BOULDER – The U.S. Forest Service released its final Record of Decision today, Oct. 1, for the Eldora Mountain Resort Ski Area Projects. This decision will allow the ski area to move forward with proposed improvements inside its existing special use permit boundary – such as replacing lifts, adding gladed terrain and new runs, improving snowmaking and building and renovating restaurant facilities.
The decision defers all expansion and improvements outside the existing ski area’s special use permit boundary, providing the opportunity for the ski area to work collaboratively with interested parties on the more controversial elements of the project.
The decision follows nearly three years of planning, environmental analysis and public input on a proposal from Eldora Mountain Resort that included upgrading lifts, expanding terrain, and improving guest services at the resort.
The ski area consists of 524 acres of National Forest System lands, part of the Roosevelt National Forest, and approximately 680 acres of private and leased lands in Boulder and Gilpin counties. This decision applies only to projects proposed on the National Forest.
Three alternatives were considered during the environmental analysis and, in March 2015, the Forest Service released a draft decision proposing to approve components from the two action alternatives; essentially the maximum expansion and development analyzed.
The Forest Service’s environmental analysis process allows people who have submitted timely and specific written comments to object once the draft decision is released.
Thirty entities and individuals filed objections on nearly 100 different issues. Objectors included Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Boulder County, Town of Nederland, Middle Boulder Creek Coalition, Sierra Club and a number of private individuals.
Prevalent amongst the objections were concerns about the proposed Placer Lift expansion north toward Middle Boulder Creek and the Jolly Jug lift expansion south toward Jenny Creek. Issues raised included impacts on wildlife, aquatic habitat, water quality, the existing Nordic trail system, and the residents of Eldora. An objectors’ meeting was held in Fort Collins, July 17, but did not result in any resolution.
The objection reviewing officer found no violation of law, regulation or policy; however, after careful consideration, acting Forest Supervisor Ron Archuleta determined that there was more collaborative work to be done before approving any expansion.
“While the Environmental Impact Statement adequately disclosed the effects of these proposed projects, there were still environmental and social effects that could be better resolved,” Archuleta said. “Deferring the decision on projects outside the current special use permit boundary does not preclude the possibility of approving these projects in the future, based on the existing analysis. But, ideally, any future decision would result from a refined proposal developed collaboratively by the ski area and interested parties.
Archuleta said he recognizes that resolution may require reconfiguration of the proposed expansion and additional environmental review and decision making in the future.
Visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/eldora to view the project record, maps and a copy of the Record of Decision.