has been seeing a crisis coming for years. The Salt Lake Tribune hosted a forum to explore potential solutions to gridlock in the two canyons, which see more visitation than Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks combined. Tribune Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce moderated the discussion that included Carl Fisher, executive director of Save Our Canyons, and Dave Fields, president and general manager of Snowbird, the famed ski area near the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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