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The purpose of Friends of Alta is to protect our natural resources for generations to come.

Photo credit: John Blumenkamp


The purpose of Friends of Alta is to protect our natural resources for generations to come.This allows the agency to partner with local, state and national agencies, nonprofit organizations and individuals who share a commitment to conservation.


Our mission is to protect and preserve Alta’s unique environment, heritage and character.

Our work is based on these core values:

  • Alta is a small but vibrant mountain community of people and businesses. We value the diversity and independence of the businesses that call Alta home. We are committed to sustaining the local economy.

  • Alta is a critical ecosystem whose benefits extend far beyond Little Cottonwood Canyons. We devote tactical and strategic resources to protecting the watershed and Albion Basin.

  • We base our work on science and research. We are experts in where development can take place in Alta, and are diligent stewards of the land.

  • We are future oriented. We know that Alta will change over time. However we believe that the inevitable changes that the future brings can occur with transparency in decision making, respect for the recreational base of our local economy, and the preservation of this unique place on earth.

Alta is a state of mind as well as a place on earth. We are accountable to all who call Alta home, whether for a week spent skiing every year, a summer’s day, or a lifetime. We also share responsibility with others for preserving the watershed that all residents of the Salt Lake Valley rely on every day.


This is a complex set of responsibilities. Therefore partnerships, land trust, public advocacy, strategic legal recourse, science and educational programs are each an important part of our competitive advantage.



Perched at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta has a rich history intimately tied to its geography and natural resources.

Alta was primarily a silver and copper mining district during the second half of the 1800’s up until the 1920’s. During this era, most of the trees in Alta were harvested to support the mining infrastructure.

In the 1930’s, a new type of natural resource was discovered to be extremely valuable: skiing on powder snow. In 1939, Alta became North America’s second lift-served ski area. During World War II Alta’s rugged mountain terrain was used for training soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division.

Alta has a prominent history of avalanches, which continue to impact recreation opportunities and the ingress and egress from our community. With each storm cycle, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) performs avalanche control work on the north side of Little Cottonwood Canyon to reduce avalanche risks along highway 210. As a result of Alta’s unique location and legendary snow, some of the country’s most notable avalanche professionals have trained at Alta.

In 1970, Alta became an incorporated town, with Lee Bronson appointed as the first President. In 1972, Bill Levitt became the first elected Mayor of Alta, and he continued to serve Alta’s community for 34 years. Mayor Levitt, his wife Mimi, and Patrick Shea founded the Alta Defense Fund in 1980, which became Friends of Alta one year later in 1981.

Friends of Alta has been and will continue to be an integral part of Alta’s community. Our perspective of Alta encompasses its residents, visitors, natural environment (including flora and fauna), businesses, volunteer organizations, and local, state and federal government. Over the years we have provided assistance to the Town of Alta for municipal programs that benefit the community, including the Alta Summer Booth Program, Master Planning, Recycling Program, and Geographic Information Systems.

Alta continues to attract thousands of visitors annually who revel in its spectacular scenery. Alta is a year- round recreational haven with exceptional skiing terrain and high quality snow, rock climbing, photography, hiking and biking.


Friends of Alta History. 

From Alta Defense Fund to Friends of Alta.

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“It is no accident that when people refer to Alta as their ‘spiritual home’, it is Albion Basin that is foremost in their minds. Its pristine beauty, myriad of wildflowers, lush wetlands, crystal streams, variety of mountain wildlife, and awesome mountain peaks remain familiar to the thousands of people who have visited this uniquely beautiful place. It has always been the mission of the Town of Alta, to be the guardians of this critical watershed for the Salt Lake Valley. Each year, young people from all over our country come to study this incredible environment- its magic reaching the minds of many generations. Alta and its Albion Basin will remain an inspiration for all fortunate enough to visit it and enjoy its great beauty.”

Bill Levitt helped found Friends of Alta in 1981. He played a critical role in Friends of Alta’s early development and maturation into a viable organization with a key niche in Alta’s community. To this day, FOA maintains Bill’s passion for, and protection of Alta’s environment for future generations.

In 2010, the Bill Levitt Fellowship was established. This fellowship program is both a tribute to Bill’s public service record and an effort to train young people in the tradition of intelligence and integrity – traits Bill personified. Click here for more details.

A memorial tree was planted for Bill Levitt on August 26, 2010 at memorial grove in Albion Basin.

Please visit this memorial website for Bill Levitt by Sam Dippo (one of Bill’s Grandsons).

Click here for Bill Levitt’s Obituary



Watershed Protection

Wildflower Protection

Traveling off-trail

Climate Change

Smart Development

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