USFS releases Eldora ski area draft decision

Reid Armstrong, Boulder. The U.S. Forest Service released its draft Record of Decision and final Environmental Impact Statement March 17 for the Eldora Mountain Resort Ski Area Projects. The draft decision proposes allowing the ski area to expand its terrain and facilities on National Forest System lands.

Eldora Mountain Resort is located on the Roosevelt National Forest in Boulder and Gilpin counties. The ski area consists of 615 acres on National Forest System lands and approximately 410 acres of private lands. This decision only applies to improvements in the National Forest.

Three alternatives were considered during the environmental analysis. After reviewing numerous comments from the public and input from natural resource specialists, the draft decision incorporates components from both Alternative 2 and Alternative 3. This decision enables Eldora Mountain Resort to expand to the north and south and includes 66 acres of new skiable trails; 119 acres of new and improved tree and gladed skiing; 185 acres of added terrain in intermediate, advanced intermediate, and expert ability levels; two new chairlifts; two chairlift replacements; 65 acres of added snowmaking coverage; a new 20,000-square-foot restaurant facility at the top of Indian Peaks Lift, which could serve up to 850 people; and renovations at the Lookout restaurant to serve an additional 300 people.

“For more than half a century, Eldora ski area has been part of Boulder County’s recreation tradition,” said Forest Supervisor Glenn Casamassa. “This decision will provide enhanced opportunities for the skiing public to enjoy a downhill ski area within an hour of Denver.”

Casamassa noted that this decision will improve the safety and reliability of the ski area’s chairlifts and terrain, particularly during wind events.

“The expanded, more natural terrain and improved on-mountain guest services will help Eldora Mountain Resort provide the alpine ski experience expected by clients,” he said. “While there will be impacts from construction of the new lifts and the terrain expansion, these will be limited in scope and duration and can be minimized through strict mitigations and design criteria.”

The draft decision is subject to a 45-day objection period, beginning the day the legal notice is published in the newspaper of record (in this case the Coloradoan). While the public is always welcome to provide comments and feedback at any point in this process, objections will only be accepted from those who have previously submitted timely and specific written comments regarding the proposed project during scoping or other designated opportunities for public comment.

The decision to expand permit boundary to the north and the south also requires an amendment to the Forest Plan, which would allow all National Forest System lands within the special use permit boundary to be managed as part of the ski area. This amendment is subject to a 60-day objection period, beginning the day the legal notice is published.

The legal notice with more details about the objection process, the draft decision, the final Environmental Impact Statement and all natural resource specialist reports will also be available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/eldora or www.eldoraeis.com.