Forest Service releases draft study for A-Basin expansion

Public comment sought on draft EIS

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Staff Report

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is one step closer to gaining final approval for a 492-acre expansion that would include a new lift in the Beavers area. The ski area plan also calls for replacing Pallavicini chairlift, removing the Norway chairlift and adding a surface lift to ferry skiers and snowboarders to the popular backside Montezuma Bowl terrain.

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental study for the planned projects. The agency will take public comments on the draft EIS through March 21. More information is online at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41664. A public meeting on the draft Eis will be held at The Keystone Center (1628 St John Rd., Dillon, CO 80435) on March 2, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

In a cover letter released with the draft study, White River National Forest Supervisor said he is currently evaluating the recreational benefits of these projects against the identified resource impacts these project may create. Continue reading

Forest Services tries to cover its tracks on Wolf Creek

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A controversial plan to develop private real estate near Wolf Creek Ski Area is on hold for now.

Paper trail shows agency hid and likely destroyed records related to controversial development proposal in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains

Staff Report

Environmental and community activists opposed to a massive real estate development in southern Colorado say they have new evidence that the U.S. Forest Service tried to cover up how political influence tainted several steps of the approval process for the project.

A review of more than 60,000 pages documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request and a subsequent court order shows that the Forest Service deliberately concealed and destroyed records related to the Village at Wolf Creek development project. Continue reading

Study shows differences between ‘graded’ and ‘cleared’ ski trails

‘We’re in this time of visible climate change …’

Land recovery after a ski slope is abandoned can be starkly different depending on how it was constructed. The graded run, left, was abandoned 13 years before with little sign of new vegetation. The cleared run, right, was abandoned 10 years before and plant life is abundant.

Land recovery after a ski slope is abandoned can be starkly different depending on how it was constructed. The graded run, left, was abandoned 13 years before with little sign of new vegetation. The cleared run, right, was abandoned 10 years before and plant life is abundant. Photo courtesy Andrew Burt/Jessica Hite.

Staff Report

Ski resorts around the West like to brag about their size in terms of skiable acreage, but what they don’t tell you is that, trails that are graded with bulldozers don’t recover well if the ski area is abandoned.

Trails that are merely cleared, with runs and some ground cover left in place, however, tend to grow back relatively quickly to blend in with the surrounding forest areas, according to a study published this month the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The findings have implications for land managers, especially winter sports experts with the U.S. Forest Service, who administer the public lands where much of the region’s skiing takes place. Continue reading

Breckenridge, Vail Resorts compromise on proposed lift ticket tax

Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.

Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.

New ballot measure will exclude season passes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The ski town showdown over a proposed lift-ticket tax in Breckenridge ended with a whimper rather than a bang, as the town and Vail Resorts reached a compromise on the issue.

According to a press release from the town, the language of the ballot measure seeking voter approval of the new tax will be tweaked to exclude season passes and summer lift tickets from what town officials have called an admissions tax. Continue reading

U.S. Forest Service approves massive expansion of summer recreational facilities at Breckenridge ski area

Zip lines, canopy tours and other attractions planned

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A slice of the Tenmile Range that already feels the full brunt of industrial level recreation will see even more summer traffic after the U. S. Forest Service approved a huge expansion of new summer activities and facilities.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is on track to approve a huge expansion of summer activities at Breckenridge Ski Area that will accommodate up to 150,000 additional visitors during the summer season.

The agency this week released a final environmental study for the new installations and programs, along with a draft decision letter from White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, who said he thinks the new facilities — including zip lines, canopy tours and challenge courses — will enhance public appreciation of national forest lands and the outdoors.

The proposal was controversial in Breckenridge, as some residents expressed concerns about drawing more visitors to the already crowded town. Other locals support the plan as a way of increasing tourism revenues and drumming up more business for local restaurants and shops. Continue reading

Breck, Vail Resorts squabble over parking

Spring season extended at Breckenridge Ski Area. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS/JACK AFFLECK.

 Breckenridge Ski Area. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS/JACK AFFLECK.

Lift-ticket tax proposal stirs up bad blood

Staff Report

FRISCO — The long-running love-hate soap opera between Breckenridge and Vail Resorts took a nasty turn this week, as town officials vowed to forge ahead with putting an admissions (lift-ticket) tax on the November ballot, while the resort company questioned the town’s legal authority to do so.

At issue, according to Breckenridge, is an urgent need to address parking and transit issues — something the town should have started addressing 15 years ago. Based on community input, town officials say, the best path forward is to build a parking structure on F-Lot and to boost transit options.

To do that, the town wants to establish a new revenue stream by taxing lift tickets and other for-profit attractions. But Breckenridge and Vail Resorts have apparently failed to find common ground. In a press release, Mayor John Warner said ongoing negotiations have failed, leaving the town no option but to pursue voter approval for a new tax in the fall. Continue reading

USFS OKs road to private land at Breckenridge Ski Area

The ultimate ski cabin?

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Road construction to a private inholding at Breckenridge Ski Area could begin this summer.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —The U.S. Forest Service has authorized construction of a 1,300-foot road across national forest lands at Breckenridge Ski Resort to access a privately owned 10-acre parcel.

The inholding was bought last year by a Breckenridge resident who plans to build a cabin on the tract, located located near the top of the Zendo Chair and base of the Kensho chair on Peak 6. Continue reading

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