Includes a more comprehensive summer plan
Late last fall, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) announced expansion plans aimed at providing more intermediate and advanced skiing. After lift-served skiing on Snodgrass was shut down by the Forest Service, the resort turned its attention to opening terrain on the east side of Crested Butte Mountain above Brush Creek Road.
The new plans require Forest Service approval and the adjustment of current ski area permit boundaries, and CBMR is in the final stages of submitting its master development plan for the agency’s review. As part of that process, the resort is hosting an open house at Butte 66 on Wednesday, August 15 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. John Sale, CBMR director of planning, explained that the idea is to give the public a closer look at the plan.
“We’re in the final stages of the master plan and we’re going to hold an open house next Wednesday at Butte 66 for the public to come up. It’s a continuation of the presentations we made this winter, but the Forest Service is thinking it would be good before we submit to put some maps up and offer one more opportunity for the public to check it out,” Sale said.
The bulk of the plan has stayed the same since last fall. New lift-served terrain is still being proposed for the Wolf’s Lair area of Teocalli Bowl. The Resort would need to upgrade the current North Face Lift, add two new chairlifts and glade some trees from the new terrain. The resort is also still exploring low-impact activities for Snodgrass during the summer and winter. The biggest changes in the master plan address summer activities.
“We have a little more detail, especially in the summer use. In the last month we’ve been spending most of our time putting together a more comprehensive summer use plan. We’ve seen growth of summer business from less than 5 percent in 2005 to 19 percent last year, and we’ll probably exceed that this year,” Sale said.
He added that a few new trails have been added at the top of the lifts, but the primary development was a zoning map that indicates the types of activities and level of impact anticipated on different parts of the mountain.
“This may be something new for ski areas,” Sale said. CBMR has identified three different zones: high-density areas, which mostly occur on private property near the base area; intermediate levels of recreational use that include everything from downhill mountain biking to Frisbee golf and zip lines; and low-impact areas limited to hiking trails or cross country mountain biking.
“It gives the Forest Service a level of comfort in terms of what we’re really looking at in the next five years,” Sale said. It balances specific details with general land use plans; for example, CBMR might not know exactly where a new zip line would go, but the Forest Service could rest assured it would be limited to areas near existing lifts.
The map is intended for summer activities, but Sale acknowledged there could be some overlap—the resort offered zip line tours this past winter. “That’s something we’re going to have to evaluate when we get into it—what are those conflicts of uses. We want to make sure we’re still offering good safe skiing,” Sale said.
On Wednesday, CBMR will display maps and details of the master plan in Butte 66. Several representatives will be on hand to answer questions, and there will be comment cards for the public to give written feedback. Sale says they scheduled the open house to coincide with Wednesday’s Live from Mt. Crested Butte concert so folks attending the concert could also check out the master plan.
“People can come up early or during the concert, grab a beer and pop up to Butte 66,” Sale said. “They can see what the plans are, look at maps, and if they have comments this is sort of a last chance to make comments on the plan before we submit it to the Forest Service.
CBMR plans to consider that feedback and submit the master plan to the Forest Service by the end of August. District ranger John Murhpy says he expects the Forest Service review process to take about a month. “We’re not anticipating that it’s going to be an extensive review,” Murphy said, “We’ve been working very closely with CBMR as they’ve developed the master development plan so I don’t think we’re going to be surprised by anything in it.”