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Forest Service issues Draft Decision for Aspen Mountain Pandora and Snowmaking projects

November 28, 2018

Forest Service issues Draft Decision for Aspen Mountain Pandora and Snowmaking projects

ASPEN, Colo. – The Forest Service has released the Draft Decision for the Aspen Mountain Pandora Development and Summit Snowmaking Project. After considering public comments, alternatives and the analysis in the Environmental Assessment (EA), Scott Fitzwilliams, Deciding Official, has approved the Proposed Action.

“These projects best balance meeting the needs of the proposal while minimizing impacts to the environment. They will improve the guest experience at the resort by providing fun terrain, better skier circulation, and improved snow coverage throughout the season,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor.

The goal of Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) is to offer its guests and visitors to the White River National Forest, a high-quality recreational experience while maintaining Aspen Mountain’s unique character.

The draft decision authorizes the development of 180 acres of traditional downhill and gladed terrain, a detachable or fixed-grip chairlift and associated infrastructure, and an access road to the bottom lift terminal. The summit snowmaking portion of the project adds snowmaking infrastructure, including a pump station and two storage ponds, which provides new snowmaking coverage to 53 acres of terrain. To mitigate potential impacts from the additional snowmaking, a comprehensive drainage management plan is included in the decision to ensure impacts to Spar and Keno Gulch are minimized. 

“We worked with Aspen Skiing Company and the City of Aspen extensively to find win-win solutions to concerns about snowmaking runoff. Our drainage management solution is aimed at long-term resilience of the stream channels and includes field monitoring to ensure we’re managing for a healthy watershed”, said Roger Poirier, Acting Deputy District Ranger and team leader for the project.   

All project components are included in the accepted 2018 Aspen Mountain Master Development Plan (MDP). With the exception of a portion of the proposed Pandora terrain development, all other project components are within Aspen Mountain’s existing Forest Service special use permit (SUP) area or adjacent private lands owned by ASC.

The release of this Draft Decision initiates the 45-day objections period. Individuals who submitted timely and specific written comments during the 30 day combined scoping and comment period initiated in May 2018 have standing to file an objection to the Draft Decision Notice under 36 CFR 218.

Project documents are available for download on the White River National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53847. Hardcopies may be reviewed at the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in Carbondale, CO.

Objections, including attachments, must be filed via mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, express delivery or messenger service (Monday through Friday, 8  a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to: Reviewing Officer, Brian Ferebee, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 1617 Cole Blvd, Building 17, Lakewood, CO 80401; FAX: (303) 275-5134, or email r02admin_review@fs.fed.us.

Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days following the publication of a legal notice in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The legal notice is anticipated to be published November 28, 2018. The publication date in the Post Independent (newspaper of record) is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an objection. Those wishing to object should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. The regulations prohibit extending the time to file an objection.