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Wolf Creek Ski Area to hold public meetings on expansion plans

In operation since the 1930s, Wolf Creek Ski Area has been a favorite of skiers and snowboarders who seek out the best powder.

In an effort to keep with the ski area’s mission to provide a good skiing experience, be accessible to the general public and help grow enthusiasm for the sport of skiing, Wolf Creek Ski Area has announced it will hold a public forum to discuss long-term plans at Pagosa Lodge, Wednesday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m.

If unable to attend, there will be a Wolf Creek Expansion Preview and Public Comment Meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, at the Base Camp Lodge at Wolf Creek.

The firm Ecosphere has been hired to be in charge of public outreach and participation. Janet Wolf, senior project manager and public participation specialist at Ecosphere’s Durango office, made clear during an interview with SUN staff that this process is not a National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) public scoping session.

“This is to share the vision of the ski area’s enhancement with the public,” Wolf said.

This is the first part of the update for the ski area’s Master Facilities Plan, which coordinates with the San Juan National Forest’s Forest Plan Revision. Wolf said that, at this point, the hope is to get the ideas concerning possible enhancements out to the public and discover the level of enthusiasm the public has for different facets of the ski area’s development.

According to a media release document, five specific goals of the long-term planning are: 1) Upgrade and expand skier support and operational facilities in order to improve the quality of the recreational experience commensurate with existing and future visitation; 2) Enlarge beginner/intermediate level skiing/riding opportunities; 3) Increase advanced and expert in-bounds backcountry-style terrain; 4) Improve circulation between developed and undeveloped portions of the SUP area; 5) Help ensure that developed portions of the SUP remain skiable in early season and low-snow conditions.

There are eight major enhancements listed in the media release document, which would help Wolf Creek reach these goals. 1) Matchless Pod in Silver Creek, to “provide Wolf Creek skiers a Lift-assisted backcountry experience in primitive gladed terrain to the east of the Horseshoe Bowl;” 2) Pass Pod, which will encompass land at the top of Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan National Forest and will include the installation of a lift; 3) Bonanza Lift realignment 800 feet to the east and replaced with a detachable lift; 4) Storm Lift, which would be located east of the Knife Ridge area, which would only operate during storm cycles; 5) Elma Lift, which would, “provide a way to get back to the base area from the top of the Alberta Lift;” 6) Meadow Lift, which would, “allow skiers in the eastern portion of the Alberta Lift, from the bottom of Horseshoe Bowl and the Knife Ridge area, to return to the Lift without enduring the long, almost flat, traverse back to the base of the Alberta Lift;” 7) Sunset Lift, which, “would provide access to skiable areas on the far eastern boundary of Wolf Creek Ski Area that are currently only available via hiking;” 8) Alberta Lift, a restaurant and restroom facility would be placed at the top of the lift. Other enhancements would include using all 2 million gallons of water rights per season for snowmaking, development of off-site parking and a shuttle system for both sides of the pass.

Wolf Creek officials encourage anyone who skis and boards and is curious about the future plans oat the ski area to attend one of the public input meetings. Each meeting will end with a question-and-answer segment.

For more information regarding the proposed enhancements, go to www.wolfcreekski.com and click on “Can it get any better?” From there, you can navigate to an online survey and a 10-minute informational video. Comments will be accepted until April 12.

lindsey@pagosasun.com

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