Comments on Alta's Master Development Plan
Summer of 2018
This summer Alta Ski Area will be replacing the Grizzly rope tow with a fixed grip quad chairlift, completing a snowmaking spur on the Roller Coaster ski run and completing re-vegetation and wetland mitigation work near the base of the new Supreme lift. We will also be doing routine maintenance to lifts, buildings, snowmaking systems, parking lots, equipment and ski runs.
Visitation to Albion Basin for the past few summers has exceeded the resources the Forest Service and Town of Alta can allocate to providing services, managing visitors and maintaining facilities. Consequently, the Forest Service will implement a pilot solution this summer in which Alta Ski Area will take over the management of the Albion Basin under our current Special Use Term Permit. Our plans include managing traffic levels in Albion Basin by matching traffic to available amenities (i.e. parking) and charging a vehicle fee to use the amenities. We also plan to run the Sunnyside lift on weekends from June 30 through Labor Day. The Albion Grill will be providing food service and 24/7 access to ADA restrooms. Our objective is to improve services and accommodate visitors in ways that are sustainable and minimize visitor impacts on the natural resources in Albion Basin.
Alta’s Environmental Assessment
A little over four years ago Alta submitted a list of projects in its Mater Development Plan to the Forest Service for NEPA review and approval. During the past four years the Forest Service has considered public input and conducted an environmental analysis on each project. On April 11, 2018, the Forest Service issued its decision regarding the environmental impact of the projects. The Forest Service found that there would be no significant impact of these projects on the environment and approved them. Read the environmental assessment decision.
While we have approval to proceed with the projects, when and if we do each project is dependent upon a variety of factors. For example, the installation of a tram to the top of Mount Baldy only becomes a priority if we lose the ability to use military weapons or avalaunchers for avalanche mitigation work on Mount Badly. If we did lose the ability to quickly do avalanche mitigation work on Mount Baldy, there would be many days when we could lose a significant amount of skiing in Collins Gulch. More information regarding why Alta would install a tram to the top of Mount Baldy.
We are disappointed with the misinformation and half truths regarding Alta Ski Area and our projects that are being promulgated by groups such as, including Save our Canyons to further their cause. They fail to recognize the actions taken by Alta Ski Area to protect and improve the well-being of Alta’s natural environment. Instead, they tend to portray Alta as a destroyer of wetlands and the environment.
To set the record straight, please note that any project that impacts wetlands within our special use permit will include mitigation measures to create additional wetlands. While the new Supreme lift project last summer disturbed approximately 560 square feet of wetland, Alta Ski Area created 3,000 square feet of wetland to mitigate this impact.
Alta Ski Area is recognized as a ski industry leader in sustainability and protecting the environment. We work with the Forest Service to maintain a healthy forest by removing hazard trees, diseased trees and thinning trees in selected areas. We plant approximately 1,500 trees annually which have been sprouted from seeds collected in Alta and grown for three years before returning them to Alta for planting. We collect seeds from native plants, including wildflowers, dry the seeds and then use the seed in re-vegetation projects. We maintain trails and roads as directed by Forest Service. Maura Olivos leads our Alta Environmental Center (AEC), which oversees our environmental activities. The mission of the AEC reflects a real love, concern and passion for improving and protecting the Alta environment.
Alta Ski Area is committed to working with our stakeholders and partners to accommodate and manage growth in environmentally responsible and sustainable ways that enable us to preserve the heart and soul of Alta. Issues that we believe should be priorities include traffic flow, parking, public transportation, improved avalanche mitigation methods and infrastructure improvements that can accommodate growth. While growth is inevitable, we believe that it can be embraced in a manner that minimizes impact while sharing the natural beauty of Alta. We invite you to help us do so.
Michael R Maughan
Alta Ski Area