[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 27 (Monday, February 10, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7640-7642]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02778]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


White River National Forest; Summit County, CO; Breckenridge Ski 
Resort Multi-Season Recreation Projects EIS

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: Breckenridge Ski Resort (BSR) has submitted a proposal to the 
White River National Forest (WRNF) to pursue approval of proposed 
projects included in its 2013 Master Development Plan (MDP) Addendum. 
The WRNF has accepted this proposal, and is preparing an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze and disclose the potential 
environmental effects of implementing the projects. The Proposed Action 
is a range of projects designed to improve year-round recreation 
opportunities and better meet the changing needs and expectations of 
visitors to Breckenridge and the WRNF. The proposal hopes to better 
support a year-round economy in Breckenridge and Summit County by 
providing a diversity of attractions and outdoor activities that would 
attract visitors to the area. By providing a greater variety of 
activities and a longer season to visit BSR, the proposed educational 
and recreational opportunities would connect a more diverse group of 
visitors to our National Forest and the outdoors.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by March 12, 2014 The Draft EIS is expected to be available for public 
review in the Fall/Winter of 2014 and the Final EIS is expected in the 
Spring/Summer of 2015.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to: Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest 
Supervisor, c/o Roger Poirier, Project Leader, 120 Midland Ave, Suite 
140, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601; FAX (970) 945-9029 or electronically 
to: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=43291.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Additional information related to the 
proposed project can be obtained from: Roger Poirier, Project Leader, 
120 Midland Ave, Suite 140, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601. Mr. Poirier can 
be reached by email at rogierpoirier@fs.fed.us.
    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 Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Purpose and Need for Action: Summer recreational opportunities have 
been offered at BSR since the 1970s. These opportunities are, and 
continue to be, important to BSR and its guests, in providing outdoor 
recreation activities in the National Forest in a comfortable setting. 
The current summer guest experience at BSR is primarily defined by more 
developed activities on private lands and dispersed activities on 
National Forest System (NFS) lands. Specific to the activities on NFS 
lands within the BSR SUP area, guests primarily participate in lift-
served and non-lift-served hiking and mountain biking via the Colorado 
SuperChair and trails dispersed across Peaks 7, 8 and 9.
    Through ongoing, year-round tourism growth, BSR is becoming a 
summer destination for guests primarily from the United States, and 
from Colorado in particular. In both winter and summer, BSR caters to a 
broad spectrum of guests of all ages, abilities, and experience with 
the outdoors. Since 2010 the Peak 8 Fun Park (located on private 
lands), which includes an alpine slide, a coaster, mini-golf, and other 
activities, has experienced approximately 18 percent annual growth in 
its summer activity usage. The proposed projects would complement these 
current activities by offering an even broader range of passive and 
active recreation opportunities in the Forest to engage visitors.

