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As you may know, the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service), Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG), is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider and disclose the anticipated environmental effects of implementing select projects from the Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) 2013 Master Development Plan (MDP). The proposed projects include a Special Use Permit (SUP) boundary adjustment, the addition of lift-served terrain, installation of additional snowmaking infrastructure, realignment of the existing chairlifts, and supplemental mountain biking trails. A Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Crested Butte Mountain Resort Ski Area Projects was published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2015, initiating a 30-day public comment period.
Below are a few facts:
The proposed projects include a Special Use Permit (SUP) boundary adjustment, the addition of lift-served terrain, installation of additional snowmaking infrastructure, realignment of the existing North Face chairlift, and supplemental mountain biking trails. Specific components of these projects are detailed below.
View Proposed Winter Upgrades Document
SUP Boundary Adjustment
The development of lift-served ski terrain in the Teo Drainage area would require an approximately 500-acre SUP boundary extension. According to the Forest Plan, this proposed boundary adjustment would be located in areas identified as management prescription 2A – Semi-Primitive Motorized Recreation (approximately 100 acres), and 6B – Livestock Grazing, Maintain Forage Composition (approximately 400 acres).
Additional Ski Terrain
Lift-served ski terrain would be developed in the Teo Park and Teo Drainage area, served by two proposed chairlifts—Teo Park and Teo Drainage. Developed ski terrain would total approximately 69 acres across five intermediate-level ski trails and one advanced-level ski trail. These ski trails would be “groomable glades,” meaning that vegetation would not be cleared entirely from edge-to-edge and some natural features would be maintained. This would provide a more natural, backcountry experience while still being appropriate for intermediate and advanced level guests.
In addition to developed ski trails, approximately 29 acres of advanced and expert glades are proposed on both flanks of the Teo Drainage. These glades would be accessible from Teo Bowl (to the south) and the top of the proposed Teo Park and North Face chairlifts (to the north). Where practical, these glades would be located in areas where natural glades already exist in order to minimize tree clearing requirements. Within these glades, approximately 50 percent of trees would be removed. Attempts would be made to prioritize removal of dead and dying trees, in order to address skier safety, operational concerns, and forest health.
Additionally, glades are proposed in the Teo Park area in areas between and surrounding the developed ski trails in the Teo Drainage area (see Figure 1, attached). Selective tree removal in these areas would supplement the naturally-gladed terrain that currently exists. Therefore, while developed ski trails and distinct glades would account for nearly 100 acres of terrain, approximately 400 acres of additional terrain would become lift-served (including Teo 1 and Teo 2 bowls). Thus, with the installation of two chairlifts, over 500 acres of developed and undeveloped intermediate and advanced terrain would become lift-served.
Developed ski trails and glades in Teo Park and Teo Drainage would require vegetation removal and limited spot grading, as appropriate, to improve skier circulation and eliminate obstacles. As mentioned above, the creation of “groomable gladed” ski trails would not only provide a unique guest experience, but would lessen the amount of vegetation removal required. No snowmaking is proposed in the Teo Park or Teo Drainage areas, as prevailing winds and weather patterns would provide sufficient snow coverage throughout the season.
The proposal includes two new chairlifts (Teo Park and Teo Drainage) and one chairlift realignment (North Face). The Teo Park and Teo Drainage chairlifts would provide access to new developed ski terrain and glades in the Teo Park portion of the CBMR SUP area, as well as in the adjusted SUP boundary.
The Teo Park chairlift would be a fixed-grip triple serving Teo Park and providing an egress from Teo Drainage back to the main mountain. The chairlift would provide access to a variety of terrain, including intermediate ski trails in Teo Park, advanced and expert ski trails and glades on the northern side of Teo Park, and North Face, Spellbound, Phoenix, and Third Bowl ski trails.
The Teo Drainage chairlift would either be fixed-grip or high-speed detachable and would serve the lower portions of the adjusted SUP boundary. The chairlift would provide access to three intermediate ski trails and three advanced/expert glades, and would provide egress from numerous north-facing glades.
The existing North Face chairlift would be realigned and upgraded from a surface lift to a fixed-grip triple. The realigned North Face chairlift would provide enhanced access and connectivity from northern portions of CBMR. The bottom terminal would be located near the intersection of the Daisy and Upper Treasury ski trails. The top terminal would be located near the top terminal of the existing North Face surface lift.
Approximately 32 acres of additional snowmaking is proposed on Championship, Black Eagle, Lower Gallowich, Rachel’s, and Shep’s Chute ski trails. This additional snowmaking would provide adequate early and late season coverage, as well as sufficient coverage during low-snow years. Air, water, and power lines for the proposed snowmaking would be buried within these ski trails. The lines would connect with existing snowmaking infrastructure efficiently, so as to limit ground disturbance and infrastructure requirements.
Construction, Maintenance, and Utility Access
Construction and maintenance access to the top of the proposed Teo Park and realigned North Face chairlifts would be provided by the existing road which follows the Schofield Road ski trail. Approximately 450 feet of this road would be rerouted/ improved to address erosion concerns and allow for timber removal. Construction, maintenance, and utility access to the top terminal of the Teo Drainage chairlift would be provided by a proposed service road that would leave the Schofield Road ski trail at the Paradise Bowl saddle, and contour through lower portions of Teo Bowl (see Figure 1, attached). Utility lines would be buried in this road to provide power to the Teo Drainage chairlift. Both the Teo Park and Teo Drainage chairlifts are proposed to be constructed without need for permanent road access to their respective bottom terminals.
Construction, maintenance, and utility access to the bottom terminal of the proposed North Face chairlift would utilize existing service roads between the bottom of the Paradise Express and the top of the East River Express chairlifts.
Mountain Biking Trails
Approximately 15 miles of multi-use and mountain biking trails are proposed within the existing SUP area (and extending to private lands in the base area). Trails would be constructed by hand as well as with the assistance of machines, with hand-built methods being used in sensitive areas to minimize erosion concerns, and to provide different user experiences. Trails would generally be between 24 and 48 inches wide, with some variation depending on the type of trail (downhill versus cross-country), steepness of the terrain, intended user group, and proximity to streams and water bodies. Construction methods would follow accepted Forest Service guidelines to shed water, prevent erosion, and provide for a quality experience for multiple user groups.