“It’s a good beginning”
As summer warms up, most Crested Butte residents are probably thinking about beach towels and bicycles, but planning officials at Crested Butte Mountain Resort are still thinking about skiing.
On Monday, June 9, CBMR will hold a detailed presentation on the proposed Snodgrass expansion at a joint work session between the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. The meeting will be open to the public, and members of the Mt. Crested Butte Downtown Development Authority and Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission will also attend.
CBMR director of planning John Sale says the presentation will be about an hour long and will highlight the layout of lifts, trails, snowmaking and other ski area infrastructure. Sale says the expansion design that will be presented will be nearly identical to the official proposal CBMR hopes to send to the U.S. Forest Service later this summer. In terms of detail, Sale says, “It’s probably something we’ve never shown before.”
“It also goes into where we are, Crested Butte that is, in the sense of comparison to other ski areas… It’s about where we want to go and why we feel Snodgrass is critical to the future of Crested Butte and the overall economy of the Gunnison Valley too,” Sale says.
Sale says the presentation will also examine the relationship of Snodgrass to North Village and, “why we don’t feel North Village is dependent on Snodgrass, nor is (Snodgrass) about increasing the value of real estate.”
Sale says CBMR will take comments from the towns following the presentation, and public comment as time allows.
Plans for expanding ski terrain onto neighboring Snodgrass Mountain have come and gone for more than two decades. In 2005, CBMR submitted a preliminary proposal to the Forest Service for consideration before it officially entered the NEPA process, which would determine impacts of the development.
While a formal proposal has not been submitted, the current design, dubbed “Snodgrass Lite” by its proponents, calls for three lifts on the 11,145-foot-high Snodgrass Mountain, a smaller beginner ski lift and a connecting lift from the mountain to the main resort. One lift would dip into the Washington Gulch drainage but would not be accessible from homes in that area.
The Forest Service and CBMR agreed to explore potential “deal breakers” before the federal agency accepts the resort’s official application into the NEPA process. Those deal breakers include the mountain’s geology, community support, and impacts on the neighboring Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
Sale says CBMR is still having discussions with the Forest Service regarding the deal breakers, but has planned to hold this type of presentation for some time. During the past year CBMR hired geologist Jim McCalpin to study the geology of Snodgrass Mountain and its suitability for a ski area expansion. Sale says CBMR wanted to wait for the report to be completed before holding a detailed presentation. “We were hesitant to put a plan out there that we would have to change,” he says.
Compared to the previously seen “Snodgrass Lite” expansion design, Sale says they’ve changed lift alignments and trail locations based on the geologist’s findings.
Crested Butte Town Council member Skip Berkshire got an early preview of the presentation and is glad CBMR is holding the presentation for both towns and the general public. “My expectation is that there will be a little clearer idea for public consumption as to what CBMR has planned,” Berkshire says.
“It will answer questions which were somewhat at the root of the opposition… It’s a good beginning for dialogue and better insight into the plans,” he says.
Mt. Crested Butte mayor William Buck is also pleased CBMR is giving the presentation. “They’ve been busy reviewing the design and how everything is going to work. We’re interested in getting the complete update,” Buck says.
CBMR’s presentation will begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 9 at the Mountaineer Square Conference Center in Mt. Crested Butte.