Thursday, December 11, 2008

Frantic Mountainside Activity Redux

Somebody, please! Help us make some sense of Mr. Peterson's mountainside clear cutting frenzy

Earlier this week, gentle reader Disgusted submitted an article which provoked considerable speculation and discussion amongst our Weber County Forum readership, concerning frenzied helicopter and tree/brush removal activity occurring on Chris Peterson's "Rinky-dink Ski Resort" property, in, around and above Ogden's Strong's Canyon. We link the full article (with comments) here, for those readers in need of a quick review:
Helicopters Landing Around the Mt. Ogden Course: Wake up City Council
In the interim, the article has fallen down the front page, and the reader conversation has inevitably tapered off somewhat.

A few minutes ago however, Dan Schroeder sent us some additional material on the subject, so we're posting a new article on this same topic, in hope of reviving the discussion. Be sure to check out the map, photos and commentary Dan S. has added to the Ogden Sierra Club website:
Clearcutting in Strong's Canyon
Having examined Dan's maps and photos, we still remain puzzled about the nature and purpose of the ongoing activity frantically occurring in the foothills above the WSU Campus and Mt. Ogden Park. In some respects it looks like Mr. Peterson is building a torturous 4-wheel drive vehicle competition road. In other shots it resembles a ridiculously narrow ski run. Taken collectively it appears to be none of the above.

Frustrated in our effort to interpret this latest evidence... we turn to you, our ever-savvy readers, to ferret out the true meaning of all this.

And one further question: Where is Ace Reporter Schwebke at a time like this, when the lumpenfolke of Emerald City stand in need of his vast investigative journalistic skills? Surely he must have Mr. Peterson on his speed-dial list.

Consider this an update to the previous article. Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones. We love solving a good mystery. Doesn't everyone?


dan s. said...

Just for completeness, here's the link to our earlier discussion on November 29:

Helicopters Flying in Malan's Basin

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the additional link, Dan. In my haste to get your new material to the front page, I inadvertantly left that article out.

Thanks for the new data, too!

Rafiki said...

I just heard that this is going to be a road. A normal rubber tire road. i.e. no Gondola - no light rail - no wagon trail but a full blown F&%^#*& road going up Strong's Canyon.

You got to love Capitalism!

fireman joe said...

In the pictures it looks like the same size as cut when questar lays in a utility pipline.


The solution is obvious. Peterson is nuts. Given his track record, you can't assume he's behaving rationally.

danny said...

There is a side canyon I hike (yes, when I do get out) that has a lot of cutting also. You have to be in the canyon to see it. It consists of trees and bushes here and there, but it too makes no sense.

Peterson's people left some saws and gasoline there a year or two ago. Some of the trees had pink flags on them.

It made no sense. The current cutting makes no sense. It appears that Peterson simply saws a few trees down every once in awhile to preserve his ownership.

Remember if you own land but do not use it for seven years, and someone else does use it, you can lose the land. Maybe in Peterson's psychotic world this is what he is doing.

If Peterson is littering Forest Service property as Dan suggests, hopefully evidence can be uncovered to prosecute him for it. Fingerprints?

Lifestyle news mag reporter said...

Does anyone know whether the Billionaire's son-in-law still remains the Billionaire's son-in-law?

I heard the marriage was dissolved.

Rafiki said...

I never thought I would see what is happening now. Do the people have to courage to stop him? If so then what are we going to do?

Anybody have advice? Is everything happening here legal?

Out of the Loop said...

Out of the Loop said...
I wonder if Peterson is thinking of putting in a cogwheel train to Malan Basin? That might explain the cleared path on the side of the mountain and Godfreys trip to Europe to look at rail systems.

Monotreme said...

Maybe he's cutting Christmas trees for a little extra coin.

Rafiki said...

Ha that just made my night. Thanks Mono!

Out of the Loop said...

Where are cogwheeled trains that climb up steep terrain manufactured? Answer - Europe.

same old same old said...

And in other news, or not so news. The Standard keeps reporting the some old story about the fake citizens golf course committee, and their impending presentation to the council.


