Skico removes new Big Burn lift from Base Village proposal
The Big Burn six-passenger lift, slated to replace the existing Big Burn quad on Snowmass Mountain, will no longer be included in the Base Village application, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Monday. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be built. Bill Kane, Skico’s vice president of planning, said the so-called six-pack lift was removed from the Base Village proposal since its approval relies on the results of an environmental assessment. Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester added that “it is not clear whether the six-pack is the right solution at this point. Until that’s clear, it would be more difficult to include that alternative in a master plan amendment package.”The results of the environmental assessment are not expected until September, which could be after the Snowmass Village Town Council renders its decision on Base Village. “We’ve got to get through that process,” Kane said, referring to the assessment. As a result, the fate of the new Big Burn lift is no longer dependent on the approval of Base Village, which is a joint venture of the Skico and resort developer Intrawest.There are currently six on-mountain improvement projects directly linked to Base Village: a new, six-passenger Sam’s Knob Express lift; an eight-passenger gondola; a cabriolet-style lift connecting Base Village and the mall; a new and realigned Assay Hill lift; the children’s center; and beginner lifts up to Elk Camp.In addition to the new Big Burn lift, two other lifts – the Burnt Mountain quad and the Naked Man lift (a surface lift that will run between the Elk Camp and Burnt Mountain summits) – and increased snowmaking capabilities are not dependent on the approval of Base Village. “All those upper mountain lifts [and improvements] are independent of Base Village,” Kane said.With the exception of the new Big Burn chairlift, grading for the new Sam’s Knob Express and the new Burnt Mountain traverse, every other on-mountain improvement – Base Village related or not – received environmental impact analysis approval in 1994. The six-passenger lift has passed a biological assessment, and the outcome of the environmental assessment is expected in September. “The key concern is lynx habitat,” Kane said. If approved, the planned Big Burn lift would be built on a different alignment than the existing Big Burn quad, running up Garret Gulch rather than between the Whispering Jesse and Timberline runs. It would still load near Trestle and unload at Up Four Pizza, at 11,820 feet, but 700 acres of groomed terrain would be available, according to Kane. Also Monday night, the Town Council and Skico agreed to make the cabriolet an open-air lift and to leave the Burlingame lift in its current location near the mall. That lift’s unloading area and seating will be upgraded, and the council and Skico agreed to re-examine the lift and its ridership in the future. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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