Boulder County seeks public input on Eldora expansion plans

BOULDER - Boulder County commissioners are meeting Thursday to discuss the possible expansion of Eldora Mountain Resort, and hope to use those comments to support a 13-page letter submitted to the U.S. Forest Service urging the forest service to only allow the resort to make improvements within the boundaries of its special use permit.

Ski areas in Colorado that are on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service land are issued special use permits by those agencies to lease the land.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder County commissioners submitted the 13-page letter to the U.S. Forest Service on Monday, on the last day the forest service was taking public comments regarding the 594-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement released in February.

The Daily Camera said the letter urged the agency to give greater consideration to an alternative option listed in the Draft EIS that would only allow Eldora to expand within its current boundaries.

The Draft EIS studied the estimated environmental effects as well as the purpose and need for Eldora's proposed plans, and came up with three alternatives to the resort's original proposal.

The first alternative is the option to only allow the resort to expand within its existing boundaries.

The second alternative would allow for expansion of the ski area operations to the north toward Middle Boulder Creek, expanding its special use permit by 86 acres in the Placer area.

The third alternative would allow for expansion of operations south into Gilpin County in the Jenny Creek area, only expanding the special use permit by 18 acres.

The draft does not indicate a preference, or indicate one alternative is better or worse than another.

Resort spokesman Rob Linde told the Daily Camera in March, Eldora's preference was for the resort's original expansion proposal to be approved.

"The resort will not remain competitive without the proposed improvements. Like any other business, the ski area needs to modernize and provide a competitive product offering to meet consumer demand," Linde said.

Critics of Eldora's original proposal are concerned the expansion would have negative effects on water quality, vegetation and wildlife. Some would like to see the forest service approve "Alternative 1" of the draft EIS, to only allow the resort to make improvements within its existing footprint, according to the Daily Camera.

The forest service will now begin work on a final version of the environmental impact study, and a draft of their final decisions regarding the expansion proposal, which isn't expected until the end of 2015, according to Karen Roth, a U.S. Forest Service environmental coordinator, whom the Daily Camera interviewed in March.

The forest service will open another 45-day public comment period after the draft of their final decision is released.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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