Forest Service seeks public comments on High Alpine lift project |

Forest Service seeks public comments on High Alpine lift project

Staff report

Skiers and snowboarders are being asked by the U.S. Forest Service to weigh in on the replacement of the High Alpine chairlift and other projects at Snowmass Ski Area.

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District is starting an environmental review of Aspen Skiing Co.’s proposal. The Forest Service will collect public comments and include responses as part of its analysis.

Skico’s plan features a replacement and realignment of the High Alpine chairlift. The fixed-grip, double chair would be replaced with a detachable, high-speed quad. The lower terminal would be realigned to the east and downhill of High Alpine Restaurant. The upper terminal also would be moved to the east and slightly uphill to create an easier traverse to Upper Green Cabin Trail.

If the lift project is approved, Skico officials said they would aim to replace High Alpine in summer 2016.

Other components of Skico’s proposal include:

Cutting two new ski trails — the Elk Camp bypass and a beginner trail in the Elk Camp section of the ski area.

Thinning of trees on about 120 acres of terrain in six pods. A new lift line would be cut through a stand of conifers to the skier’s left of Reidar’s trail on High Alpine, if the new alignment is approved. The stand would be thinned to create skiing in a glade from the top of the trail to the bottom. Other targeted areas are Freefall/Glissade Glades leading into Garrett’s Gulch; Castle Glade, a currently closed area between Baby Ruth and Hanging Valley Glade; Long Shot Glade; and Upper Green Cabin Glades in the vicinity of the gate for the Dikes.

Expanding snowmaking to Elk Camp Restaurant. Currently snowmaking only goes to the bottom of the Alpine Springs lift. About 25 additional acres would be covered.

Written comments must be submitted via fax, electronically or in person to Scott Fitzwilliams, in care of Scott Kaden, project leader, 620 Main St., Carbondale, CO 81623, or 970-963-1012. Electronic comments — including attachments — can be submitted to

Comments should include name, address, telephone number and organization represented, if any; specific facts, concerns or issues about the project and reasons they should be considered; and a reference to “Snowmass Ski Trail Enhancements and High Alpine Chairlift Replacement Project.”

Additional details about the project can be found at the online link.

Under Forest Service regulations, only parties that submit specific comments will be eligible to file a formal objection prior to a final objection.

The Forest Service anticipates conducting an environmental assessment on the project, a specific type of study that is a step below an environmental impact statement. A decision is anticipated in May 2015.

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