Eldora Mountain Resort on Tuesday received a green light to proceed with its expansion plans in a draft decision issued by the U.S. Forest Service. Official legal notice of the Forest Service’s draft decision today will open a 45-day window during which objections can be submitted, before its draft decision is finalized.

A massive draft of the environmental impact statement had been released by the Forest Service in February 2014, followed by a public comment period and a series of public meetings, at which public comment on the voluminous document was accepted.

Comments included critical feedback from Boulder County commissioners who strongly urged that Eldora look for ways to improve strictly within its current boundaries. Several national environmental groups and the Boulder County land use director advocated against the expansion.

Eldora occupies about 1,204 acres of land. Of that, 524 acres are on Forest Service land, 220 acres are owned by the resort, and 460 acres are on private land leased by Eldora Mountain Resort. The resort’s footprint would grow by about 70 acres toward Middle Boulder Creek on the north and about 18 acres toward Jenny Creek on the south.

According to The Daily Camera, Eldora’s plans include new Jolly Jug and Placer detachable six-chair lifts, plus replacement of the Corona lift with a six-chair lift and replacement of the Challenge and Cannonball lifts with a single six-chair lift.

Other improvements are to include 66 acres of new trails, creation of 77 acres of tree and gladed skiing areas, plus modifications to about 42 acres of existing tree and gladed terrain across six areas. Also proposed is additional snowmaking coverage of about 65 more acres.

Also, Eldora plans a new Challenge Mountain lodge below the top of the Indian Peaks lift, offering 16,000 to 20,000 square feet and 850 seats for guests. The existing Lookout lodge would increase from 3,000 square feet to 7,700 to 9,700 square feet.

The Eldora management argue that the improvements will enhance the safety and reliability of the resort’s chairlifts and terrain, particularly during wind events.

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