The U.S. Forest Service officials have accepted Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s proposal to build a new lift in the Beavers area, a short surface lift to improve access to Montezuma Bowl, and increased water storage for snowmaking.
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The new lift in the Beavers area, to the west of the ski area’s current operational boundary, would serve about 400 acres of terrain.
“Two or so trails would be cleared while the majority would be gladed. The proposal calls for a four-person lift that would gain 1,500’ in elevation,” said Forest Service snow ranger Shelly Grail. “The proposed reservoir expansion is still being fine-tuned. It’s final proposal location will be determined after more wetland delineation work and feedback from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Grail said.
The Forest Service will start the formal environmental studies for the proposal with a scoping period sometime in the next few weeks, but before that, the agency and the ski area will give the public a chance to get an overview of the plan with an Oct. 3 field session.
“I highly recommend this for anyone curious about the proposal,” said A-Basin’s Alan Henceroth. “The tour will take most of the day and will involve a fair bit of walking on rough terrain. We will also discuss our proposals for a new surface lift to Montezuma Bowl, increased snowmaking reservoir storage, and a zipline/challenge course. This tour is meant to give anyone interested a clearer understanding of the proposal,” Henceroth said.
In a public session held August 2012, Henceroth explained that the Beavers development would focus on minimal tree thinning, including removal of dead trees to create opportunities for “excellent tree skiing.” More info from the Aug. 2012 session is available here.
Henceroth said that A-Basin founder Max Dercum envisioned lift-served skiing in the Beavers several decades ago.
“We want to broaden our focus to include blue skiers, not just the experts. We want to lift-service varied terrain.” Henceroth said via Twitter.
As with any ski area expansion plan, there are environmental and social issues to be addressed.
“The key issues that we know of right now are impacts to wildlife with vegetation removal for the Beavers project and the social issues that often come up with projects that propose to develop terrain that is currently skied as backcountry.” Grail said. “We’ll learn more on October 3, and of course, through the scoping process. I guesstimate that we’ll scope the proposal sometime in late October/November,” she said via email.
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