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Colorado: Breckenridge Ski Area wants to develop new summer recreation facilities on national forest lands

Resort submits plan to U.S. Forest Service

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A summer view toward Breckenridge from the flanks of the Tenmile Range near Peak 6.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Breckenridge Ski Area is preparing to create an outdoor-themed summer amusement park on the public lands it leases from the U.S. Forest Service. The resort wants to add  14 miles of beginner, intermediate and family oriented mountain biking trails across peaks 7 and 8, as well as adventure hiking zones, zip lines and ropes courses.

Vail Resorts submitted a formal proposal to the U.S. Forest Service this week. Following acceptance of the proposal, the agency will begin an comprehensive environmental review to analyze and disclose site-specific environmental impacts. If the U.S. Forest Service approves a plan, Vail Resorts would begin construction on Epic Discovery activities in the summer of 2015.

In a press release, the company touted the environmental and educational components of the planned new activities. According to the release, the company will partner with The Nature Conservancy and will donate 1 percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue toward forest restoration projects. Continue reading

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Critics plan appeal of Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion

DU Law Clinic may help with administrative or legal challenge

The Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge will very likely be appealed and a legal challenge is not out of the question. Click on the map a couple of times to see the full-size version.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service approval of the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area probably won’t go unchallenged. Longtime critics of the project scrutinizing the the final environmental study say they are likely to appeal several elements of the decision, including, fundamentally, whether the expansion meets the stated purpose and need.

Vail Resorts claimed from the start that the new lifts and terrain will ease congestion at Breckenridge by spreading out skiers on peak visitation days, but at least some of the data in the Final Environmental Impact Statement seem to contradict that conclusion.

Skiers and snowboarders will still have to use the busiest lifts out of the Peak 8 base area to reach the new terrain. At one point in the document the Forest Service appears to flat-out acknowledge that the expansion won’t significantly shorten lift wait times on Peak 7 and Peak 8.

All the documents for the Peak 6 project are at this Forest Service website. Extensive background stories about Peak 6 are online at this Summit Voice page. Some of the ongoing community concerns and criticisms of the Forest Service decision are spelled out on the Save Peak 6 Facebook page.

Continue reading

Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion wins Forest Service OK, but community concerns, and some hard feelings, remain

45-day appeal period starts when the decision is formally published

Community interest led to a Forest Service-led site visit last summer, attended by dozens of Breckenridge residents and visitors.

By Bob Berwyn

* Background and stories detailing the four-year process at this Summit Voice page.

* More details on the decision here.

SUMMIT COUNTY — White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Tuesday his decision to approve a 550-acre expansion at Breckenridge Ski Resort is an appropriate balance between resource conservation and recreational use of the forest, but some critics of the expansion remain unconvinced.

Fitzwilliams acknowledged that the expansion will affect 81 acres of habitat for threatened lynx, but promised that the Forest Service will work with community partners to improve the overall conditions of surrounding forests, with an eye toward restoring important wildlife habitat.

“No question, there are impacts, and I think we’ve disclosed them in a fair and balanced manner … and through mitigation and design criteria, we can mitigate them to the point where they are acceptable,” Fitzwilliams said during a media conference call on the Peak 6 decision.

The expansion has been in the works since 2008, when a scoping open house in Breckenridge drew about 200 critical comments that questioned the basic rationale for the expansion and outlined concern about impacts to the environment and the local community, including parking, housing, childcare and overall resort growth. Continue reading

Breckenridge: New Peak 8 development in the works

Town council to discuss development agreement that would enable site work before a final building permit is issued

More development at Peak 8?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The latest proposal for a new timeshare development at Peak 8, up for discussion at a July 24 town council meeting, could give the developers (Breckenridge Grand Vacation) an opportunity to get a head start on the proposed timeshare project by allowing them to start demolishing the Bergenhof and building infrastructure before the actual building permit is issued.

That would be a new path for the town, since development codes don’t allow  site work to begin before a building permit is issued.

The deal, which has been in the works for several months, includes Vail Resorts selling the property to the timeshare developer, as well as an increase in overall density above what is allowed on the site and a decrease in parking spaces.

The developers also want to gain density by reclassifying already built and future proposed public restroom space, employee locker room space and storage spaces as listed in the Peak 7 and 8 Master Plan as skier services to new category that does not require density.

To sweeten the pot, the developer has proposed donating $25,000 to the town for preservation activities in Cucumber Gulch.

Check out the staff memo and the proposed development agreement in the town council packet for the July 24 meeting.

Breckenridge Ski Area extends season

Two extra weekends of turns — and free parking — on tap for Colorado skiers

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

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY— For the first time since merging with Vail Resorts, Breckenridge Ski Area will extend the season in response to a flood of requests from loyal skiers.

The area’s high-altitude should ensure good conditions through late April. Breckenridge often stayed open into early May back in the 1980s, when old-timers can remember celebrating Cinco de Mayo with late-season turns on Peak 8.

The two-weekend bonus season will include only Peak 8 terrain, including the Imperial Express SuperChair, for  two additional weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 20-22 and April 27-29, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day. In addition, the resort will have a special 50th season extension day ticket price of $50 for those without passes and free parking in the gondola lots. Continue reading

Ski area environmental rankings released

Peak 6 expansion a black eye for Breckenridge

How well does your favorite resort rank in environmental performance.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The controversy swirling around the proposed Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area is reflected in the latest edition of the Ski Area Environmental Report Card.

The Summit County ski area received one of the lowest grades in the state and country based on the potential impacts that the expansion would have on forests, wildlife habitat and other natural resources.

1 (A) Aspen Highlands Ski Resort 88.1%
2 (A) Aspen Mountain Ski Resort 85.7%
3 (A) Buttermilk Mountain Ski Resort 85.2%
4 (A) Snowmass Ski Resort 81.2%
5 (A) Wolf Creek Ski Area 81%
6 (B) Vail Ski Resort 74.9%
7 (B) Arapahoe Basin Ski Area 74.1%
8 (B) Loveland Ski Area 73.7%
9 (B) Telluride Ski Resort 73.3%
10 (B) Beaver Creek Resort 72.2%
11 (B) Crested Butte Mountain Resort 71.7%
12 (B) Durango Mountain Resort 70.7%
13 (B) Winter Park Resort 70.3%
14 (B) Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area 69.6%
15 (B) Steamboat Ski & Resort 69%
16 (C) Powderhorn Resort 67.1%
17 (C) Keystone Ski Resort 66.9%
18 (C) Eldora Mountain Resort 64.2%
19 (C) Copper Mountain Ski Resort 64.1%
20 (D) Breckenridge Ski Resort 50.1%

Continue reading

Breckenridge ski area celebrates 50 years of skiing

Breckenridge ski area seen from a NASA satellite, with one snow-covered trail.

Breckenridge and Vail ski resort history interconnected since the early days of the Colorado ski industry

By Bob Berwyn

Breckenridge ski area’s 50th anniversary will be marked by community celebrations and a resort marketing blitz, but skiing has deep roots in the Summit County town that predate the sport’s commercial era by at least 100 years.

The first people to slide about the local mountains on skis weren’t in it for the money. Father John Dyer moved to Breckenridge in 1862, and for Dyer, skiing was essential to his spiritual mission, as he commuted to Alma and Leadville on Norwegian snowshoes spread the word of God. Continue reading

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