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Op-ed: Ski industry bullies USFS on water rights

Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas

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Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.

Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.

That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading

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Can Squaw Valley slow the development juggernaut?

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Legendary Squaw Valley, California.

Resort residents want to form town to exert more control over land use

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The never-ending ski town battle between local residents and corporate interests has morphed into a new form at historic Squaw Valley. Residents are on a quest to incorporate a new town, to be called Olympic Valley, and they’re crowdsourcing for financial support on indiegogo.com.

Using web-based social networks may be a new twist, but many of the issues are the same that affect many other mountain communities, as real estate exploitation and environmental degradation threaten the very values that made those towns so appealing to begin with. Continue reading

Global warming: Winter at risk?

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Global warming means fewer powder days and shorter ski seasons. bberwyn photo.

Snow sports enthusiasts want limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching the snow in the Caucasus Mountains around Sochi melt away at an alarming rate during the middle of the Winter Olympics was a sobering reminder of what global warming could mean for the future of winter sports.

Already, winters in some parts of the world are several weeks shorter, with much higher average temperatures, than just a few decades ago. some ski areas in the lower elevations of the European Alps have already shut down, and in Scandinavia, where skiing is not just recreation but part of the cultural fabric, winters have warmed significantly.

“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, a field organizer with Environment Colorado, which teamed up with Snowriders International to release a summary of how climate change will affect winter, including increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable sites for future winter Olympics. Continue reading

Arapahoe Basin moving ahead with Beavers expansion

Open house set for Dec. 3

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Arapahoe Basin is moving ahead with an expansion plan that would add more than 400 acres of terrain in the Beavers area.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arapahoe Basin and the U.S. Forest Service are moving ahead with the first formal step in the review process for a significant expansion at Summit County’s oldest ski area.

Adding a lift the Beavers area, west of existing lift-served terrain at the area, would mitigate public safety issues and enhance A-Basin’s reputation as a destination for advanced skiers, the Forest Service said in its scoping notice for the plan. Altogether, the Beavers expansion would add about 430 acres, including 125 acres of tree skiing.

The ski area also wants to expand its reservoir for snowmaking water, add a short surface lift to ease access to Montezuma Bowl and replace the Molly Hogan lift in the beginner area, as well as remove the seldom-used Norway chair and plan for potential zip line installations to enhance summer recreation. Continue reading

Colorado ski season begins!

Arapahoe Basin opening Oct. 13

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Arapahoe Basin Ski Area from an overlook on U.S. Highway 6.

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After a few cold nights for snowmaking, Arapahoe Ski Area will open for the season on Sunday, Oct. 13.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The wait is over.

Arapahoe Basin will officially open for the 2013-2014 season this Sunday, Oct. 13 with skiing off the Black Mountain Express chair, serving the High Noon trail. The first chair will start up the mountain at 8:30 a.m.

The opening comes four days earlier than last year, after a series of winter-like storms rolled through the Colorado mountains in late September and early October.

“This is a very exciting time for us, and all of Colorado,” Arapahoe Basin Vice President and COO Alan Henceroth said in a statement. “We’ve had tremendous early season snowmaking and natural snow, and we can’t wait to kick off the 2013-14 ski and ride season.”

The ski area will offer rental services, and will open restaurant facilities at the base area A-frame and at Black Mountain Lodge. While wrapping up a $1 million renovation of the 6th Alley Bar & Grill, a temporary bar will be set up in the A-frame.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at  ArapahoeBasin.com and urrent lift ticket window pricing will run through December 20, 2013, with adult (ages 19-59) full-day tickets priced at $67, youth (ages 15-18) window tickets priced at $55 and child (ages 6-14) window tickets priced at $32. Children under age 5 ski free every day all season.

Public lands: Forest Service eyes new rules for summer activities at ski resorts

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking comments on new rules governing various uses on public lands under permit to the ski industry.

Agency may authorize fees for uphill skiing, snowshoe travel at resorts on national forests

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Can you harmonize with the natural environment while speeding down a mountain zip line?

It may depend on exactly how fast you’re going, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which is rolling out a new set of rules to govern the permitting of summer recreational installations at ski areas operating on national forest lands.

In one of the biggest changes that would affect other private businesses near resorts, the agency would back away from a long-standing policy that precluded authorization for facilities that could be provided on nearby non-Forest Service lands. The proposed rules are posted at  http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses. Continue reading

Skiing: A-Basin moving ahead with master plan

Ski area, Forest Service to host Oct. 3 field session to provide overview of planned improvements at Summit County’s oldest ski area

A map of A-Basin's proposed upgrades presented last year.

A map of A-Basin’s proposed upgrades presented last year.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service officials say they’ve accepted Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s proposal to begin implementing pieces of a master plan that was updated last winter, including a new lift in the Beavers area, a short surface lift to improve access to Montezuma Bowl, and increased water storage for snowmaking.

The new lift in the Beavers area, to the west of the ski area’s current operational boundary, would serve about 400 acres of terrain.

“Two or so trails would be cleared while the majority would be gladed. The proposal calls for a four-person lift that would gain 1,500’ in elevation,” said Forest Service snow ranger Shelly Grail. “The proposed reservoir expansion is still being fine-tuned.  It’s final proposal location will  be determined after more wetland delineation work and feedback from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Grail said. Continue reading

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