The Draft EIS for the Eldora Mountain Resort (EMR) has just been released. You can look for it at www.eldoraeis.com under Project Library. There is a 45-day comment period, which ends around April 14.
There will be two open houses, one in Nederland on March 25 (Nederland Community Center, 5-8pm) and one in Boulder on March 26 (Boulder West Senior Center, 5-8pm).
We might have expected them to expound on the need to protect things like narrowleaf moonworts and lesser panicled sedges, and to opine extensively on the need for new ski terrain.
But their proposed actions will be detrimental to summer trail-based recreation. BATCO has repeatedly asked for improved, not reduced, access to the existing Jenny Creek Trail system and parking for it near Peterson Lake; we have asked for more, not fewer, parking spaces at Hessie to access the Indian Peaks Wilderness; and we have asked for a trailhead at the Eldora ski area to accommodate oversized vehicles (e.g. horse trailers) and a trail to the Lost Lake area which would enable equestrians to access the National Forest.
Our requests were ignored, and the proposed EIS will make things worse, not better, in every instance. Requests from the public for “the potential for EMR to accommodate dispersed recreation with additional parking in the EMR base area and a summer/winter trail… with a trail from the EMR parking lot to the current Hessie/Fourth of July Road trailhead… Allowing dispersed recreationists to park in the EMR parking lot would ease some of the parking issues at the current Hessie trailhead” were summarily dismissed in the Draft EIS because, the authors claim, “the concept does not address the identified Purpose and Need, the EMR parking lots are located on private land, and the issue is beyond the scope of this EIS and better addressed through trailhead management.”
We disagree. To be fair, they haven’t chosen a Preferred Alternative. In fact, on page 2-79 they say “At this time, considering the environmental impacts to public lands and the opportunities for use of those lands that would benefit the most people over the longest term, the Responsible Official has not identified a preferred alternative. Following review of public and agency comments on this DEIS, the Responsible Official will make a final determination as to which alternative, in part or in whole, best serves the public interest on NFS lands. Based on public agency comments, modification of the preferred alternative may occur between Draft and Final EIS.”
BATCO asks all trail advocates to write to the ARP supporting our request for summer use of the EMR parking lot, a trail to Lost Lake, and/or for at least some trailer parking at Hessie, before it’s too late.
Please also consider attending one of the open houses, and bring your friends. Remember, the world is run by those who show up!