Colorado Ski Country will assist Crested Butte | AspenTimes.com

Colorado Ski Country will assist Crested Butte

ASPEN – If Crested Butte Mountain Resort appeals the U.S. Forest Service’s denial of its expansion plan, it will have a heavyweight partner in its corner.

Colorado Ski Country USA’s board of directors voted at its last meeting to join in any administrative appeal or court challenge mounted by the Crested Butte owners, according to Dave Bellack, chairman of the Ski Country board as well as senior vice president/general counsel for the Aspen Skiing Co.

The state ski industry is concerned about the Forest Service’s break from tradition in the Crested Butte case, Bellack said. Members of the ski trade association felt the Forest Service’s action on the Crested Butte application could set a precedent that affects them all.

The Forest Service last month rejected Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s application for an environmental review of its proposed expansion onto forest land. The ski area wanted to add 262 acres of skiable terrain to boost its appeal to intermediate skiers and riders. Forest Service officials cited a divided public, environmental issues and other concerns for its denial, according to The Associated Press. The agency has historically allowed expansion proposals to advance to an environmental study.

Colorado Ski Country officials expressed their concern over the Forest Service decision earlier this month, but Bellack was the first to disclose the extent of the steps the organization is prepared to take. He said Ski Country’s members voted to support an administrative appeal by Crested Butte, if one is possible, and any potential litigation. The trade association would likely file an amicus brief as a “friend of the court,” Bellack said.

scondon@aspentimes.com