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Comments sought on Snowbird's Gad Valley plans

Published May 11, 2012 1:38 pm

Ski industry • Forest Service is considering requested upgrades within existing resort boundaries.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The public has a second chance to weigh in with the U.S. Forest Service on Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort's proposal to make several major changes to its Gad Valley operations.

Comments will be accepted through June 10 on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest's intention to permit Snowbird to implement most of the requested changes to its master plan — at least those within the resort's already permitted area.

A second resort request, the controversial idea of expanding into the Mary Ellen Gulch area on Snowbird's backside with a tram from Hidden Peak to the American Fork Twin Peaks ridge, is not being considered in this Forest Service permit process.

"This expansion is not within Snowbird's initial planning cycle, has numerous administrative issues that have not been resolved and will require a separate environmental analysis at a later date," said Acting Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert in her agency's notice of proposed action.

After the projects first were proposed, she said eight agencies, 14 organizations and about 100 individuals raised issues that should be considered in the Forest Service's environmental assessment.

Having reviewed those remarks and the proposals, the Forest Service said it was inclined to allow Snowbird to:

• Install lights for night skiing on Big Emma run.

• Replace Gad II's two-seater chairlift with a high-speed quad accessed by a "magic carpet" conveyor.

• Develop a new beginner skiing area on 3.5 acres between Little Cottonwood Creek and the highway.

• Enhance access to the beginner area from Creekside Lodge with three 200-foot-long conveyor lifts. Another conveyor would be installed at the bottom of the Gad Valley.

• Move lift maintenance operations from Snowbird Plaza to the existing vehicle maintenance building just uphill from the Gad Valley base. A two-story addition would be built on that structure's east end for maintenance bays and emergency employee quarters.

• Complete its previously approved plan to expand its Wasatch Adaptive Sports program for disabled skiers by adding 4,000 feet of building to Creekside Lodge.

• Remodel Mid Gad Restaurant, enclosing the outside seating area.

• Develop more summer bike trails and relocate the Lunch Run summer road.

• Add a yurt to the Baby Thunder area.

The Forest Service also is still considering an alternative, Probert said, that would reject Snowbird's plan for the new beginner area, moving it instead to an area around a midway exit station along the Mid Gad lift.

This alternative also would do away with the Gad Valley conveyor lift and Baby Thunder Yurt, would move lift maintenance to a smaller pump station building and would reorient the Creekside Lodge expansion for the disabled skiing program.

Probert said the Forest Service expects to issue its environmental assessment of the proposed projects, and a finding of no significant impact, next winter.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg —

Your turn To comment

I Written remarks should be submitted to Salt Lake District Ranger Cathy Kahlow by:

Email at comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-saltlake@fs.fed.us

Mail or personal delivery at 6944 S. 3000 East, Cottonwood Heights, 84121, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday