Vail Resorts fined $80,100 for violating wetlands law in developing new ski terrain
DENVER – A federal agency has fined Vail Resorts $80,100 for violating the Clean Water Act during its development of new powder-skiing terrain, an amount environmentalists say is much too low.
The Environmental Protection Agency had earlier said it was considering a $200,000 fine against the ski resort, but announced late Friday that it had fined the company a lesser amount.
“”The fine is nothing. It should clearly be 10 or 20 times that much,” Rocky Smith, of the environmental group Colorado Wild, said Saturday.
Smith said his group and others likely will protest, and he noted that in a wetlands case in Telluride a federal judge rejected the EPA’s first proposal.
The penalty was fair given the size of the violation – less than an acre – and Vail Resort’s compliance history, said Carol Rushin, EPA assistant regional administrator.
The settlement is part of a consent decree that will be subject to public comment before being finalized in federal court.
Environmentalists sought unsuccessfully to block the development of the area, called Blue Sky Basin, arguing that it could be habitat for the endangered Canada lynx. Colorado has been trying to reintroduce the animals.