The shortcut to Peak 6 |

The shortcut to Peak 6

The potential for expanding inbounds skiing onto Peak 6 in Breckenridge could be the next great thing at our local ski resorts. It could provide more hike-to terrain, an easy connection between the Nordic center and the resort, and build Breckenridge into one of the only five-mountain resorts in the world.That is, it could … but the U.S. Forest Service, which made the boundary adjustment without any chance for public scrutiny, forgot about the importance of public support in allowing resort expansion.It’s not as if the Forest Service hasn’t been through this process before. The Forest Service’s decision to approve the Imperial Express lift on top of Peak 8 last year sparked serious debate – even inside the Forest Service itself – about the public’s rights to influence the resort’s access to public lands. More lifts mean more boundary closures, avalanche control, transportation demands, water usage from the already taxed Blue River and impact to wildlife. Yet, we don’t need a discussion?Whether this was the intent or not, the recent decision gives the impression that the USFS is avoiding the public and catering to the resorts. While the resort’s master plan for Peak 6 skiing will be under public review this summer, it will not be centered on the “if” the resort can expand. It will be focused on managing “how” the resort can add additional terrain, effectively removing the public from having any say on the latest reach of a corporation onto public land.Ultimately, there was no rush for this move, and allowing public buy-in would have balanced the process by showing the Forest Service is interested in the public’s opinion. As opponent to resort expansion Tom Castrigno said in Tuesday’s article, “We can either make a fuss about it or go on with our lives.”In this case, the fuss is not about the actual decision, it’s about short-cutting the process and taking the land owners – the public – out of the equation.

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