Wolf Creek, CO, Sept. 9--Wolf Creek Ski Area will move forward with its expansion. Officials expect to finalize an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service by mid-September that will allow Wolf Creek to build a high-speed quad chairlift. This brings an amicable end to a month of appeals and protests from local environmental groups.
The new Alberta chairlift will dramatically boost Wolf Creek's skier capacity from 6,300 to 8,100 skiers-per-hour, with the potential to reach 8,700. This is the first new lift at the ski area in over eight years.
Earlier this summer the Forest Service approved the additional chairlift. On Aug. 2, however, the local environmental group Colorado Wild filed an appeal to stop the new lift on the grounds that the new lift would likely prompt a boon in real-estate development.
Wolf Creek's proximity to two designated wilderness areas helped fuel the expansion debate. "Only with such disclosure can we mitigate the impacts to lynx, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and local communities in the region," said Marie Jordan, Colorado Wild volunteer.
In response to Colorado Wild's concerns, Wolf Creek Ski Area spent most of August working on a new plan with the Forest Service to manage growth. This plan will likely require nearby private landowners to report the projected environmental impact of any new construction in order to receive a building permit.
Although Wolf Creek officials have not yet given any official statements on the matter, Colorado Wild organizers are optimistic.
"We were very pleased with the discussions we had with Davey Pitcher, president of Wolf Creek Ski Area," said Jonathan Staufer, chairman of Colorado Wild's Ski Area Citizen's Coalition. "Clearly, the Pitchers and Wolf Creek Ski Area seek to serve their community and their skiing customers."