Forest Service open house attracts dozens of supporters for Vail’s Golden Peak expansion proposal | VailDaily.com

Forest Service open house attracts dozens of supporters for Vail’s Golden Peak expansion proposal

VAIL — More race training on Golden Peak is not an expansion, it's a completion, said the son of one of Vail's founders.

"As great as it is, it's going to be that much better," said Pete Seibert Jr., son of Vail founder Pete Seibert.

The U.S. Forest Service hosted an open house Tuesday afternoon, April 10, to gauge public opinion about adding 42 acres of race training to the top of Golden Peak. Generally, the public seemed to like the idea.

"This has been talked about since I was a little kid," said Chris Anthony, filmmaker and extreme skier.

About the plan

Vail Resorts proposed the Golden Peak Improvements Project last year. The Forest Service liked it and started to push it through the public process.

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Public comment will be accepted through Monday, May 21. Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest, is expected to make the final decision this fall.

At Tuesday afternoon's open house, we learned that a surface lift — probably a T-bar — would thread through the cut above Golden Peak that was mistakenly made in the mid-1960s. There will be no lift towers, said Marcia Gilles, with the Forest Service.

The race training expansion will take racers off of other runs in the area and open them to the public, said Larissa Read, senior project manager with SE Group, the engineering firm that helped with the designs for the expansion.

It will also meet all the requirements for international downhill races, Gilles said.

"It's a wonderful idea, and I completely support it," said Tom Talbot, father of U.S. Ski Team member and Olympian Nellie-Rose Talbot.

SSCV loves it

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, which placed 19 athletes in this year's Winter Olympics, is pushing hard for approval.

"This project will create the single-best training environment in the United States," said SSCV Executive Director Kirk Dwyer. "It will benefit Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes, and it will have a far-reaching impact, in that it will also impact U.S. skiing and skiing in general.

"An important factor in training for any sport is the training volume an athlete is able to accomplish in a given training period. With the expansion, we could see athletes training as much as double the amount they are currently able to train."

Not everyone does, though

Not all that glitters is golden, said Vail local Bill Rey, who opposes the plan.

"The short-term gain to erase such a historic site, which also provides cover and habitat for so much wildlife, is completely irresponsible for the profit of the (Forest Service)," Rey wrote in a letter to the Vail Daily. "Vail Resorts is a public company for profit. They are not a thinking, feeling person. It is time to think of heritage and the future of the valley and the environment.

"Whether we like it or not, early-season skiing will be a thing of the past with impending climate change, and the claims by Vail Resorts and Ski Club Vail as to the local benefit is long gone."

Golden Peak Proposal

The Golden Peak proposal includes:

• One surface lift (T-bar or similar design)

• Approximately 42 acres of new ski trails for women’s downhill and men’s super-G courses, a moguls course and skiercross course

• Various maintenance and storage facilities

• Infrastructure to support snowmaking

• An access road for construction

• Staging areas and logging decks for construction materials and timber and vegetation removal

• Surface smoothing/grading for new ski trails and drainage management.

The projects are part of Vail Resorts’ existing permit area and would be consistent with the ski company’s 2007 master development plan update, the Forest Service said in a statement. You can still submit comments online, emailed to mforgensi@fs.fed.us, or hand delivered to the Forest Service office in Minturn. Comments will be accepted through Monday, May 21.

Source: United States Forest Service