Forest service officials seek public input on Copper proposal |

Forest service officials seek public input on Copper proposal

COPPER MOUNTAIN<Copper Mountain officials hope to begin construction of an improved learning center for beginner skiers and snowboarders, in time for service next ski season.3I think we could really improve the experience for our guests, said Copper Mountain Chief Operating Officer Dave Barry. 3It would provide newcomers … with a safe, worry-free, very comfortable experience for the first time (on the mountain).Copper Mountain officials have proposed construction of a new Kokomo lift from the Union Creek base area to a new teaching area above the existing Lumberjack lift. The new teaching area would include a short teaching lift, two surface lifts<known as magic carpets, which are similar to moving walkways in airports<and a warming facility for ski school activities.With the proposed changes, beginners would be able to walk on to an open-air gondola in the base area on their way to their first lesson further up the mountain. Snowmaking is also proposed to insure early season teaching and beginner terrain.Currently, Copper1s beginner terrain is located at the Union Creek area on the far west side of the mountain. Barry said lifts serving the area 3are very, very old and very slow.The Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest has reviewed and analyzed the proposal submitted by Copper Mountain Resort and prepared an environmental assessment (EA). The EA describes the proposal and other alternatives that were considered. It also compares anticipated effects to the environment. Copies of the EA are now available for public review and comment.While Barry said he had just received his copy and had not yet reviewed it, he complimented the Forest Service for its study and said they had done 3a really good job.District Ranger Jamie Connell said the Forest Service is seeking feedback from the public before it makes its final decision.Martha Ketelle, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest, will decide whether or not to approve the proposed action or another alternatives the Forest Service developed by in response to specific resource issues.3The Forest Service is also responsible for the care of the natural environment, said Michael Liu, special projects coordinator with the Dillon district.Resort officials said, if the proposal is approved on schedule, the Forest Service should announce its decision this spring and construction would begin in the summer<in the hopes of having the improved beginner terrain available for mountain guests next winter.

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