Steamboat Ski Area Master Plan Amendment, Colorado
Under third-party contract with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, Cirrus completed NEPA analysis on a proposed master plan amendment which included: a base area redesign with a new, detachable, six-pack, out-of-base lift; other lift replacements, realignments, and capacity increases; new ski and summer trails as well as improvements to existing trails; extensive glading of forested ski terrain; expansion and improvement of the snowmaking system; and construction of several on-mountain structures.
Cirrus managed in-house and subcontract specialists to address the full range of physical, biological, and socioeconomic impacts and prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), Biological Assessment, and Biological Evaluation. Direct, indirect, and cumulative effects were addressed in the following areas:
Working closely with the Forest Service Interdisciplinary Team, Cirrus drafted the initial legal notices, worked with agency specialists and the ski area to refine the proposed action, completed the scoping process and identified the significant issues that guided the analysis, prepared a pre-EA mailing (i.e., summary of pertinent NEPA and Forest Service regulations, description of the proposed actions and alternatives, discussion of the public involvement process, the issues to be addressed in the EA, and comment procedures) and legal notices to solicit formal comment, analyzed and responded to comments, and completed the EA and supporting technical documentation. To complete the project, we compiled and indexed the administrative record and assisted in drafting the Decision Memo/Finding of No Significant Impact.
Preparation of the Biological Assessment and consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act was a major component of the project for two reasons. First, consultation on the four endangered Colorado River fish species involved looking back and reassessing depletions due to all previous snowmaking and culinary water use as well as proposed increases. Second, Canada lynx had been observed in areas adjacent to the ski area.
This project began in 2005 and was successfully completed in 13 months. Steamboat’s master plan was amended, and the work on the proposed projects began on schedule.
Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center, Colorado
Under third-party contract with the Bureau of Land Management and SOLRC, Cirrus completed all phases of a NEPA process addressing a proposal to conduct “lift-served backcountry skiing” and other, four-season recreation and environmental education programs on private land and 1,300 acres of BLM-administered land in the San Juan Mountains. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a Biological Assessment, and a Biological Evaluation were prepared.
The full range of physical, biological, and socioeconomic issues identified through scoping and internal, multidisciplinary review were addressed and documented in the EIS and supporting documents, including all direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposed action and alternatives in the areas of:
Cirrus assisted the agency in refining the proposed action, completing an extensive scoping process and documenting its results, drafting the detailed issue statements that guided the analysis, and developing responsive alternatives. The most significant issues addressed were avalanche safety, potential impacts on Canada lynx, socioeconomic impacts, and land-use conflicts. We then completed the Draft EIS; compiled, summarized, and responded to comments on the draft; and, based on those responses, prepared the Final EIS. Our last step was to prepare an indexed administrative record for the project.
Consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act was a major aspect of the project, as lynx were a major concern. The project area was in close proximity to the Colorado reintroduction sites, and lynx presence had been documented in the area. Water depletions and effects on the four endangered Colorado River fish species were also addressed successfully.
This project began in 2001 and was successfully completed in 16 months. SOLRC was subsequently issued an outfitter and guide special use permit and then a 40-year lease to operate in the requested permit area.