Forest Service seeking public input on Keystone plans
KEYSTONE – U.S. Forest Service officials support Keystone’s plans for a third access point onto Keystone Mountain. Now they’re seeking the public’s opinion and suggestions on the ski resort’s proposal.
The Forest Service will hold an open house on the proposed Ski Tip development from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 10 at the Dillon Ranger District offices at 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne.
Keystone is planning the third portal in the Ski Tip neighborhood, adjacent to Montezuma Road and just east of River Run.
That access point would be in addition to the already existing Mountain House and River Run ski area portals. Forest Service officials think it’s a good idea.
“Development of a third portal would reduce overall congestion at the (other) portals,” said Mike Liu, special projects coordinator for the Dillon Ranger District. “A recent circulation and capacities analysis of visitor movement patterns at Keystone Resort indicated that River Run and Mountain House are over-utilized and experience crowding.”
The prospect of the third access point is hardly new, but it has been long in coming. According to ski area officials, it won’t generate as much traffic as do the other base areas.
“This lift has been talked about for 16 or 17 years,” said Boyd Mitchell, Keystone Resort’s director of ski area planning and development. “(The base area) would have limited retail and only one lift.”
It would also include essential skier services, such as ticketing, rentals, toilets and ski school.
Keystone Real Estate Development will talk about its plans for development in the Ski Tip area, adjacent to the Ski Tip lift, during a Snake River Planning Commission at 5:30 tonight.
Development in the area has long been a source of concern, with Forest Service officials concerned it could impact wildlife habitat in an area known as Jones Gulch. But this plan, Liu said, minimizes those impacts. That change, among other reasons, is why Liu said the USFS is generally supportive of the concept.
The new lift, capable of downloading passengers, is planned to be 3,500 feet long with the top terminal east of the midpoint of the existing Santa Fe Trail and adjacent to the Spring Dipper traverse. The bottom terminal is planned on private land about 2,700 feet east of the existing bottom terminal for the Summit Express.
The plan also shows a new Ski Tip Trail, proposed as advanced-intermediate to expert terrain. The existing Dercum’s Dash would be extended to continue to the east of the River Run Trail and connect with two surface lifts. Those proposed surface lifts would transfer skiers of all ability levels back to the Ski Tip portal.
The USFS is required to look at alternatives to any such plan, and that’s where Liu said the public may come in.
“Depending on public scoping, there may only be two alternatives: the proposal and no action,” Liu said. “While we’re certainly supportive of the need for a third portal, we’re certainly not saying this is the only or the best solution. As we hear public comments, we may be able to create or produce a better alternative.”
If the public’s concerns are fairly minor, Liu said a draft environmental assessment (EA) could be ready in as little as three months. Then the public will have another chance to comment.
“If comments aren’t very substantial, then we could very easily come out with a final EA within a month or two,” Liu said. “With a final EA comes a decision notice and a finding of no significant impact. If the decision is to proceed, Keystone would have Forest Service approval to construct whatever is approved.”
The ski area would still need then to get local and other approvals.
“There’s a possibility they could have their permits and approvals in place for some level of construction next year,” Liu said. “That’s conceivable.”
Comments must be postmarked or received by July 20 and should be sent to: Jamie Connell, District Ranger, Dillon Ranger District, P.O. Box 620, Silverthorne, 80498. Comments may also be faxed to 970-468-7735.
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Open house on proposed Ski Tip development
When: July 10
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Dillon Ranger District offices
680 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne
Snake River Planning Commission reviews Keystone Real Estate Development plans for the Ski Tip Neighborhood, adjacent to the proposed Ski Tip lift
When: 5:30 p.m. tonight
Where: Dillon Town Hall
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