Last week the U.S. Forest Service approved expansion plans for Eldora Mountain Resort, but only within the resort’s current boundaries.

The decision results in a contraction from what was contemplated by a draft ruling earlier this year. See  Draft Decision for Eldora Expansion.

This final decision defers all expansion outside the existing ski area special-use boundaries. The rethinking was explained as “While the Environmental Impact Statement adequately disclosed the effects of these proposed projects, there were still environmental and social effects that could be better resolved,” acting Forest Supervisor Ron Archuleta said in a news release.

Key components of the expansion approved Thursday include about 188 acres of new trails and gladed ski terrain, upgrades to the Corona and Challenge chairlifts and about 25 acres of additional snowmaking coverage. Also approved are the new 850-seat Challenge Mountain guest facility near the top of the Indian Peaks chairlift, plus renovation of the existing Lookout guest facility, boosting it from 3,000 square feet to between 7,700 and 9,700 square feet.

A voluminous draft of the environmental impact statement on Eldora’s plans had been issued 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 document was accepted.

Eldora management has proposed to expand its boundaries by about 70 acres on the north, and 18 acres on the south. Boulder County commissioners had strongly urged that Eldora look for ways to improve strictly within its current boundaries. Environmentalists argued that expansion would encroach upon a wildlife migration corridor, potentially compromising that watershed’s health.

Perhaps the most significant development following the draft EIS was the replacement in mid-July of Glenn Casamassa as forest supervisor for the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forest by Ron Archuleta, who had previously served as deputy forest supervisor.

Eldora, located 21 miles west of Boulder, 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 in Boulder and Gilpin counties. Its elevations range from 9,200 feet at the base to 10,800 feet at the summit.

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