SUMMIT COUNTY — Pending the outcome of potential appeals and lawsuits, Breckenridge Ski Area will be permitted to add about 550 acres of terrain on Peak 6, served by two new lifts.
White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams Tuesday announced his decision to approve the hotly contested expansion, saying it will help reduce congestion on the busy mountain. Forest Service documents on the expansion are online at the WRNF website. Continue reading →
Participants in a recent site visit to Peak 6 stop for lunch near the location of the proposed top terminal of a new six-seat chairlift.
Dear Mr. Fitzwilliams and staff,
I write in opposition to the Peak 6 expansion. As a 20 year resident and business owner, I have watched Breckenridge evolve from a charming ski town to a “ski city” stumbling to keep on its feet. The towns infrastructure can barely handle the existing traffic, and I believe more thought should be put in to this proposal because of this. I live here for the superb quality of life, but this too is slowly becoming compromised.
As a business owner I can appreciate the town wanting to increase revenue, but at what cost? Bigger is not always better … but Vail’s marketing plan is a good one. They certainly have the most to gain from this, as do their shareholders. More terrain to advertise is by far the best option for them.
The beetle kill has had a devastating effect on both the landscape and wildlife here. More time needs to be spent understanding the long term repercussions of this. Coupled with the town’s unbridled growth and development, we can’t be sure of the impact if we rush in to action for those precious dollars.
Enough is enough. The ski area is huge and on this trajectory it will never end. When will we be able to say no?
Thank you for your consideration and taking the time to read this.
Breckenridge open house set for June 23; Front Range open house coming up, as well as a Peak 6 site visit on July 14
Healthy spruce and fir forest on Peak 6.
By Summit Voice
BRECKENRIDGE — It’s a common misconception that the trees within the proposed Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion area are lodgepole pines dying from the pine beetle epidemic.
In reality, healthy spruce and fir forest, including ancient legacy trees, dominate the alpine terrain, as described in the U.S. Forest Service draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS): “Spruce-fir within stands average approximately 90 years in age, although some stands may be much older in the Peak 6 area, where individual trees over 300 years of age were observed (legacy trees).”
The Forest Service is providing citizens with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Forest Service personnel and learn more about all the proposed alternatives in the DEIS at June 23 open house, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Beaver Run Ballroom of the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, located at 620 Village Road in Breckenridge, Colorado. Continue reading →
Resort officials say new terrain is needed to stay competitive
The view from the summit of Peak 6, now a popular backcountry ski destination that would become part of Breckenridge ski area's developed terrain under a proposal being reviewed by the U.S. Forest Service. PHOTO COURTESY ELLEN HOLLINSHEAD.
Listen to an audio transcript of the Peak 6 presentation at the Jan. 25 Breckenridge Town Council work session, including a presentation by ski area chief Pat Campbell and questions from town council members.
By Bob Berwyn & Jenney Coberly
SUMMIT COUNTY — Even as she acknowledged that Breckenridge has been among the top two most-visited ski areas in the U.S. during the past decade, resort chief Pat Campbell said the ski area needs the proposed Peak 6 expansion to stay competitive as a premier resort in the ski industry.
“It’s no secret that Breckenridge Ski Resort in the last decade has been has been either the most or second-most visited resort in the United States,” Campbell said Tuesday afternoon, updating the Breckenridge Town Council on the status of the expansion plan. “In fact we do that on less than half the skiable acreage that Vail has,” Campbell said. “Peak 6, we feel, is our best opportunity to really mitigate some of the crowding and guest experience issues that we have come to experience.” Continue reading →
Proposed Peak 6 Expansion Project Overview Presentation to Breckenridge Town Council January 25, 2011 Work Session
Breckenridge Ski Resort (BSR) has fluctuated between the most- and second-most visited resort in the U.S. over the past decade making it consistently one of the busiest mountain resorts in North America. Historically, peak visitation days put pressure on the existing terrain and infrastructure capacities. As visitation increases, the quality of the recreational experience is impacted. High trail densities and long lift lines are associated with three periods:
(1) peak days;
(2) average days during key egress periods; and
(3) new snow days in areas of off-piste, lift-served terrain.
To begin to mitigate these issues and improve the guest experience, Breckenridge has identified the need for the following needs:
• Better accommodation of current daily visitation levels; • Reduced skier/rider congestion on BSR’s existing Intermediate and Advanced intermediate terrain network and associated lifts; • Reduced waiting time for lifts at BSR; • Efficient dispersal of Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate skiers/riders across the entire skiable terrain network; • Additional lift-served terrain to accommodate the existing terrain distribution deficit; • Additional hike-to access servicing advanced ability levelsContinue reading →
A map showing one potential layout for a new lift and trail system on Peak 6 at Breckenridge Ski Area.
