Our View: Time to move on from chairlift, EagleVail
Kudos to the Forest Service and Vail Resorts for halting the pursuit an ill-advised idea to add a chairlift from EagleVail to Beaver Creek.
A chairlift in the neighborhood has been envisioned since EagleVail was built. But 40 years ago, Vail Resorts, the Forest Service and the Division of Wildlife deemed the area elk habitat. And for at least 30 years, the Division of Wildlife — now Colorado Parks and Wildlife — has been saying it wouldn’t support a chair going through the sensitive wildlife habitat.
In the last year, the issue of disappearing wildlife in the valley has come to the forefront. Local elk populations have dropped 40% over the last two decades. Wildlife officials point to both recreation and development as reasons for the drop.
And wildlife was just one of the reasons to nix the idea. The undertaking would be large for a project of questionable necessity. The lift would have been 11,250 feet long, making it the longest in North America — a bit longer than the 11,012-foot Slide Brook Express at Sugarbush, Vermont.
Myriad issues of traffic and parking, including how they affect Homestake Peak School, added to the complications. The increase of property values was enticing to homeowners on the east side of the neighborhood; but what would it do to EagleVail’s neighborhood identity as a bastion for young families and workers?
Somehow, the proposal stuck around for years, even after a proposed sales tax that was partially intended to fund the lift failed in 2016.
As recently as April, some members of the EagleVail Metro Board and EagleVail Property Owners Association were pushing for a $15,000 study to identify major flaws in the idea.
The flaws were so obvious, no money was actually required. Thank goodness Vail Resorts and the Forest Service put an end to this dream that somehow would not die. We need more community leaders taking a stand to protect our dwindling wildlife in the valley.
That includes continuing to examine the effects on wildlife of the Berlaimont proposal near Edwards and the Booth Heights workforce housing proposal in East Vail. We are not saying those projects should be rejected — the East Vail proposal in particular addresses another big problem in our community, worker housing — but we need to seriously consider the wildlife protections measures that are suggested by the experts such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
We also urge local leaders and recreationalists to uphold the regulations around the new Everkrisp trail and the planned lift expansion into McCoy Park. In fact, we would like to see Vail Resorts and trail advocates take measures to go beyond the required actions — something akin to the above-and-beyond steps taken to create Trail Ambassador programs and signage for seasonal closures on valley trails.
Let’s leave this chairlift idea behind once and for all and move to solving real problems in our community — including housing and wildlife protection.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Special Projects Director Edward Stoner, Business Editor Scott Miller and Ad Director Holli Snyder.
In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.