Al said...

Peterson actually paid his property taxes almost on time this year, according to a quick search on the Weber County Assessor website listings for "Salt Lake Exchange Accommodations 154".

Attentive Weber County Forum readers may remember that taxes for the property for 2005 (due November 2005) were not paid until April 2006, after the issue was made public on this blog.

Curmudgeon said...

Same Old Same Old:

I wondered the same as I read the story. It added so far as I could see nearly nothing to the previous story other than the bit about visiting Baltimore to see how a municipal golf course transferred to a non-profit to operate worked out. Other than that, it was all old news.

latwttb said...

Unintended consequences.

Careful what you ask for.

Bill C. said...

Seems to me that not much has really changed from 2006 to now. Everything still seems to be in play, the golf course, WSU's land and of course lying little matty's desire to get the golf course out of public ownership.
What's new is now the thorazine addled vested one now seems to have positioned a future roadway right above the very acres that the skipper is requesting from WSU under the guise of these unwanted un needed "signature holes".
Everything seems to always wind up with the top of 36th st., odd isn't it.
How convoluted can the skipper's golf course financial remedy get? Most of it has really nothing to do with the golf course's daily operations, which is where any real profitability study and recommendations should begin.
Instead, the skipper wants to spend millions and accomplish one main task he was directed at, a large multi-use building at the top of 36th st. with the outside chance of removing it from the public domain.

Bill C. said...

Oh I forgot to inquire again, has any figured out why Wallis, the City's almost brand new engineer so abrutly and quietly resigned?

Curmudgeon said...


Speaking of wondering about things, I've been wondering about the Weber County Commission and approval of the Powder Mountain Town Council, last seen pre-election heading for court. Anyone heard anything about that lately? If so, please pass it on.

ozboy said...


I wonder where you get this business about losing land if you don't use it for seven years and some one else does? Perhaps you can quote us chapter and verse about any such law? If you are talking about "prescriptive easements" I believe it is twenty years of non-permissive use that then allows people to have a permanent easement over the property. In any event the owner does not "lose" the property. I think it is also this law that would allow the public to use all of the trails through the Peterson property considering that the public has used all of them, without permission I presume, for way way more than twenty years.
Hopefully there is a lawyer in the reading audience that can set us both straight on this arcane part of the land laws.

As to Peterson's cutting through the land - maybe he is just stirring stuff up so we don't forget him? He has seemingly gone AWOL for the last year and could be getting paranoid about becoming irrelevant? You know the old saying about no such thing as bad publicity.

Bill C. said...

Curm, I've been wondering about that one as well. Maybe Zini or Machman can inform us. Court proceedings can take a long time, but I was under the impression this one would happen quicker.
As for land use and related stuff, the gondola examiner had quite alot in it today. Bush is watering down the endangered species act as he schleps out of office, Utah has seven affected species listed as endangered, Colorado is gearing up for a fight between oil and gas vs. the public good and a very good editorial from Terry Tempest Williams.

dan s. said...

Scott Schwebke finally interviewed me this afternoon, so we should probably watch for something in tomorrow's paper. He was extremely evasive about whether he's been able to reach Peterson or anyone else who might know something. If he has learned anything beyond what you can see on the ground, he sure wasn't willing to tell me.

danny said...


Re: your question, "adverse possession" is the doctrine to which I referred. It is admittedly arcane, but as a landowner you will want to know about it.

But arcane or not, people do lose property due to adverse possession.

Adverse Possession

danny said...

More Here

danny said...

. . . so now that you are all up to speed, my comment was that Peterson saws trees down once in awhile so he can show he is "using" the land, so nobody else can claim they are using his land exclusively and claim title by adverse possession.

Kooky, yes. But that Peterson may be going kooky was my point.

dan s. said...


Yes, that would be kooky.

It would be very difficult for anyone to make an adverse possession claim on the property. For one thing, I don't see how such a claim could meet the exclusivity test. As far as I know, the only "use" of the property is recreational: hiking and such. But thousands of people do that, so none of them could claim to be making exclusive use of the property.

danny said...

