White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams: “I’m not going to sign something I’m not comfortable with.”
By Jenney Coberly
BRECKENRIDGE — About 60 citizens piled into a meeting room at One Ski Hill Place at the base of Peak 8 Friday (April 22) to hear White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams speak about the proposed Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Fitzwilliams will decide how and if the proposed expansion will proceed. Click here for background on the proposal.
During the question and answer period, town council member Jeffrey Bergeron asked, “Often you hear around the community that this is kind of a done deal. For those that perhaps think that, it is not a done deal, right? There is some input and citizen comments that could affect the outcome of this.”
“Absolutely,”Fitzwilliams replied. “One thing I want to assure you is that we’re doing as thorough an analysis as we possibly can. I’m not going to sign something I’m not comfortable with. When we put alternatives on the table, it’s because we think they’re legitimate. We take public input, we take the effects analysis, we look at the socio-economic impacts … generally when we make the final decision, it’s a little bit of science, a little bit of art, and a little bit of intuition.”
Fitzwilliams said he was open to the idea of another site visit during the summer that could coincide with a public comment period on a draft environmental study for the proposal.
The Forest Service is currently analyzing the Breckenridge proposal, and hopes to have the draft environmental impact statement ready for public review by June.
Once the draft is released, the public will have 45 days to comment. After the close of the comment period, it will probably be another 6 to 8 months before a decision is made. During this time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct a detailed analysis of the proposed expansion’s impact to the ecosystem.
After the Q&A, the group reconvened at the top of the Independence Chair on Peak 7 for a field visit. Most of the group skied out the backcountry access to view some of the Peak 6 terrain, while a smaller group of about 17 stayed in bounds and were shown the location of the proposed new lift, and a planned traverse to allow direct access to the new lift from Peak 8.
For more background and information about the proposed expansion, check out our Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion page