Forest Service seeks public comment on Snowmass Sheer Bliss Pond project |

Forest Service seeks public comment on Snowmass Sheer Bliss Pond project

Written comments must be submitted via mail, fax, email or in person by April 18. Written comments must be submitted to: Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Monte Lutterman, Mountain Sports Ranger, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, 620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623, FAX: 970-963-1012. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Comments may also be submitted electronically at:

Anyone commenting should include their name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; the title of the project of concern (i.e., Sheer Bliss Pond Modification Project); and specific facts, concerns, or issues, and supporting reasons why they should be considered.

More information is available at

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District of the White River National Forest is soliciting comments on a proposal from Aspen Skiing Co. to modify an existing water impoundment known as the Sheer Bliss Pond within the special-use permit boundary of Snowmass Ski Area, according to a project update released Friday.

The resort has completed an engineering evaluation and identified proposed actions to address issues associated with the pond’s current design, for which public comment is now requested.

The Sheer Bliss Pond is currently out of compliance with Colorado Division of Water Resources requirements, according to the Forest Service update.

“As a central component of the snowmaking infrastructure at Snowmass, the continued utilization of this facility is important to maintain the operational efficiency and recreational experience of the ski area,” the update reads. “The purpose of this project is to bring the pond into compliance with (Division of Water Resources) requirements through modifications designed to minimize the risk of future erosion and mass movements. Additionally, there is a need to address sites of past erosion related to the pond.”

Due to the minimal amount of new disturbance and existing infrastructure associated with the modification of the Sheer Bliss Pond, the White River National Forest is considering categorically excluding this project from analysis in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

The following actions are included in modification of the Sheer Bliss Pond:

• Construction of a spillway per the design specifications identified in the engineering evaluation.

• Installation of a valve vault (approximately 9 x 15 x 10 feet) and building to improve the pond’s drain/fill operations and pond level controls. The facility would be located adjacent to the pond near its southwest edge.

• Remedial site work to address existing erosion near the current overflow outlet. This would include the placement of approximately 1,000 cubic yards of clay-gravel mix with sand, cobbles and boulders screened to remove rocks greater than 6 inches. Installation of the larger screened rock (including large boulders) near the top of the remedial area would occur and serve as rip-rap in the discharge area of the lower level outlet and emergency spillway to diffuse the energy in the unlikely event of any water being discharged over the emergency spillway.

• Additional grading, backfilling and recontouring work to ensure that slopes adjacent to or within the project area would be capable of supporting the improved infrastructure (e.g., pipes) and help prevent future problems related to erosion and mass movement.

• Removal and replacement of the existing pond liner. The internal slopes of the pond would be reduced (by the installation of fill material) and a new liner would be installed.

• The excavation of source material required for above-listed projects from the Green Cabin ski trail in an area that was recently disturbed for the installation of snowmaking pipeline. Approximately 7,500 cubic yards of material will be excavated from this location.

• Minimal tree removal (approximately 10 trees) to facilitate final grading on the southwest corner of snowmaking pond and remedial repair work.

• Landscaping activities including tree planting and the replacement of the pond’s perimeter fence.

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