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Why MBCC opposes Eldora expansion

outside its current boundary

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  • The proposed new lifts and terrain are not needed. Visitation at Eldora Mountain Resort (EMR) is usually under the comfortable carrying capacity (CCC). The CCC is only exceeded on some peak weekends and holidays. Overall, the density of skiers on EMR’s trails is “desirable from the quality of skiing perspective” and thus “trail crowding is not a common occurrence at EMR.”
  • The proposed in-fill alternative and other reasonable alternatives have not been seriously considered.  The scoping comments of MBCC advocated no increase in the SUP area, and instead meeting the need for more facilities within the existing SUP area. Approving and implementing the “in-fill” alternative would avoid most of the impacts from either of the two action alternatives that were fully analyzed in the DEIS.
  • The Forest Plan must not be amended to allow the proposed expansion of EMR.Under the current Forest Plan, expansion outside of the “boundaries currently specified in the Master Development Plan” is prohibited. Plan. It was the clear understanding of the Eldora Civic Association at the time of Forest Plan development (1997) that there would be no expansion of EMR. Just a few years before the revised Forest Plan was finalized, EMR had expanded by constructing the Indian Peaks pod. The quoted Plan language was thus clearly intended to limit the size of EMR on its north side.
  • The action alternatives would not protect riparian and watershed integrity, soil stability, or water quality. Under the proposed action, tree removal in the water influence zone (WIZ) could occur within 50 feet of streams. The highest area of concern is in the area above Middle Boulder Creek, where runs would be cut for the Placer lift, ski runs and glades. This area has “severe limitations for natural-surface roads and trails, and severe limitations for revegetation of disturbed areas.” To reduce impacts, “frequent maintenance and costly erosion control measures would be required.” Revegetation of ski runs will take 3 to 5 years, and can take 10 years, especially where grading occurred. With areas of saturated soils on the north-facing slopes, there is moderate risk of mass movement.
  • The DEIS predicts negative impacts to the habitat of a multitude of wildlife species, including three of the four Region 2 Sensitive Species found at the ski area (boreal owl, olive-sided flycatcher and American marten), and 6 of the 7 Management Indicator Species known to be present. All of these species are found along and above Middle Boulder Creek.  There would likely be displacement of moose. The DEIS concluded that both action alternatives are likely to adversely affect Canada lynx, a federally threatened and state endangered species.  There will be a loss of habitat effectiveness for species requiring secluded areas as well as disruption of a wildlife movement corridor. Wetlands will be lost or indirectly impacted, but this will likely be “mitigated” through the purchase of “wetland credits” from wetland banks, most likely located near Erie and far away from the ski area.
  • Protect Rare Plants. Plant species of concern highlight the adverse ecological impacts that will occur above Middle Boulder Creek due to the Proposed Action (Alternative 2).  Of the nine Plant Species of Local Concern that were documented within the project area, five (Lady Fern, Fairy Slipper Orchid, Oak Fern, Heartleaf Twayblade, and Club Moss)  were found in the vicinity of the Placer lift, runs and glades and all would likely be adversely impacted due to the opening of the forest and greater sunlight.  All of these species favor shaded, moist forests.
  • Either configuration of Jolly Jug poses danger for users of the Jenny Creek ski trail. Under either proposed action alternative, skiers using the Jenny Creek Trail would have to cross downhill runs. This would create a dangerous situation. The Jenny Creek Trail gets a high amount of winter use. Backcountry skiers and snowshoers would travel directly perpendicular to downhill skiers. The likelihood of collisions would be very high.
  • The new facilities on the north side of EMR above Middle Boulder Creek would degrade the recreational experience for those snowshoeing and cross-country skiing west of the Town of Eldora, as well as the quality of life for local residents. People using the roads beyond the Town of Eldora, i.e, to Hessie and the Fourth of July Road, would see and hear the new facilities. There would be a visual impact, as well as an audible one, as there would be noise from chairlifts, snowmaking guns, and ski run grooming. This will impact a major portal to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

 

Fairy Slippers along Middle Boulder Creek. Photo by Dave Hallock.

Fairy Slippers along Middle Boulder Creek. Photo by Dave Hallock.