The U.S. Forest Service has approved a plan for an alpine coaster and other recreation options at Copper Mountain Resort. A similar plan in Snowmass is still under review.
Construction on the alpine coaster, a new mountain biking trail and snowmaking infrastructure at Copper Mountain is expected to start this summer. Snowmass also has a proposal for a mountain coaster and new trails, as well as a canopy tour and zipline, ropes course and a climbing wall.
In 2011, Congress passed an act to authorize the Forest Service to expand year-round recreation on ski areas.
“Part of the intent was to encourage families and young people to connect with the national forest in ways they normally wouldn’t and for the non-skiing public,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White RIver National Forest.
Four resorts in the White River National Forest have taken advantage of this, and Snowmass would be the fifth.
Fitzwilliams acknowledges that expanded use means further stress on the landscape.
“We’re trying to focus high-use areas so they’re not spread across the whole area, impacting larger swaths of habitat or wildlife or whatever it might be,” he said.
The Forest Service is responsible for monitoring environmental impacts during and after development of year-round activities.
A final decision on the Snowmass proposal is expected this spring.