Colorado: EarthJustice on ski resort NOT expanding in roadless area
But is a Colorado senator trying to breathe new life into a bad idea? On November 5, 2009, something happened in Colorado that hasn’t happened in a long, long time: the U.S. Forest Service rejected a proposal to turn a natural area into ski runs and a magnet for private land development. The natural area is Snodgrass Mountain, which includes inventoried roadless lands, beautiful aspen stands, raptor habitat, and open space. Snodgrass rises just north of Mount Crested Butte, the company town whose reason for being is the Crested Butte ski resort to the south. (The old mining-turned-tourist town of Crested Butte is a few miles further down the road.)
The resort has had its eye on Snodgrass for years. And for just as long, local conservationists have been trying to protect America’s public lands on Snodgrass from being turned into a site for clearcut runs and lift towers. Snodgrass is beloved as open space on the edge of development, as a place to hike, mountain bike and ride horses, and as wildlife habitat. At the center of the battle is the Forest Service, which owns and manages the land, and has, for years, rarely seen a ski area expansion it couldn’t approve.
So it was a pleasant surprise when GMUG National Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond said “thanks, but no thanks” to the resort’s expansion. Supervisor Richmond found the proposal to develop Snodgrass was not in the public interest, since it lacked community support, would spur development of ranchland, and would build lift towers and log in a roadless area and lynx habitat.