Montana Snowbowl Expansion Decision Signed
Release Date: May 7, 2014
Missoula, MT. – On May 1, 2014, Lolo National Forest Supervisor, Tim Garcia, signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for expanding the Montana Snowbowl Ski Area. According to his decision, Alternative B, as displayed in the Forest Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), can now be carried out according to an approved implementation plan. The decision includes issuance of a new Special Use Permit (SUP) to Montana Snowbowl and an amendment to the Lolo National Forest Plan.
The Forest Service’s decision sanctions expanding the existing ski area from its current 1,138 acres to 2,243 acres. It permits several new facilities – including chair lifts, buried lines for water, power and waste water; two wastewater drains, a maintenance building and a new lodge to be constructed on federal lands. It increases skiable terrain for both beginner and intermediate skiers.
Under the decision, the number of ski lifts can be increased from four to eight and a new snowmaking reservoir can be constructed. The number of ski runs can also be increased from 52 to 80 allowing for total daily skier capacity to rise from 1,500 skiers to 3,066 skiers. Most of the new developments are planned for a location just west of the existing ski area.
Montana Snowbowl lies on both private and federal lands approximately 12 miles north of Missoula, Montana. The ski area has operated on the Lolo National Forest under a Special Use Permit since 1961 and currently provides for both winter and summer recreation activities. Existing facilities on federal lands include ski trails, lifts, small buildings, buried water and power lines, a snowmaking reservoir, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and a folf (disc golf) course. The owners of Montana Snowbowl first came to the Forest Service with their expansion plans in 2004 stating a need foradditional beginner and intermediate ski terrain and enhanced summer recreation opportunities. In the time since their initial proposal, the Forest Service has engaged with the public and completed an Environmental Impact Statement to determine the effects of the proposed action and alternatives.
Following its December, 2013 release of the Draft Record of Decision and FEIS, the Forest Service received one objection to the project from an area homeowner concerned over the potential for dust from increased summer use of the Snowbowl road. In response, Forest staff met with Missoula County Commissioners, the owner of Montana Snowbowl, and local residents to develop plans for future dust abatement or paving of the segment of County road near these residents.
Montana Snowbowl could begin expanding as early as this summer. The expansion is expected to take place in phases – and may extend over a ten year period.
The FEIS and ROD are posted on the Lolo National Forest’s website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo (“NEPA Projects” section). Copies of the Montana Snowbowl Expansion FEIS and ROD are also available for review at the Missoula Ranger District Office in Missoula, Montana, located at 24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT. To obtain a paper copy or CD of these documents or to request further information, contact Karen Stockmann at (406) 329-3936.
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