Lynx plan may affect Breckenridge expansion plan |

Lynx plan may affect Breckenridge expansion plan

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. ” A plan for conserving lynx habitat in the southern Rockies could affect a proposed expansion of the Breckenridge ski area.

The U.S. Forest Service is studying whether the resort’s plans conflict with a lynx management plan. Breckenridge wants to add several hundred acres of new trails and ski terrain above the tree line.

Ski resort officials hope the Forest Service will complete a draft environmental study on the project this summer.

“It is difficult to predict what this might do to the timing of the project one way or the other,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kristen Petitt.

The resort is testing some wildlife management systems and has indicated it would be willing to negotiate with the Forest Service, Petitt said. Resort officials said they’re not aware of any lynx activity in the area, but believe there is land across the mountain that could support the cats.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has released more than 200 lynx from Canada and Alaska in southwestern Colorado since 1999 to restore the cat to the state. More than 100 lynx kittens have been born in Colorado since the restoration began.

The state’s native lynx disappeared in the early 1970s because of trapping, poisoning and development.

The ski area expansion is planned for an area designated for resort development in the White River National Forest plan. The lynx management plan, though, supersedes the forest plan, said Roger Poirer, winter sports administrator for the White River National Forest.

The Forest Service released a plan last year to manage lynx habitat in national forests in Colorado and southern Wyoming.

Four conservation groups filed an appeal of the lynx plan, saying it won’t adequately protect the cats. They say the exemptions for logging and other activities could jeopardize lynx.

The Forest Service has said the plan’s intent is to manage vegetation to support snowshoe hares, the cats’ main food source. The agency says logging allowed under the plan is intended to give forest managers more flexibility in dealing with the bark-beetle infestation that has killed more than 1.5 million acres of trees in Colorado.

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