“We want to do a thorough job”
More than 25 years after the Forest Service first considered a proposal by Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) to expand lift-served skiing terrain onto Snodgrass Mountain, the Forest Service is once again considering the expansion.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest offices received a 12-page “project proposal letter” from CBMR on Monday, June 22.
“This is another milestone in the process of working with the Forest Service toward ski area expansion on Snodgrass as part of our master development plan,” says CBMR chief operating officer Ken Stone. “CBMR provides an important recreational venue on public lands and Snodgrass represents a significant economic driver in our communities’ future.”
At only a dozen pages, the project proposal letter does not include a detailed description of the actual development plan. That information is included in a Master Development Plan (MDP) for the entire ski area, which was submitted to the Forest Service earlier this year and is currently undergoing review.
CBMR mountain planner Roark Kiklevich says the project proposal letter is a formal request to have the Forest Service review the Snodgrass development plans included in the MDP.
According to the letter addressed to Forest supervisor Charlie Richmond, “concurrent with your review—and acceptance—of the 2009 MDP, we hereby request that the GMUG initiate a National Environmental Policy Act review of all projects defined in our 2009 MDP for Snodgrass mountain. We are committed to implementing any projects on Snodgrass Mountain upon approval.”
The letter includes information on CBMR’s reasons for pursuing the expansion, such as a loss in overall market share and impacts to the economy; the public outreach the resort has done in the past year to earn community support for the project; an analysis of the existing trail network on Crested Butte Mountain; and a short description of what the Snodgrass expansion will offer.
Kiklevich says the development plans for Snodgrass haven’t changed from what the public had a chance to see during a presentation on the MDP in May.
The proposal includes the use of 262 acres as lift-served skiing terrain, four lifts and two restaurants. According to the letter, “The 2009 Snodgrass mountain proposal includes approximately 118 acres of new intermediate terrain… that is necessary for the resort to satisfy the demands of the marketplace and remain a viable and significant contributor to the regional economies.”
GMUG public affairs specialist Lee Ann Loupe says there’s no telling how long it will be before the Forest Service decides to start analyzing the development plans according to NEPA standards. “Pretty much all we can say is, yes we got [the proposal], and we’re going to be taking some time to go through it. We want to do a thorough job,” Loupe says.
Kiklevich believes the Snodgrass plans should enter the NEPA process by the end of July. If the NEPA planning process is initiated, Kiklevich says, the Forest Service may ask the resort for additional information. The NEPA process will involve the development of a set of alternative plans in the form of an environmental impact statement (EIS), which will involve public scoping periods and review before a final decision of approval by the forest supervisor.
You can read the entire letter here .