Forest Service looking at permitting process but investors keeping quiet
A group of investors hope to restart a snowcat skiing operation at the Irwin Lodge, west of Crested Butte. Scarps Ridge LLC has begun the preliminary process of obtaining a permit with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct the operation on Forest Service land above the Irwin town-site.
“The group is working with us to reactivate the permit,” said Forest Service snow ranger Kai Allen. “The last time the permit for a snowcat ski operation was active was probably seven years ago. There is no permit at this point and they have to go through the public process and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act). There are still some unknowns as far as the process.”
Allen said it is unlikely a permit could be issued in time for an operation to start this winter. “That would be pretty fast and while they might want it,” said Allen, “I wouldn’t expect a lot to happen this winter. In terms of the kind of things needed to issue the permit, it probably won’t be a reality this winter.”
As in similar situations, Allen asked proponent representative Missy Ochs to sift out some of the issues before going through a lengthy public process. Ochs has approached the Crested Butte Town Council to write a letter of support for the permit. Both mayor Alan Bernholtz and councilperson Billy Rankin have indicated they won’t participate in the council discussion since they have been approached to work for the organization. If Ochs brings a draft letter to the town this week, the council will consider the request for support at their meeting next Monday.
According to Allen, if everything lines up, the Forest Service would likely issue a one-year temporary permit. The agency is likely to extend the permit to five or ten years after several temporary permits if no major issues arise.
Ochs did not want to comment on the project.