Forest Service still accepting comments on Vail Mountain’s Chair 11 project
HOW TO COMMENT
In public: Show up at the Holy Cross District Office, located at 24747 U.S. Highway 24 in Minturn.
Via internet: Electronic comments, including attachments, can be submitted here.
Otherwise: Submit via mail, fax, electronically or in person, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays, to: Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Max Forgensi, Mountain Sports/Special Uses Administrator, White River National Forest, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645; fax 970-827-9343.
VAIL — The U.S. Forest Service will continue to accept comments on the proposed upgrade of Chair 11 on Vail Mountain until May 15.
Known as the Northwoods Express, the chairlift can carry 2,400 people per hour up the 5,700 feet it spans. Reconstruction will involve widening of the lift corridor, construction of eight new tower foundations and creating construction access roads, construction staging areas and log decks. A total of 4.8 acres of ground disturbance will be required for the installation of the new tower foundations and the widening of the lift corridor.
Due to the minimal amount of disturbance associated with the proposed project, the White River National Forest is considering a categorical exclusion of the project from analysis in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. If fewer than 5 acres of National Forest Service lands are affected by the proposal, then it would qualify for the exclusion. Also included in the Vail Mountain upgrades proposal is a plan to install shade canopies at Adventure Ridge near the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, a 0.1-acre disturbance.
BUILT IN 1985
Regardless of the impact of the project, a public comment period is required by law.
“The Forest Service is charged with the responsibility of managing everyone’s public land, whether that’s a grazing allotment, a hiking trail, a timber project or a ski area,” said Aaron Mayville, the district ranger with the Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District in the White River National Forest. “This is one step in the process of responsibly managing that land. Comments are welcome and encouraged.”
The Forest Service described the idea to replace the four-person chair with a six-person chair as a project that would reduce wait times and improve skier circulation.
“This chair was built in 1985 and is approaching the end of its useful lifespan,” the Forest Service wrote in a release. “The chair is critical to skier circulation from the base area to the top of the mountain via the Riva Bahn and to the Back Bowls. Existing Chair 11 wait times are frequently long. Replacing the existing lift with a high-speed detachable six-person lift in the same alignment would increase the lift’s capacity to 3,000 people per hour.”
NO MAGIC CARPET
At the town of Vail’s annual community meeting, Vail Resorts Chief Operating Officer Doug Lovell confirmed the new chair will not have a “magic carpet,” or horizontal conveyor mechanism, as is the case with the other six-person chairs on Vail Mountain.
Lovell also said the lift will not pick up guests and then make a right-angle turn, as is the case with Chair 4.
The widening of the lift corridor will require the removal of some trees, located above the Gandy Dancer and Prima Cornice runs, which would be removed by helicopter.
For the shade canopies — 11 in total — concrete sleeves will be required for each of the shade structure removable supports and would be located on previously disturbed or hardscaped surfaces. No additional vegetation removal would be required.
This story contains material from a U.S. Forest Service news release.