Out of the loop - thanks. I've never heard of a cogwheel train. Something new every day . . .

danny said...


When this economy hits bottom in a year or two, we should BUY Malans from Peterson.

Out of the Loop said...


Cogwhell trains have been around for a long time. They are used quite a bit in the European Alps to climb the side of mountains where grades are too steep for a conventional train. Several ski resorts in europe have used them to provide either full or partial access to their location. They have several advantages, one of which is that they are able to operate in windy conditions when gondolas can't and they have several disadvantages, a couple of which are initial cost and operational costs. But cost has never been a concern of Godfrey. Godfrey only thing about the wow factor and these would have that appeal to him. I could hear him say, "We have the only cogwheel train in the state. What a mass transit project."

They can be an electric or fuel driven system. The system involves the use of a flat set of gear teeth down the center of the track to which the locomotive then attached its rotating gears to and then the locomotive simply pulls the cars up the inclined track by use of gears rather than tractive effort. These system can be built on the ground or they can be put on stansions that elevate the track off the ground where steep side slopes are incountered.

Google "cogwheel trains" and I'm sure you can learn alot more about them if you're interested.

danny said...

Out of the loop,

After your initial post, I did Google it. I appreciated your comments. It seems Godfrey has gone from and idea that is "completely stupid and expensive" to an idea that is merely "questionable and expensive."

disgusted said...

maybe in the true christmas spirit we are looking a a scrooge dream. what could be the christmas future.
maybe peterson is saying if you dont pay for a gondola for me i will build this road or cogwheel train and is asking us which we would rather prefer. i say let him build his whatever if he thinks he can and if he thinks he can get forest service permission. on his dime of course.
what i dont want to see happen is the golf course and open space become a part of his dream. those assets including the club house should remain in their approximate similar configuration and location. the ownership of these assets should stay in the hands of the city and its residents.

btw did anyone noticed how in the article yesterday that the paper was trying to give the idea of a golf management program at wsu some legs. what a pipe dream that one is. if this was florida it might have some credibility but in utah. give me a break.

Donk said...

Excellent comments disgusted......
couldn't agree more. Seems to me that whatever Peterson does with his property is less a concern than insuring that he doesn't do it with public dollars. The real challenge is to make sure that the Mount Ogden park,golf course and private land remain publically owned assets - no private development, no operation by private parties, no inclusion in any mayoral fantasy vision....etc.

Since it will ultimately depend upon our City Council to see that the current status of M.O. is preserved we need to insure that the Council has the public support and any assistance we can offer to keep M.O. ours.

Donk said...

P.S. I seriously doubt that Peterson is capable of developing his Malan's Basin property without a major contribution of taxpayer dollars. I may be missjudging the development/entrepreneurial community but I can't imagine anyone with the kind of money P. needs who would even consider pouring it down this sort of rathole - way too many drawbacks.

disgusted said...

the other concern that i have is that peterson and godfrey will try get the malan basin property and surrounding private property annexed into the city.
if that happens the residents will be liable for a sewer system installation a water system installation police protection fire protection which is larger than you would think up there medical assistance and road repairs snow removal and road maintenance.
annexation would be a huge financial cost to the residents with little gain from where we are today as to benefit that that land provides to the residents.
this may very well be godfreys next push.

Bill C. said...

Dan, since yhe story didn't run today I'll ask a question I was going to ask last night.
Why would Schwebke interview you on a topic you know nothing about? I mean, you have no idea of what peterson is up to. Is the gondola examiner trying to pre-start round two? Seems to me they should print a story based on an interview with peterson first before asking others what they think.

ozboy said...

I think there is a cogwheel train set up in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. Something that was done back in the 1920's or so, maybe earlier. I rode it a couple of time but it was way too far back in the blur to remember much about it.

And Danny, this "Adverse Possession" stuff is pretty interesting - thanks for the heads up. Does any one know if there have been any recent (last 100 years) incidences of this happening in Utah? It also appears from the charts that one would have to be paying property taxes on a piece of land for seven years in-order to claim it.

