Wolverine reintroduction part of the plan for new nature preserve
By Snob Beerwhine
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a surprise move, Colorado’s biggest ski company announced April 1 that it will not pursue the Peak 6 ski area expansion after all. Instead, Breckenridge ski area and the town will expand the Cucumber Gulch preserve into a full-fledged wildlife sanctuary encompassing part of the Tenmile Range from the valley bottom up to the ridgeline.
With sponsorship of the ski area, the new preserve will be called EpicWildlife, set aside for lynx, elk, moose and boreal toads. Partnering with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Breckenridge also plans to reintroduce wolverines to the area, where they will find great habitat in the alpine cirques and couloirs along the crest.
“We’ve decided that we need to live up to our long-time promise to respect the environment, and with global warming starting to affect the length of the season, we think that a wildlife preserve is the way to show our commitment to preserving natural resources,” said company chairman and CEO, Bob Ratz. “With EpicWildlife, guest will be able to earn virtual pins every time they spot a new species,” he said.
The Forest Service will do an EIS on the proposal to analyze and disclose the environmental impacts, but the conclusion is pretty much foregone, said White River National Forest Supervisor Hot Kittens.
“Pretty much whatever Vail wants, Vail gets … It’s all the same to us, since we’re really focused on trying to cut down every last beetle-killed pine in the forest,” Kittens said.
The new sanctuary will be the largest in Colorado and could even serve as a starting point to bring wolves back to the state, according to ski area COO and VP Slats Hambell.
“Our guests have repeatedly told us that they really value the preservation of Colorado’s environment, but I guess those bean counters on Wall Street just finally got the memo,” Hambell said, with frustration clearly written on her face.