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Federal shutdown does not affect Wolf Creek Ski Area

Staff Writer

Although it sits on 1,581 acres of U.S. Forest Service land atop Wolf Creek Pass, Wolf Creek skiing operations will not be affected by the federal government shutdown.

Wolf Creek improvements aren’t government owned and the ski resort operates on a special use permit, so it will be open for all to enjoy once this season begins.

The Forest Service does, however, need to accept and approve any plans for development or improvements to be made on the lease property occupied by the ski area. This includes approval to build the new Elma lift that will service beginner and intermediate terrain.

Approval to begin building the lift next summer was received just two weeks prior to the shutdown, putting Wolf Creek in a good position to pursue the development. Built from parts of the old Treasure lift, the new lift will serve as a returning lift so skiers and riders can get back from terrain serviced by the Alberta lift without traversing Park Avenue. The Elma lift will be built inside existing special use permit area boundaries.

The ski area does have additional documents to submit to the Forest Service when the shutdown ends, including winter and summer operating plans. Management intends to have these documents ready to go once they can be submitted.

Last year, the Forest Service accepted the Wolf Creek master development plan which includes additional snowmaking, as well as potential expansion into 1,200 acres of adjacent San Juan National Forest lands, a change that would require additional compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act via environmental impact assessments conducted by the Forest Service.

Wolf Creek has received snow this year and, in addition to snow being made on site, the area had as much as a 19-inch base as of Tuesday. Area owner Davey Pitcher hopes to get more soon.

“We have our fingers and toes crossed to be open later this month,” Pitcher said.

Dana.Hayward@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on October 17, 2013.