DU Law Clinic may help with administrative or legal challenge
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.
Obliteration of old roads, dam removals would be OK’d under categorical exclusions
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service wants to speed restoration of national forest lands by streamlining the approval process for removing dams, and cleaning up debris and sediment and for reclaiming closed roads.
Under the proposal, now open for public comments, projects in those categories could be approved under a categorical exclusion, a type of review that isn’t nearly as extensive as an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement — all outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality recently issued guidance for the use of categorical exclusions. The CEQ concluded:
“Categorical exclusions have become the most frequently employed method of complying with NEPA. The extensive and expanding use of categorical exclusions underscores the need for clarifying guidance. Categorical exclusions are appropriate in many circumstances but should not be relied on if they thwart the purposes of NEPA, compromising the quality and transparency of agency decisionmaking or the opportunity for meaningful public participation. The guidance is designed to ensure that agencies appropriately and transparently establish and use categorical exclusions.”
SUMMIT COUNTY — After two extensions, a public comment period on the proposal to add several hundred acres of new lift-served terrain at Breckenridge is coming to an end Aug 26, and the Peak 6 expansion is no less controversial now than when it was first proposed publicly in 2008.
The public debate about the expansion shows how ski communities in general are divided on ski area growth. There is strong support for the expansion plan from part of the town’s business community, including the Breckenridge Restaurant Association and some other ski-related businesses. Other residents feel strongly that the resort is big enough and that additional growth will undermine quality of life in the community.
Resort leaders say the plan to add new terrain served by a six-seat chair will help disperse skiers and riders across Colorado’s busiest ski area, easing congestion on existing lifts and trails. Critics of the plan say it will attract more visitors, ultimately resulting in even more crowding, both on the mountain and in the town.
Forest Service taking comments on Breckenridge ski area expansion through Aug. 9
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not too late to sign up for the July 14 site visit to the proposed Peak 6 expansion area at Breckenridge.
U.S. Forest Service winter sports ranger Shelly Grail said that, after keeping an eye on the snowpack in the area, it appears that the site visit will able to proceed as planned. The general idea is to hike to the proposed project area to get a sense of what the area looks like in the summer.
After a well-attended winter site visit, some people asked the Forest Service to do a similar tour in the summer. The group will meet at the base of the Colorado Superchair at 9 a.m. and hike out to Peak 6. Grail said there is still some snow on the ground, so people should be prepared to hike on snow. Also, be prepared to spend most of the day outside. Continue reading “Breckenridge: Spots still open for Peak 6 site visit”→
Breckenridge open house set for June 23; Front Range open house coming up, as well as a Peak 6 site visit on July 14
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 “Breckenridge: More info on the proposed Peak 6 expansion”→
Draft environmental study could be released in June
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A controversial plan to expand lift-served skiing on to Peak 6 at Breckenridge is nearing a major milestone, as the U.S. Forest Service prepares to release a draft environmental study in June. Read past Summit Voice stories online here for more background.
In preparation for the next phase of Forest Service review process, the resort is holding a June 1 open house on the proposed expansion. The open house is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge. The open house format includes a project overview presentation at the top of every hour, with informational booths throughout the afternoon and evening. Parking is free. For more information, call 970-754-2712. Continue reading “Breckenridge: Open house on Peak 6 expansion proposal”→
If finalized in its present form, it will close several hundred miles of trails currently used by ATVs and dirt bikes, but will also legitimize many other illegally created trails on parts of the national forest.
Conservation advocates and public land watchdogs said the travel management plan appears to balance access with resource protection, but expressed concern about several key provisions.
“(T)he plan continues to contain some significant shortcomings that concern us,” said Sloan Shoemaker, director of the Aspen-based Wilderness Workshop.
“Today culminates over seven years of work on the travel plan. This alternative provides a sensible and pragmatic foundation for the transportation system on the White River National Forest while ensuring the natural resources are protected for future generations,” Fitzwilliams said. “This plan has an impact on everything we do. We wanted to get it right. That’s why it took seven years,” he said. “I believe this is an alternative we can reasonably afford to manage over the next 10 years. Continue reading “Colorado: White River NF finalizes new trails plan”→