Ski official airs concerns about new Forest Plan |

Ski official airs concerns about new Forest Plan

Daily News staff report

SUMMIT COUNTY – Vail Resorts President Andy Daly said in a prepared statement Thursday company officials have “a number of potentially serious clarifications and issues with regard to roadless areas, lynx and water policy” outlined in Alternative K, the revised management plan for the White River National Forest.

“First, it is important to acknowledge the U.S. Forest Service for spearheading such an inclusive and exhaustive public process that has resulted in compromise,” he said in a press release. “We commend their hard work and efforts in putting together this Forest Plan.”

Daly also said officials are happy the new Forest Plan acknowledges skier visits likely will increase in the future and adjust ski resort boundaries to reflect that.

“At the same time,” Daly wrote, “significant terrain that had been in our permitted areas for Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone was removed, indicating to us that compromises are evident in the plan. While some terrain was removed for environmental and wildlife reasons, a lesser amount of terrain that naturally lends itself to skiing and snowboarding has been added.”

The new Forest Plan, last updated in 1984, was released Tuesday, June 4. It emphasizes active management of ecosystem parts to improve wildlife habitat, water quality and soil productivity. Additionally, emphasis is placed on quality recreation experience in a primarily natural setting – although recreation details on the forest will be outlined in the Travel Management Plan within the next couple of years. Yet, Forest Service officials admitted when they released the plan they realized it wouldn’t please everyone.

Under the terms of the new plan, U.S. Forest Service officials allowed up to an additional 3,306 acres of land to be opened to ski areas.

Ski area boundaries at all four Summit County ski areas were adjusted to lower skier densities, avoid impacts to wildlife and provide the type of terrain that meets visitors’ expectations and ability levels.

The acreage allocated for expansion is 48 percent more than what is currently developed, said Dillon District Ranger Jamie Connell.

But the acreage allocated for potential expansion is 17 percent smaller in the new plan than what was allocated under the 1984 plan.

“There are areas the ski areas would have liked to have seen included, but we weren’t able to accommodate them because of other conflicts,” Connell said last week. “We do believe we have kept enough acreage to allow for a healthy and safe skiing environment. If we don’t do it, it won’t relieve the congestion.”

In Daly’s response Thursday, he said resort officials are looking forward to meeting with Forest Service officials to discuss their questions and concerns.

Open house for WRNF Plan questions

– When: June 17, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

– Where: Dillon Ranger District, Silverthorne

– Info: District Ranger Jamie Connell, (970) 262-3451

– To see a copy:

– Breckenridge: South Branch Library, Airport Road

– Frisco: Summit County Library, County Commons

– Dillon Ranger District, 680 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne

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