Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill today announced that Salt Lake
County has reached a settlement to resolve the County’s claims relating to the
illegal cutting of trees in Big Cottonwood Canyon in July 2015. The monetary
value of the settlement to the County and its residents is approximately
$117,500, which includes replacement of felled trees, a warranty and bond for
the trees’ survival, and payment of civil penalties.
“This settlement sends an important message to those who seek to profit off the
development of land in Salt Lake County,” District Attorney Gill said.
“Our environment is one of our most precious resources. Those who
needlessly and recklessly cause damage to that vital resource in violation of
law will be held fully accountable for their actions.”
The settlement was negotiated collaboratively, outside any formal enforcement
action. Parties to the settlement include Silver Hill Development, Twin
Peaks P.C. and its principal Scott Carlson, and the owners/operators of AA
Tree. Although all settling parties deny intentionally cutting the trees
in violation of County ordinance and regulation, they have jointly agreed to
replace the 88 trees mandated by County ordinance and also to plant 42
additional trees—for a total of 130 trees (valued at $750/tree) to be planted
in the affected area—and to post an approximately $100,000 bond to ensure
satisfactory completion of the project. They will also pay $20,000 to the
County in civil damages, penalties, and investigative costs.
Ben McAdams supports the settlement.
“Salt Lake County is committed to
our role of environmental stewardship for our Wasatch canyons," McAdams said. "Today’s
settlement reflects the County’s commitment to the public priority of
safe, clean drinking water and to our on-going efforts to work cooperatively with others toward that goal. I am
grateful the parties willingly accepted responsibility to make environmental
restitution to our canyon watershed."
The County’s Division of Planning and Development Services
oversees development in Salt Lake County, including in the delicate canyon
areas such as Big Cottonwood Canyon. Division Director Rolen Yoshinaga said: “There
is no 100 percent satisfactory replacement of a 100-year-old tree. We are
pleased, however, that the responsible parties here stepped up to replace trees
and restore land that is an essential part of our watershed.”
District Attorney Gill reiterated his office’s commitment to enforce laws
affecting the environment.
“Of course we seek to educate and train, but
we will also pursue civil or criminal litigation when
necessary to assert the rights of our citizens,” Gill said. “It is our
collective responsibility to advocate and fight for the environmental needs of
our families and community.”
Negotiations for the County
were headed by District Attorney Gill, Chief Policy Advisor (Civil Division)
Darcy M. Goddard, Deputy District Attorney R. Christopher Preston, and
Litigation Unit Chief Donald H. Hansen