Will social media play a role in the outcome of a classic ski town showdown?
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Like almost everything else in the information age, a battle over a proposed ski area expansion in Breckenridge, Colorado, will be partially waged on the web. Both supporters and opponents of the plan to build a new lift and clear-cut new trails on Peak 6 are signing up on Facebook pages to take a stand — or at least to stay informed about the issue.
Breckenridge Ski Area first proposed the expansion a couple of years ago. In the initial round of formal Forest Service documents, the resort and the agency said the new terrain is needed to meet demand for intermediate terrain at what has been the country’s most-visited ski resort the past few seasons. Breckenridge has averaged about 1.5 million skier visits per season.
Critics of the expansion are concerned about ski area growth in general, loss of access to nearby backcountry skiing opportunities, as well as potential impacts to natural resources; lynx, elk and healthy old-growth forests high in the Tenmile Range. Continue reading →
An early map of the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 6 expansion plan, released with the scopng notice in 2008, shows one possible version of a planned terrain pod.
Forest Service says draft study on plan is due in September; agency will publish a newsletter on project in the next few weeks to update stakeholders
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A pending proposal to expand lift-served skiing at Breckenridge will include a “Peak 6-Light” option, including in-fill development within the resort’s existing footprint, as well as gladed Peak 6 terrain. The scaled-back version includes a shorter lift than envisioned in the initial version of the plan, which includes a lift extending well above treeline, to near the summit of Peak 6.
The U.S. Forest Service now hopes to release a draft environmental impact study for the Peak 6 plan in September. In the next couple of weeks, the agency will be sending out a newsletter to update interested parties on the Peak 6 mailing, said Roger Poirer, the winter sports program administrator for the White River National Forest.
Vail Resorts officials said last week via e-mail that they had no comment on the expansion proposal at this time.
“We wanted to develop a realistic alternative proposal … not just a straw-man alternative that we’d never pick,” Poirer said. The draft study will also show various options for mitigating impacts from tree-clearing and development on Peak 6, especially as those activities relate to threatened lynx, Poirer said. Continue reading →
Snodgrass Mountain, viewd from the Mt. Crested Butte ski area. PHOTO COURTESY FRIENDS OF SNODGRASS MOUNTAIN.
Agency also denies Utah resort expansion, citing need for backcountry recreation and watershed protection
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A controversial plan to build new lifts and trails in Crested Butte is headed for the desk of U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell. The high-level review comes after two other Forest Service decision-makers previously rejected the Snodgrass Mountain expansion plan.
Originally, national forest supervisor Charlie Richmond decided late last year that the Forest Service would not start a formal review process for the expansion. Richmond said there was a lack of clear community support for the project, and also cited geological issues in his decision.
After a California-based regional forester upheld Richmond’s decision, the resort took the appeal to the highest level, claiming that the forest supervisor violated federal law by making a private decision that excluded the public.
The U.S. Forest Service has also denied a ski area expansion bid in Utah, where Solitude had sought to build new lifts in the Silver Fork area, where the resort wanted to build one new lift and develop about 180 acres for skiing.
The forest supervisor for the area said the proposed expansion is not consistent with the 2003 forest plan, which designates the Silver Fork area for watershed protection and undeveloped recreation. According to the agency, the need to protect watersheds and provide opportunities for backcountry has grown since 2003. Read More …
A bid to expand Crested Butte was denied by the U.S. Forest Service, but the Forest Supervisor could overturn the decision. The undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service is Harris Sherman, an attorney who favored expansions at Vail Resorts when he worked in the private sector in Colorado.
Controversial plan reached top levels of Forest Service, ski industry and Congress
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is sticking with its decision to deny an expansion of Crested Butte Mountain Resort on to nearby Snodgrass Mountain.
Deputy Regional Forester James M. Peña announced his decision in a May 6 letter to the resort owners, saying the record is full of contradictory evidence regarding the merits of the plan, and said that Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnision National Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond, who initially denied the expansion plan, “(D)id not violate law, regulation, or agency policy nor was it arbitrary or capricious, and was fully within his broad discretionary authority.”
See the entire letter in a Scribd.com window at the end of the story.
Peña also said he is requiring Richmond to provide guidance on how Crested Butte “should submit a proposal to provide downhill skiing in the context of (forest plan) direction that the authorized officer would find acceptable,” or to initiate a revision of the plan to modify the ski area zoning for the area. Continue reading →