Keystone homeowners review Ski Tip lift plans during open house
KEYSTONE – The Keystone Citizens League wants to see a proposed new lift at Keystone Mountain go much higher than it’s planned. That’s just one of the concerns league members have about the proposal for a new lift and third portal at the resort.
League president Bob Follett was among dozens who attended a Wednesday open house on the plans at U.S. Forest Service (USFS) offices in Silverthorne. The League includes about 225 Keystone residents, and it represents them on resort as well as countywide issues.
“Many of our board members question, is it better to take that lift all the way to the top rather than just part-way?” Follett said. “We also have to ask ourselves, “Do we think this is going to have a negative impact on wildlife?’ Of course, the issue of parking will be on our agenda.
“I think generally our board is, in a very conceptual way, in favor of another portal going up the mountain, but once you get past that conceptual approval, then we have all these questions.”
Follett and the board plan to pen a letter to the USFS expressing their concerns by July 20, the date on which public comments on the Ski Tip on-mountain changes are due.
Other Keystone-area residents share Follett’s concerns.
“If they’re going to put that lift up, it should be extended longer to give people more choices on the mountain,” said Red Merchant, a New York state resident who owns a second home in Keystone.
“We’re supportive, but if the purpose is to get people scattered a little more more, it’s limited the way it is now,” agreed his wife, Bonnie Merchant. “We’ve skied here a few years, and we know the crowding problems at River Run.”
Keystone is planning the third portal in the Ski Tip neighborhood, adjacent to Montezuma Road and just east of River Run.
The plan also shows a new Ski Tip Trail, proposed as advanced-intermediate to expert terrain. Because that terrain promises to challenge novice skiers, Keystone officials want to give people the opportunity to take the new lift back to the Ski Tip base area.
“I think there’s a lot of people at Keystone who don’t have the ability to enjoy that (new terrain) as a ski trail,” said Boyd Mitchell, Keystone Resort’s director of ski area planning and development. “We don’t know what type of lift it needs to be, other than it needs to be download friendly.”
Under the proposal, 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 whole plan is designed to reduce congestion at the other two Keystone Mountain portals – at River Run and Mountain House – and to provide an access point for people parking or living in the Ski Tip neighborhood. That area is partly developed, and at buildout, calls for 500 residential units.
Development in the area long has been a source of controversy, with Forest Service officials concerned it could impact wildlife habitat in an area known as Jones Gulch. But the plan has been altered, and Forest Service officials believe it now minimizes those impacts.
“The lift proposal is on the development side of Jones Gulch,” said Mike Liu, special projects coordinator for the Dillon Ranger District. That leaves the undeveloped area on the other side of the proposed area open for wildlife migration. A previous proposal was plagued by concern that it might drive animals away from that potential wildlife migration corridor.
If things proceed smoothly with the USFS, Keystone conceivably could begin work on the Ski Tip portal in 2003.
Comments on the Ski Tip proposal 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.
n Third Keystone Mountain portal in the Ski Tip neighborhood
n New lift that skiers can ride down as well as up; lift proposed at 3,500 feet long with the top terminal near the Santa Fe trail and Spring Dipper
n New Ski Tip trail, 14 acres, rated advanced intermediate/expert
n 20 acres of snowmaking
n Extension of Dercum’s Dash trail
n Two surface lifts for skiers to traverse from Dercum’s Dash area to Ski Tip portal
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