Peak 6 open for comment |

Peak 6 open for comment

Ryan Slabaugh
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE ” Those concerned with Peak 6 development at Breckenridge Ski Resort now have their turn to go on the record, as the White River National Forest is seeking comment about the first phase of environmental analysis for several improvement projects at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Allowing suitable time for public comment, as well as time to draft an Environmental Impact Statement on the expansion, means the earliest this would be open for inbounds skiing is the winter of 2009, said Shelly Grail Braudis, a snow ranger with the Forest Service.

“The key issues are wildlife, social impacts, recreation impacts. Those are the biggies,” Braudis said.

According to a Forest Service release on Tuesday, the proposal includes the development of new terrain and associated infrastructure at Peak 6, including 450 acres of traditional downhill and hike-to skiing accessed by a single lift. Approximately six trails totaling 67 acres would be constructed below timberline, the Forest Service said. An additional 285 acres includes intermediate, advanced-intermediate and expert skiing terrain that would be above timberline and lift-served.

Breckenridge Ski Resort also proposes to construct a top terminal ski patrol/warming hut and a bottom terminal food and beverage facility. The Forest Service approved the expansion in the latest White River National Forest management plan, noting that the project would allow better dispersement of skiers across the resort.

“Breckenridge accommodates more visitors per acre than another other surrounding ski areas,” said Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton.

Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Rick Sramek, vice president of mountain operations, said the ski area has done a lot of research on the terrain, including regular ski patrol surveys and snow measurements. Sramek said they do expect to hear some conflicting views during the public process, similar to the anti-expansion comments that surfaced during expansion onto Peak 7 and more recently, the Imperial Lift. Those projects, he said, turned out very successful for the resort, and proved the resort’s preliminary research could be relied upon.

“We want to know what the issues are ourselves,” Sramek said. “I would expect all of the issues are appropriate: wildlife, wetlands, timber. We spent the time up there. Our goal is to avoid the obvious, and to design a project as sensitively as possible.”

Comments received will help the Forest Service focus the analysis on concerns the public may have about the proposal.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 3 inches of new snow at Snowmass within the past 24 hours in its Wednesday, Jan. 16 morning report. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk all picked up 1 inch.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecast for the Aspen zone on Wednesday, Jan. 16:

The avalanche danger is considerable on northeast, east, southeast and south aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable. Triggered avalanches may be large and destructive. The avalanche danger on all other aspects near and above treeline and all slopes below treeline is moderate. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible here.

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