Breckenridge's Peak 6 Debate Still Hot

Aug 10th 2011

In Breckenridge, Colorado, the debate over Breckenridge Ski Resort’s (BSR) Peak 6 development is still underway. The public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was originally set to end on July 25, but was extended through the end of August. According to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, the extension is the result of the complexity of the issue. In late June, the Forest Service released the DEIS (available here), a 600 plus-page document analyzing the potential environmental effects of the proposed development. According to breckenridgepeak6.com, the USDA website devoted to the project, the DEIS “discusses the purpose and need for the Proposed Action; alternatives to the Proposed Action; potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementing each alternative; and project design criteria.” The DEIS proposes three such actions, named Alternative 1 (No Action); Alternative 2 (the Proposed Action); and Alternative 3. The hotly debated action proposed by BSR (Alternative 2) includes the development of a six-person chairlift, a top terminal ski patrol facility/warming hut and a lodge at the lift’s mid-station. The proposal includes 550 new acres of lift-served and hike-to skiing. Alternative 1—No Action—is required by the National Environmental Protection Agency, and is defined as “a continuation of existing management practices without changes, additions or upgrades.” Given the anticipated environmental and social impacts of the proposal, many in Breckenridge exclusively support this option (Rare Earth: Backcountry Expansion in Breckenridge, CO). Alternative 3 is widely considered the “compromise option” as described by Breckenridge local Ellen Hollinshead to the SummitDaily.com. The alternative includes “trail and lift development within BSR’s currently developed lift and trail network as well as a proposed skiing pod immediately north of Peak 7.” This option would include the development of 33 additional acres within the existing boundary, three chairlift upgrades, and the development of terrain on Peak 6 ½, located just north of Peak 7. A high-speed four- or six-person chairlift would access 97 acres of below-treeline, and moving the boundary northward to accommodate this development would increase the lift-served terrain off of the Imperial Express Lift. The comment period on this development will remain open until August 26. To make a general comment on the project, visit breckenridgepeak6.com/general or view the entire document to comment on specific items, click here.