Curmudgeon said...


Well, Dan did hike the route of the cuttings, did put up the map of what areas are being cut, and did post pictures of the cutting. And he's pretty much the public face of the Sierra Club in Ogden, and has spoken out about environmental issues involving Peterson's various mountain projects, like the Via Ferrata and so on. That makes him, I suspect, the go-to-guy for reaction questions touching on those things.

If I were doing the story, I'd have called him, particularly after the map and pics were posted on the Sierra Club site.

dan s. said...

Curm: thanks for responding on my behalf. Also, Bill, remember that Schwebke hasn't seen the clearcuts himself, at least not up close.

Donk said...

Curm: perceptive as usual and the kind of post we all enjoy from you - not a nit pick in the car load. Also dan s. your usual fine job in filling in the blank spots for us - hard data instead of general observations is always a step up - thanks.

WhatWardRUin said...

Chris Peterson is not talking. All he will say is that he is aware of the clearing, the "road" will be 30-feet wide on a gentle grade, and he has nothing else to say at this time. A 30-foot wide road on a gentle grade is exactly what is needed for construction equipment to traverse.

One Who Nose said...

Fess up, Ward! You're actually Scott Schwebke posting under an intersting psuedonym, Right?


Bill C. said...

Curm and Dan, I agree that Dan would be one to question, but it seems to me that it would be better and more appropriate to do the story on Peterson first. If his response is as what ward says, it makes him look bad in the public eye, sort you don't have a right to know. If he answers with something substantial, the Dan would be better prepared. The way this could turn out is the gondola examiner, lying little matty bootlickers they are can put Dan in what ever light they choose. Is the story about Dan's investigating something he saw, or just what is peterson up to?

Bill C. said...

Oh and Dan, maybe it wouldn't hurt Schwebke to actually get off his duff and go see something for himself. Besides, I've found that if you can actually get someone to go for a hike, many actually come to enjoy it and begin to gain a much greater appreciation for the natural world, an appreciation that's getting lost in our society and thats not good. Having writers of that mindset that the public is exposed to daily would be benificial to everyone, in my opinion.

Rafiki said...

Just drove back in town from the North. The "road" is visable for miles.

What kind of person would do this to the earth? It is like taking a beautiful painting and throwing ink on it.


Boo Radley said...

Actually, disgusted, there are golf course management programs at respected universities all over the country. Google it and you'll see. It would be a great addition to WSU's already impressive list of available degrees.

disgusted said...

i did google golf course management and with a few exceptions i think my original statement stands.
most golf management programs that are already established are located in the south west the south or the south east. most of these programs are located within only a few miles of not one but several highly rated and well know pga golf courses.
again i say give me a break.

Monotreme said...


You may know golf course management. You sure seem to think you do, from your previous postings on this blog.

But may I respectfully point out that you don't know s**t about academic politics?

If you think any additional programs at WSU are a 2-inch putt, boy, do I have a Curriculum Committee I'd like you to meet. After you convince them, you can talk to the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents.

I've seen a lot of worthwhile programs get washed up on these reefs. Even the best-crafted program takes about two years, on average, to navigate this process.

Better get started if you want something this decade.

dealing with it said...

So at what point does Peterson get the tar and feathers? How do we punish bad members of our society today?

I think we ride him out of town wrapped in barb wire and wearing a dunce hat!

Curmudgeon said...


He doesn't get tar and feathers. He's cut tress on his own land so far, and paid for the cutting out of his own resources. Period. That calls for neither tar nor feathers. If the public wants to own his land, then the city, or county, or state, can pony up the money and buy it from him. Or use eminent domain to take it for a public park, paying out of public funds for the land.

Lionel said...


I say let us just be bold, take his stinking land away from him, pay him nothing for it and hang his big ol worthless ass just for the fun of it. Hell man we haven't had any grand old lawlessness around here since the last election, its about time for a little fireworks. You bring the rope and I'll bring the moonshine.

Boo Radley said...


