Breckenridge Ski Resort updates County Commissioners on proposed summer expansion
Summit County Commissioners recently heard updates on the expanded Breckenridge Ski Resort summer activities approved in a draft decision by the U.S. Forest Service in August.
The three commissioners asked questions and discussed issues with Jeff Zimmerman, Vail Resorts senior director of mountain planning in Summit County, who explained more details about the zip lines, mountain bikes trails, challenge courses and other changes on Peaks 7 and 8 in the works.
“We’re hopeful of a two-year construction build starting next summer,” he said at a commission work session on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Commissioners expressed concerns about an increase in resort summer visitors stressing the county’s emergency services.
Zimmerman said the ski area currently experiences three to five summer visits that require emergency services, typically from people using the resort’s mountain biking trails and alpine slide.
He added that the resort will add jobs and employ bike patrollers similar to ski patrollers.
“We absolutely will maintain a credible crew and perform first-aid functions,” he said, as the issue resurfaced at a commission work session Sept. 15.
Commissioner Thomas Davidson said he could foresee a situation in which county emergency service providers believe the resort lacks adequate staff.
“As long as that doesn’t happen, then life is good,” he said, and if it does, he hoped the Forest Service would require the resort to increase staffing.
Breckenridge Ski Resort director of mountain operations Gary Shimanowitz said the ski area employs about 2,000 people in the middle of winter, compared to about 500 in the middle of summer. The summer number could grow by 100 employees, which is “still well below where we are in the middle of the winter.”
Zimmerman said the ski area expects to add between 30 and 40 full-time jobs once the summer activities build-out is complete.
The commissioners also asked about socioeconomic impacts to the area, which is a new factor the Forest Service has added to its local studies of large projects through contractor SE Group.
Davidson said better data from local authorities and people on the frontlines of childcare, for example, is needed to properly analyze those effects in the future.
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier asked about impacts to wildlife and questioned why no pool of money was required of the company as the $350,000 for lynx habitat restoration elsewhere was required by the Forest Service under the Peak 6 expansion approval.
All three commissioners said they generally agreed with the activities and construction that White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams approved, and they will likely file an objection to his decision simply to stay legally involved.
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