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Breckenridge: Tough questions on the Peak 6 plan

Comment period extended to August 9

While dead lodgepoles dominate the landscape in much of Summit County, a healthy spruce and fir forest thrives on Peak 6 in the proposed expansion area.

By Jenney Coberly

*Audio recording of the open house: 

BRECKENRIDGE — White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams fielded an hour of questions from a large audience at the June 23 open house on the Peak 6 expansion plan, as some residents questioned whether the expansion would really help alleviate crowding at the country’s most-visited ski area.

Hands were still being raised when the Forest Service ended the question and answer session due to time constraints.

The meeting was lively and intense. The questions gave the impression the crowd was skeptical about the expansion proposal. Pro-expansion residents were not as vocal at the open house.

Those familiar with the current above-treeline terrain at Breckenridge expressed doubt that the challenging weather and snow conditions would be to the liking of the intermediate skiers that Vail Resorts says it’s  targeting with the expansion. They also wondered how the new terrain could be rated intermediate when comparable existing terrain is all rated expert.

People were also skeptical of the claim that the marketing of the new peak would not result in increased skier visits. The stated purpose and need for the expansion is to reduce crowds and liftlines.

Jane Hendrix: “When the new carrying capacity reaches maximum, what’s going to happen then to alleviate skier overcrowding?”

Jeffrey Bergeron: “I think for most of us it’s about the forest, and because of the fact that if you go from Hoosier Pass all the way to Peak 7, there’s roads and trails. Starting at Peak 6 to the north, there’s nothing as far as human impact. I just don’t want you to make the assumption that this is a NIMBY.”

Fitzwilliams said  the comment period for the proposal would be extended 15 days, with a new ending date of August 9. Town council member Jeffrey Bergeron said that the council might request an additional extension beyond that due to the complexity of the issues in the draft environmental study.

The audio transcript of the session is quite lengthy, consisting of Fitzwilliams’ 20-minute opening remarks and the one hour question-and-answer session that followed, but is presented here in its entirety for those who wanted to attend but were unable to do so.

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