Did I say anything about it being easy to add a program? Have I ever professed to know anything about academic politics? No. I just said I think it would be a nice addition to the curriculum.


If all the good golf course management programs are everywhere but here, isn't that just one more good reason to have one here? Something more to help Ogden and Weber State stand out? Isn't that good for golf in Ogden? I would sure think so.

disgusted said...

do you think that climate has anything to do with where most of the golf course management schools are located. dah.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Boo Radley said...


Golf course management degrees are fairly new. Some club professionals actually went to college, and even graduated, and I'm sure many of them would have chosen such a degree had it been available. It's definitely something nice to have on the resume in addition to PGA credentials. Actually, you know-it-all bastard, Clemson University (ever heard of it?) offers a Professional Golf Management Program that is accredited by the PGA of America (

And as far as climate goes, disgusted, Rutgers in New Jersey has such a program, and I've heard of one in Colorado as well.

Boo Radley said...

Yeah, as I mentioned above, here's another PGA-accredited golf management program in a climate similar to ours at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Wow, I'm an ignorant douchebag!

disgusted said...

go back to my original post on the subject and you will see that i acknowledge there are a few exceptions but clemson is not one of them. its located in south carolina.
i still stand by my previous statement.

Boo Radley said...

The Clemson comment was directed toward the anonymous poster whos comments were removed.

Not Pessimistic, just realistic said...

Why would Weber State add a golf course management program when the mayor of the city that Weber State is in wants to get rid of the golf courses that the city owns. Especially a golf course that has been recognized by Golf Digest. I don't see Jack Nicklaus or any other famous golf course designer knocking down our door to build a golf course here, yet there has been courses built in Park City and another one in Heber City. Outside of Ogden City owned golf courses, there are just a handful of courses in our area, none of which are even close to what you would see in other areas of our state let alone the country. Unless you think Ben Lomond, The Barn, El Monte, Schneiter's Riverside, Glen Eagle, The Bluff or Eagle Lake are world class facilities.

How about adding a law school or a better school of medicine or something that would really help society instead of pissing tax payer dollars away on a useless program. We already have a government and mayor doing plenty of that already.

disgusted said...

Not Pessimistic, just realistic

relative points as to which educational programs would benefit the school and the community the most.


in the bigger picture moving the club house is not going to bring a golf management program to wsu. if wsu wants a golf management program now they could have one with the club house are where its currently located. im mean its only one mile from campus. do you actually believe all those other schools that offer a degree in golf course management have their campus located right on top of the golf course were instruction takes place.

Curmudgeon said...

On golf mgt. programs: as Monotreme noted, there is much much more involved in getting a program approved beyond thinking it would be a good idea.

For example, are the existing established programs oversubscribed? Are they turning away qualified applicants because they have not room for them? Are graduates of the established programs finding work in the field? If there is insufficient demand for a program, there is little point in establishing one. [Low-completer programs... those likely to draw few students are nearly impossible to justify to Boards of Regents or state legislatures.]

Is the field you want to begin a new program in expanding, creating new jobs? [Many stories over the past several years that golf courses have been over built, are losing business, some are closing. Starting up a program to staff a field that's retrenching may not be wise.]

How about staffing? Are people, credible people, available on staff now to teach courses in the program, or will it involve new hires? What kind of support will the program need [facilities, staff, equipment, offices, etc] and what will the costs be? Is it likely to draw enough students to justify the costs? Will a start up be likely to compete well against established programs nationally and regionally for students? And so on.

Off hand, I'd say if the established programs are not now fully subscribed [i.e. they have openings for students most years], given the current retrenchment in the golfing biz, the chances of a start-up program at WSU succeeding are thin. But all of that would have to be researched before the University could even suggest to the Regents a new degree program in golf course management. If I were on the Board of Regents, I'd expect answers to the questions above, and wouldn't move any request for a program further up the line until I got well-researched and supported answers to them.

ozboy said...

Ogden would benefit more from a day glow golf and penny arcade management program at WSU considering that the tax payer's of the town are taking it in the shorts so severely from our mega million dollar "Junktion" fiasco.

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