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    The philosophy for BSR's summer program on NFS lands is based on 
the premise that the National Forests are, and have always been, the 
greatest opportunity for guests to use and enjoy public lands. The 
summer program goal is to introduce guests to the White River National 
Forest and encourage outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature. BSR 
desires to provide a fun recreational experience while reducing the 
barriers that can be associated with recreating in a mountain 
environment.
    Over the past several decades, summer recreation activities have 
evolved to include a significant variety of activities and user 
experiences. Likewise, recreational use in the National Forests has 
evolved beyond the traditional activities and solitude-seeking 
experiences such as hunting, fishing, camping or hiking.
    There is a desire to not only provide new experiences for current 
Forest users but to provide opportunities that will engage new users to 
visit and experience NFS lands. Currently at BSR, there is a lack of 
recreational opportunities that provide:
     Adventure or thrill-based experiences that require little 
specialized knowledge, skills, equipment or familiarity with the 
mountain environment--elements which can be a barrier for visitors 
(e.g. families, the elderly/aging, or those with disabilities) desiring 
to engage in outdoor activities;
     Activity-based interaction with a forested, mountain 
environment in a controlled setting, offering an opportunity for users 
to interact with and learn about nature;
     Human-powered, active recreational experiences that cater 
to all ability levels; and
     Interpretive programs that offer an educational experience 
for users seeking to learn more about the environment.
    There is a need for recreational and learning opportunities on 
public lands that include passive, active and interactive forms of 
recreation to provide this comprehensive range of user experiences.
    In addition, there is a need for adequate access and support 
service infrastructure (e.g. roads, support buildings, restaurants) to 
meet current and anticipated summer use at BSR.
    The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 
(SAROEA) provides authority for mountain resorts operating on NFS lands 
to offer an expanded range of outdoor recreation activities in order to 
further recreational opportunities for the public, allow year-round 
utilization of existing resort facilities and stimulate job creation 
and economic growth within local communities. The proposed projects 
align with the intent of SAROEA.
    Proposed Action: The Proposed Action includes the following 
seventeen elements, identified below. A full description of each 
element can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=43291.
     Improve natural aesthetic look and feel of the Vista Haus 
and Independence SuperChair Summit Site Plan with landscaping, access 
pathways, signage, and possible road realignments.
     Install the Sawmill Zip Line from a location south of the 
top terminal of the Peak 8 SuperConnect to its endpoint near the top 
terminal of the Snowflake lift.
     Install the Peak 7 Zip Line from a location near the top 
terminal of the Independence SuperChair to its endpoint near the Peak 7 
base area.
     Install the Sawmill Canopy Tour from a location near the 
Vista Haus to an endpoint along Four O'Clock ski trail. The canopy tour 
would utilize a series of approximately nine zip lines and ten canopy 
tour stations.
     Install the Ore Bucket Canopy Tour from a location just 
west (uphill) of the Independence SuperChair to the Angels Rest ski 
trail and the 7/8 Access Road on Peak 7. The canopy tour would utilize 
a series of approximately 9 zip lines and 10 stations.
     Install the Claimjumper Canopy Tour on Peak 7 near the 
upper 1/3 portion of the Independence SuperChair and Claimjumper ski 
trail. BSR will complete the layout of this canopy tour and provide the 
information to the Forest Service for analysis in the Draft EIS.
     Construct two challenge courses featuring a series of 
wooden columns, platforms and rope walkways/bridges adjacent to the 
Vista Haus on Peak 8 with one course geared towards children under 10 
and a second for older guests.
     New and Realigned Mountain Bike Trails and Skills Courses 
are proposed on Peak 7 to connect to and expand on the existing trail 
network on Peak 8 and 9. The proposal includes the creation of beginner 
skills courses on Peak 7 and 8.
     Construct approximately 2 miles of new dispersed and 
guided hiking trails, including way-finding and interpretive sites.
     Initiate new off-highway vehicle tours on existing and 
proposed roads for additional sightseeing opportunities.
     Realign Four O'Clock Road to remove the excessive grade by 
adding switchbacks and adding roughly half a mile of new roadway.
     Expand the Peak 7 Hut Deck/Building to add approximately 
500 square feet to the building and expanded outside deck to better 
provide space for guests and operations.
     Expand the Vista Haus Deck to add approximately 1,500 
square feet on the south side of the lodge and would accompany the 
construction of a climbing wall.
     Construct an observation tower on Peak 8 approximately 30 
feet in height.
     Operate the existing Colorado SuperChair, Independence 
SuperChair, 6 Chair and Imperial Express SuperChair for scenic lift 
rides and activities access.
     Implement summer uses restoration projects in response to 
existing and proposed disturbed areas within and potentially beyond the 
SUP boundary. These projects would be developed subsequent to scoping 
and would be analyzed in the Draft EIS.
    These projects are proposed to expand opportunities for developing 
year-round recreational activities, and improve Breckenridge's year-
round economy by attracting a wide range of visitors, of all ages, 
abilities, and familiarity with the outdoors, to our National Forest.
    Responsible Official: The Responsible Official is Scott 
Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor for the WRNF.
    Nature of Decision To Be Made: Based on the analysis that will be 
documented in the forthcoming EIS, the Responsible Official will decide 
whether or not to implement, in whole or in part, the Proposed Action 
or another alternative that may be developed by the Forest Service as a 
result of scoping.
    Scoping Process: This notice of intent initiates the scoping 
process, which guides the development of the environmental impact 
statement. The Forest Service is soliciting comments from Federal, 
State and local agencies and other individuals or organizations that 
may be interested in or affected by implementation of the proposed 
projects. A public open house regarding this proposal will be held at 
Mountain Thunder Lodge (50 Mountain Thunder Drive, Breckenridge, CO 
80424) on March 5, 2014 between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Representatives from 
the WRNF and BSR will be present to answer questions and provide 
additional information on this project.
    Public questions and comments regarding this proposal are an 
integral part of this environmental analysis process. Input provided by 
interested and/or affected individuals, organizations and governmental 
agencies will be used to identify resource issues that will be analyzed 
in the environmental impact statement.

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The Forest Service will identify significant issues raised during the 
scoping process, and use them to formulate alternatives, prescribe 
mitigation measures and project design features, or analyze 
environmental effects.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such manner that they are useful to the agency's preparation of 
the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be 
provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly 
articulate the reviewer's concerns and contentions.
    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names 
and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record 
for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be 
accepted and considered, however.

    Dated: February 4, 2014.
Jan Cutts,
District Ranger.
[FR Doc. 2014-02778 Filed 2-7-14; 8:45 am]
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