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Durango Mountain Resort 2004 Master Development Plan; San Juan National Forest; La Plata County, CO

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Forest Service, USDA.


Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


The USDA Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to disclose the anticipated environmental effects of the Durango Mountain Resort (DMR) 2004 Master Development Plan. The MDP includes plans to upgrade and expand DMR within the existing Special Use Permit (SUP) area to achieve a balance of guest service facilities and skiing opportunities with existing and proposed visitation, thereby enhancing the quality of the recreation experience. Additionally, the proposal includes plans to upgrade and increase the multiple use trails network on NFS lands, due to the displacement of multiple use trails on private lands from approved DMR base area development; and develop a trailhead to include toilet facilities and parking on the east side of Highway 550, outside of DMR's SUP area.

The major aspects of the Proposed Action include:

  • Replace existing lifts 2 and 8 with higher capacity lifts along their existing alignments, and shorten Lift 6 along its same alignment while utilizing the same lift equipment.
  • Install one six-person lift (Lift 11), five three or four-person chairlifts (lifts 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17), one surface beginner lift (Lift 15), and four lateral surface (transfer lifts—T1, T2, T2′ and T3).
  • Construct new roads to access Lift 11 top terminal (1,000 feet), Lift 2 bottom terminal (250 feet), Lift 14 top terminal (800 feet), and Lift 16 bottom terminal (200 feet). Bury power line from the top of Lift 4, down Salvation trail to the base of Lift 11, and along lifts T2, T2′ and T3 to service new lifts.
  • Create 17 new trails primarily in the areas associated with new lifts to improve the overall terrain distribution by skier ability level and to better meet the skier market demand.
  • Improve four trails within the existing trail network and develop one gladed area and one tree skiing area with 20 percent tree thinning.
  • Re-route the existing snowmobile access route.
  • Install snowmaking infrastructure, make snow on the first 400 feet of the proposed re-route, and groom the re-route periodically to create a smooth ridable surface for snowmobile riders of all ability levels.
  • Develop a snowmobile parking/staging area along Hermosa Park Road, north of Purgatory Village on the west side of Highway 550, which would accommodate cars, trucks, and trailers.
  • Relocate the existing snowmobile outfitter and guide to the top of the Twilight Lift (Chair 4).
  • Expand snowmaking coverage on 14 existing trails and two proposed trails (detailed below) by approximately 149 acres for a resort total of 364 acres.
StyxThe BankDivinityDead Spike
Lower HadesUpper HermosaPinkerton Toll RoadLegends
Lower CatharsisAngel's TreadNirvanaProposed Run
MercyColumbinePeaceProposed Snowmobile Re-route
  • Expand the existing Powderhouse Restaurant by approximately 11,000 square feet to include a restaurant with 419 additional seats, restrooms, a ski school desk, retail services, and public lockers. Expand the on-site septic system.
  • Expand the existing Dante's Restaurant by 1,200 square feet to include a restaurant with 473 additional seats and guest services similar to those at the Powderhouse. This facility would continue to operate during the winter season and is proposed for summer use as well. Re-drill two existing wells to produce a higher water flow for domestic water needs. Upgrade the on-site septic system.
  • Construct a new 13,500 square foot lodge adjacent to the top terminal of Twilight Lift (#4) to include a 444-seat restaurant, restrooms, a ski school desk, retail, and public lockers. This facility is proposed for winter and summer use. Haul domestic water from existing storage tanks or proposed well and develop an on-site septic system.
  • Drill one additional well along the Pinkerton Toll Road ski trail to provide additional domestic water for the resort.
  • Double the size of the aboveground fuel storage tanks at the mid-mountain maintenance building.
  • Provide additional multiple use trails and a trailhead. The trailhead will include toilet facilities and a parking area with a capacity of approximately 36 vehicles. The sleigh ride/American with Disablities Act (ADA) accessible trail will be eight feet wide to accommodate the sleigh and will meet all ADA requirements. Proposed trail additions include: hiking (0.6 mile), mountain biking (0.7 mile), Nordic skiing (1.7 Km), Sleigh ride/ADA accessible (1.0 Km).


Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by November 21, 2005.


Written comments concerning this notice should be addressed to Richard Speegle at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to or via facsimile to (970) 375-2973.

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Richard Speegle, Supervisory Recreation Planner, at the Public Lands Center via telephone at (970) 375-3310. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

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The Proposed Action addresses issues related to the recreation experience. Presently, alpine skiing/snowboarding and other resort activities are provided to the public through a Special Use Permit (SUP) issued by the Forest Service and administered by the San Juan National Forest. All elements of the proposal remain within the existing SUP boundary area, except the additional proposed multiple use trails project outside the DMR SUP area.

The proposed improvements are consistent with the San Juan National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). The proposed improvements are considered necessary in light of current resort deficiencies and projected future visitation.

Purpose and Need for Action

The Forest Service and Durango Mountain Resort (DMR) cooperatively identified a purpose for this proposal, which is to upgrade and expand DMR within the existing Special Use Permit (SUP) area to achieve a balance of guest service facilities and skiing opportunities with existing and proposed visitation, thereby enhancing Start Printed Page 61116the quality of the recreation experience. An additional purpose for this proposal is to upgrade and expand the existing and displaced multiple use trails system on the east side of Highway 550, including Nordic skiing, sleigh ride, equestrian, ADA accessible, and hiking; and increase the existing mountain biking trails within the DMR SUP to provide continued public access to maintain and improve the recreation experience.

Responsible Official

The responsible official is Mark Stiles, Forest Supervisor for the San Juan National Forest, Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301. The responsible official will document the decision and reasons for the decision in a Record of Decision. That decision will be subject to appeal under 36 CFR part 215 or part 251.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

Based on the analysis that will be documented in the forthcoming EIS, the responsible official for this project, the Forest Supervisor of the San Juan National Forest, will decide whether or not to implement, in whole or in part, the Proposed Action or another alternative developed by the Forest Service.

Scoping Process

Public questions and comments regarding this proposal are an integral part of this environmental analysis process. Comments will be used to identify issues and develop alternatives to DMR's proposal. To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments should be as specific as possible.

Preliminary Issues

Identified preliminary issues include:

  • Water quantity and quality.
  • Wetlands.
  • Wildlife and vegetation (Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive species).
  • Quality of the recreation experience.

Comment Requested

This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides the development of the draft environmental impact statement, including the identification of the range of alternatives to be considered. While public participation is strictly optional at this stage, the Forest Service believes that it is important to give reviewers notice of several court rulings related to public participation in the subsequent environmental review process. First, reviewers of draft statements must structure their participation in the environmental review of the proposal so that it is meaningful and alerts an agency to the reviewer's position and contentions. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC, 435 U.S. 519, 553 (1978). Also, environmental objections that could be raised at the draft environmental impact statement stage but that are not raised until after completion of the final environmental impact statement may be waived or dismissed by the courts. City of Angoon v. Hodel, 803 F.2d 1016, 1022 (9th Cir. 1986) and Wisconsin Heritages, Inc. v. Harris, 490 F. Supp. 1334, 1338 (E.D. Wis. 1980). Because of these court rulings, it is very important that those interested in this proposed action participate by the close of the 45 day draft environmental impact statement comment period so that substantive comments and objections are made available to the Forest Service at a time when it can meaningfully consider them and respond to them in the final environmental impact statement. To assist the Forest Service in identifying and considering issues and concerns on the proposed action, comments on the draft environmental impact statement should be as specific as possible. It is also helpful if comments refer to specific pages or chapters of the draft statement. Comments also may address the adequacy of the draft environmental impact statement or the merits of the alternatives formulated and discussed in the statement. In addressing these points, reviewers may wish to refer to the Council on Environmental Quality regulations which implement the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act at 40 CFR 1503.3.

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Dated: October 13, 2005.

Pauline E. Ellis,

Columbine District Ranger, San Juan National Forest.

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[FR Doc. 05-20964 Filed 10-19-05; 8:45 am]