Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park expansion wasn’t without its environmental problems |

Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park expansion wasn’t without its environmental problems

CDPHE says Vail Resorts had not responded to public health issues when new ski area opened in January

An image from the Water Quality Control Division of Colorado Public Health and Environment shows an area of the McCoy Park project in Beaver Creek where stormwater flows through areas of construction and discharges into wetlands. The image was one of 11 specific observations of deficiencies noted in the findings.
CDPHE/Courtesy image

While the environmental issues at Vail Resorts’ Keystone ski area expansion caught the attention of the media this summer, the company has largely escaped the public eye regarding problems related to the expansion of Beaver Creek one year ago.

Beaver Creek began construction on its McCoy Park expansion on July 1, 2021, which included the cutting of trails on 250 acres of land and the installation of two new chairlifts.

Records obtained by the Vail Daily show that a sediment discharge into McCoy Creek in August 2021 prompted an inspection from the Water Quality Control Division of Colorado Public Health and Environment on Sept. 21, 2021, which pointed out 11 specific observations of deficiencies in stormwater management controls on the Beaver Creek expansion project.

Those observations noted that the potential discharge of pollutants to the water of the state didn’t just include sediment, but also waste from construction materials, oil and grease, and sanitary waste from a portable toilet in the area.

The 11 observations of deficiencies included a portable toilet in an area exposed to wind and not staked down on a flat surface away from drainage paths; empty 5-gallon containers of hydraulic oil not properly disposed of; and numerous observations related to inadequate sediment control measures in areas where stormwater flows through construction and discharges into wetlands.

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Vail Resorts did not take immediate action to correct these deficiencies, prompting the division to issue a compliance advisory on Nov. 5, 2021, which said “corrective actions were not completed immediately for inadequate control measures.”

The division said Vail Resorts provided no additional information on why corrective actions were not completed, nor did the company provide a schedule for installation or repair, or a statement of what interim steps were taken to minimize the discharge of pollutants.

The Nov. 5 compliance advisory was addressed to Beaver Creek VP Douglas Lovell and informed Lovell that Vail Resorts is legally required to respond with a report “identifying the corrective action(s) taken to return the facility to compliance with the permit.”

The division, in the Nov. 5 compliance advisory, said all control measures must be installed prior to “the commencement of activities that may contribute pollutants to stormwater discharges.”

The division asked for this response by Nov. 19, 2021, and did not receive it. McCoy Park opened to skiers on Jan. 10, at which time the division had still not received Vail Resorts’ response.

After additional conversations, Vail Resorts finally responded to the inspection report on Jan. 17, certifying that deficiencies identified during the division’s inspection had been addressed, according to a spokesperson from Colorado Public Health and Environment.

“The division reviewed Vail’s response and determined that Vail adequately addressed each inspection finding and that no additional actions were necessary at that point in time based on the current state of work,” said Gabrielle Johnston with CDPHE.

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