No appeals on expansion decision for Copper Mountain
COPPER MOUNTAIN – The U. S. Forest Service has not yet received appeals to its decision to allow an expansion of Copper Mountain’s Union Creek beginners area. And, as a result, Copper could begin construction as early as Monday.
“We have not, to date, received an appeal yet,” said Mike Liu, special projects coordinator for the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest. “We are assuming that nobody appealed the (decision).”
Ski area officials at Copper have proposed improving their Union Creek area to make it more friendly for beginning skiers and snowboarders. The changes include expanding the beginner terrain, replacing the Kokomo lift with a gondola, building a warming hut at the top of the gondola, and adding 53.5 acres of snowmaking.
Liu said Forest Service officials received input during their public comment period this winter. There was concern expressed regarding the warming hut’s septic system, the impact of additional snowmaking on the streams and on water quality, and the potential impact of the expansion on snowshoe hare winter habitat. (Impacting snowshoe hare populations also could affect Canada lynx, which prey on the hare.)
To minimize environmental impacts, the Forest Service’s approval included some changes to Copper’s initial proposal.
Liu said resort officials will be required to connect the warming hut to the resort’s sewage system, instead of using a septic tank.
Additionally, the resort will be required to mitigate the impact on snowshoe hare populations by improving an area outside the ski area boundaries for snowshoe hare and lynx habitat.
A period of appeal followed June’s decision by Forest Service officials. All appeals were to be postmarked by Aug. 12, Liu said. Though there is a five-day waiting period after that date – to give all appeals sent by mail a chance to be received – Liu said he doesn’t expect to receive any appeals in the next few days.
Copper officials, however, hesitate to schedule construction until the five-day period has passed.
“By (today) we’ll feel confident that no appeals have been made and we’ll move forward,” said Copper spokesman Ben Friedland, adding it’s unlikely Copper will begin construction Monday.
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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