The U.S. Forest Service has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed expansion plan at Lookout Pass. Normally, we don’t oppose new lift-served skiing as a matter of course (often we support it), but this EIS, as we see it, has serious problems — it dismissed all the concerns brought up by backcountry skiers who use St. Regis Basin by saying backcountry access was outside the scope of the expansion plan EIS. Further, the EIS makes no mention of Lookout’slarger expansion plan, which will include not only the two lifts included in this phase but a handful more in a future phase which would place a new base area and lifts directly in St. Regis Basin — a development which would seriously impact backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. If you’ve skied in St. Regis, then you know that you share the terrain with snowmobilers — and do so sometimes in uncomfortably close circumstances. An expanded ski area will force backcountry skiers and snowmobilers to share an even smaller space, and sidecountry skiers will be added to the mix.
You can read the draft EIS here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43757
The forest has proposed three alternatives for the expansion — two basically identical options which would allow all the expansion Lookout is seeking, and a no-action alternative. Because of the incomplete EIS, MBA is arguing for the no-action alternative, saying that the EIS needs to be re-done to address the future expansion, the increased presence of sidecountry resort skiers in St. Regis, and the complications the expansion and sidecountry skiers will present for backcountry users.
The comment period for the proposed expansion is open until April 14. The Forest Service requests that you include your name, address, phone number, the title of the DEIS (Lookout Pass Ski Area Expansion), and specific facts or comments regarding the proposed activity, along with supporting reasons. Please be as specific as possible. Comments can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.