Colorado: Conservation groups reach deal with Vail Resorts on Breck Peak 6 expansion and withdraw threat of lawsuit

Vail Resorts ups contribution to lynx conservation fund

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Development of the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area will probably begin sometime in the next few weeks and should be ready for skiing this coming season.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — There will be no lawsuit challenging the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area, as conservation groups say they’ve reached an agreement with Vail Resorts that will help ensure long-term conservation of threatened lynx in the area.

“Our main concern was lynx conservation,” said Rocky Mountain Wild attorney Matt Sandler, who was involved in the recent talks with Vail Resorts. As part of the agreement, Vail Resorts will up its contribution to a conservation fund that will be used for habitat improvements in the region, benefiting lynx and other species. Continue reading

Colorado: Arapahoe Basin extends the season

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Summer fun at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Bob Berwyn photo.

Bonus weekend set for June 7-9

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado skiers will get a bonus weekend at Arapahoe Basin, as the ski area extends the season for an extra weekend. Cool spring temperatures and big snows in April and May helped preserve a good base at the high-elevation ski area.

“With all the spring storms, our exceptional snow conditions, and our guests’ enthusiasm for skiing and riding, it only makes sense to open for another weekend,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin’s chief operating officer.

The last couple of winters have been a roller coaster for A-Basin and Colorado in general. The winter of 2010-2011 delivered near-record snow in many locations and A-Basin stayed open though the Fourth of July holiday. Continue reading

Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion set to start within weeks

Forest Service says resort has submitted construction plans

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Work will soon begin on a long-planned ski terrain expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area unless opponents make a last-minute legal bid to stop the project.

See more Peak 6 stories here.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forest Service rangers say they are in the process of reviewing the final plans for the planned Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area. The clear-cutting of new ski trails could begin in just a few weeks, according to the agency.

The resort has submitted detailed plans for tree-cutting, erosion control, stormwater runoff and other aspects of the project, according to Shelly Grail,  a winter sports program administrator for the Dillon Ranger District.

Grail said the resort could start clear-cutting the new ski trails as early as mid-June, depending on the weather. The Forest Service has certain requirements regarding snow cover for tree removal operations, so the rate of snowmelt will affect the exact start date of the project. The Forest Service also will do some nesting surveys before work starts, she added. Continue reading

Summit County: Is Copper Mountain’s base village up for sale?

Ownership changes inevitable as real estate trust expires in 2015

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By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with a slew of other ski resort villages, Copper Mountain‘s commercial base-area properties (the Village at Copper) may be for sale as part of a “trophy resort village portfolio,” offered  for $142.5 million.

According to an online brochure making the rounds, the resort villages can also be bought separately, starting at about $9 million for the smallest and ranging up to about $30 million. The real estate investment services company Marcus & Millichap is offering the properties, which are owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc..

The Florida-based real estate investment trust (REIT) that became a big player in the mountain resort business when it bought properties all over North America about the time the resort real estate boom fizzled. Continue reading

Colorado: Skier donations build forest conservation legacy

National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work

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Ski area visitors leave behind a year-round stewardship legacy when they contribute to the Ski Conservation Fund. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.

The grants were awarded recently to organizations like the Blue River Watershed Group, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for projects like trail improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, tree planting and stream restoration. Continue reading

Outdoors: Skier visits rebound nationally

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U.S. resorts tallied 56.6 million skiers visits — and counting — in he 2012-2013 ski season.

All regions post increases from last year

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After a big dip last season, skier visits rebounded strongly in the 2012-2013 season, climbing up to 56. million with the season still going strong at areas like Mammoth Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.

For the country as a whole, skier visits climbed 11 percent from last season. Skier visits in the Pacific Southwest and Northeast regions climbed more than 20 percent from last winter, not surprising, since they were the areas hit hardest by sparse snowfall and an early meltdown last year.

Resorts in all regions started slow but skier visits gained momentum through the holidays and spring break. Overall, 78 percent of reporting ski areas posted increases in visits. The median resort experienced a 10.6 percent gain in visits, according to a release from the National Ski Areas Association. Continue reading

Vail, Breckenridge and Copper extend the season

Late-season snow spurs limited re-opening April 19-21

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Fine spring skiing conditions at Breckenridge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado skiers will get a bonus weekend at Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail, with all three areas firing up some of their lifts for a final spring fling.

“After skiing some amazing powder turns on closing day and more heavy snow in the forecast this week, we just don’t have the heart to shut down Breck’s lifts just yet,” said Pat Campbell, chief operating officer for the Summit County resort.

“Mother Nature is a fickle business partner and apparently she wasn’t ready for the ski season to be over. We can’t think of a better way to thank our loyal guests for celebrating our 40th Anniversary season with us,” said Gary Rodgers, president and general manager of Copper Mountain Resort.

Copper Mountain will open American Flyer, Sierra and Timberline lifts this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 19-21, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day. Skier services including food and beverage offerings and rental and retail options will be limited to Center Village.

Breckenridge will open 1180 acres, lifts and terrain on Peak 8 only this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 19-21, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day after picking up 60 inches of snow in April. Lifts open will include:  The BreckConnect Gondola, Colorado SuperChair, Rip’s Ride, 6 Chair, T-Bar and the Imperial Express SuperChair; Park Lane and Trygve’s Terrain Parks will also be open. Continue reading

Colorado: Ski season in high gear at A-Basin

Spring powder nothing new for The Legend

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Skiing April powder at Arapahoe Basin, April 2010. Bob Berwyn photo.

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A skier enjoys a big powder day at Arapahoe Basin on April 23, 2010. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — While most of Colorado’s megaresorts closed with more snow than they’ve had on their slopes all season, a handful of areas are still open for spring skiing, including Aspen Highlands, Winter Park, Loveland and, of course, Arapahoe Basin, known for having one of the longest seasons in the country.

With 21 inches of new snow in just the 48 hours and more on the way for the next few days, ski conditions at Arapahoe Basin are peaking. A 65-inch base means great conditions all over the mountain, including Montezuma Bowl and the steeps of the East Wall. As general manager Alan Henceroth wrote in a recent blog post, “All the the little lines are filled.” Continue reading

Forest Service holds public meetings on ski area water rights

After legal showdown, agency, resorts start down collaborative path to address critical water questions

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Who owns the water originating on national forest lands? Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After losing a court showdown, the U.S. Forest Service will restart a process to try and clarify the future of water rights associated with permitted uses on national forest lands, especially with regard to ski areas in the West. Click here to see related Summit Voice stories.

In December, a federal court ruled that the Forest Service failed to meet legal requirements when it updated the rule administratively. Now, the agency will hold a series of public meetings, starting April 16 in Denver, to take input from the public and key stakeholders. Additional meetings are set for Salt Lake City on April 17, and Lake Tahoe, Calif., on April 18. Continue reading

Skiing: A-Basin Enduro set for April 17

The race is on!

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With on-and-off snow in the forecast the next few days, conditions should be outstanding for the 24th annual Enduro at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.

FRISCO — One of Summit County’s legendary spring ski events is back for the 24th time at Arapahoe Basin, where iron-legged (and rubber-kneed) skiers will lap the Pallavicini steeps in the April 17 Enduro.

The marathon ski race pits teams of two skiers against some of Colorado’s most challenging terrain, skiing or riding laps on a circuit of 20 designated routes from the top of the Pali lift. Each must be skied in consecutive order for the final run total to count. The record is 72 runs during the 10-hour (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) event. Continue reading

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