Copper Mountain eyes alpine coaster amusement ride

More snowmaking, bike trails to be studied by Forest Service

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More recreation developments proposed for Copper Mountain.

Staff Report

Citing a lack of recreational opportunities at Copper Mountain, the U.S. Forest Service has launched an early comment period for proposed new developments at the Summit County resort, including an alpine coaster ride on the front side of the mountain, increased snowmaking and new mountain bike trails.

“These projects will help connect people to their National Forest while at the same time improving the year-round guest experience at Copper Mountain Resort,” said U.S. Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Bill Jackson. “In particular, we are excited about the additional snowmaking coverage on the West Encore and Collage trails which will allow the U.S. Ski Team additional early-season training opportunities.”

Despite already massive water consumption for snowmaking at Copper and other Summit County resorts, the Forest Service apparently believes more is justified because Copper “struggles to keep an appropriate depth of coverage on these trails (West Encore and Collage) due to their popularity, level of use, and their windward exposure.”

But at least the Forest Service is proposing to offset some of the impacts by requiring a new drainage management system, as well some revegetation efforts on the trails.

Here’s what the Forest Service had to say about the proposed alpine coaster:

“This proposal includes an alpine coaster to be constructed and operated near the Center Village area to accommodate visitors who seek an additional on-mountain experience. The proposed coaster would operate year-round in an area that currently serves as a hub for summer and winter recreation at CMR. The gravity-driven coaster would be located near the American Flyer chairlift.

Alpine coaster infrastructure includes an uphill track, which tows riders to the top terminal of the coaster, a storage/mechanical building and a downhill track. Construction and access to the coaster would generally utilize existing mountain access roads along with some additional clearing for the coaster alignment; however, construction and continued maintenance of the coaster would require a short access road to be built from A-Road to the top terminal of the coaster. The power line for the coaster would run from an existing maintenance facility to the top terminal, utilizing the access road corridor. The location of the Coaster is not expected to interfere with ski area operations or winter guest experiences. Bridging some trails and mountain access roads would be necessary.”

The White River National Forest is preparing an Environmental Assessment to consider and disclose the anticipated environmental effects of implementing these projects. This public comment period is aimed at providing opportunities for the public to have early and meaningful participation in the process and to learn more about the proposed projects. The comment period during the scoping phase of the project runs through March 11.

 An Open House for these projects will be held at The Edge (0050 Beeler Place, Copper Mountain, CO 80443) in the Sky Chutes Theater on Feb. 17, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Representatives from the White River National Forest and the ski area will be present to answer questions and provide additional information on these projects.

 Comments may be submitted to: Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, c/o Roger Poirier, Project Leader, 900 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 or electronically through the project website. For additional project information and online comment submittal, please visit the project website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48633.

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